Decorating with…Chocolate

11 Jun

Lets face it, everyone likes a bit of chocolate.  Whether it’s a tiny bit of dark chocolate with your wine, or a king-size kit kat chunky, we all enjoy it once in a while.  This is what makes chocolate decorating a huge hit when it comes to cakes.  Not only is it easy, it is also delicious, and can be tailored completely to the individual’s tastes.  The variety works in your favour.  Milk, dark, and white are good starting points.

Actually, no.  Step back.  Rewind.  if you take one thing from this post, let it be this – the brand of chocolate you use matters.  No, really.  It really matters.  If you use shitty cheap chocolate, you are going to get shitty cheap chocolate decorations.  It’s that simple.  All you’re doing to the chocolate is making it a different shape.  You’re not changing the taste of it one whit.

A good rule to go by – if you wouldn’t eat it on it’s own, why the hell would you put it into, or onto, a cake?

If you really are that poor, just buy chocolate when it’s on sale.  Don’t bother getting special “cooking” chocolate.  That’s chocolate with added fat in the form of oil – it makes it melt quicker.  Duh!  But if it’s not what you’d eat regularly, just don’t bother with it.  My go-to favourites are in the middle-range – Lindt chocolate and Cadbury.  Dark chocolate both are good (go with the higher cocoa count, always), white chocolate I like Dream, but mostly because it’s a bigger block and you can carve into it easier (keep reading to know what that means, or scroll to the white chocolate pictures).

The easiest way to use chocolate is to put it into the recipe, by melting it.  Make sure you don’t melt it directly in a saucepan, as it can burn very quickly and it’s an expensive ingredient to waste!  The technique to use involves melting the chocolate over a saucepan of simmering water, in a heatproof bowl.  This ensures the chocolate melts, but it does so in a safer and slower manner than direct heat allows for.  This can be used to melt chocolate for virtually any use – from just plain hot chocolate to making a tasty ganache.  When combining it into a recipe, you may melt the butter and the chocolate together – two ingredients, one process!

The cheat’s way of melting chocolate is the microwave.  Some are vehemently opposed to the microwave…strange people.  It makes things so much easier in the kitchen!  That said, if possible, avoid microwaving chocolate.  It’s tricky, and you have to pay more attention to taking it out, mixing it, putting it back in again, etc, than it is worth.

Once you’ve melted it, chocolate (obviously) starts to solidify!  So depending on what you want to do with it, you may need to work quickly.

Lets see, what can we do with melty yummy chocolate?  Just putting it in a cake, boooring.  Lets have some fun.  I’m sure most people can follow that part of the recipe, so I’m going to gloss over it.  The interesting part is decorating with chocolate.  This is where you can get creative!

Ok, I’ll throw in a recipe for chocolate icing.  There.  Used one cakes like this one:

Really easy, but oh so yummy.  …Ask anyone!

Ok, obligatory icing out of the way.  Now for fun stuff.

When you melt chocolate, you can also mix chocolate.

Yes!  It’s true!  You can make pretty marbled chocolate, which YOU made yourself!  The patterns and stuff are all up to you.  Winner.

Pretty elaborate eh? No, no, nooope. It was done with your average, garden variety fork.

It’s quite easy, as you can see!  However, doesn’t it just add that little extra bit to your cake, to say that you designed  the chocolate?  Hmmmm?  You betcha.

Obligatory working with hot stuff word of warning – chocolate at this temperature is hot.  Not sexy hot.  Just plain stick to your hands in an “It burns!” type of way.  Not what you want!  So watch yourself.  Or don’t, y’know.  No, be careful.

Once you’ve marbled your chocolate into amazingly intricate (read: poked it with a fork/skewer a bunch) designs, you can have even more fun with it by how you shape it.  It will take a while to cool, so you can mould it into spirals, cut it into blocks/logs, imprint a design on it or even use cookie cutters and make your own little pieces of chocolate.

Stars are always a safe choice

When using cookie cutters you may want to use metal ones – plastic and hot liquids don’t go particularly well together, just note that your metal cookie cutters will be mega hot if you use them on hot chocolate.  If you have them, use some gloves.  If not, use a tea towel, like me.  Pokemon one recommended.

Marbled yumminess

Another note on cooling the chocolate.  Feel free to put it in the fridge AFTER you’ve moulded it.  If you don’t have the time to wait for it to harden out of the fridge before you start messing with it, you will have an even harder time of it when you get it out of the fridge.  Chocolate becomes brittle once you’ve re-solidified it, and really hard to make into shapes.  So, trust me, just let it sit out for a little.  Go watch some tv or something.

One very easy way to make chocolate work in a decorating sense is to use a cheese slicer.  Hah, yup, a cheese slicer.  Grab a block of chocolate (white seems to be the easiest one to play with) and flip it so you don’t see the “block” side.  Then, start slicing!  These chocolate curls or slices (depending on your slicing technique) are quite versatile.  It’s a great way to tidy up the sides of a cake.  Or, if your cake looks boring, just plop one or three of these on top.  Voila, cafe-style decoration.

Sliced, not diced

If one doesn’t own a cheese slicer (for SHAME) you can also use a sharp knife (dangerous!) or one of the sides of your standard grater (you know, the one with the one grater on the side).  I can’t vouch for the grater option, but it should work, in theory.  The knife one be very careful!  It’s not as exact as a cheese grater, either.  See how in the above picture they’re all vaguely uniform?  Hey, I did say vaguely!  These are quite brittle as well, being so thin and all.  So do watch out with them.  They’ll keep perfectly well in an airtight container, so do a whole block at once and you’ll have enough for those unexpected desserts (yep, I make a lot of those).  If you decide you don’t need them anymore, no matter!  Use them in a recipe – melt as per usual.

look at the sides!

Last but not least, you can use chocolate without messing with it.  Maltesers are amazingly yummy, and add plenty to a cake.  Here’s one I made for my sister’s birthday, it had so much chocolate in it I’m sure we all had an overload that day.  Hang on, that’s impossible!  🙂

Herpyderpy chocolatey bertdy!

This is just a few ways to use chocolate, but they are definitely some of the more simple ones that make a nice impact.  So, to recap:

  • Always melt over simmering water in a heatproof bowl
  • be careful with hot things, they’re burny…
  • Never put into the fridge to solidify before messing with it, and
  • marbling is just sticking a fork into chocolate and swirling it around.

Other than that, have a blast.

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2 Responses to “Decorating with…Chocolate”

  1. Alexey Nikitine June 11, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    Procrastibaking!!

    Like

    • Crissy June 11, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

      Only a little bit. ^_^ I’ll be back in full baking mode after tomorrow. And taking requests, also!

      Like

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