Baking Tips

How to Melt Chocolate

DIRECT METHOD

Begin by melting chopped chocolate in a glass or plastic bowl, in the microwave at power at 30 seconds intervals stirring between each interval. Using your thermometer, determine the temperature of the chocolate as it begins to melt.

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ALTERNATE DIRECT METHOD

In lieu of using the microwave, you might prefer to use a double boiler (or bain-marie) to accomplish the same end result. This is probably the oldest method of melting chocolate. However there is one drawback. Vapor. Chocolate and water do not mix, AT ALL! Great care must be taken when boiling the water during this process, to not contaminate the chocolate with steam.
 

choco.jpgHere you set the unmelted chocolate in a glass or metal bowl to snugly fit on top of it. Now setting your bowl filled with unmelted chocolate away from the stove, fill the pot with water (half way) and bring to rolling boil. Remove it from the stove and place a small kitchen towel on top of it to prevent the vapor from escaping. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of it and let it stand for a couple of minutes allowing the chocolate to melt. Once this process begins, stir the chocolate and take a temperature reading. Keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted.

Tempering of Chocolate

 

SEEDING METHOD

Tempering chocolate involves putting it through a cycle of temperatures (heat, cooling, rest) to align cocoa butter crystals within the chocolate. Once aligned – through temperature agitation – the chocolate will have the familiar "snap" shine. The simplest method to temper is known as "seeding", in which small pieces of unmelted chocolate are added to melted chocolate.
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Begin by melting the chocolate using the recommended guidelines above. You will need the following:


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Now, while stirring continuously, slowly add the unmelted chocolate in several additions. Remember to carefully watch the temperature here. This fresh chocolate will help slowly lower the chocolates temperature while adding new crystals to the melted chocolate. At this stage of the tempering process you are trying to reach the following temperatures:

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Now you are ready for the final step in the process. The temperature of the chocolate now needs to be raised to its working temperature:

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To raise the temperature of the chocolate, simply re-boil the water on the stove (while keeping your chocolate away from it, of course). Once at a full boil, remove water from the stove, place kitchen towel over it, and replace bowl with cooled down chocolate over it while carefully watching the temperature so it does NOT exceed working temperature. To be safe, it is best to remove the bowl from the pot when the temperature is a degree or two away from the desired working temperature of the chocolate. This allows it to come up on its own, using residual heat from the bottom of the bowl.

If you used the microwave method, slowly reheat, at 10 second intervals (1/2 power), while checking the temperature and stirring, at each interval, until the desired working temperature is reached.

  TEST THE BATCH!
To be sure your chocolate is now in temper, dip the tip of a clean, dry knife in the bowl and allow it to stand for a couple of minutes. If it is ok, the chocolate on the knife tip will begin to reach a nice hard, shiny state.
   
  Now start your project, you have successfully tempered chocolate!

Things to Keep in Mind

Whipping cream

All whipping cream should have a minimum of 30-35 percent fat content

Be precise and accurate

It is often said that a pastry chef never goes anywhere without his or her scales and thermometer. Pastry making and guesswork just do not go together, so follow the indications for weights and temperatures as given in the recipes. Measure all your ingredients carefully, and weigh them all, even liquids. When making the recipes in this book, use either imperial or metric measurements (rather than a combination of the two) for best results.

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Make sure you have the right equipment

A kitchen thermometer (or even better, an instant-read thermometer), an immersion blender, a flexible rubber or silicone spatula, a baking sheet, a piping or pastry bag with tips, and a rolling pin are all essential utensils. You will even use your freezer in unexpected ways to facilitate assembling and unmolding.

 

What is an Emulsion?

We make emulsions to reduce the sensation of fat on the palate, to achieve smooth, creamy textures, and for optimal preservation. When it comes to chocolate, emulsifying the mixture will produce a chocolate mousse or ganache that has a true taste of chocolate and a very creamy texture.

An emulsion is the mixture of two liquids that do not combine naturally, such as water and oil. To understand the principle of an emulsion, try a quick experiment: pour some oil into a glass of water and stir with a spoon. In just a few seconds, you will see that the oil is floating at the top of the water! When we emulsify two substances, we disperse one of them into the other in the form of minuscule droplets.

There are two types of emulsion. For the first type, we incorporate oil into water. When we make mayonnaise, the oil, in what is known as the "oily phase," is progressively incorporated into the mixture of egg yolk, vinegar, and mustard, known together as the "aqueous phase." For the second type, we incorporate water into oil. For a ganache, we incorporate the chocolate, the "oily phase," into liquid such as cream, milk, fruit juice, or coffee (the "aqueous phase").

When you make a mayonnaise, you gradually add the oil to the yolks and mustard until you have a shiny, elastic texture. If you continue to add oil (that last drop that is the one too many), the emulsion becomes saturated in fat and separates. The texture is no longer homogenous, far from it. At this point the mayonnaise looks ruined: professionals say that the mixture has separated or split. In fact, to remedy the situation, all you need to do is add a little liquid (water, lemon juice, or vinegar) and beat hard, and once more the homemade mayonnaise is restored to full glory. This is quite unlike what happens with ganache. We start off with a saturated fat base, and then progressively pour the liquid- milk or whipping cream- into the chocolate. This is why, as soon as we pour a little liquid over the chocolate, the mass rapidly thickens. And this is why you should never put two tablespoons of water in with your chocolate to melt it. Adding water leads, usually, to separation.

In the initial phase of the emulsion, the ganache will not look very attractive, and that is quite normal. There is no reason to panic and add liquid faster. Instead, you should take your time to make the emulsion, ensuring you have the elastic "kernel" that means the emulsion is well on its way to forming, and stir energetically while you gradually add the liquid, just as you would gradually add oil to a mayonnaise. Mixing energetically with small circular movements in the very center of the mixture ensures that the globules of fat and water droplets are organized regularly and homogenously. This homogeneity stabilizes the emulsion and reduces the impression of fat on the palate. It results in smooth, creamy, melting textures.

 

About Mousses

Chocolate Mousses

A good chocolate mousse should be light, melting, and not fatty. All chocolate mousses should set for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator. Most should be eaten at room temperature, so remember to take them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

The Whipping Process

Whipping or whisking involves incorporating air into an ingredient that can contain it, such as egg white or full fat whipping cream. The purpose of whipping is to achieve light textures, with volume, that do not deflate- or, at least, not immediately. In other words, whipping is the art of getting whites to rise to form peaks and to create a foamy cream.

It is impossible to achieve good whipping results at high speeds. The stability of the whipped product is due to the architecture of the air bubbles inside the mixture. High speed causes large air bubbles to form in an anarchic form; they are therefore not durable and result in a fragile result. However, when medium speed is used, the air bubbles become smaller and smaller, thus offering greater resistance to any shock the mixture might be subjected to. Any ingredient whisked at medium speed will thus have greater durability.

 

Chocolate Mousses

A good chocolate mousse should be light, melting, and not fatty. All chocolate mousses should set for at least 12 hours in the refrigerator. Most should be eaten at room temperature, so remember to take them out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.

 

Whisking egg whites

First, make sure that the bowl is perfectly dry and free of grease. Whisk the egg whites with an electric beater at medium speed. Stop beating when the egg whites reach the soft peak stage- they will form little waves, and bend slightly when you take the beater out of the bowl. The texture should be like shaving foam for men or styling mousse for women. Do not beat the egg whites into stiff peaks (when the egg whites remain upright when you lift the beater out of the bowl)- this is not necessary. Egg whites whipped like this are lighter, more stable, and easier to combine with other ingredients. If we continue to whip, they will begin to collect on the whisk or beater and little grains will form- the whites go grainy.

 

Whisking whipping cream with a butterfat content of 30 to 35 percent

10.jpgWhen whisking well-chilled whipping cream at medium speed, its volume increases. Lightly whipped, foamy whisked cream contains the most possible air, and this is the stage at which it is ideal to make a chocolate mousse, for example. The volume has increased by 220 percent. If we continue to whip, not only will we no longer imprison any air, but the volume will diminish. The cream is transformed into Chantilly cream, which is to say that its volume is now only 160 percent of the original. If we continue to whisk, it will change into butter

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Chef's notes

The colder the cream is, the easier it is to whisk Don't attempt to  whisk a low-fat liquid cream.This is an impossible task because it has  insufficient butterfat content. In milk and white chocolate recipes, gelatin is used to harden the mixture, compensating for the lack of  cocoa butter.

 

Making the perfect chocolate mousse

Troubleshooting:

12.jpg"My chocolate mousse is often grainy."
Be careful to reheat your chocolate mixture slightly before you incorporate the whisked egg whites or whipped cream. If the mixture has already cooled and you add a large quantity of eggwhites or cold cream, the chocolate hardens and forms grains.

 

"There's liquid egg white at the bottom of my mixing bowl." Make sure that you whisk your egg whites until they form soft peaks, when they should bend over slightly. If they are whisked to the firm peak stage, mixing them with the chocolate will deflate them, and deflated egg whites liquefy.

"My mousse is too firm or too liquid."
Have you used chocolate that has the cocoa content given in the recipe? If necessary, change the weight of the chocolate you are using according to its cocoa content. The cocoa butter contained in chocolate is what is known as a hardener. Depending on how much cocoa butter you include in your recipe, you may have too much or too little of the hardener, and hence a texture that is either too firm or too liquid.

"My mousse is dry and/or grainy."
Have you emulsified the chocolate properly with the liquid, following the rule that specifies it should be incorporated by thirds?

Each time you prepare the emulsion, don't forget this rule: gradually pour one-third of the boiling liquid over the melted chocolate. Using a flexible spatula, mix it in energetically, drawing small circles to create an elastic, shiny "kernel." Incorporate the second third of the liquid, using the same procedure. Repeat with the last third.

Filling a Piping Bag

Fit the tip from inside the piping bag and twist the bag just above the tip to close off the hole. Then fold over the sides of the open end, making sure the folds are wide and leave an opening that is large enough to fill the bag cleanly. You can use a water jug to support the bag (tuck the folds over the rim) so that both hands are free to fill it. When the bag is full, unfold the edges and close the top of the bag by twisting it tightly. Push the contents down a little before you cut the tip of the bag to use it. When you are not piping out the mixture, make sure you hold the bag with the tip upwards!

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Chef's notes

– Hold your piping bag with the hand you use to write
– Do not overfill it, as that makes it harder to manipulate it.
– You can also use a clothes peg to close it before filling and refilling

Piping Out Round Macarons

– Hold the piping bag perpendicular to the sheet of parchment paper. It should just about be in contact with the sheet.

– Press down without moving until you have the desired size of macaron.

– Stop the pressure and lift up the bag by flicking your wrist.

Whisking Egg Whites

Make sure that your bowl is perfectly clean, dry, and grease free. It is always best to whisk egg whites at medium speed to ensure that air is incorporated in fine bubbles, giving delicacy and stability to the structure.

If you whisk at high speed, the air is not incorporated in the same way, resulting in a more fragile, less stable mixture, usually with less volume. The eggs must be whisked until they form soft peaks, not stiff peaks, contrary to popular belief (and practice).

The peaks they form will bend over slightly, instead of remaining pertly straight. The texture will be similar to that of shaving foam or styling mousse. When egg whites are whisked to this stage, it is relatively easy to incorporate them into other mixtures.

Softening Butter

Wouldn't it be wonderful if butter were always soft enough to use immediately? But softened butter takes time and energy, so take it out from the refrigerator a few hours before you need it and place it, unwrapped, in a mixing bowl. Use a flexible spatula to work it energetically.

If the butter remains hard, put it in the microwave oven for just a few seconds on low power, being careful not to melt it, or over a bain-marie. Finish softening it with the spatula or a whisk. In French, this is known as beurre pommade.

Roasting Nuts

Roasting nuts is the best way of brining out their flavors.
so that the nuts are the same color both inside and out. This is the sign that they have been well roasted.

Place the nuts in an oven preheated to 350 F (150 C) for 10 to 15 minutes, until they turn a nice amber color.

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