Say the word ‘chocolate,’ and the eyes of people of all ages will lit up within a second. After all, who doesn’t love chocolate?
Milk, white, dark, with or without nuts – there are so many types, that everyone can find something for themselves. And if you are on a diet? Nothing lost, as cocoa nibs are an excellent alternative for regular chocolate. Many cafes from all over the world are actually investing in wholesale cocoa nibs so that even their fit clients can enjoy a chocolate treat.
While eating chocolate is great, baking things with it is even better – especially if you convince your partner, friends, or kids to join you and make it a fun, bonding experience. Since the recipes that include chocolate usually also involve melting or tempering, getting to know how to do those things beforehand would definitely be a good idea, don’t you think?
If your answer is yes, then you’re lucky, as we gathered some tips on how to deal with chocolate, so that you don’t have to research it on your own. Sounds good? Then let’s get right into it!
Pay Attention to the Cacao Percentage
The cacao percentage is one of those things that people know exist, but don’t really pay attention to. After all, chocolate is just chocolate, isn’t it? Well, no. Cacao percentage is vital for a few reasons:
- it shows how bitter the chocolate is – even though the majority of commercial products use quite a lot of sugar to make the chocolate sweeter, cacao itself is quite bitter. Generally speaking, the higher the cacao percentage is, the more bitter the chocolate is.
- it determines the flavor – the higher the cacao percentage is, the more intense flavor the chocolate has.
Looking at the cacao percentage is especially essential when you are baking. The reason behind it is that the ingredients in the recipe are proportioned to match the sugar and fat in the chocolate. So, if the recipe requires bittersweet chocolate (above 70% of cacao), the amount of sugar and/or butter that you need to add will be calculated to match the amount in it.
Be Careful When Melting Chocolate
While there are many different ways in which you can melt chocolate, melting it on a hob, either in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan with boiling water, is probably the best one, as it gives you the most control over the heat. Keep in mind that when doing it, you should only stir the chocolate once or twice with a wooden spoon. Once the chocolate has melted, turn off the heat. Don’t overcook it, as it might get burned.
Another two very popular methods of melting chocolate are in a microwave and in an oven. If you decide to do the former, do it in 30-second bursts on medium power. If you choose to do the latter, use the lowest temperature you can – around 110 °C – and keep an eye on it.
No matter which one you’ll choose, you need to remember that melted chocolate doesn’t like the cold at all. If you accidentally use a cool, metal spoon to stir it or pour it in a cold bowl after melting it, the chocolate can turn into a hard, solid bump. Once it happens, it cannot be undone – even with melting – which is why you need to make sure that everything you use is at room temperature.
If Your Chocolate Looks White – Temper It
Have you ever heard about tempering chocolate? When you are tempering chocolate, you are doing nothing more than heating it and cooling in a specific way. Tempered chocolate is shiny, and breaks off with a snap.
Tempering chocolate is not a requirement – however, there are situations in which you should do it – for example, when you are making decorations out of it, like chocolate bowls. Furthermore, it doesn’t have to be tempered if it’s going to be combined with other ingredients, or if it’s going to be melted.
Another thing worth mentioning is that tempering chocolate is something that takes a lot of time to master. It’s all a process of trial and error – even the best bakers in the world didn’t learn it right away – they took their time to understand how to do it properly. So, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t turn out right the first or second time.
There are many more things that we could say about how to deal with chocolate. However, if we were to mention all of them, you’d be reading it until tomorrow – and that’s not the point. The point is that preparing things with chocolate is not difficult. It can be a fun, bonding experience for you and your loved ones.
The internet is full of recipes, so depending on your skills, you can choose an easy or a difficult one. If your journey with chocolate desserts is just starting, your best bet would be to start from an easy recipe, and gradually make your way into more difficult ones.