Tempered chocolate is a wonderful raw material from which to make elegant chocolate garnishes. Tempering chocolate adds sheen to the chocolate and hardens it to break with a clean snap. The tempering process calls for raising and lowering melted chocolate's temperature, which evenly distributes cocoa butter solids and yields a smooth, shiny final product. Garnishes made from tempered chocolate can dress up desserts or adorn an elaborately decorated cake.
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Chocolate leaves go well with gum paste flowers on cakes and desserts. To make, start by washing fresh leaves and drying them completely, making sure there is no trace of water present. Brush melted tempered chocolate on the undersides of the leaves if you want the veins to show; otherwise, brush the tops of the leaves. Paint on at least two coats of chocolate so that the leaves are strong. Place on clean waxed paper and allow the leaves to dry completely before carefully peeling them off the chocolate. Use nontoxic leaves from ivy or rose bushes to ensure safety.
Chocolate lace is decorative and elaborate to look at and needs minimal effort to make. Make a piping bag from parchment paper and fill halfway with tempered chocolate. Snip off the corner and start piping scrolls and squiggles on clean waxed paper. Allow the decorations to dry completely before using. Pipe the designs separately if you want to use them individually or pipe the chocolate lace in one piece and break off into pieces to use them on the sides of a cake.
Chocolate Lace Shards
Chocolate lace shards provide a contrast of white and dark chocolate and form an attractive garnish for individual cakes. Fill a piping bag with tempered dark chocolate. Pipe loops and scrolls on waxed paper and allow them to dry completely. Spread tempered white chocolate on the dark chocolate scrolls in a smooth and even layer. Allow it to dry and cut into squares or break into irregular pieces and place on cakes and desserts as garnishes.
Small curls of chocolate look impressive piled in the middle of a cake. Use a mixture of white and dark chocolate curls for an interesting garnish. Spread tempered chocolate on a marble slab or baking tray in a layer about 1/8-inch thick. Allow it to set slightly and scrape tiny curls using a narrow spatula or a thin knife. Gather the curls and store in the refrigerator to avoid melting.
Stunning flat chocolate garnishes require no more than a mould or cookie cutter. Use Christmas-themed cookie cutters for garnishing holiday desserts or fall leaves and turkey-shaped cookie cutters for a Thanksgiving party dessert. Spread tempered chocolate on waxed paper and allow it to cool slightly. Use clean and dry cookie cutters to cut the chocolate into the desired shape. Remove the cutout and store in the refrigerator. Scrape unused chocolate from the sides and melt it again to reuse it.
Chocolate filigree forms a delicate garnish. Use it in one big piece or break it into small pieces to garnish small cakes and desserts. Use a filigree design template. Place a clean transparent acetate sheet over the design and tape or staple it in place. Fill a piping bag with tempered chocolate and start piping from one corner, following the design carefully. Remove any mistakes immediately with a knife. Allow the design to dry in the refrigerator and use as desired.
Marbleised chocolate garnishes are thematically appropriate for cakes with complex flavours, since they reflect the melding of flavours. Spread tempered dark chocolate on a marble or granite slab or on a baking tray. Immediately pour small puddles of tempered white chocolate on the dark chocolate and swirl with a spatula until the chocolate is marbleised. Allow the chocolate to dry completely before breaking into pieces to use as garnish.
Chocolate cigarettes often sit next to plated desserts or accompany hot chocolate. Spread tempered chocolate in a thin layer on a marble or granite slab or on a baking tray. Allow it to set slightly. Use a cake-decorating triangle to push the chocolate from one end into a roll. Since the chocolate is not completely set, it will roll easily. Remove the roll on to a chilled baking tray and place in the freezer until time for use.
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