Part of chocolate's appeal to the baker or pastry chef is its ability to be shaped and moulded into decorations or containers. This is usually done by melting chocolate and cooling it to a specific temperature, a delicate process called tempering. Home bakers can leave out this step if the chocolate is for immediate use, or use a more forgiving mixture of chocolate and cream called ganache. Melted chocolate or ganache can be used to make domes by various methods.
Stretch a large sheet of plastic film wrap across your work space. Pour the chocolate or ganache onto the film wrap, and spread it as thinly and evenly as possible with a spatula. Let it cool slightly, until it shows signs that it is beginning to set.
Pick up the sheet of film wrap and carefully lower it into the bowl being used as a mould. The chocolate should come all the way up to the rim, or even overlap it slightly. If not, remove the film, spread the chocolate a little more, and try again.
Allow the chocolate to set until firm, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes to harden it. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator. If the dome is to be filled with cake or other items, do so at this stage.
Carefully lift the film wrap from the bowl, and invert the dome onto your work space. Carefully remove the film wrap, and use a heated knife to trim away any rough edges around the base of the dome.
Use one large dome, or several smaller ones as desired, to cover desserts. Use a small amount of additional melted chocolate or ganache to fill and smooth out the wrinkles from the cling film.
Heat the chocolate or ganache until melted, and allow it to cool until just warm. Spray the bowl lightly with cooking spray.
Pour chocolate into your bowl. Tip the bowl up onto its side and rotate it, so the chocolate flows around the inside and coats it with a uniform layer. Pour any excess back into your melting pot.
Continue to rotate the bowl until the chocolate has stopped flowing. Invert the bowl on a sheet of waxed paper for 30 minutes, or until set.
Refrigerate the bowl for 30 minutes to harden the dome. Remove the bowl from refrigeration and gently warm it with your hands. Apply a gentle lateral pressure to the chocolate inside the bowl, so that it loosens and rotates slightly. Invert the bowl and tap it, to remove the dome.
Melt the chocolate or ganache gently. Invert a chilled bowl on your workspace, on a large area of waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic film wrap. Spray the outside of the bowl lightly with cooking spray.
Cool the chocolate until it is just warm to the touch and slightly thickened. Using a large spoon or small ladle, drizzle a thin stream of chocolate over the back of the bowl from edge to edge, crossing the highest part of the bowl.
Make a lattice pattern by drizzling parallel lines of chocolate over the bowl, then turning the bowl 90 degrees and repeating the process. Make the lines thin and close together for a delicate dome, or thicker and further apart for a sturdier one.
Drizzle four thick lines of chocolate in an X pattern across the middle of the bow, as the basis for a basket pattern. Make two or four more thick lines as needed, depending on the size of your bowl, and then thinner lines between them to fill out the frame of the basket.
Turning the bowl as you work, drizzle a thin spiral, or a series of concentric circles, starting at the bottom of the bowl and progressing all the way to its lip. The horizontal circles will complete the basket pattern.
Use one large basket or lattice as a decorative cover for cakes and large items, or several small ones to cover individual desserts.
- To make a stiff ganache for moulding, weigh three parts of dark chocolate to one part double cream. One cup of cream will require approximately 0.68 Kilogram of chocolate. The chocolate should be in small pieces. Heat the cream to scalding in a microwave, and pour it over the chocolate. Stir continuously until all the chocolate has melted, and the mixture is uniformly dark with an attractive sheen. The ganache is now ready to use.
- Domes that will be filled with cake should be as thin as possible. Those that will be used as freestanding decorations can be slightly thicker, for sturdiness.
- Use high-quality chocolate, called "couverture" in bakery supply shops, where possible. Squares of supermarket baking chocolate, or chocolate chips, will give mediocre results and be harder to work with.
- If you have multiple brands of good chocolate to choose from, melt a small amount of each and assess their qualities. Some brands melt to a relatively thick and viscous texture, excellent for a lattice but not for a thin shell. Others melt thin and runny, perfect for making a delicate shell in a bowl but less suited for a lattice or basket.
- Any dome can be inverted and used as a bowl, for decoration or serving.
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