Ah, chocolate. That rich, creamy dessert of choice for so many around the world. Its flavors and versatility make it a popular choice to incorporate into desserts and other dishes. But with so many varieties, how do you do know how to use it to its full potential in your own recipes? Read on to find some tips for cooking with chocolate.
Choosing the right type of chocolate can shift a dish’s flavors drastically, whether you’re intending to or not. For example, something like milk chocolate in a recipe that calls for bittersweet will make your recipe much sweeter with less chocolatey flavor. Baking chocolate is unsweetened, so if you substitute it with another type, make sure you adjust your recipe’s sugar levels accordingly. You can decide which chocolates will work best by comparing their ingredients: the more cacao, the darker, more bitter flavor it will have, and the more cocoa butter and sugar, the sweeter and milkier it will be.
When cooking with chocolate, it’s common to need melted chocolate, which is tasty, but all too easily scorched. I like to heat my chocolate in the microwave in 10 second bursts, stirring well in between. Even when it doesn’t look melted, sometimes a little stirring is all it needs to liquefy. Doing this or adding more unmelted pieces into your melted chocolate will temper it, giving it that nice shine. If you want a gentler method than a microwave, a homemade double boiler works best. With either method you choose, using small pieces of chocolate will help it melt evenly and smoothly. If you have it, bar chocolate is actually better for melting than chocolate chips, but chips are still usable. They just might take some more stirring.
We’ve all seen beautiful chocolate curls, shavings and leaves on desserts, and you can learn to make them yourself. If you’re looking for a simple yet beautiful chocolate topping, though, my favorite is a chocolate ganache. I like to drizzle it over a cake or dip the tops of mini cupcakes into it to give them a delicious, smooth finish. Ganache isn’t too sweet (thanks, semisweet chocolate) and adds a richer texture and flavor than frosting does. The best part is that you can dip strawberries, bananas or pretzels into the leftover ganache or pour it over ice cream as a gooey, warm topping.
Want to learn more about cooking delicious chocolate treats? Join us for our Death by Chocolate class. Perfect for chocolate lovers, indulge in some death by chocolate goodies while learning the basics about chocolate. Truffles, bonbons, molten lava cake, triple chocolate cheesecake, chocolate mousse cups, the list goes on! Call 405.377.3333 with questions or register here. To find out about more courses like this sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. View all of our upcoming courses in our digital catalog.
Abby McCain is the Communications and Marketing Secretary at Meridian Technology Center.
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