7 chefs tricks with chocolate

Give your chocolate desserts a little finesse with these tricks of the trade.
Joe Filshie

These clever ideas will save you time in the kitchen and give your sweet treats a gourmet touch in just a few minutes.

1 Hearts desire

Decorate mousses, cakes and lush desserts with little lattice pieces. Draw desired shapes onto baking paper and turn the baking paper over. Spoon melted chocolate into a snap lock bag and snip the corner. Pipe the outline of the shape, then pipe squiggles of chocolate to fill in the shape. Allow to set before removing from the baking paper. Using a metal palette knife or spatula makes it easier.

2 Sassy shavings

Want a quick garnish- turn a block of chocolate on the side and peel with a vegetable peeler. It makes quick shavings perfect for mousses, desserts, ice cream sundaes, coffee and shakes. Pile them on for the best effect.

3 Crazy curls

You can melt and set chocolate to make simple curls – or you can use the back of a block of chocolate. Great when you’re short on time. Using a block of chocolate at room temperature, and holding a chef’s knife at a 45-degree angle. Scrape the chocolate block into shards, pushing the knife away from you across the chocolate block. Warm the chocolate for 30 sec, in the microwave and repeat the same action to make larger curls.

4 Scoops of indulgence

Creating a show-stopper, this takes a little time and patience but it’s worth the effort. Spread melted chocolate onto a dry marble surface or a plate will also do the trick. Chocolate needs to be about 1cm thick. Set aside until just set but not too hard. Using a dessertspoon, drag the edge across the chocolate to form a thick chocolate scoop. Allow to set on baking paper.

5 Dipped for pleasure

You can dip just about anything in chocolate for an instant dessert or garnish. Try berries, cherries, meringues or even sliced fruits like banana or kiwifruit. Melt chocolate and cool slightly. Dip washed and dried fruits into the chocolate and let set on baking, for sliced fruits, pat dry with paper towel before dipping.

6 Solid love

Chocolate shapes are great for decorating kids cakes, desserts and special occasion cakes. Spread melted and cooled chocolate onto a sheet of baking paper using a palette knife or spatula. Spread to about 3mm thick. Allow to almost set and then using a cutter, cut into any shape you like. You can even cut numbers and letters. Remove the shapes, carefully pushing from inside the cutter. Spray cutters lightly with spray oil if needed to make it easier to remove the shapes. Allow to firm before using.

7 That’s perfection

Ever wondered how cooks shape truffles to be all the same size, and almost perfectly round. Use a melon baller. Allow your truffle mix to set firm, but not hard. Then using a melon baller scoop the mixture into balls. Roll quickly with your hands and coat in nuts or coconut. Chill until required.

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