I love chocolate. Everyone loves Chocolate.
Okay, not EVERYONE, in fact my BFF, Jacquelin, hates the stuff.
I remember once when we were in high school we went to get ice cream and upon entering the store, Jacquelin’s face started to look a little funny. All of a sudden she bolted. Straight out of the shop.
They were making chocolate dipped waffle cones and the smell, which I was thoroughly enjoying, made her nauseous enough to head for the hills! I must say though, when push comes to shove, Jacquelin will still eat a Fantale, so there’s definitely a tiny bit of chocolate-love hiding inside even the biggest chocolate-hater!
Aside from the ‘Jacquelins’ of the world, who I truly believe are few and far between, most people adore the stuff. Today I’m going to run through a few of the basics when it comes to chocolate and cooking with it, and then I want to hear all of your chocolate tips, chocolate stories and dream-come-true chocolate recipes (I’ve included one of my favourites below for my famous Chocolate ‘Lasagne’!)
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOCOLATE
1) It all starts with the Theobroma Cacao, or more commonly, the Cacao Tree. The fruit of the Cacao Tree is the Cacao Pod and inside these pods are Cacao Beans (or nibs). Chocolate is the product resulting from a long and intricate process that begins with these special little beans.
2) There are loads of different types of chocolate, but when the average person is asked about this their mind normally goes straight to “Milk”, “Dark” and “White.” As I am sure you have heard many times before, White Chocolate “isn’t really chocolate” as it contains no cocoa solids (from the chocolate liquor.) Chocolate liquor is pure chocolate in liquid form i.e. the cacao bean, that has undergone several processes, been separated from its skin and then melted.
3) You often hear the words “Couverture Chocolate” bandied around, especially on all of these reality TV cooking shows! But what does it mean? “Couverture Chocolate” refers to the high-end stuff. It’s pretty much the best you can get. To be classed as “Couverture” the chocolate has to be made from a minimum of 32% cocoa butter. It has a super silky texture and is exceptionally rich in flavour. Yum!
4) Tempering chocolate is the process of treating chocolate so that it retains a shine, is ultra smooth and has the perfect snap-factor. When you buy a block of chocolate at the supermarket, it has already been tempered. However, if you melt this at home to make something e.g. Easter eggs using a mould, you will need to temper it again if you want your final product to also be smooth, shiny, and snap like there’s no tomorrow when it is eaten.
5) The best (and safest!) way to melt chocolate so as to prevent it from seizing up is over a double boiler. To do this fill the base of a saucepan with water. Place a bowl on top of the saucepan so that it sits there comfortably (you will need to find matching sizes.) Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not in direct contact with the water, if it is, empty some water out. Turn on the stove to a medium heat and start stirring the chocolate. Do this continuously until all chocolate is melted.