All recipes and instructions below from Valerie's cookbook, Sweet—a James Beard Foundation Award Finalist (Artisan Books, Copyright © 2013), which is available on
Amazon.comand at bookstores nationwide.
Melting chocolate is a very simple process as long as you monitor the temperature and watch the chocolate closely. There are three methods of melting chocolate: in the top of a double boiler, in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, or in a microwave. Here are a few basic rules to follow regardless of which method you choose.
Tempering chocolate is the process of breaking down chocolate's elements so it can be used in a different form. For instance, if you have a perfect, shiny block of chocolate and you want to transform it into chocolate bark, you'll need to melt the chocolate and then resolidify it in a different shape. In order to perform this magic, first you melt 75% of the chocolate and heat it to a specific temperature. Then the remaining 25%, the "seed" chocolate, is added to the molten chocolate, which cools down the larger mass while stabilizing the whole structure. When the chocolate reaches the specified temperature, it is successfully tempered.
The elements that separate in the melting process are cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and sugar. If those components are left to cool and solidify on their own, the result will be a white-streaked, dull, chalky mass. Careful monitoring of temperature and continuous movement of the chocolate are necessary for successful tempering. When you temper chocolate, the room temperature should be between 60° and 68°F. If your kitchen is more than a couple of degrees outside of the range, postpone your chocolate work for another day: If the room is too cold, the tempered chocolate will set thick very quickly, possibly too rapidly for you to use it. If the room is too hot, the chocolate will bloom or not set. Pour any leftover chocolate onto parchment. After it solidifies, break it into pieces and store in a Ziploc bag or an airtight container for future use.
Tempered Bittersweet Chocolate
(Makes 1 pound)
12 ounces 61% to 75% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces 61% to 75% bittersweet chocolate chips or feves or solid bar chocolate if you prefer Recipe:
Chocolate Bar Construction
Using a medium-sized ladle, pour tempered chocolate into your mold, filling it halfway. Holding the mold with one hand on each side, horizontally, agitate the mold on a solid surface to remove any trapped air. At this point you can create a variety of flavors; the following are a few suggestions: ¼ teaspoon of ground spices OR ½ teaspoon of Fleur de Sel OR ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper & ¼ teaspoon of grey sea salt OR ½ teaspoon of ground green tea and a few dried roses Recipe:
For more information on Valerie Gordon and Valerie Confections, go to www.valerieconfections.com.
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