The Chef Within
Chocolate shavings, curls, grates
Holiday foods seem to beg for some special touches. In fact, if you take ordinary foods like brownies and chocolate pudding or a cream pie, that same dish takes on a festive quality by simple topping it with some whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Here are some thoughts on how you might tackle chocolate shavings, curls and grated pieces.
One thing to keep in mind: Milk chocolate is more pliable than bittersweet and semisweet is somewhere in the middle. So buy the chocolate that best meets your needs and experiment with each to understand their properties.
If you wish to grate chocolate you can simply take that back side of a thicker chocolate bar..
and pass it over the largest holes of the grater.
Notice the difference here between chocolate that is grated at room temperature…
and chocolate that is ever so slightly warmed before grating (left side). The size of the grates are much larger when the chocolate has been slightly warmed. You can warm the chocolate by placing it in the microwave at very low power for a short period or you can simply set it on top or the fridge or some other naturally warm spot and let is sit and soften there for a few minutes. If you do get the chocolate too soft just send it to the fridge for a few minutes to reverse the warming.
For curls: take a small amount of chocolate…
and melt it in a small dish. Once again when you are melting chocolate in the microwave, do so on a low power.
Take the melted chocolate and plop it onto a baking sheet that is lined with parchment or wax papaer.
spread it gently and evenly over the paper making it thin but not too thin.
An offset spatula is a great tool for spreading. Take the pan to the fridge and allow to set until firm.
Remove from the fridge and cut into desired widths with a paring knife.
Then take a bench scraper…
and starting at one end press and push the strip of the chocolate, guiding the direction of the curl with your finger. Curls will develop and when they reach the size you want, stop and transfer the curl to another baking sheet lined with parchment.
Once all the curls are made they should be chilled to a firm state and then carefully used or transferred to an airtight container for future use.
For curls: Take the side of a larger chocolate bar and once again you may want to warm it slightly.
Or you can melt a small amount of chocolate in a ramekin…
and create your own chunck of chocolate for shaving and curling.
Take a vegetable peeler and peel the sides to get smaller sized shavings. Peel onto a parchment lined plate so that once the shavings and curls are made they can be chilled and stored for safe keeping.
All these garnishes can be made with chocolate bars, real chocolate chips or a specialty chocolate that you may have purchased. You can also use white chocolate for the same results.