Cooking with chocolate: The tasty yet temperamental ingredient

Chocolate is a versatile and delicious ingredient whether you’re baking a cake, making brownies or creating a delicious dessert. But this foodstuff is also a little delicate and should be treated with care during the cooking process.

Whether you’re crafting little treats to hide behind the doors of hand-made advent calendar or making a mouth-watering mousse, here are some points to remember when cooking with chocolate.

Always take your time

There’s no point in rushing it when you’re creating your masterpiece and this ingredient requires time and a little additional patience. Anyone who has ever cooked using this foodstuff will know that speed is not of the essence. Stirring continuously will be required to ensure an even melt while keeping an eye on that all-important temperature. Think of chocolate as that sensitive ingredient that needs careful handling throughout the cooking process.

choclateBe mindful of heat

Heat is not this ingredient’s friend and most cooking disasters with chocolate will be caused by excessive temperatures. If the heat is too high this can cause chocolate to become grainy in texture and it can lead to splitting. The only way back from that error is start all over again. Remember that chocolate doesn’t like water or steam; it only takes a small drop of water to turn your lovely melted chocolate turn into a bit of a lumpy mess.

A rescue remedy

If splitting is imminent then take the pro-active rescue step of stirring in a little vegetable oil as this can often help although it’s not a sure fire cure. Some of the best ways to avoid splitting includes chopping up chocolate into small pieces before you begin melting. Sitting your bowl of chopped choc into a pan of heated water is one of the safest ways to melt. When it comes to storage always use an airtight container as this ingredient does not like temperature fluctuations.

Some tips when cooking

Chocolate may be a little temperamental but don’t be afraid to experiment. You can add some flavour enhancing ingredients to give an extra kick and these can include cinnamon, ginger, rosemary or even chilli. If you’re using dark chocolate then add a touch of salt to eliminate the bitterness but don’t overdo it. To make your melted chocolate even more luxurious you can add some warm cream to the mix; 50% cream to 50% melted chocolate.

When cooking, think of chocolate as that friend you love to see but be aware of how sensitive they are. With Christmas on the horizon there’s no better time to bring out those cake and dessert recipes to get in some practice before the big day arrives.

Image by Michelle@TNS, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

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