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Stephanie van Vuuuren is South Africa's award winning chocolatier, who recently won a silver award at the International Chocolate Awards in London.
The independent competition recognises excellence in fine chocolate making and in the products made with the chocolate.
Always try and use the best quality chocolate
This will have a direct effect on the final result not only with regards to taste, but also texture and presentation. Higher cocoa content will give a stronger chocolate flavour and colour.
If you use couverture and you would like to mould, or shape the chocolate, you will need to temper it before use. Other types of chocolate that do not contain cocoa butter do not require tempering.
When melting chocolate, try to avoid heating it in large intervals without mixing.
Most microwaves have hot and cold spots and this can cause the chocolate in one spot to burn and perhaps not melt in another spot.
Also keep in mind that the residual heat in the bowl and chocolate will continue the melting process after you remove it from the microwave, so be cognoscente of this fact when melting for longer periods.
Using a double boiler is sometimes better because you can see the process happening, but be careful of the steam and hot bowl, and ensure that no water makes contact with the chocolate.
Baking? Add coffee
If you are baking with chocolate, adding coffee will help add depth of flavour. This should be done with a small amount of water to dissolve the coffee if you are using instant, and then added to the recipe.
Shavings = decor goals
Run a peeler along the side of a chocolate slab to create beautiful chocolate shavings to decorate desserts or cakes
Chocolate has a myriad of uses
It used to be medicinal before we started processing it and adding sugars. Try to use darker chocolate in a sauce with savoury dishes, like duck or steaks. Chocolate should not just be limited to a slab or a milkshake.