Chocolate: the cure for a heartbreak, the perfect dessert, your go-to guilty pleasure, and apparently, a gentle creature that needs to be nurtured and properly taken care of during baking.
This favorite treat for the masses should actually be labeled as "fragile: handle with care" when it comes to cooking with it in the kitchen.
There's a lot more to this sweet treat than we thought we knew, so we're turning to an expert who can teach us all about the mysteries and wonders of America's favorite sweet.
Meet Kyle BartoneKyle is a pastry sous chef at a restaurant in Chicago called Eataly. He loves posting pictures of his beautiful food creations on Instagram and his header on Twitter is a picture of a gorgeous pie (he's a true foodie). He works with chocolate quite a bit in his chef endeavors so he has had his fair share of experiences with this delicacy. Let's hear what Kyle has to say about the good, the bad and the sticky when it comes to chocolate.
Disclaimer:The hard part for me about cooking or baking with chocolate is resisting the urge to finish all of it before I even begin using it. Here's a tip not from a pastry chef: do not consume all your chocolate before cooking. I mean, a little nibble is not bad, but don't go crazy. Stay focused and practice self-control. If you can get past this, then you can master the art of cooking with chocolate. Now, let's get to the good stuff.
1. Serrated Knives Are Your FriendsBartone, along with other chefs, encourage using serrated knives to chop chocolate. The jagged edge cuts through the hard surface of chocolate much easier than a straight blade. Serrated knives are not only for efficiency, but comfort as well. "Trust me on this one — it saves my hand from cramping up on a daily basis," Bartone says. I trust him, no questions asked.
2. Blooming is Not Bad
via: ShutterstockYou know when you leave your chocolate out and it gets kind of white and almost ashy looking? That means your chocolate has bloomed, which is a result of improper temperature. But Bartone says, take heart! This is not a reason to throw away your chocolate. "You can always start over," Bartone says. "Just remelt the chocolate. The bloom will disappear and look good as new." Hallelujah, the chocolate has been saved.
3. The Fridge Is A No-No Zone
Chocolate does not belong in the fridge 🙃— Kayleigh Devine (@Kayleigh Devine)1521013127.0
4. Direct Heat Is The EnemyWhen you want to melt chocolate, you have two options: either put it in the microwave or use a double boiler. Avoid, at all costs, melting it in a pot on your stove. Chocolate can burn easily and quickly, so a stove top method will most likely ruin it. For most of us, using a microwave is probably the method we will use, so Bartone has a tip for us soon-to-be chocolatiers. "Melt it in 10 second increments — I know this sounds like a pain, but it'll make sure the chocolate doesn't burn."
5. Wood and Rubber OnlyIf you've learned anything so far, I hope it's that chocolate is a sensitive creature that needs to be protected and treated with care and respect. Take this into consideration for this next tip. A metal spoon can actually shock the chocolate and change its consistency. It is usually either very hot or very cold. "I always stir my chocolate with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula," Bartone suggests. "This makes sure that it doesn't shock the chocolate and cause it to clump up." Nothing worse than a shocked pile of chocolate.
6. Plastic Wrap For A Classy TouchYou know how in movies, chocolate always looks shiny and squeaky clean? Well, Bartone knows the secret. When you want your chocolate to harden and dry with a shiny finish, use plastic wrap. It will give it that classy, professional look. "This gives it a super shiny finish," Bartone says. "And if you crinkle the plastic wrap up a bit, it'll give you a cool texture that makes chocolate bark look really cool." Chocolate; so magical, so mysterious.
7. Dip It Real GoodIf you're trying to dip items into your melted chocolate but find that the consistency just isn't up to your expectations, Bartone knows just what to do and uses a little bit of science to explain it. "Chocolate is a fat system," explains Bartone, "so without getting too nerdy, this means you can add fat to it without it seizing up." The problem with some melted chocolate is that it is too thick to get an even layer on whatever it is you are trying to dip in. "If you need to thin out your chocolate, make sure to use fat (like vegetable oil, butter, or cocoa butter), not a liquid." Bartone, you are a wizard.
8. Caution: Candy Melts
For all you sweet tooth's out there, 2 for £5 on all Wilton candy melts! #Dundee #hobbycraft #candy #candymelts https://t.co/fhP9O8tSxg— Hobbycraft Dundee (@Hobbycraft Dundee)1521474803.0
9. White Chocolate Is A Whole New Ball GameIf you thought regular chocolate required extra treatment, wait until you meet white chocolate. Okay, it's not that much more difficult. Bartone says that all we need to know is that white chocolate melts much quicker, making it also easier to burn. "When melting white chocolate, just keep this in mind and go very slowly. As soon as it's warm, it's melted," Bartone says.
10. Chocolate Chips--The Good and The Bad
<I always wondered how the chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies didn't melt into weird puddles after they were baked; they just held their perfect, pointy little shape. That's because most chocolate chips were made to keep their shape, making them great for cookies, but not so great to melt for dipping. "A lot of chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape and not melt," Bartone says. "This is because they're sometimes made with added soy lecithin to increase their melting temperature." Trying to melt chocolate chips is actually quite difficult, so try to avoid it if you can and just stick with melting bars of chocolate.