Thursday, 5 April 2012

CHOCOLATE MADE EASY– some tips and tricks to help you with the recipes from our hot chocolate feature




Would the world revolve without chocolate?
Well certainly not here at the food dept....

Chocolate is a divine product made from the seeds of a mexican tree, called the Theobroma Caco. The fruit contains seeds which are fermented dried and roasted and processed into cocoa liquor. It is then further processed and mixed in various forms with fat and sugar to produce chocolate.

Varieties of chocolate
White Chocolate
A purest might say, it is not chocolate at all. White chocolate has virtually no cocoa at all but is a blend of fat, sugar, milk solids and vanilla. White chocolate tends to be the trickiest to melt, but some say the yummiest to eat.

Milk Chocolate
Paler in colour, milk chocolate is a sweet chocolate with a lower cocoa content, and a higher amount of milk solids and sugar. It is mostly enjoyed as confectionary, but can be used in baking, especially in the form of chocolate chips.

Dark Chocolate is commonly found in 3 types: 
Semi Sweet Dark Chocolate
Has a higher content of cocoa compared with milk chocolate, anywhere between 35-62%. Semi sweet contains a smaller amount of milk solids and is the chocolate that is mostly sold for baking in supermarkets.

Bittersweet Chocolate
Contains between 60-85% cocoa and therefore less sugar, giving it that bitter but sweet taste. It is mostly used for cooking but if you’re a dark chocolate fan you might not be able to resist it. The good thing about it is that it satisfies some people’s chocolate cravings in smaller quantities.

Unsweetened Chocolate
Contains about 99% cocoa. But don’t be fooled, the high percentage suggests there is virtually no sugar, so it is not really suitable for eating, it is better used for cooking.

Storing
As chocolate has a high fat content it should be stored in a cool dark place. Don’t be tempted to put it in the refrigerator, as it will sweat when brought to room temperature. Keep it in an airtight container so that it doesn’t take on flavours of anything that it is stored near. If chocolate gets that grey powdery look to it, it has become too hot during storage and the cocoa and fat content have started to separate.

How to melt chocolate

Chocolate melts beautifully in the microwave. The trick is to melt it in shorts bursts of 30 seconds at 50% power. Allow it to rest for 30 seconds between each cooking and give it a little stir each time until the chocolate has melted. Be patient and wait between each cooking as residual heat will continue to melt it. If chocolate is over heated it will seize and become dry and grainy. This can also happen if water is introduced to the melting chocolate, be careful to always use clean dry utensils. If you would rather not use the microwave, place the chocolate in a clean and dry heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Give it an occasional stir until melted and then remove the bowl from the saucepan. Make sure that the bowl does not touch the water and that the water is not boiling. Again over heating or water splashed in will cause the chocolate to seize.
 
The most important thing to remember with
Chocolate is to enjoy! 

Here's a quick little recipe for truffles
.... just in time for Easter





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