Spending time with your sweetheart is lovely, but the best part of Valentine’s Day is the chocolate. At least, it can be. Working with chocolate can be tricky, so we’ve compiled a few tips (and an easy step-by-step recipe) from head chef Francisco Migoya that will make creating homemade chocolates a little easier—no tempering necessary.
Add a little bit of oil, such as olive or canola, to melted chocolate. This will prevent the chocolate from developing unsightly streaks if you’re not tempering it. The fat from the oil will destabilize the polymorphous fat crystals found in cocoa butter, preventing the crystals from arranging themselves. It’s the same principle used in chocolate-dipped ice cream cones, where the chocolate is mixed with coconut oil, and works beautifully to make chocolate-dipped strawberries.
Water and chocolate are not friends, however a tiny bit of water can be a huge boon to manipulating chocolate to work in your favor. Sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it is attracted to moisture and easily binds to water molecules. The sugars in chocolate are no different. When a few drops of water are added to the chocolate, the sugar will want to bind to the water, no matter how little is added. The reaction causes the chocolate to thicken, making it pipe-able.
You need only a small amount of water (think drops, not teaspoons) to thicken chocolate, and this technique works with any type of chocolate. The amount of water you add will vary depending on the viscosity of the chocolate you’re using, so it’s best to start by mixing just one or two drops into the melted chocolate, and then adjust to the desired thickness. To demonstrate, chef Migoya created dark-chocolate pops, covered in dehydrated strawberries.
First, assemble the pop sticks on a flat surface, such as clear plexiglass or a sheet pan, that is lined with an acetate sheet or parchment paper.
Next, add a few drops of water to the melted dark chocolate.
Transfer the thickened chocolate to a pastry bag. We used a round pastry tip, though any shape could be used to create desired effects.
Pipe the chocolate from one end of the stick to the other, overlapping to create a free-form chocolate latticework.
Once all of the chocolate is piped onto the sticks, add a topping for extra flavor and a punch of color. We used dehydrated strawberries, inspired by the classic combination. Immediately transfer the finished chocolate pops to a refrigerator until you’re ready to serve them. Refrigerating your chocolate will prevent sugar bloom, which creates a white powdery look on the surface of the chocolate.
If you’re still craving more, chef Migoya shared more sweet tips with chef Jamie Gwen. Stay tuned to our blog for even more heartbreakingly good chocolate later this week.