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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dark Chocolate

I love chocolates and all kinds of chocolate desserts. My favorite these days is a piece of really good quality dark chocolate. Just a small piece is enough as long as it is good quality. In my quest to try and make everything at home, I decided to try my hand at making chocolate at home. I first tried my hand at making milk chocolate using my Mom's recipe and it was a resounding success. The kids loved it. After that success, I decided to buy a packet of good quality cocoa butter and try out my hand at dark chocolate. I scoured the web for recipes and methods. My first try was with equal proportion of cocoa butter and cocoa powder and cold maple syrup. It tasted great but did not set well and remained soft even after keeping it in the fridge for a while.

So I went back to research the factors on which the texture of the chocolate depended. The main variables seem to be the proportion of cocoa powder to cocoa butter, and the temperature during the process of making chocolate and how quickly it is set. So with a better understanding of these factors, the tempering process (which makes the chocolate set in a crystalline pattern which provides the much needed snap), and the seeding process (by which the crystalline structure begins development), I decided to give it another go and this time the results were much better. The chocolate set beautifully and got the correct texture.  I also used chocolate molds and this gave the chocolate a gourmet look. The taste was also rich and I needed only 3 ingredients.

After this successful experiment, I plan on using a thermometer to better manage the tempering process and also trying different flavors. And of course I will post updated recipes with details to make it easier and foolproof for you to get the perfect dark chocolate.


Ingredients
1/4 cup raw cocoa butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder, dutch processed, unsweetened
4-5 tsp maple syrup


Method
Sieve the cocoa powder to remove any lumps and set aside. Finely chop or grate the cocoa butter. Fill a small saucepan with about an inch of water. Heat it up till you can see bubbles on the surface and then reduce the heat to low. Place a glass or ceramic bowl, which is heat proof and can be used in the oven or microwave, on the saucepan. The bowl should be large enough to completely cover the saucepan opening. This set up is called a double boiler and is used to provide indirect heat to the chocolate so that it doesn't overheat. Add the cocoa butter to the bowl and once you see it start to melt, warm up the maple syrup for 15 seconds in the microwave. It should be at room temperature or lukewarm. Once the cocoa butter is completely melted, add the maple syrup and stir, so that it is well mixed and a homogenous liquid.

Take the bowl off the saucepan and wipe the base of the bowl which has a layer of the condensed water. Turn off the heat and move the saucepan off the stove top. Now add the cocoa powder and stir well till you get a beautifully dark glistening liquid which takes about a 20 seconds to a minute. Pour this into the chocolate mold and then keep it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes till completely set. Remove the chocolate from the mold by following the instructions on the mold package. Store in fridge.


Tips
Make sure that not even a drop of water falls into the mixture during the process, as this will cause the chocolate to seize and then the chocolate won't set and will become a mess. Use a glass or ceramic bowl rather than a steel bowl as it seems to help maintain the heat better. If you do not have a chocolate mold, you can use cup cake liners as molds to shape the chocolate. Else you can pour it in a pan and let it set as a chocolate slab and break it into pieces.

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