One of the most exhilarating things about being a baker is working with chocolate. I haven’t even begun to explore all the myriad ways of playing with it, shaping it, cutting it, melting it, coating with it, etc. and I look forward to doing just that on this blog.
Let’s start with something simple today — making chocolate curls. For years I tried to make chocolate curls using the Betty Crocker instructions I read about as a little girl: take a piece of chocolate and use a peeler to peel off curls. Except, that never worked for me. I ended up with 1/4-1/2-inch wide curls, and though that was cute I really was expecting something more. I tried the bigger bars, hoping the size would help, but I was still just moderately successful.
Then on one of my cake-baking periods (around 1998) I stumbled across a method in a cake-decorating book published in Australia (sorry, that was so long ago and I didn’t take notes, so I can’t tell you the name). The solution was so simple that I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. But of course, I wasn’t any less grateful. At any rate, making really wide chocolate curls is so easy and painless that I’ve been making my curls this way ever since.
Simply melt some chocolate — I like using dark bittersweet but you can try other chocolates too. There are also formulas for making “curling chocolate” but I won’t bother with that for now. You then pour the melted chocolate onto a clean, flat surface, like a cutting board, or marble. Let that cool, or chill in the fridge if you like (some purists will frown at that, but it works for me just fine). When it’s firmed up, it’s ready for some curling action. (If you put it in the fridge, take it out about 10 minutes before you’re ready to begin.)
Take the flat edge of a knife, or even a bench press, or a spatula — whatever works for you, and start scraping the surface of the chocolate towards you. Experiment with different angles, pressure, direction, etc. and you’ll come up with different kinds of curls, ruffles, waves, etc. You can also try making chocolate curls at different temperatures, e.g., right out of the refrigerator, 5 minutes later, 10 minutes later, etc. You’ll see that you get different results, and each has its own peculiarities that will in itself give you ideas for ways to garnish and make your baked goods extra-special. Enjoy!