Melt Those Hearts... Chocolate Hearts That is!

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Recipe: Chocolate Hearts by


Almost every sweet food around us is now ‘Chocolate This’ or ‘Chocolate That’ but when it comes to making chocolate, people are more comfortable to leave it to the professionals. Well, no more! 

If you are a true chocolate snob, you have probably tried almost every kind of chocolate in the market and have developed a veritable smorgasbord of tastes for it. Now, in the scale of ‘any chocolatey sweet thing is chocolate, right?’ to ‘chocolate snob’, I’d say that with this recipe, we are dagnab in the middle of it all. Not too gung-ho about cacao mass and such but know enough to look for the right things. 

However, if you do wish to be a chocolexpert (™ ™ ™), there’s a really nice article by Jayne Georgette that you can check out here. It’s actually surprisingly easy to make chocolate and customize it to your preference. Since correctly tempered chocolate can be remolded, you can remodel your creations into wild styles that you come up with. The world is your oyster  chocolate! 

I firmly believe that all ‘good’ cooking can become ‘great’ with just a bit more knowledge about the chemistry going on. 

So, with that in mind, let’s start with the one and only ingredient that we are going to use in this recipe and that’s cooking chocolate (also called ‘Baking chocolate’). Now, cooking chocolate is different from the store-bought chocolate because it hasn’t been tempered yet. And, we are going to temper it. 

Here’s a quick guide on what is chocolate all about:
 

What makes it chocolate?

Cacao beans and Cacao butter. These are the two basic ingredients that combined together in a proprietary formula end up giving us the final version of chocolate. However, for the sake of taste and the stability of the product, companies put in milk solids, sugar, emulsifiers like lecithin, and other bonding agents. Some details of which is shared on the pack you buy to keep in line with the food laws. Manufacturers usually mention the cacao mass in percentages like ‘60% cacao mass’ etc.

What is the difference between dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate?

The color - Haha! Alright, I’ll show myself out.

So anyway, dark or bitter chocolate can contain anywhere from 50-80% cacao mass and the other major ingredients are cacao butter and sugar (this is, of course, optional). Milk chocolate, true to its name, has milk solids and milk sugars added. White chocolate has all of the above, except cacao beans. Meaning, it has cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, vanilla, emulsifiers, etc., but no cacao mass, so some people would say it’s not even chocolate! The white chocolate compound looks creamy and yellowish in color and when tempered, the color turns to ivory.

Health enthusiasts automatically pooh-pooh white chocolate and sweet-toothers do the same to dark chocolate.

What is tempering?

Tempering involves heating chocolate just to the right temperature and letting it cool which allows the crystalline structure of the cocoa butter’s fatty acid glycerides to align properly, making it stable to its environment, shiny, and aromatic. In contrast to the chocolate you know and love, cooking chocolate looks dull and brittle and breaks off easily to the touch. The readily available cooking chocolate that we are going to use is one step away from becoming stable and frankly, deliciously edible. Dark Chocolate: 115 – 118° F (46 – 48° C) Milk Chocolate: 104 – 113° F (40 – 45° C) White Chocolate: 100 – 110° F (38 – 43° C)

Image credit: xkcd.com

So, what are we making today?

We are making chocolate hearts! Oh, you knew? B-buh...O-oh, the title. Anyhoo, you can use any cookie cutter you want (or even chocolate moulds) but I’ll be using a heart-shaped cookie cutter (the 2.75” one) that I got from Sur La Table years ago.

I prefer to use a metal plate instead of glass because a) butter fingers and b) metal cools faster than glass. The plate needs to be super flat so that chocolate doesn't flow out from underneath the cookie cutter. Place the heart at the center of a piece of freshly warmed cake and watch the heart melt into the cake.

You can play around with different types of cooking chocolate to create cool effects. But for now, I like to KISS! (keep it simple, stupid) #gotcha

Ingredients

  • 50 grams of Cooking Chocolate of your choice, chopped

Equipment

  • Spoon, One
  • Heart shaped cookie cutter, Your choice
  • A flat plate, preferably glass or metal
  • Microwave oven
  • Microwave proof bowl, One
  • Refrigerator (optional)
  • Candy Thermometer (optional)

Difficulty

Super Easy

Time

Prep time: Cooking time: Inactive time: 3 minutes Total time:

Serving

Depends on the size of the cookie cutter you chose. Makes 4 hearts with some extra to lick off with a spoon.

Procedure



  1. Place the cookie cutter of your choice in the center of your flat plate. Note: Avoid getting any water into the mix. So, make sure your bowl and spoons are wiped dry.
  2. Put the cooking chocolate in the microwave proof bowl and microwave it for about 30 seconds on high (1000 watts) for dark chocolate, 30 seconds on 800 watts for milk chocolate, and 10 seconds on high for milk chocolate. At this point, the chocolate on the outside would have melted but some of the big chunks and the center of your bowl would still look unmelted and intact. Don’t worry.
  3. Quickly, use a spoon to stir the contents of the bowl. As you stir, you’ll find that the unmelted pieces have now melted in with the rest of the bowl and it looks like a smooth, flowing paste.
  4. Depending on the weather in your area, the chocolate might melt differently. You should be looking for a consistency like honey and your whole kitchen is going to smell like warm, sweet, chocolate. Don’t stir for too long; about 10 seconds should give you the required result.
  5. If it hasn’t yet hit the right consistency or there are still some large pieces left, then pop the bowl back in the microwave oven for 10 seconds on high (1000 watts) and stir again until you hit the right smoothness. Be careful of doing this though, it can be easy to go overboard with heating the chocolate and once it hits the point of no return, i.e. higher than the temperature range that your chocolate can sustain, you won’t be able to recover the chocolate. If it’s overheated, the chocolate turns into unyielding chunks or gets burned. Be patient and stir as soon as you pull it out of the microwave oven, and you should easily get the chocolate smoothness you desire (#thatswhatshesaid #dunnohowsomejokeswork)
  6. Now, hold up your chocolate bowl on top of your cookie cutter setup and spoon some melted chocolate into the center. Trail some to the sides of the cookie cutter until the entire area is just covered.
  7. If the weather outside your window is cool enough (in the 20s celsius or lower) then you can leave the mold setup out to cool to room temperature which should take about 3 minutes. If the weather is super hot like it sometimes get over here (it can actually hit 45 degree celsius!) then carefully move it to the fridge for 3 minutes or so.
  8. You'll know it's done when the chocolate heart will come away from the sides and will easily slide off the cookie cutter and the plate when you tilt it. The chocolate is smooth, glossy, and produces a crisp snap sound when you break it. That’s how you know you’ve done it. Booyakasha!


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