Chocolate - Panels or Strips

Melted chocolate can be used to create artistic designs with. One of my favorites is to create chocolate panels or strips to be placed around a cake. They add an incredible decorative and elegant touch!  

This how to baking technique is used with the Nouveau Christmas Fruitcake recipe to embellish an already frosted cake! The cake is a three layer, 9 x 2-inch cake.
SARAH SAYS: The decorative trees how-to on top of the cake can be found on the 
Edible Chocolate Crunch Trees recipe.

12 ounces of good quality white chocolate or chocolate chips

You will make 3 large chocolate strips.
1. Cut a piece of parchment paper 16-inches long.

2. Make three strips of parchment measuring 5- x 16-inches
Standard parchment sheets are 15-inches across, so make three strips that are 5-inches across.

2. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, over simmering water.

3. Put one parchment strip on your work surface. Have the long side face you. Place about 1/4 cup of the melted white chocolate on the strip.

4. Immediately spread the chocolate, using a large offset spatula, making sure to completely cover the sides and bottom of the strip. Leave about 1-inch of the top of the strip uncovered.

5. Quickly make a wavy pattern in the chocolate on the top edge, by moving the spatula up and down on the surface of the chocolate, leaving pleasant soft curves in the chocolate.

6. Pick up the strip, by grabbing the two top corners, and place it on the back of a metal half sheet pan.
Repeat with the second strip. 
When the third strip is done, you will need to use the back of another sheet pan, as each half sheet pan only has room for two strips.

7. When all three chocolate strips are done, place the sheet pans in the refrigerator until you need them to finish the icing the cake.

Apply the white chocolate panels; you will need 21:
1. Remove one white chocolate coated strips from the refrigerator.
Carefully release the strip from the paper, by peeling the parchment paper from the back of the chocolate taking care not to crack the chocolate.  

2. Place the chocolate, on the parchment paper, with the smooth edge and long side facing you.
 Briefly heat the edge of a knife or a bench scraper and cut the strip into pieces in slightly varying widths of between 1 1/2-inch to 2-inches along the length of the white chocolate. Do not trim the swirled edge at the top of the pieces. 

3. Hold a panel up to the side of your cake, with the smooth end of the chocolate at the bottom, to see how much you will need to trim it.
With a warm knife edge, trim off enough of the smooth end of the panel so that it is only 1/2-inch taller than the cake. A slight variation in the height of each panel is fine.

4. Gently press the panel into the buttercream on the side of the cake, with the smooth edge of the chocolate at the bottom and the swirled edge at the top.

5. Continue in this manner, overlapping the panels by a little over 1/4-inch.

 NOTE: The chocolate panel covered cake can be stored in the refrigerator if it is frosted or iced with a perishable recipe

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