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MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE PROPER TOOLS!
A Mercury-Gauge Chocolate Thermometer: is essential when melting chocolate, especially when tempering. It measures the molten chocolate's temperature in 1-degree increments unlike a candy thermometer. A chocolate thermometer is available from cookware stores. Only use a digital pocket thermometer or an instant read dial thermometer if it comes with l-degree increments. Do not use a candy (deep fat frying) thermometer because the temperature gauge does not register finely and/or low enough.
A chocolate thermometer is best used when measuring large amounts of chocolate (about 1 pound and more). For small amounts of chocolate used in baking recipes, there's no need to measure with a Chocolate Thermometer; just watch carefully and remove from heat when just melted. Keep stirring until fully melted.
Make sure it works properly: Test it for accuracy EVERYTIME you use it for a new project. First, boil water and remove from heat. Then, dip the thermometer in, making sure the bulb is immersed, while counting to 5 seconds. Do not touch the tip of the thermometer to the bottom or sides of the pot while doing so. At eye level, make sure the thermometer reads 212 degrees F, the boiling point of water (at sea level). If it doesn't, compensate as necessary or purchase a new one if it is far off.
To use a chocolate thermometer: Always stir the chocolate vigorously for at least 1 minute before inserting the thermometer and continue to stir towards the thermometer during the reading. When using, do not let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom or sides of the bowl because this can give a false reading.
Double Boiler: Chocolate should never be melted over direct heat because it burns easily. A double-boiler places the chocolate over a lower source of heat, such as hot water to melt, instead. You can also use a heavy bottomed metal sauce pan fitted with a heat-proof glass bowl.
Heat-proof spatula: Also, a wire whisk is good to have with a heat-proof handle. Do not use wooden utensils, as they may contain water, causing the chocolate to seize.
Large and sharp serrated knife
Cutting board: not wood because it could contain moisture
Offset Spatula: It makes the job easier when making chocolate confections. The blade is set about an inch lower than the handle.
Dipping Forks (optional): Used for dipping centers with, they have thin and small tines. They are very handy and can be purchased from a cake decorating store. If you don't have any, I have successfully used eating forks, instead.
Squeeze Bottle (heat-proof): Difficult to use when using tempered chocolate and trying to keep it in temper). Makes pouring chocolate into the molds neater and faster. Melt chocolate first. Let it cool slightly and pour melted chocolate into squeeze bottle. Cut off tip of squeeze bottle for easier pouring. If there is still melted chocolate in bottle that starts to harden, place bottle into a pan of hot tap water. This will keep chocolate melted until you are ready to pour again. Dry the bottle thoroughly before using or adding in more chocolate. To clean, empty remainder of chocolate in a bowl and put squeeze bottle in freezer. Take it out and squeeze the bottle, which will crack the chocolate and remove it from its sides. Then, place the pieces in a clean plastic bag for storage.
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