Let's talk proper chocolate handling technique. If you make candy regularly, chances are you'll be frequently asked to melt some chocolate for the recipe. But it's not as simple as just throwing a chocolate bar into the microwave and hoping for the best.
Before you melt your chocolate, you will want to chop it into small, uniform pieces. Some brands of chocolate can be purchased in wafer sizes or bite-sized bars that don’t require chopping. However, if you buy large bars of chocolate or bulk chocolate, you will absolutely need to chop it before melting. Having chocolate in small, uniform pieces means that it will melt faster, more evenly, and be less prone to overheating.
Tools Needed to Chop Chocolate and How to Use Them
When it comes to chopping chocolate, you have 3 basic choices: a chocolate chipper, a chef's knife, or a serrated knife.
A chocolate chipper is a specialty tool that is used to break up large blocks of chocolate. It's most useful for huge bulk bars and tends to be overkill for smaller, consumer-sized bars. It typically looks like a small, sharp rake, with a wooden handle and 5 to 6 very sharp metal spikes protruding from the bottom. To use the chipper, place it at the corner of your block of chocolate, and apply pressure in a down-and-out motion to chip off a corner of the chocolate. Repeat, working your way inward as you go.
For most home uses, a chipper is unnecessary and a knife will do just as well. To use a chef's knife, choose a sharp, heavy chef’s knife (a large straight-bladed knife, usually 8-10 inches) and press down firmly and evenly on the chocolate, beginning with the corners and angling the knife slightly outward. Whittle the chocolate gradually, working from the corners, until the chocolate is chopped into almond-sized pieces.
A long serrated knife also works for chopping chocolate, and it requires less force to be effective. Again, begin at a corner of the chocolate and use a smooth sawing motion back and forth, pressing only as hard as necessary. Once you have made several cuts on a particular corner, rotate the chocolate and begin on a new corner until all of the chocolate is chopped into uniform pieces.
If you often buy bulk chocolate, it probably makes sense to chop all of it at once and store it in small pieces, rather than just chopping as much as you need for any given recipe. It will save you time in the long run, and you will be glad your supply of chocolate is ready to melt.