Have you seen desserts in restaurants topped with dramatic curls of chocolate? You can create the same effects at home and transform a block of chocolate into a beautiful decoration.
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Select the Chocolate
To make chocolate curls, you will need a good-quality "molding" chocolate. Felchlin Ultra-Gloss Dark Chocolate is a good choice, but there are a number of options available. Regular chocolate will not produce the same results.
You will also need a cake or loaf pan, an oven, and a cheese slicer.
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Prepare the Chocolate
Your chocolate should be in a solid, smooth block for curling. To get that, melt it carefully and pour it into a cake or loaf pan. You will probably need at least a pound of chocolate to make a sizable block. Allow the chocolate to cool and harden completely in a cool, dry place, preferably overnight.
Run a knife around the edges; It should be easy to invert and remove the chocolate as long as it's completely solid. Place your block of chocolate on a piece of sturdy cardboard.
Make sure your cheese slicer is clean, and you're ready to go!
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Soften and Skim a Layer of Chocolate
To create a chocolate piece that fans out in waves, first warm the chocolate slightly by placing it in a warm oven for 5 seconds. Remove the chocolate from the oven and attempt to make a curl or wave with the cheese slicer. If it chips off in small pieces, return it to the oven to warm for another few seconds. Do not let it melt! You simply want the chocolate to be pliable.
Once it's ready, use light pressure and run the cheese slicer down the block of chocolate. You want to skim off a thin layer, not cut into the chocolate.
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Shape the Chocolate
Create a fan shape by using your free hand to guide the strip of chocolate into gentle folds, waves, or a fan shape. If your hands are very warm and start melting the chocolate, use thin plastic gloves.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Decorate Pastries With a Chocolate Fan
In this example, a florentine shell has been used to encase chocolate mousse, decorated with large chocolate fans. Chocolate fans also look lovely on individual slices of cake or tart and can be used as plating decorations.
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Create Chocolate Curls
Just like when making chocolate fans, the chocolate needs to be slightly warm and pliable to make chocolate curls. Warm it in the oven just until it is able to be molded, but not so much that it starts to melt around the edges. This time, you will use more pressure.
With a firm grip on the cheese slicer, and employing a steady amount of pressure, slowly draw the slicer in a straight line down the block of chocolate. You can use your free hand to help form the chocolate into a nice curl.
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Make Curls of Different Sizes
Once your curl has reached the desired size, remove it with your other hand. Place it on the pastry or on a sheet of parchment to be used later. If you are making a large number of curls at once, you may need to re-warm the chocolate briefly if it starts to chip or break apart.
You will soon find that by varying the speed of your movement and the pressure you apply, you can easily make curls of various sizes.
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Decorate Pastries With Chocolate Curls
Chocolate curls can transform a simple cake or tart into a masterpiece. In this example, a chocolate-raspberry tart is encircled with chocolate "cigarette curls" (very slender, uniform curls) that enclose the mousse filling. The overall effect is easy to produce, but visually striking and absolutely delicious.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Make a Variety of Chocolate Decorations
You can experiment with making a variety of curls, fans, swaths, and other shapes out of your molding chocolate. You will find that small differences in the movement and pressure of the slicer will produce big differences in your chocolate decorations. Play around and have fun!
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Go Crazy With Chocolate Decorations
This flourless chocolate cake is decorated with a wide variety of chocolate curls, fans, and ribbons. When creating this effect, you want to have the cake nearby so you can pile it with the curls as soon as they are created. Once they re-harden they might be too stiff to work into an integrated arrangement.
If you are dissatisfied with some of your efforts, place them near the bottom of the cake so that later curls and ribbons can cover them up. Your guests will be amazed at the beautiful cake you created, and will never guess how easy it can be to make professional chocolate decorations!