Decorating with Chocolate

Food, Hometown Cooking
on November 10, 2011

Swirls and curls of rich chocolate add delectable garnishes to desserts. Chocolate shavings and curls are quick and easy to create. Even a kitchen novice can make an ordinary dessert extraordinary by decorating it with chocolate.

Preparing the chocolate. To make chocolate curls, begin by shaving 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate into the top portion of a double boiler. Add 2 teaspoons shortening to the chocolate. Add about 2 inches of warm water to the bottom of the double boiler and warm the chocolate and shortening, stirring gently until the mixture is blended and smooth. Pour the liquid chocolate onto the underside of a metal baking pan, spreading it with a spatula or knife until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Let it cool until it's firm, but don't refrigerate. When firm, it’s curl time!

Alternate method. An easier method for preparing the chocolate for curly garnishes is to heat the chocolate and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl for about 40 seconds, or until melted. Then stir to thoroughly combine.

Creating curls. A metal spatula works great for making chocolate curls. Hold the spatula at an angle and push it along the baking pan, getting under the chocolate. Start slowly and you will see the curl begin to form. You can make large or small curls depending on the width of your spatula and how long you push the chocolate. Move the completed curls to wax paper using a bamboo skewer. If you try to pick the curls up with your fingers, they may break.

Chocolate shavings. Chocolate shavings are simple and quick to make. Begin with cold chocolate because it's firmer and easier to shave. Scrape a vegetable peeler across the chocolate until shavings appear. They should look like small wood shavings. Store the shavings in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Curls and cakes. Cakes can be enhanced with chocolaty goodness by adding a ring of curls around the cake's top edge. When the cake is decorated with white buttercream piping, the chocolate curls will really stand out. A single chocolate curl or a sprinkling of chocolate shavings can take a plain frosted cupcake from pretty to Wow!

Wow 'em on a weeknight. Take your weeknight dessert and make it special by adding chocolate curls or shavings. Place one scoop plain vanilla pudding into the bottom of a glass sundae cup. Add two spoonfuls of chocolate pudding on top of the vanilla. Place one more scoop of vanilla over the chocolate layer. Garnish the layered pudding creation with your homemade chocolate curls or a sprinkling of chocolate shavings. Chocolate curls also taste great and look pretty over a bowl of fresh strawberries or a serving of ice cream.