Easter is coming and children and adults alike, inevitably associate this religious celebration with chocolate Easter eggs, bunnies and bonbons.
During this festive season, there are those who enjoy exchanging gifts and those who specially like to elaborate some of them.
To prepare these pieces, it is necessary to use couverture chocolate of the best quality and to temper it in the right way. This will enable you to obtain the best product possible.
This process is done in two steps: melting chocolate and tempering it.
Chocolate melts at 40 to 45ºC (78 to 89ºF ) It should never exceed the 50ºC ( 97ºF ).
This is the temperature required to melt the largest crystals present in the structure of solid chocolate.
You have to start by chopping 1 kg ( 36 oz) of couverture chocolate into not very small pieces, with a kitchen knife. ( Do not use food processor )
Then, place half of the chopped chocolate inside a double boiler.
The water in the larger bowl must be boiling but the heat must be low so that the boiling water will not produce too much vapour that could pour into the chocolate bowl and thicken it.
(Note that couverture chocolate does not admit any contact with water, as it would lose its texture which could never be recovered)
Heat the chocolate in the double boiler for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring continuously.
If you don’t have a sweet thermometer, an easy way to measure the chocolate temperature ( which must be 40 to 45ºC / 78 to 89ºF), is by removing some melted chocolate from the bowl with a stainless steel spatula and pressing it against your lower lip. It must feel slightly warm.
Remove the double boiler from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate, stirring continuously until all of it has melted well and has a creamy consistency.
It is very important to beat the chocolate very well as this will guarantee the best results.
If after this procedure, the chocolate hasn’t melted completely, heat it again in the double boiler but do not stir it. Count 1, 2, 3 and remove from heat. Stir it again.
Chocolate is well tempered when, after beating it, its temperature is between 27 and 29ºC / 52 to 56ºF ( You can check it again by pressing some chocolate over your lower lip with a stainless steel spatula: it must feel almost cool).
As you make your sweets with this chocolate, it begins to harden at the edges of the bowl. When this happens, heat it again over boiling water for 3 seconds, without stirring. Remove from heat and stir again.
An effective way to check chocolate is well tempered is by introducing the tip of a spatula into it and refrigerating it for 4 or 5 minutes. If, when pressing it with the tip of your fingers, you do not leave any prints, it means the chocolate is correctly tempered.
The time has come for you to start preparing the most tempting delights with it !
You can use the microwave oven to melt chocolate instead of a double boiler.
Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave ovenproof bowl for short periods, for example 30 seconds. Repeat the procedure as many times as necessary to obtain the right consistency. With time and practice you will get to know the time required more accurately, but at the beginning it is better to repeat the procedure several times than to ruin the chocolate because of the hurry.