• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
stllc

Chopping chocolate

54 posts in this topic

I have recently started a chocolate business and one of the things that is puzzling me most is chopping chocolate. I am having a hard time keeping up. I sometimes spend a couple of hours on chopping the 11 lb. blocks of chocolate (a bunch of them) by hand a week- knife and/or chipper. Besides the time it takes, it's really wearing on my wrists. I have seen the chocolate cutter from Chocovision, but does this cut the chocolate into small pieces? Are there any other pieces of equipment out there that would work that I don't know about?

Thanks for any input!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

buy pistoles instead of blocks.


Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I don't know the brand of chocolate you are using, in what applications you are using it, nor the kind of quantities you are dealing with, the pistole format is probably the way to go. The slightly higher price of pistoles will be offset by the saved labor costs of manually breaking down block chocolate; my time is certainly more valuable than the extra cents per pound I pay. You can also factor in the ease of precise measurement, quick and uniform melting, and that there is no waste.

Depending on your application (tempering, ganache), there may be concern that some manufacturers may formulate pistole and block formats differently. I personally haven't done any large scale, side by side comparisons to be able to pick up on any subtle differences in fluidity and the like, though I've heard claims that they may behave differently. For me, pistoles or tablets are the way to go.


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definately use pistoles, buy them from the same place your buying your blocks. It's rare that a wholesale co. doesn't have them.

I hate chopping up blocks! I always use pistoles and I've never had an instance where the chocolate pistoles behaved any differently then block chocolate.

Also if I do have to use block choc. I break on the side of my table into smaller blocks, then very coarsely chop, then cusinart it to a working size.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with everyone here, pistoles are the way to go.

No waste, cuts labour, etc.

The only block stuff I use now is Valrhona, and that's only because my dist. doesn't carry the feves, or pistoles.

My inventory is 95% pistoles.


2317/5000

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you must stick to the blocks, try zapping them in the microwave for about thirty seconds before chopping.

It really cuts down on the effort (I do this when I make chunks for cookies).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used a "chocolate fork" in the past. It looks like a fork on steroids and you just poke it into the chocolate to break it up. Perhaps JB Prince sells them.


Future Food - our new television show airing 3/30 @ 9pm cst:

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/future-food/

Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They only buy blocks where i'm working. I discovered quite by accident that a heavy-duty mezzaluna knife works like a dream.


Marsha Lynch aka "zilla369"

Has anyone ever actually seen a bandit making out?

Uh-huh: just as I thought. Stereotyping.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my favorite way to break up a chocolate block- hold it high and let it drop on the floor- it makes a terrific bang-( works best on a concrete floor) scares the bejezes out of everyone and just feels great!

now of course it has to have its plastic wrapping around it- and thats good for one drop- got to wrap it better if your'e going to drop it a few more times- but it sure gets it started well

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you cant get pistoles, use a serate dkinfe to cut the choc, smash the blocks on the edge of a counter and break up the larger peices wwith a ice pick or choc fork. But pistoles are the best bet if you are doing high volume production.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A 3-pronged ice pick is the tool of choice for fast chopping - unless of course you have a stage - then use them. :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For chopping the blocks i use and 2 handeled cheese knife.

i get good leverage from it and my wrists don't hurt..


I bake there for I am....

Make food ... not war

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My best method is to put the chocolate in a ziplock and take it outside with a hammer. You gently pound the block or chunks and you get chopped chocolate. Works like a dream everytime for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

one more tip along with breaking up into more manageable pieces...this may seem obvious but using your serrated knife, always cut on the corners. so, if you have a rectangular piece, cut one corner until it gets a little awkward, move to the other corner and create a point, then cut that point down...i guess what i mean is that it's easier to cut on the smaller angles, don't try to cut the entire length of the bar at once. and, as everyone else has already said, get pistoles! so much easier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally, I would not select the serrated knife for this task. You want the weight and power of your French knife (if you don't use the chocolate chopper/ice pick)

But your whole point is that you are sick to death of spending time and energy chopping the chocolate. You could jus hack it all up and bag it all when you get it in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Buy better chocolate and buy pistoles. It melts faster and more evenly. Spend that time you save doing something more interesting or working more efficiently and that will make your end product better. Win-win.

Think about it--how easy and clean and efficient it is to weigh out what you need right from the box versus all the time, hassle, energy expended opening, chopping, storing, touching, cleaning, wiping hands and towels, re-wrapping chopped chunks of block chocolate? Not to mention the risk of injury trying to chop chocolate with all these various undoubtedly dull knives lying around a typical prep kitchen, etc. If that isn't worth the .25 or .50 cent difference per pound (pistoles vs. block) I don't know what is.

I'm with invento and chefette--if you have to--use the multi-pronged ice pick. It's safer and cleaner.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey all,

I use Lindt couverture for my truffles and it's so hard to chop up those huge blocks of chocolate. I've tried the 'chocolate chopper' which looks like a huge fork with 3 prongs but it doesn't make things faster. Does anyone have any suggestions about speeding up the process?

Also, can I chop the chocolate and leave it in an airtight container for when I need it?

Thanks so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my favorite method for chopping chocolate also relieves aggression :laugh: keep the block of chocolate in it's paper wrapper, and put the whole thing into a small garbage bag, tied at the top. then, hold the bar above your head, let go & let it fall to the floor. makes a heck of a noise, but it breaks the chocolate up into more manageable pieces. you can store it that way, chopping pieces smaller when you need them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Heh. I actually put it in a Ziplock and then whack it a few times against the counter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do the bag and drop...then when I have workable smaller pieces, I grate it in the food processor and store it in a plastic container in a cool place. That way I only have to get the processor dirty once, I don't wear out my wrist with the chopping, and I am ready to go when I need to melt some.


Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the same problem before and ended up switching to using chocolate disks. However, I did get some advice about using the chocolate chopper. I was told that it's easier if you use the chopper along w/ a rubber mallet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The method we used at the truffle shop I used to work at was:

-Turn the whole block on its side and secure it under your arm.

-Then, using a serated knife, (the part closest to the handle) push the knife through the chocolate. At say, 1/2 inch intervals.

It makes a mess if you are using a 5kg piece, but works really quickly.

You can cut the chocolate to any width really. The better the serated knife, the more control you will have. Also, the closer to the handle you use, the more control you will have.

If you don't want Chocolate stains under your arm, you can place a piece of parchment there, or a rag or keep it half in the wrapper.

I also find that this method makes it easier to rewrap if you don't need the whole block. No odd shaped chunky pieces.

Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a tip about this in the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine: get yourself a cheap chisel from the hardware store, wash it up really well, and then chisel the chocolate hunk to pieces. I haven't tried it, but I like the idea. (Now, the real trick will be to keep my husband from taking the chocolate chisel downstairs into his workshop.... :raz:

MelissaH


MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

and for those who don't like loud banging noises I find an oyster shucker works well too.


www.adrianvasquez.net

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maybe I'm the minority here, but I don't believe in pre-chopping chocolate. Cocoa butter absorbs odors very easily. By chopping it, you're exposing so much more of it air.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By pastrygirl
      Do you ever end up with ganache that reminds you of extra-heavy mayo?  I was winging it today, testing batches that set up ok but grainy, then weirldy flexible. The 60% i usually use is 39% cocoa butter, but in this batch I used 72%, which is 45% fat.  I also made some other changes but was trying to keep a similar ratio of liquid to chocolate.  The 72% ganache is far thicker than the 60% ever is - it probably needs more cream or a splash of booze, right?  Arg, I should know this!
       
      I got annoyed and left the slab out to do whatever it will overnight - cross your fingers that it is either use-able or save-able tomorrow!
    • By beacheschef
      I'm making truffles for a wholesale customer who will be distributing them to their guests on a daily basis. I've been working on my recipes for quite a while, and have some good recipes for a number of flavors. Since the customer base is pretty varied, I'm not adding any alcohol to the ganache centers. The customer is pleased, but has asked me to expand my flavors to a few that they suggested.
      I've been working on a mint center with a white chocolate ganache and am infusing the cream with fresh mint leaves. No matter how much mint I add, the mint taste is not pronounced enough. I've also infused the mint leaves in the cream for up to 6 hours before adding the cream to the chocolate, without pleasing results.
      I've also been playing around with a fresh ginger ganache and am interested in lemongrass and other natural flavorings. Since I don't know if the customer will be pleased with the end result, I'd rather not buy the flavored compounds (I've used the mint flavor compound in a previous job) to enhance the flavor until I get a better result using the fresh ingredients.
      Do you have some advice for using natural herbs and spices to flavor ganache without using extracts, alcohol, or compounds?
    • By RuthWells
      I know this question gets asked frequently, and I've done my research, but I can't believe that I can't find a less expensive option for packaging to hold 2 truffle-sized bonbons.  The two options I liked (from Nashville Wraps and BoxandWrap) come to over $1.60 each when factoring in shipping.  There is no way to price them at that cost.  Am I missing some options out there?
    • By RuthWells
      I know the gold standard for storing molded chocolate bon bons is to vacuum-pack lightly, then freeze.  Any suggestions for an overly-enthusiastic home chocolatier with an abundance of inventory and no vacuum sealer?  My local coffe shop is selling my wares, but not as quickly as I've been producing them!
    • By Droo
      I want to make a liquid caramel filled small easter eggs - I'll be using polycarbonate moulds. Any thoughts on how I can assemble these without having the caramel run out?
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.