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Chopping chocolate

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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!

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buy pistoles instead of blocks.


Mike

The Dairy Show

Special Edition 3-In The Kitchen at Momofuku Milk Bar

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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

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.


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Hope you enjoy the show! Homaro Cantu

Chef/Owner of Moto Restaurant

www.motorestaurant.com

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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


www.adrianvasquez.net

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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.

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