• 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

The easiest and most hygienic way to chop up those difficult blocks is to leave the chocolate in its original wrapping and place atop a sturdy, clean counter top. Again with the stress-relieving: whack the chocolate several times with a French hardwood rolling pin (e.g. JBPrince French Rolling Pin ) until it is in small enough pieces.* If you find it necessary, you can put the chocolate into one of those jumbo Ziploc plastic bags before whacking.

*Make sure the rolling pin wood grain is aligned properly so that you won't split it, just in case.

Some comments:

1) Dropping the chocolate to the floor will certainly break up the chocolate, but it is also likely to cause tiny tears in the plastic bag or covering. So your chocolate is coming into contact with the floor.

2) Placing the chocolate under your arm? :blink: I think that staining my outfit is the least of my concerns with this technique.

3) Using a rubber mallet to hit your chocolate chopper is definitely the way to go if you use this tool. You have much much more control, use a lot less effort, and you don't end up with tiny holes in your counter top/cutting board.

4) Scott is correct about the chocolate being more vulnerable to absorbing odors. Be sure to store your chopped chocolate in a cool dry place, preferably in an airtight container, and only for a short period of time.

5) I also use the food processor if I need the chocolate chopped extra finely.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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.

Right after my kitchen was remodeled I smacked a 5kg bar of Callebaut semisweet against the edge of the marble top on the island to break it up. Unfortunately the chocolate didn't break, but the marble countertop did!


Eileen Talanian

HowThe Cookie Crumbles.com

HomemadeGourmetMarshmallows.com

As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists. ~Joan Gussow

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You could also use a rock hammer or a plain old claw hammer from the local hardware store. Get either the fiberglass or metal handle. It should wash up just fine. Just use the pointed end to break off the chunks you need.

Can also be used for self-defense when fighting off the hands of those who would eat that chocolate before it made it to the recipe...


Screw it. It's a Butterball.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The easiest and most hygienic way to chop up those difficult blocks is to leave the chocolate in its original wrapping and place atop a sturdy, clean counter top.

2) Placing the chocolate under your arm?  :blink:  I think that staining my outfit is the least of my concerns with this technique.

I was not implying to stick the chocolate in your armpit, but to secure it with your elbow against your hip. If the chocolate is still half in its wrapper, there is nothing to worry about. The prcess is so quick, that melting is not a factor.

Believe me, this is a very efficient way to chop chocolate with the most uniform pieces. Smashing it with a rolling pin will produce an uneven product.

If you are tempering, size does matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The easiest and most hygienic way to chop up those difficult blocks is to leave the chocolate in its original wrapping and place atop a sturdy, clean counter top.

2) Placing the chocolate under your arm?  :blink:  I think that staining my outfit is the least of my concerns with this technique.

I was not implying to stick the chocolate in your armpit, but to secure it with your elbow against your hip. If the chocolate is still half in its wrapper, there is nothing to worry about. The prcess is so quick, that melting is not a factor.

Believe me, this is a very efficient way to chop chocolate with the most uniform pieces. Smashing it with a rolling pin will produce an uneven product.

If you are tempering, size does matter.

I second this method. I first learned it here when chefpeon discussed it. Works like a charm.

And in addition to the wrapper on the chocolate, there's usually at least one layer of clothing between me and the chocolate. :raz:


B. Keith Ryder

BCakes by BKeith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Believe me, this is a very efficient way to chop chocolate with the most uniform pieces.  Smashing it with a rolling pin will produce an uneven product...

Smacking it with the rolling pin can also put dents in your rolling pin--even a good hardwood pin wil dent if hit just right.


It's not the destination, but the journey!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always melted the chocolate into a bust-mold of my nemesis, then I break it up with a baseball bat.

Saves on therapy sessions, too.


I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the idea of the wrap and drop to break it down into smaller pieces.

I haven't chopped large blocks of chocolate in years, but when I was in cooking school, I used to kneel on a stool when I chopped chocolate. People used to laugh when I did that, but I'm on the short side, so the majority of counters aren't designed for people like me. By kneeling on a stool, I could use my upper body strength to bear down on the chocolate, which made chopping those large blocks much easier.


Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first started playing around with truffle making, I was using the Michel Cluizel pastilles. These are a dream to work with for making ganache, because there's no chopping required and all the pieces are the exact same size. But, the store where I buy them sells them for nearly $17/lb retail. Looks like I can get down to about $13/lb buying online in bulk, but then there's shipping too...

My other quibble with the Cluizel is that it's actually a little too high in cocoa butter, I think, as I was having a lot of cracking and leaking problems with my truffles, even when the centers were not too cold.

So I've been looking for alternatives. Right now I'm trying the E. Guittard wafers. These are fine for melting (although I have yet to try tempering any of it), but the wafers are not small enough for ganache making, so I'm stuck with the chopping thing again.

Are there tricks for easily chopping large quantities of chocolate and getting a consistent size so I don't end up with unmelted lumps in my ganache? Or is not chopping worth the extra money per pound to buy the Cluizel for my ganache making, and I can use something else for couverture?

Thanks.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It won't give you evenly sized chunks, but the fastest and easiest way to "chop" chocolate is to wrapit up well in a plastic bag, set it on a hard surface and whack it with a hammer. It you whack it enough all the chunks will be small enough to melt easily.

That's what I used to do anyway, on the occasions when I had to deal with 5 kg bars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are there tricks for easily chopping large quantities of chocolate and getting a consistent size so I don't end up with unmelted lumps in my ganache?  Or is not chopping worth the extra money per pound to buy the Cluizel for my ganache making, and I can use something else for couverture?

Thanks.

For chopping large quantities of chocolate quickly and evenly....

Depending on the size of the block....

If it is 1kg or larger, this method works well.

unwrap the block so that the end of the block is still in the wrapper.

Turn the block so that it is standing on its thin side.

Support the block by leaning it up against your body and securing the wrapped end under your arm.

Use your other arm to use a STRONG BREAD KNIFE (or serrated) to push down through the end of the chocolate that is on the cutting board.

Adjust the size of the pieces by how wide you slice down. (You can go as thin as shavings if need be.)

Be sure to use the part of the bread knife closest to the handle to achieve the best control.

(I had people take issue with this method before, as they felt that putting the chocolate "under your arm" was unsanitary.....but believe me, this is the most effective way to achieve consistent pieces. A Chocolatier taught me this method, and I still use it to this day.)

P.S. Cluizel may taste great, but is a #$%@%&* to temper without cracks in final product!

Good Luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are using wafers, it is difficult to obtain anything both fine and consistent. However, I find blocks far more convenient...cutting them is much more under your control, and they oxidize slower (and take up less storage space). If you do try blocks, I also use a serrated knife and slice off appropriate thicknesses...it is quite fast and easy. However, rather than balancing the block on its edge, I simply cut it while it lies flat. The issues with this are...it takes more force to slice the entire width of the block at once, but you quickly get used to it...also, it is difficult if you do not own a decent and fairly long serrated knife. Otherwise you can cut the corners back, switching between sides when the edge is getting too long for your knife.

All in all I like this method the best, and it is extremely fast...I often finely chop up 5-10kg at a time this way...however, if you don't have a heavy & long serrated knife, the on-edge idea may well work better.

Happy chopping,

Randall


Randall Raaflaub, chocolatier

rr chocolats

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use Eguittard and I never had problem form making ganache with it (the button size right?).

I chop the 5 kilos bars with a big ( not too big ) serrated knife that isnt too ragged etc and it works very fast I usually chop more and just bag the rest in zipplock.

Another this is that you can actually use the melted button to make ganache , is another method used , just melt and add to the cream or whatever.


Edited by Desiderio (log)

Vanessa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I use Eguittard and I never had problem form making ganache with it (the button size right?).

I chop the 5 kilos bars with a big ( not too big ) serrated knife that isnt too ragged etc and it works very fast I usually chop more and just bag the rest in zipplock.

Another this is that you can actually use the melted button to make ganache , is another method used , just melt and add to the cream or whatever.

The discs I'm using are between the size of a nickel and a quarter. I didn't try making them into ganache as is, because they just seemed too big.

I've never tried making ganache from melted chocolate, but I was just reading a long post Steve Klc wrote about it a couple days ago, so perhaps I'll give it a try.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
P.S.  Cluizel may taste great, but is a #$%@%&* to temper without cracks in final product!

Glad to get some confirmation that it's not just me!


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't bother to chop chocolate into small bits. I take the amount I need by weight, what ever the size of chunk, put it in a pyrex bowl in the microwave and heat it first for a minute, then 10 or 20 seconds at a time, stirring between each heating, until just melted.

When I temper chocolate for dipping the chunks I break the bar into might be as big as 500 g. The only reason I sometimes use a chefs knife or a chocolate chopper to get slightly smaller chunks is so I can fit more in the bowl.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a few people have mentioned, using a serrated knife makes life much easier. Each cut into the block creates a shaving action, which helps break each "slice" into small shavings.


"It's better to burn out than to fade away"-Neil Young

"I think I hear a dingo eating your baby"-Bart Simpson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tammy--

A quick and easy way to chop up large quantities of chocolate...

Buy an awl at your local hardware store. It looks like a small screwdriver with a pointy (not sharp) tip; should cost a few bucks. Just press down into the chocolate and chip away. It won't give you consistently finely chopped bits (like you'd get from using a grater or cutting with a serrated knife), but I use this method whenever I want to melt down a lot of chocolate starting in big tablets (I use 1 kilo Valrhona bars). Very fast and easy. Just place the chocolate on a sheet of parchment paper, chip away and then lift the paper and pour it all into a bowl and you're set to melt away.

Oh, another thing-- this will only work well with dark chocolate. Milk and white chocolates have too much milk/liquid in them and they're too soft for the awl to work.


Edited by MichelleGL (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Has anyone ever tried freezer the chocolate and then hitting it with a hammer? I wonder if the freezing would make the chocolate shatter in small pieces like glass.


"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced" - Vincent Van Gogh
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used to use a knife until I found one of these chocolate chippers at the local Bed Bath & Beyond stores. It was by the bar supplies and labled as an ice chipper.

http://www.amazon.com/Chocolate-Chipper/dp/B00005NUVX

I found that it works well with dark, white, and milk chocolate slabs.

I used to finely chop the resulting chunks with a chef's knife, but now I just use Kerry's method of getting a basic melt in the microwave. It's a lot less effort and you don't risk getting lumps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My mother likes to whack the 10lb. blocks of chocolate against the edge of a butcher-block table. Never warns any of us and generally scares the crap out of me.

For melting I'm not concerned with chopping it - and do much the same as Kerry. But we do a torte that's finished by sticking chunks of chocolate all over it and it's a pain to get the chocolate cut properly. I usually use a chef's knife..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never have to deal with huge block of chocolate but for the 1lb blocks I found my crinkle cutter works like a charm. This is a wavy blade that you usually use to cut vegetables for garnishes.

Here's one similar to mine.

Edited to add link.


Edited by Anna N (log)

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the suggestions. I should clarify that it's not chopping chocolate for *melting* that was an issue for me - it was trying to get even pieces for ganache making that I was talking about. But I'm thinking that I'll just make my next ganache out of melted chocolate instead of just pouring hot cream over chopped chocolate, which is what I've been doing up until now.

Now I just have to figure out which big bars of chocolate I want to buy.


Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I never have to deal with huge block of chocolate but for the 1lb blocks I found my crinkle cutter works like a charm.  This is a wavy blade that you usually use to cut vegetables for garnishes.

Here's one similar to mine.

Edited to add link.

Thanks for the link Anna. Somehow I ended up ordering a stovetop popcorn maker and popcorn. :blink:

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I should clarify that it's not chopping chocolate for *melting* that was an issue for me - it was trying to get even pieces for ganache making that I was talking about.  But I'm thinking that I'll just make my next ganache out of melted chocolate instead of just pouring hot cream over chopped chocolate, which is what I've been doing up until now.

Now I just have to figure out which big bars of chocolate I want to buy.

I always have trouble getting even pieces, so I gave up a while ago and now just use melted chocolate for ganache.


Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A serrated knife and the corner-chopping method described by RRaaflaub have always worked for me. On the other hand, if you make ganache in the food processor (great for always getting an emulsion)you don't need any smaller than 1-2 inch pieces. The processor does a fine job of chopping the buttons too.

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.