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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.”

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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)

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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
 

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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.

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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..

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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