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Recipe Mistake or Just Me?


Adrienne Carmack
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I made an almond butter cake with chocolate glaze from one of my cookbooks tonight. I had some Baker's chocolate in the pantry, but wanted the glaze to be delicious, so I bought a big hunk of Valrhona. The recipe said to put 6 oz of bitter or unsweet chocolate pieces in a bowl with 1/4 c of water and microwave til melted, then stir in 6 tbsp of butter and some vanilla to make the glaze.

It was only after I did this with my Valrhona and saw how it looked that I remembered reading somewhere that when melting chocolate in a double boiler, to avoid getting even a drop of water in it. My chocolate was a lumpy mess with muddy water floating on top. I ended up remaking the glaze with the Baker's chocolate, leaving the water out, and it looks like it worked fine. I did add some sugar because the glaze tastes like (of course) melted Baker's chocolate. The cake batter was delicious, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the final product!

So, do I need to scratch out the part about adding the water in my cookbook, or is there some other reason why I had this problem?

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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Avoiding a drop of water is for after the chocolate has melted -- water will make it seize up. If the chocolate and water (or liqueur or coffee) start out together, things should be ok. I start with very, very hot liquid and have not had a problem. Perhaps the microwave was the issue. I always use a double boiler.

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I've used chocolate water as a cake glaze almost exclusively. You just keep adding hot(almost boiling) water to the melted chocolate..keep whisking it( it'll look lumpy) while slowly adding the hot water & you have your glaze. No butter or corn syrup. I always use bitter or semi sweet.

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Hmmm... The end microwaved product certainly didn't seem salvageable (I did do an eGullet search for how to do this, but didn't have time to read through everything I found and see if an answer was there).

Maybe I didn't use the right chocolate? I assumed the Valrhona was bitter or unsweet, but the dark version I bought was next to the milk chocolate, so maybe it was an "eating chocolate."

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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Maybe you got it too hot or it wasn't enough water. I've been adding hot water to callebaut 60nv lately to smooth it out so it doesn't lump up when I add beaten yolks to make mousse. There's a discussion of adding water to chocolate and ratios and so on in Cocolat by Alice Mederich. I disremember the ratios. the chocolate mousse recipe I'm following is from the current issue of CI and they get into the ratios too. I think for 24 oz of chocolate I'm using 18 tb of water. And it still stays fairly thick. I used to work for a woman who made Sacher glaze by dumping simple syrup onto an indeterminate amount of chocolate and stirring till it melted. Worked every time. Shirley Corriher was on good eats talking about this and said the analogy is a drop of water in a sugar bowl makes a lump, but enough water dissolves the sugar.

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I also make a chocolate + water glaze all the time (made a custard that way too recently, boy was that dark and delicious). However, I don't use a microwave for chocolate -- I find I either don't go far enough or go too far with the heat/melting. I prefer the double boiler with occasional stirring...

I don't think it's your chocolate -- you can't go wrong with Valrhona.

Was the chocolate chopped fine enough? You want the heat to be able to melt it thoroughly and evenly. Big chunks will cause more of a problem.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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No, I didn't chop it very fine. I just put the block in a Ziplock bag and banged it with the flat side of my meat mallet a few times.

I just ate the almond butter cake and the cake was great but the glaze was disgusting. Despite adding butter, vanilla, and some vanilla sugar to the Baker's, it tasted way too bitter. I had hoped it would taste good with the cake, but no. I ate around it.

I definitely want to make the cake again with a GOOD chocolate glaze. Maybe if I just use the Valrhona in the same recipe with a double boiler instead?

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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No, I didn't chop it very fine. I just put the block in a Ziplock bag and banged it with the flat side of my meat mallet a few times.

I just ate the almond butter cake and the cake was great but the glaze was disgusting. Despite adding butter, vanilla, and some vanilla sugar to the Baker's, it tasted way too bitter. I had hoped it would taste good with the cake, but no. I ate around it.

I definitely want to make the cake again with a GOOD chocolate glaze. Maybe if I just use the Valrhona in the same recipe with a double boiler instead?

Try chopping the chocolate reasonably fine and use the double boiler. Since you're working with a water glaze, you won't have to worry about that drop of steam siezing your chocolate. Stir occassionally to keep it smooth. Don't crank the heat up too high -- just below a simmer is fine.

Good luck!

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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Try chopping the chocolate reasonably fine and use the double boiler. Since you're working with a water glaze, you won't have to worry about that drop of steam siezing your chocolate. Stir occassionally to keep it smooth. Don't crank the heat up too high -- just below a simmer is fine.

And don't let the mixture get too hot; it will get grainy and lumpy if it burns. Be sure the bowl doesn't touch the simmering water.

Using unsweetened Baker's chocolate has two detrimental effects: first is that unsweetened isn't conched like semisweet or bittersweet chocolate is, so it won't have a smooth mouthfeel. Second, Baker's just doesn't have the same flavor as the premium chocolates - even adding sugar and vanilla won't fix that.

Good luck with your next attempt! Let everyone know how it goes.

Eileen

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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it is thinner; I add butter to mine, but I don't like this glaze as much as I like ganache. I use it primarily for coating my flourless chocolate cake, and the choc/water glaze (being thinner than ganache) doesn't cover/coat as well as I'd like so I end up using two coats. So I might as well just use ganache.

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Wendy the chocolate water is as thin as you make it. It depends on how much water you've added. Also you should let it cool to just above room temperature before using it so that it can set up a little. If you use it while it's still hot or even a little warm it will coat way too thin.

I use it for glazing layer cakes as well as molded mousses or bombes ..and always use a thin layer of buttercream on the cake before coating to get that smooth,even finish. I like using this glaze for cakes mostly because if you make a mistake writing on it you can chill the cake & then peel the glaze off, remelt it,strain it & use it again. Also it gives you such a smooth shiny surface...where as ganache tends to be somewhat dull.

One thing is that it will crack after a day or two..especially if there is alot of moisture in the cake.

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by using water and chocolate together, you can also produce an 'eggless chocolate mousse' or more properly a chocolate chantilly. If you reproduce the same fat content as heavy cream, about 35%, you can do it with anything: foie gras, olive oil etc...

for the chocolate chantilly:

200g 70% chocolate (i use Calibo dark chocolate which is 70.2%)

100ml water

add water and chocolate in double boiler and melt. Take out and shock over ice bath until cool. Whip to desired peaks....

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  • 2 months later...

I finally made the cake again. I picked up the chocolate that looked good to me, a dark chocolate from Belgium.

I melted it in a double boiler (about 0.4 lbs) and stirred in 6 oz of butter. This is what the original recipe called for, except also for 1/4 c of water. I left the water out.

It made a delicious frosting, not really a glaze. It was very easy to spread on, but didn't come out perfectly smooth (which I don't really care about). It tastes great, so I'm happy.

Thanks everyone for the discussion!

"God give us good taste, why bother?" Captain Jim's Sushi Chef
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