Posted 7th Jul 2017
Whether it's a delicate truffle or a crunchy chocolate biscuit, cocoa-centric treats are the ultimate guilty pleasure
While chocolate cakes, mousses and cheesecakes are typical dinner party desserts, cooking with cocoa can be a notoriously tricky business, and remains a skill which can be hard to master.
Luckily, for those who are tired of pouring away thick, lumpy bowls of chocolate, Ellen de Jager, Head Pastry Chef at Michelin starred Bohemia Restaurant, is offering her top tips to solve the cocoa-conundrum once and for all.
Start from scratch
If you would like to make your own raw chocolate from scratch, the essentials you will need are grated cocoa butter, coconut oil, raw organic cocoa powder and agave syrup. Place the grated cocoa butter and coconut oil in a small, heat-safe bowl, before placing the bowl in a shallow pan, which contains a small amount of warm water. Stir this occasionally. Lastly, add the dry ingredients, and place the chocolate in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Feel the heat
If you think making raw chocolate could be a step too far, you can always melt shop bought chocolate instead to make your own unique cocoa treats. It's worth cutting the bar into even squares - this means the chocolate will melt at an equal speed.
Steer clear of the wooden spoon
When you're stirring chocolate, avoid using a wooden spoon. It will retain odour and moisture which will ruin the chocolate. Seizing is a common problem when you're melting chocolate, so it will be essential to eliminate the chance of chocolate coming into contact with water. Make sure the bowls and utensils you are using are perfectly dry.
Did you know chocolates can be seasonal too? A fruity chocolate ganache will be the perfect addition for your after dinner treat - if you're looking to make this it home, combine heavy cream and liquidized, boiled fruit. Then stir in the melted milk chocolate before adding softened butter. When it comes to thinking about flavours, the seasonal summer berry and exotic fruit ganaches are always a popular choice.
A splash of colour will transform the mundane to the magical in a matter of minutes. You can buy coloured cocoa butter in a can from most cookery shops - ensure you keep your chocolates at an even distance from the aerosol can when spraying, as this will ensure the colour is a consistent shade throughout.
Watch the clock
Timing will be key when you're working with chocolate. Only leave it in the refrigerator until it has set - make sure you don't overly chill it as this can create problems. When removing this from the fridge, it's important to keep your hands off the surface too - otherwise, finger prints can easily leave a mark.