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Decorating with Chocolate

Fine Cooking Issue 61
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Garnishes of chocolate pack a double punch: They not only taste delicious, but they look great, too. For these simple ideas, all you need is chocolate and your own sweets to decorate; if you want a professional “glossy” look for dipping or shapes, temper your chocolate first.

Shavings of chocolate add a jaunty look to an iced cake. Drag a vegetable peeler across a thick block of chocolate and collect the shavings on a paper plate or a sheet of parchment.

Make these as you would confetti, but warm the chocolate slightly first (microwaving in 5-second jolts works well) or warm the peeler under hot water and dry it well. Apply more pressure with the vegetable peeler to get longer strips that will curl naturally. Let them fall in a single layer onto a paper plate or piece-of parchment. Rewarm the block of chocolate or the peeler as necessary.

To give shortbread cookies or a-simple cake a pretty finishing touch, improvise a piping bag from a small heavy-duty zip-top bag. Scrape melted chocolate into the bag, seal it, and gather the chocolate into one corner. Snip off a small bit of the tip and you’re ready to drizzle.

Spread melted chocolate about 1/8 inch thick on waxed paper or parchment. Chill until it’s no longer soft but not yet hard. Cut shapes with a sharp knife or a cookie cutter. Chill the cutouts until you’re ready to use them. Be sure the dessert you decorate has cooled so that the cutouts won’t soften or melt. Shapes will look best and have the snappiest texture if you temper the chocolate first.

What doesn’t look and taste better dipped in a little chocolate? Take a look at some of the ideas below and then follow a few “dip tips” for the best results.

Bananas, biscotti, candied citrus zest, candied ginger, cocktail pretzels, coffee beans, dates, dried apricots, figs, grapes, nuts, shortbread, strawberries, truffle centers.


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