I do love it when you work out a solution to a problem – especially when it doesn't involve paying someone/buying something/spending hours searching on the internet. It can be as simple as a system for taking washing off the line (Things that needs a hot iron off first so they are at the bottom of the basket and will be ironed last when the iron is the hottest), or for keeping you Tupperware drawer tidy (lids all in one spot people!). Thankfully this was a bit more of an interesting problem to solve – how to keep melted chocolate, well… melted.
After my recent fondant fetish (click here and here and here!), I had started experimenting with melted chocolate as a decorating tool. It started with plans for Son 2’s Minecraft birthday party, which involved making black shapes for Creeper faces.
|This is a Creeper. It explodes if you get too close. Just so you know|
While I was wandering the cake supplies shop, I noticed that black chocolate melts were much cheaper per kg than the black fondant. Interesting. PLUS chocolate could be piped in fine lines for smaller creeper faces (which I was planning to put on green rice krispie squares for taking to school) , where as it would be annoying to cut out very small slivers of fondant. AND it always looked so easy when my You Tube bloggers used it – what could possibly go wrong?
Melted chocolate assumes a liquid form. And the hotter it is, the more liquid it becomes, to the point of it oozing and not making pretty straight lines like you are supposed to. Not good when you are a perfectionist bordering on–OCD.
|Not my finest work. They either look possessed, evil or stupid (still tasted yum though).|
Melted chocolate also has a tendency to set when it cools. And this doesn't always happen once it is piped out, it can also happen while it sits in your piping bag. Which leads to lumps of semi solid chocolate blocking up your piping nozzle, and it coming out unevenly. Which leads to much Fiddling and Fixing and Touch Ups and Swearing and Stress.
|Like a Monet - good from a distance but a mess up close|
At first I thought it was just the colored chocolate, as it took quite a while to melt and didn't really mix together very well. But when I had the same problem using good ol’ Cadbury that I realised it was a Chocolate Issue.
|My Groot Sundaes: more "messy" than "gnarled tree" appearance|
(click here for what they were supposed to look like)
So a solution had to be found. Especially with my plans to make gingerbread trees for my Christmas gifts this year.
At first I tried
microwaving the chocolate intermittently, which worked well. I found I could
ice and decorate four trees before it needed a minute in the microwave. But I
had to unscrew the metal piping tip and scrape out the solidified chocolate
each time. Annoying. And stop piping. More annoying.
|LOTS of gingerbread trees! (this was batch 1 of 3)|
I did think about some sort of hot water bath to put the piping bag in, but I have found the no matter how carefully you seal the bag up or pop it in several plastic bags, water still gets in and ruins your chocolate. Not helpful
There are cool cups (as in Cold, rather than Clever and Awesome) that you can put in the freezer to keep your drinks cool over summer, I just needed a Hot version .
So I made one myself! Pour boiling water in a large cup, place a smaller cup inside and voila!
(I shall add a picture here when I take one at this weekend's piping session)
Pop your piping bag in it in between sprinkled sanding sugar or carefully placing cachoos and you are ready to for your next set of trees. So simple, so cheap, so effective, so clever (well, I think so).
|Oh! Christmas tree (s)|
In other Kitchen News, I received a kitchen blowtorch at the weekend, so look forward to a creme brulee post in the future (which will hopefully not be entitled “What can go wrong with a Kitchen Blowtorch" or "Effective Ways to put out a Kitchen Fire")