January 24, 2011
by Gareth Mark
There are times when only chocolate and roses will suffice; Valentine's Day is often one of those times. With décor chocolate, also known as modeling chocolate and sometimes chocolate plastic, you can have chocolate roses. I first learned how to make décor chocolate from a chef who'd learned from someone who learned from Roland Mesnier, White House Pastry Chef for a quarter century, so you know it's good stuff.
Décor chocolate is nothing but chocolate and corn syrup in a ratio of 8:3 by weight. Weigh out 4 ounces of chocolate and melt it in a bowl set over barely simmering water. Once it's melted, lift the bowl and wipe the bottom dry to avoid any hint of water getting into the chocolate. Set the bowl back on the scale, press the tare or zero key, then drizzle in 1½ ounces of light corn syrup. Stir a moment and the chocolate will change texture almost immediately.
At this point you have three choices. If you wish, and if you have a clean pasta machine, you can run the chocolate through the pasta machine from the thickest setting to as thin as you dare. If you're in a hurry but don't have a pasta machine, wrap the chocolate in plastic, then wrap it again and refrigerate for two hours. Alternatively, and the method I typically use, double wrap in plastic and let cure overnight at room temperature. After curing in the refrigerator or overnight, knead the chocolate to the proper consistency, which is a silky-smooth texture.
If you wish to color the chocolate, as I did for the rose, you can either add food coloring gel or powder to the melted chocolate, or you can work the color into the finished décor chocolate. The first method is clean, but if you want more than one color, can get expensive. The second method is really, really messy, but a lot more fun.
To make a rose, start by making small balls of chocolate, each pea-size or smaller. You'll need an odd number, typically five or seven, for each rose.
Then put the little ball between two pieces of plastic wrap and press it with your thumb using a twisting motion. You should end up with a flattened piece of chocolate, one side much thinner than the other, that more or less resembles a rose petal. Carefully roll the first petal up.
Next, begin wrapping chocolate petals around it. You might need to use a toothpick or something similar to open the petals up. If the petal tears a bit, just use the toothpick to smooth it out.
Continue wrapping petals until you're done. You'll want to work as quickly as possible because too much finger heat can melt the chocolate.
If at any point you think you've completely blown it, just knead the flower back into the remaining chocolate and start over.
Store double-wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to two months.
If you want to know why I went to all this trouble, you'll have to wait for the reveal of the January Daring Bakers' challenge on Thursday.