Chocolate Primer

​Les Kincaid's



This is a primer about several varieties of chocolate that are available most everywhere across the country. Don't forget to read all the recipes that follow below.

Chocolate-tasting parties are fun and provide a learning experience in addition to a tasty good time! Here are a few tips to make your party a sweet success:

Research:  Do a little background research on how chocolate is made—from bean to bar—so you can inform your guests. Also learn about the nutritional value of chocolate.

Variety:  Get 10 or 12 of your favorite kinds of chocolates so you have enough variety to compare and contrast.

Label:  Put labels on each plate of chocolate so guests know what they're biting into.

Pretzels:  Have pretzels on hand so that guests can cleanse their palates between chocolates.

Rating:  Create a form or card with a simple rating scale so that guests will have a record of what they liked and disliked (although it's hard to imagine not liking a piece of chocolate).

Unsweetened chocolate (also called baking chocolate):  
You don't eat unsweetened chocolate.  It has no added sugar and is generally composed of 55% cocoa butter and 45% chocolate mass from the bean. It has an intense chocolate flavor that has to be tempered by sugar and other ingredients.

Bittersweet or semisweet chocolate:
  This is the chocolate most often called for in cake and cookie recipes. "Bittersweet" and "semisweet" are often used interchangeably, though bittersweet generally has more chocolate "liquor" (the paste formed from roasted, ground cocoa beans).
Most semisweet chocolate contains at least 35% chocolate liquor, while some fine bittersweets contain 50% or more. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate have a deep, smooth, intense flavor that comes from the blend of beans used rather than added dairy products.  Sugar, vanilla, and cocoa butter are added to the liquor to lend an even richer taste.

Sweet chocolate: 
 Very similar in composition to semisweet chocolate, sweet chocolate simply has more sugar added and less chocolate liquor. It's sold on grocery shelves in the baking section. For people with a real sweet tooth, sweet chocolate can be substituted for semisweet in recipes without a significant change in texture.

Milk chocolate:  This is the most popular form of eating chocolate in the United States, probably because of its mild, mellow flavor. It has only 10% chocolate liquor and usually contains about 12% milk solids. Milk chocolate has a less robust flavor than sweet or semisweet.

White chocolate:  White "chocolate" doesn't contain a drop of chocolate. But it does have cocoa butter, from which it gets its faintly chocolaty flavor. The cocoa butter is blended with milk and sugar to form the creamy confection, which is used for both eating and cooking.

Cocoa powder:  There are two basic types of cocoa: regular (or American) and Dutch process (sometimes labeled "European process"). Dutch process cocoa has a slightly stronger flavor and richer color than regular cocoa. It's been treated with a mild alkali, such as baking soda, which neutralizes its acidity. Both regular and Dutch process cocoa have far less fat and fewer calories than baking and eating chocolate because the cocoa butter has been removed. This also means cocoa tastes less rich, so when you're cooking with it, you have to find another way to put the moisture and richness back in. __________________________________________________________________________

Tempering White Chocolate
2 pound block white chocolate
Very important-do not allow any moisture come in contact with the chocolate. Using a French knife, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the chocolate in a stainless mixing bowl.  Set the bowl over a pan of warm water. Stir the chocolate constantly so that it melts uniformly. Continue stirring the chocolate until is completely melted and reaches a temperature of 115 to 118 degrees F.

**Remember that your body temperature is 98.6 degrees F. So the chocolate is ready if it feels a little warmer than your body-Who really has candy thermometers lying around. Remove the bowl from the water bath. Set in a cool place and stir the chocolate slowly but constantly until it is cool, 78 to 79 degrees F. It should be thick and pasty in texture. Set the chocolate over the warm water again and stir it until it's warmed to 86 to 88 degrees F. Be very careful, because the chocolate warms very quickly. Do not let the chocolate get too warm.

Yield:  2 pounds

White Chocolate Turtles
3 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet butter
1 1/2 cups toasted pecans
3 ounces milk chocolate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Tempered white chocolate

In a sauce pan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, cream, butter and pecans together. Stir over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the chocolate and boil the ingredients slowly to the firm ball stage, 248 degrees F. Stir in the vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, drop about a tablespoon for each candy onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let the caramels cool and set, about 5 minutes. Using a candy dipping fork, dip each caramel into the tempered chocolate. Place the chocolates back on the parchment on allow to set, about 5 minutes.

White Chocolate Terrine Frozen
4 cups heavy cream, in all, very cold
1 cup melted white chocolate
1 cup melted dark chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups raspberry Coulis
Fresh mint sprigs
Powdered sugar in shaker
Dark chocolate cutouts (melted chocolate spread very thin on a baking sheet, allowed to set and broken into long and funky pieces)

In 2 very cold electric mixing bowls, add 2 cups of cream to each. Add 1 cup of melted white chocolate to one bowl and 1 cup dark chocolate to the other. Using an electric mixer, whip both bowls until cream is firm, velvety but still spreadable about 3 to 4 minutes. Line a large loaf pan with parchment paper. Spoon 1/2 of the white chocolate mixture evenly on the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/2 of the dark chocolate mixture over the white chocolate layer, spread evenly. Top the dark chocolate layer with the remaining white chocolate mixture.  Cover the pan completely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer. Freeze until the terrine is well set, about 2 hours. Remove the terrine and unmold. Using a hot knife, slice the terrine into 2 inch slices. Place the remaining chocolate mixture in a pastry bag with a star tip.  Spoon a small pool of the sauce in the center of the plate. Lay one piece of the terrine in the center of the sauce. Pipe a small portion of the chocolate mixture off to the side of the terrine. Garnish with the mint, powdered sugar, and chocolate cutouts.

Yield:  6 servings

Chocolate Teardrops
For the teardrops:
1/2 cup tempered chocolate 
1 cup chocolate mousse 
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
For the chocolate mousse: 
9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate 
3 each egg yolks and egg whites 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
For garnish: 
Additional raspberries 
Mango sauce Raspberry sauce 
Crushed pistachio nuts

To make the teardrop shells:  Brush melted, tempered chocolate (tempering process is outlined below) onto precut thin, flexible plastic strip (length 12 to 14 inches, width approximately 1 1/2 inches) so that the strip is completely covered to the edges. Find this plastic sheeting at craft stores or hardware stores. Let the chocolate sit for a few seconds, then brush on a second coat of chocolate. Allow drying--this takes only a few more seconds.  When chocolate is dry, lift the plastic strip, bend with the chocolate on the inside and squeeze the two ends together so that the chocolate adheres to itself. The joined chocolate strip, still on the plastic, should form a teardrop-shaped loop. Set the teardrop flat (opening of the loop up, walls of the teardrop vertical) on a parchment paper-covered tray.

To make the mousse:  Chop the chocolate, place in a metal bowl (over a pot of boiling water) to form a double boiler. Begin melting the chocolate until it is 3/4 of the way melted. Remove from heat, stir with a plastic spatula until smooth. Separate the 3 eggs into small individual bowls whisk or beat the yolks until well mixed and set aside. Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks and refrigerate until needed. Whip the egg whites on high speed until they form medium to stiff peaks, fold together with the egg whites and heavy cream. Add the egg yolks to the chocolate. Keep stirring the chocolate quickly until it starts to get stiff. Add a little of the egg white and cream mixture to the chocolate mixture until it is loose.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white/cream mixture until it is well blended. Take the chocolate mousse, fill teardrop shell halfway, put 3 raspberries in the center and cover completely with mousse up to the top of the teardrop walls. Carefully level off the mousse with a spatula so that it is flat and aligned with the top of the teardrop walls. Place tray with filled teardrops in the refrigerator for approximately 10 to 15 minutes to set the chocolate walls and chocolate mousse.
When ready to serve, carefully remove the plastic strip from the outer edge of the teardrop.  Decorate with a fresh raspberry on top and plate if desired with scattered, chopped pistachio nuts, mango sauce and raspberry sauce.

To Temper Chocolate:  When real chocolate is melted down it requires special handling to restore its tempered state. The following procedure is based on chocolate chopped into small pieces, or grated if preferred.

Microwave Oven:  This method is based on a 650-watt output melting one pound of chocolate at a time. All ovens vary; you may need to modify the power and amount of time to suit. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, especially towards the end of the procedure. Place one pound of chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Do not cover. On high heat for one minute and then stir. Heat for one minute more on high and stir again. Heat for 30 seconds on high, then stir well and check temperature of chocolate. Recommended microwave temperature of the melted chocolate should be between 110 to 115 degrees F. Heat for 30 seconds (or less) and stir well. It is important to heat the un-tempered chocolate to 120 degrees F, it can be trial and error with varying units, and therefore, it may be easier to use a hot water bath to reach the final temperature.

Conventional Oven:  Preheat oven to 250 degrees F, then turn off. Fill a shallow ovenproof bowl with chopped (or grated) chocolate and place in the oven for 5 minutes only, uncovered.  Remove and stir, return to the warm oven for about 5 minutes more. Continue this procedure until the chocolate reaches the final temperature of 110 to 120 degrees F.

Milk Chocolate Cheesecake
1 cup Oreo cookie crumbs
1 cup butter cookie crumbs
1/2 cup melted sweet butter
3 pounds cream cheese, softened
2 cup sugar in all
6 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup melted milk chocolate
2 cups fresh raspberries
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
Whipped cream in a pastry bag with star tip
Fresh mint sprigs
Chocolate curls Powdered sugar in shaker Cocoa powder in shaker

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the crumbs and the butter together. Mix well and press into a 10-inch spring form pan. In a food processor, with the metal blade, mix the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and blend. Add the eggs one at a time to thoroughly incorporate into the cheese mixture. Add the heavy cream. Add the flour, salt and vanilla and blend until smooth. In a steady stream, pour in the melted chocolate. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until the cake is set. Remove from the oven and with a knife loosen the sides from the pan. This will prevent the cake from splitting down the center. Completely cool the cake before cutting.
For the sauce:  In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together and allow sitting for 2-3 hours. Place a piece of the cake on the plate. Spoon the raspberries over the top. Garnish with whipped cream, chocolate curls, mint sprigs, powdered sugar, and cocoa powder.

Yield:  12 servings

Chocolate Brownies
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
5 tablespoons sweet butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg 2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder or coffee powder dissolved in 1 teaspoon water

Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  (or 325 degrees F if you are using a glass pan). Spray an 8-inch square pan lightly with vegetable oil spray.  Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder, and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Off heat, stir in the sugar until combined (texture will remain sandy). Add the egg, egg whites, vanilla, and dissolved espresso powder. Beat with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula about forty strokes, scraping the sides of the pan as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and beat for another 40 strokes, or just until completely mixed. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out a little gooey. Cool in the pan on a rack. Cut into 16 squares. Brownies may be stored, well wrapped, for about 2 days at room temperature or frozen for up to 2 months.

Yield:  16 servings

Chocolate Pound Cake
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoons instant espresso or coffee powder dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa, strained after measuring
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 tablespoons sweet butter, at room temperature
3 large eggs (okay if they are cold)
Powdered sugar for dusting
6 cup decorative tube pan (Turk Head), sprayed with Vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Position rack in lower third of the oven. Combine the buttermilk with the dissolved coffee and vanilla. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on medium speed with an electric mixer to blend. Add butter and eggs to the bowl and mix on medium speed just until all of the dry ingredients are moistened.  Set a timer for two minutes and beat on high speed. Add the buttermilk mixture and beat on high speed for 2 more minutes. Bake until cake starts to shrink away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted in the center tests dry, about 45-50 minutes. Cool cake on a rack 5-10 minutes. Invert pan to unmold. Cool on a rack. Cake can be prepared to this point, wrapped well and kept at room temperature where it will remain moist and delicious for 4-5 days; or fit may be frozen for up to three months. Sieve powdered sugar over cake just before serving, if desired.

Yield:  10 servings

Dark Chocolate Fudge
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
3 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
10 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoon sweet butter
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups broken walnut pieces

Oil an 8 x 8 inch square pan or line it with foil or parchment paper. Combine the cream, sugar, corn syrup, chocolate, and salt in a 3 to 4 quart heavy bottom saucepan. Stir very gently over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted. Raise the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a medium boil without stirring. Wash the sides of the pot with a wet brush.  Cook without stirring to 235 degrees F. Pour the mixture onto a marble surface or into a large bowl and place the butter and vanilla on the surface but do not stir it in. Cool the mixture to 110 F. Work the fudge back and forth over the marble with a scraper or beat it in the bowl, until it begins to thicken. Add the walnuts and continue to scrape or beat until the fudge begins to lose its gloss. Spread the fudge into the pan. Cover and allow mellowing over night at room temperature. Cut as desired.

Yield:  3 pounds

Chocolate Walnut Torte
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch Process cocoa
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered sugar for dusting (about 2 teaspoons)
1 pint best quality vanilla frozen yogurt, optional accompaniment
8 inch round spring form or cake pan 2 1/2-3 inches tall 8 inch corrugated cardboard circle, optional but handy

Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Place a round of parchment paper in pan bottom; spray the sides of the pan with vegetable oil spray.
In a processor or blender, pulverize walnuts, with flour until very fine. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine chocolate, cocoa, and 3/4 cup of sugar. Pour in boiling water and whisk until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Stir in egg yolk, rum, and vanilla.  Set aside. Combine egg whites with cream of tartar in medium bowl. Beat at medium speed until egg whites form soft peaks. Gradually sprinkle in remaining sugar and continue to beat at high speed until stiff but not dry. Set aside only long enough to whisk the walnut mixture into the chocolate mixture. Fold one quarter of egg whites into chocolate batter to lighten it.  Fold in remaining egg whites. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a skewer or toothpick plunged into the center of the torte comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 25-30 minutes. Cool torte in the pan, on a rack. It will sink dramatically in the center as it cools leaving a raised crust around the edge; this is okay.
Torte may be prepared to this point, covered, and stored at room temperature a day or two in advance; or frozen up to 3 months. Slide a thin knife or spatula around the sides of the pan to release the torte, as necessary. Remove sides of spring form and/or invert pan to unmold.  Remove paper liner from bottom and turn torte upright. Sieve a little powdered sugar over torte and serve alone or with frozen yogurt.

Yield:  10 servings

Chocolate Ice Cream Sauce
4 ounces of very dark chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces of heavy cream
4 ounces of sweet butter at room temperature
Optional:  up to 2 oz. of your favorite liqueur.
Optional:  for a more intense flavor add 4 tablespoons of sifted European cocoa powder.

In a medium saucepan boil the cream, pour this on top of your chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and the ingredients form a smooth paste. Add the butter and whisk until it is well blended. If you are flavoring the sauce with liqueur add it at this point and blend well. The shelf life of this recipe is about one week.
Storage:  Refrigerate or freeze in a plastic bag or freezable container.
Options:  Add your choice of fruit purées, alcohol or strong coffee.

Chocolate Brownie Drop Cookies
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup sweet butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup each white and dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup toasted ground pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate is just melted, remove from the heat. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add the flour, chips and pecans, and mix well. Drop by large spoonful’s onto a well-greased sheet pan. Bake 7 to 10 minutes, or just until the cookies are set. Let cool on the pan at least 5 minutes, and then remove.

Yield:  2 dozen large cookies

Chocolate Chunk Pecan Cookies
1 stick sweet butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup pecans chopped
6 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped coarsely

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well to combine. Sift together the dry ingredients and add to the batter, mixing well. Remove bowl from mixer (be sure to scrape the beater) and stir in the nuts and chocolate chunks by hand. Drop by teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets and bake 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes on sheets then remove cookies with a spatula to racks to cool.