Friday, June 27, 2014

Knackerli (a.k.a. chocolate bark)

There's a recipe -- and the name "knackerli"--  in the book The Art of the Chocolatier by Ewald Notter that was the basis for the results pictured here, made at this year's Summer Institute at Bellingham Technical College (they have a great culinary program). But if you've ever made peppermint bark around Christmas time, you've got the basic idea, which I've summarized here.

chocolate - dark, milk or white
dried fruits

Pretty much any nuts will work. Since I have allergies, I'm personally limited to peanuts, but you can use any combination. Pistachios can add a bit of color. The same goes with the fruit...lots of options here; pick your favorites: raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries, chopped dried mango....candied orange peel or candied ginger also work great.

Chop any of the fruits and nuts that are oversized.

Temper the chocolate.* Cool the chocolate to its working temperature (basic guide would be 84-86° for white, 86-88° for milk, and 88-90° for dark), and work quickly to make your knackerli.

You can pipe the chocolate into discs, oblong bars, crescents, or just about any shape you want. Use a pastry bag (or if you don't have one, put the melted chocolate in a heavy duty zip lock plastic bag and snip off a small corner). Or...pour and spread the chocolate in a thin layer over a baking sheet lined with parchment.

Sprinkle generously with chopped dried fruits and nuts. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or until set. If you made a large sheet of bark, break it into rough pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark location.

* Tempering: Beyond just melting the chocolate, tempering produces a nice glossy finish, a good 'snap' to your cooled chocolates, and prevents the discoloration or "bloom" that can mar your chocolate creations. As a general rule, heat the chocolate until it reaches 110-115°, or 120° for dark chocolate. Then cool the chocolate to it's working temperature (see above) and work fairly quickly to make your creations while the chocolate is still in range.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chocolate Cremeux (Chocolate Mousse)

From Professional Baking by Wayne Gisslen.

5 oz bittersweet chocolate*
3 egg yolks
4 oz sugar**
1 C milk
1 C heavy cream

* For a thicker cremeux, one that can be used as a filling for a chocolate tart, increase the chocolate to 7 oz. Also, if I make this recipe again, I'll likely opt for unsweetened chocolate; with the added sugar it was plenty sweet for my taste.
** If you don't have a kitchen scale, 1 oz of sugar is a scant 2 Tbls.

Chop chocolate into small pieces; place in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl, whip until light.

Combine milk and cream. Scald over a boiling water bath, or bring to just below boiling in a saucepan over direct heat, stirring continuously. Very gradually, pour hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while stirring regularly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon or until it reaches 180°.

Strain this mixture --  a crème anglaise -- into the bowl of chocolate. Mix, or stir, at low speed until chocolate is melted and blended with the crème anglaise. Stir gently, taking care not to make bubbles. Spoon or pour into serving dishes. Chill until set.

Serving suggestions: layer or garnish with fresh berries,
whipped cream, and/or chocolate curls.