For the Box: Start by drizzling both white and dark chocolate onto a sheet of acetate paper. Next, dip your clean, dry fingers in the bowl of dark chocolate and use them to spread the chocolate over the drizzles, creating a marbled effect. Dipping your fingers in chocolate coats them and makes it easier to create the marble pattern. You can use a plastic glove if you prefer. When the sheet is marbleized, add a ladleful of dark chocolate to the sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread it to create a 1/4-inch layer. Be sure to spread it all the way to the edges. Lift the chocolate-covered paper by its corners and move it to a clean space on your work surface. Let the chocolate set slightly, 4 to 5 minutes, until firm but not hard. Using the tip of a sharp paring knife or X-Acto knife, cut 1 bottom piece and 2 side pieces. A box of any size can be made using this method, however, if you make a 5 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch base, cut 2 strips that are 1 1/2-by-8 1/2 inches long. Repeat the process a second time to create the top and 2 strips for the shorter sides that are 1 1/2-by-5-inches long. Remove the acetate from each piece of chocolate. The shiny side should face up or toward the outside. Place the base on the work surface in front of you. Use chocolate to "glue" the sides of the box in place. Allow the chocolate to set then fill the box with bon-bons. Set the top of the box in place. For the Chocolate Ribbon: Mix the cocoa butter and the powdered food coloring together to make chocolate paints. Place a sheet of acetate lengthwise on the work surface in front of you. Using a paintbrush, cover the surface with a thin layer of your choice of paints. When the paint has set, use an offset spatula to spread some white chocolate over the color to create a very thin layer, about 1/16-inch. Use the back of a paring knife to score the chocolate in lengthwise strips that are approximately 2-inches wide. Score across the middle of the sheet horizontally. When the chocolate begins to set, fold each short side of the sheet to the center so that the ends meet but do not overlap. Tape this closed and allow the chocolate to set completely. When set, untape and remove acetate. Break the strips along the scored lines. Assemble the ribbon using chocolate to "glue" the pieces in place on top of the box.;
Chocolate is tempered so that after it has been melted, it retains its gloss and hardens again without becoming chalky and white (that happens when the molecules of fat separate and form on top of the chocolate). There are a variety of ways to temper.
One of the easiest ways to temper chocolate is to chop it into small pieces and then place it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time on high power until most of the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to overheat it. (The temperature of dark chocolate should be between 88 and 90 degrees F, slightly warmer than your bottom lip. It will retain its shape even when mostly melted. White and milk chocolates melt at a temperature approximately 2 degrees F less because of the amount of lactose they contain.) Any remaining lumps will melt in the chocolate's residual heat. Use an immersion blender or whisk to break up the lumps. Usually, chocolate begins to set, or crystallize, along the side of the bowl. As it sets, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate to temper it. A glass bowl retains heat well and keeps the chocolate tempered longer.
Another way to temper chocolate is called seeding. In this method, add small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate. The amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the melted chocolate, but is usually 1/4 of the total amount. It is easiest to use an immersion blender for this, or a whisk.
The classic way to temper chocolate is called tabliering. Two thirds of the melted chocolate is poured onto a marble or another cold work surface. The chocolate is spread out and worked with a spatula until its temperature is approximately 81 degrees F. At this stage, it is thick and begins to set. This tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining non-tempered chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass has a completely uniform temperature. If the temperature is still too high, part of the chocolate is worked further on the cold surface until the correct temperature is reached. This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room, and makes a big mess.
A simple method of checking tempering, is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been correctly tempered, it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within a few minutes.
From Dessert Circus, Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make at Home, by Jacques Torres.
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