Chocolate: I use 60 percent cocoa mass pistols.A variety of percentage contents are on the market today. Usesomething that is 58 percent to 72 percent for a bittersweet.They have a great bittersweet sensation and it's relatively easyto find this percentage of cocoa mass in solid chocolate atgourmet grocery stores. They're also easier to cut-out andhandle. Milk chocolate (34 percent) will work but is alwayssofter and doesn't handle so easily. White chocolate will worktoo but faces the same handling problems as milk chocolate. Besure to chill these in refrigerator.
All chocolate for these cut outs will have to be tempered by the user. Even if it has been tempered (which it will have been by the manufacturer for packaging), the act of melting the chocolate will require the user to re-temper it. Use a brand of chocolate that is high quality, tastes great, and fits your budget. Oil based food dye: Find these at specialty baking supply stores, or easier, on-line. Try www.chefrubber.com, or www.inidatree.com for oil and acrylic based dyes. Cookie cutters: Use metal cookie butters and quickly heat the cutters over a gas flame to easily cut through the chocolate. DO NOT dip in hot water, as chocolate and water do not mix, even if the chocolate is solid. Melted chocolate should never come in contact with water or else the chocolate will seize. Stencils Parchment paper X-acto or sharp paring knife Sheet pans Digital thermometer Double boiler Measure out the quantity of chocolate desired. Melt 2/3 of total chocolate over a double boiler over low heat and the water just steaming (this will be a slow process). Test the temperature with a digital thermometer (do not go over 110 degrees F). Remove bowl from the heat and, bit by bit, add the remaining 1/3 non-melted chocolate to reduce temperature to 89 to 91 degrees F. Spread chocolate out on parchment paper and smooth it out with an offset spatula. Lift the paper and gently tap it on the counter to even out the chocolate and get rid of any air bubbles. Place the paper with the chocolate on a cookie sheet and refrigerate until the chocolate is solid. Chill or leave on counter until hardened. I recommend leaving it on counter until it sets, then chill to make super hard for cutting with cookie cutter. Cut out shapes in the chocolate with cookie cutters, using shapes without close corners where the chocolate would get stuck easily. To make your own shapes, create a stencil using poster board and trace around it with a sharp knife. For bright colors use white chocolate and tint it with oil based food coloring. After you have cut out the shapes attach them to a frosted cake with a little melted chocolate.
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