Chocolate can be formed into gorgeous curls to top your cakes and fancy creations, and while there are several ways to go about this, the method we present here uses one simple tool – a sharp biscuit cutter. This is like a round cookie cutter, but it is often sturdier and has a very sharp edge, both of which you need to enact this technique. You can see in the image below that the lower edge is beveled and sharp. The only other requirement is a large block of chocolate, at least a 1-pound block of your choice of white, milk or dark chocolate with a surface area at least 3 or 4 inches square. You will only use about half, but this size is easiest to work with.
The block of chocolate will be very firm and should be slightly warmed. We have found the easiest way is to hold it between your palms for a few moments or if that doesn’t do the trick, you can try microwaving it briefly. This can get tricky as all microwaves are different, but try placing the chocolate on a piece of parchment paper and zapping it on high power for 5 to 10 second intervals. The time needed will depend on the firmness of the chocolate, the size of the block and the strength of your microwave.
Test the chocolate by placing it on your work surface and grabbing the thick block along its vertical edges with one hand. Grasp the biscuit cutter with the other hand, place it near the top of the block of chocolate with its sharp edge in contact with the chocolate, apply firm pressure and draw the biscuit cutter down towards you along the flat top of the chocolate. If the temperature is right, nice round curls will form in the middle of the cutter. If the chocolate is too warm, curls won’t form. If the block is too cold/firm, the chocolate will shatter and create shards (nice decorations in their own right). Try adjusting the temperature of the chocolate and you can also play around with the angle and pressure of the biscuit cutter. Try angling the cutter up or down to see which gives you better results. It usually works well to hold the cutter almost parallel to the surface of the chocolate.
The chocolate curls are delicate; as they form, place them on a clean plate in a single layer to prevent them from rolling around and breaking. These can be made several days before serving and stored in an airtight container at room temperature or refrigerated.
White chocolate and milk chocolate are softer than darker chocolates and tend to be easier to work with when making curls. Practice with white or milk to get a hang of the technique, then progress to semisweet and bittersweet chocolates.
If it just isn’t working for you, we promise you it’s all about temperature. Chances are the chocolate is too cold. This is the case 90% of the time. Also, some chocolates are just easier to work with. We like Valrhona Ivoire or Chocolates El Rey for white, Valrhona Jivara for milk and Valrhona Equitoriale for dark chocolate.
Image: Dédé Wilson