Chocolate is one of the nation’s favourite flavours. Here, chocolate experts offer advice on techniques and flavour combinations bakers can use to enhance their baked goods.
Right format, right flavour
The right chocolate application is essential to the success of your bake. Consider your final product when deciding between bars, wafers or powder: if you’re seeking a fudgier texture, choose bars; however, powder blends evenly throughout the bake; and both deliver great, consistent taste.
If you’re looking for a bigger chocolate hit, you can use powder in conjunction with another chocolate ingredient.
If combining with powder, wafers would work perfectly to give your bake peaks of chocolatey indulgence.
When selecting a percentage for your bake, don’t be afraid to experiment. Decide on the intensity of flavour you want and then choose either a ‘mellow’ or ‘strong’ chocolate or powder.
Tasting is the best way to choose a chocolate ingredient for your bake. Try working backwards when considering a recipe. Pick which recipe you want, find the ingredients and taste your chocolate, powders etc. alongside these to determine the best fit and the final flavour profile.
Erik Bruun Bindslev, managing director, Guittard Chocolate Company Europe
Unlock the combination
Chocolate is an extremely complex profile, with more than 600 flavour compounds. This makes the opportunities for flavour pairing almost endless.
Dark and rich flavours, such as coffee, pair particularly well with dark chocolate as these flavours need to stand up to its nutty roasted caramel notes, while the fruity and floral notes can be highlighted with the addition of fruits or honey.
Dark chocolate can pair well with a hint of heat from chilli or the smokiness of chipotle.
Milk chocolate flavours can be taken to the next level with the addition of complex spices such as smoked vanilla or even curry spices such as turmeric.
White chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids and therefore presents some interestingly different opportunities for flavour pairing. The sweet condensed milk notes can be offset with the addition of fresh and fruity profiles, such as raspberry or lemon.
This flavour also creates a great base for the addition of trending florals or botanicals, such as cherry blossom, lavender or lemongrass.
Natalie Drake, category manager, Synergy Flavours
Keep cool and focused
Work with chocolate when the kitchen is cooler and then keep the products in the fridge. To help with this, don’t keep stopping and starting – make a designated time for your chocolate work.
Always get everything prepared beforehand. Whether it’s sprinkles, lollipop sticks or anything else, get them ready on the table, because you can’t run off once you’ve tempered the chocolate.
You can temper chocolate in a microwave. When you buy chocolate it’s already tempered, so if you warm it up slowly with short, sharp blasts in the microwave (and don’t bring it above 35°C), it will still be tempered.
Julie Sharp, head chef, Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy UK