Easter is a time of peak culinary creativity, when many find themselves searching for the perfect tempering thermometer or chocolate mould. We asked Claire Burnet, co-founder and chief chocolatier at award-winning Dorset-based Chococo, for her recommendations on which chocolate to work with, plus the best kitchen gadgets available for melting, setting and shaping your Easter eggs. Claire started her chocolate business from her home kitchen, which proves that with just a few of the right tools, you can turn out some fantastic Easter treats.
1. Great chocolate
Use chocolate made with pure cocoa butter and no vegetable fats. Don’t buy cooking chocolate and try to select one that isn’t too sweet. Choose milk chocolate that’s close to 40% cocoa solids, because more cocoa means less sugar, which means a more chocolatey taste. Look for dark chocolate with 65%-plus cocoa solids, but don’t just go by the percentage since it’s not an indicator of quality. Find a chocolate you really like before buying it in larger quantities. Chocolate Trading Co. has a wide range available.
2. Marble slab
By tempering chocolate on a marble surface you'll ensure it's at the correct temperature and it will set with a nice sheen and a good ‘snap’. If you don’t have granite worktops in your kitchen, then a granite or marble slab will do the job. Chocolate maker’s slabs are available for £22.99 at Lakeland. Read our guide on how to temper chocolate and watch the video below:
3. Metal scraper
A chocolatier’s stainless steel scraper has an angled blade to spread chocolate on a marble slab with ease; it's also useful for levelling off excess chocolate in the mould. Alternatively, a builder’s scraper from a hardware shop will do the job just as well! Chocolate scrapers are available for £8.99 at Lakeland.
4. A good thermometer
The most common mistake made when working with chocolate at home is having it at too high a temperature, so it's a good idea to have a probe thermometer to eleminate guesswork. Lakeland sells a useful integrated silicone spatula and thermometer, which ensures that you’re working at the correct temperature while stirring your tempered chocolate, plus helps you get it all out of the bowl! Thermospatulas are available for £15.49 at Lakeland.
5. Plastic moulds
We prefer using plastic moulds to silicone ones, as the latter can give your creations a dull matt finish. It’s easy to find plastic chocolate moulds online, with several companies offering a wide selection of Easter-themed moulds, including eggs of different sizes and patterns, hens, bunnies and lollies, for less than £5 per mould. You can buy these at the Home Chocolate Factory, Cakes, cookies and crafts and Sugarshack.
Find more advice on working with chocolate...
Visit the Chococo website to find out more about the company and the great range of Easter chocolate they produce.