Everything You Need to up your Chocolate-Making Game
This Valentine's Day, don't settle for a box of chocolates from a store shelf
Sure, you can sweeten Valentine’s Day with a treat from your favorite chocolatier, but because of how surprisingly easy it is to melt, temper, and mold chocolate, I like to observe the indulgent winter holiday by taking the task on myself. Homemade chocolates and hand-dipped treats are a thoughtful and inexpensive gift, and the activity itself makes a great date night project.
This beautiful, Spanish-made version from Williams-Sonoma is one of the more expensive pieces you can add to your confectionary arsenal, but its other uses make it easier to justify. Beyond chocolate work, this board is equally excellent for rolling out pie doughs as it is for serving cheese and charcuterie (not to mention the professional background it will add to all those Instagram shots you’re going to snap on it). Invest in this piece and you’ll immediately channel the true pastry professional you are meant to be.
The key to properly tempered chocolate is keeping the couverture free of moisture while it melts over an indirect, gentle heat. A standard metal bowl set over a simmering water bath works in a pinch, so owning a double boiler may seem unnecessary, but this version from Norpro takes the guesswork out of finding a perfectly paired pot. The stainless double boiler fits snugly over a range of saucepans, helping to avoid the accidental slip typical of metal bowls. A long handle protects your hands from the basin’s hot edges and a pour spout keeps drips and messes to a minimum. Norpro
Why is a meat thermometer on my list of favorite chocolate tools? A digital instant-read thermometer is one of my go-to tools for the precision and ease it adds to every temperature-sensitive task in the kitchen. Tempering is no different; use this tool to track every point of the tempering curve to give your chocolate confections a gorgeous, glossy finish and a satisfying snap every time. ThermoPro
Growing up, my mom never marked a major milestone or celebration without a corresponding chocolate lollipop or treat: A carriage shape for a new baby, all nine single-digit birthdays, and a two-piece heart-shaped chocolate box at everyone’s place setting for Valentine’s Day. These silicone molds are just the way to bring this tradition up to date. I like these for their versatility and efficiency—you can use them to make bon bons, peanut butter cups, truffles, and candy bars. Silicone molds are oven-, microwave-, freezer-, and dishwasher-safe and this style has 30 cavities, so you can make the most of your confectionary efforts. Freshware
Acetate sheets are the best neutral canvas for creating all sorts of chocolate shapes and decor. Whether you are using tempered chocolate as a garnish to spruce up your famous Valentine’s Day cake or to freestyle tempered chocolate plaques and medallions, these sheets are exactly what you need to accomplish your most elaborate chocolate-working dreams. Oasis Supply
Transfer Sheets for the Cupid Enthusiast – Bakers EZ Way Chocolate Transfer Sheet Abstract Design, Gold
I love these transfer sheets for the professional, polished look they give to finished chocolates without much added effort. Simply cut the sheets into shapes to fit a silicone mold and lay them at the bottom before filling with chocolate, or pipe chocolate into shapes directly onto them, using them in place of an acetate sheet. Bakers EZ way
A Mini Muffin Tin and Baking Liners for Homemade Peanut Butter Cups – Wilton Perfect Results Nonstick 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan
Line this mini muffin tin with baking cups and fill with melted chocolate and creamy peanut butter for a handmade take on the classic candy cups. For the cleanest results, fill the cups with one-third of the chocolate needed, drop a pre-frozen teaspoon of peanut butter into the center and top off with additional melted chocolate before allowing to cool and set. Wilton
This widely-slotted scoop is just the right size for delicately lowering a range of treats into melted chocolate. Cashews, marshmallows, cookies, and strawberries all fit perfectly into the mouth of the scoop without slipping through the wire tines, allowing you to easily tap off excess chocolate before transferring the goods to a parchment- or acetate-lined sheet pan. Wilton
If the process of tempering chocolate sounds more like work than it does play, this adorable melting pot is exactly what you need for a simpler foray into the art of chocolate making. The compact electric candy pot is small enough to stash away but capable of melting up to 2½ cups of chocolate at once–more than enough to coat a party-sized batch of chocolate-covered cherries, peppermint patties, or whatever you’d like. The pot doesn’t offer the user a ton of control over temperature so it isn’t ideal for tempering couverture, but it is possible to cheat your way to a glossy glaze by stirring in a tablespoon or two of coconut oil before you start dipping. The warming function ensures that your chocolate stays smooth without scorching and the removable silicone insert makes clean-up a cinch. Wilton