Love TV show Choccywoccydoodah? Fancy making your own chocolate creations at home? We caught up with the Brighton shop's head chocolatier Dave ahead of the start of the second series of the show to get his top tips for working with chocolate.
- Create a strong base If decorating a cake with chocolate, it's important to have a hearty cake as a base. Our cakes at Choccywoccydoodah are quite heavy, pudding-like cakes, to give it a good strong base. That way they can be easily transported in one piece and you can have a lot of decorations on top. Chocolate can be quite heavy so if you used a light sponge cake it could collapse in on itself.
- Try a chocolate coating At Choccywoccydoodah we slice the cakes up, put chocolate truffle layers inbetween the cakes and then coat the cake entirely in chocolate. This way the cake is completely sealed within a chocolate coat, which helps to keep the cake fresh as it's airtight.
- Trust your instinct When decorating with chocolate we never use any measuring instruments or thermometers or anything like that, we do it by instinct. We don't keep big batches melting, we just use normal sized bowls that everyone has in their kitchen, this gives each cake a very lovely unique feel.
- Start small If you're not used to working with chocolate, start small. The first thing we get people to do is coating the cake. Once you've mastered that you can move onto the bigger stuff.
- Get the consistency right To cover a cake you want the chocolate to be about the consistency of thick custard - smooth and runny but not a liquid. That way you can pour a jug of that over the cake and, using a spoon, spread the chocolate around the cake to form a crust. To decorate, melt the chocolate so it's very runny and then you can put it in a piping bag and start practicing piping names, flowers and maybe drawings on a flat slab of chocolate.
- Play with colours We use food colouring for the chocolate. It can sometimes be quite tricky to colour chocolate as it doesn't really like being mixed with another liquid and it can really affect it's consistency. It's all about learning how chocolate works and using it at a specific temperature. We use a dry colour, like powder paint, which is called coloured dust - you can get in normal food suppliers. You add a little bit of that to melted chocolate, stir it in and that should work.
- Experiment For me, because I'm a chocolate fan, I think chocolate is brilliant because it can be used in such a variety of ways. It sets solidly so you can do ridiculously fiddly fragile things while it's still soft, things that you couldn't do with other ingredients, and once it dries it sets solid.
- Avoid perfection My best advice would be to remember that a chocolate cake is quite nice when it looks like a chocolate cake, try not to be too perfectionist about it. Some cakes, especially when you use royal icing, look perfectly smooth and I think with a chocolate cake it looks better if you can see some dribbles, it just makes it look that bit more edible. I think sometimes cakes can stop looking like food and it's nice when food makes you want to eat it.
- Don't give up Chocolate is a very hard ingredient to work with when you first get started but once you've got the knack it's very easy and the possibilities of what you can create are endless!
Choccywoccydoodah is new and exclusive to Good Food, weeknights at 9pm from Monday 10th October (Sky / HD 249, Virgin 260)