It’s been awhile since I’ve done a how-to post. I love doing tutorials, but because of the infrequent availability of photography assistants number one and two, it is a bit harder to get the photographs right. The one I have for you today is something really fun! Have you seen cakes and confections in pastry shops decorated with patterned chocolate thins, and wonder how to get the pattern on them? Well, it turns out, with chocolate transfer sheets, you can get a design transferred to whatever chocolate medium you choose, which gives it a professional, polished look.
Chocolate transfer sheets are made of clear, flexible plastic sheets with designs printed in colored cocoa butter (they work a bit like temporary tattoos). They are sold in cake decorating or baking supplies store. Once you have a pattern that you like, here’s what you do:
Place a dollop of melted, tempered chocolate on the chocolate transfer sheet. Some bakers suggest using candy melts, but I like to use chocolate for the flavors. By the way, candy melts are not chocolate. They contain sugar, vegetable oil, lecithin, and cocoa powder, but no cocoa butter.
Next, using an offset spatula, spread chocolate into a thin, even layer, making sure that the entire pattern is covered with chocolate. Don’t worry if there is a lot of excess chocolate on the film. Be careful not to scrape the printed pattern with the spatula, as that might smear the design.
Hold the film by two corners and let the excess chocolate drip off.
Place the chocolate-covered film on a baking sheet (chocolate side up and film side down), and let it cool until the chocolate begins to set slightly. You want it to be still moldable and not completely hardened.
And then comes the tricky part. You want to shape the chocolate before it sets. There are several ways: you can cut the sheet into different shapes (squares, triangles), cut into strips to fit around a cake, or twist and let them set so that you end up with a third dimensional spirals. You can use a cookie cutter or a knife to score the chocolate, and break them off once they are hardened. Or you can use a scissor to cut a long strip and wrap it around the cake.
Gently, peel off the plastic film. Or, if you want to save them for future uses, don’t peel off the film and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Depending on how you want to shape it, you may have to adjust the thickness of the chocolate. Thicker pieces might be better if you want to position them vertically or at an angle (they’ll break if the pieces are too thin). Thinner pieces work better if you are using them to stick to the sides of the cake (thinner pieces are lighter and will stick better). You can even use them on chocolates or chocolate coated caramels!