Piping is a skill that allows the chocolatier to create shapes or even an entire scene with depth and dimension, rather than using flat cutouts. In order to create dimension, the chocolate must be tempered to the correct consistency. It should be on the cooler side, and the consistency should be thin enough to flow through a pastry bag, but thick enough that it will adhere to the surface it is piped on and hold its shape without running. While chocolate for piping can be thickened with a few drops of alcohol or syrup if absolutely necessary, it is better to achieve the correct consistency by tempering the chocolate, then letting it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so crystallization thickens the chocolate to the correct viscosity.
Creative techniques can be used to add additional effects to a piped shape or scene that cannot be achieved using cut-out shapes. For example, because piping creates a three-dimensional surface, confectioners' sugar dusted over a piped figure will rest on the contours of the chocolate to create an illusion of depth that would not be possible on a simple cut-out piece.
1. Sketch the design to be piped onto a piece of paper, and place the paper underneath a clear acetate sheet.
2. Table the chocolate to be used for piping to temper it, then let rest for 10 to 15 minutes to cool and thicken. Fill a piping bag with the tempered chocolate, and begin to pipe the chocolate onto the acetate sheet to fill in the design. If the chocolate is the right consistency, it should not be necessary to outline the design first.
3. Continue piping until the entire design has been filled in. For any areas of the piece that should appear thicker than the rest, pipe over the design a second time to create more volume.
4. To add small, simple accents to the design with a different type of chocolate, dip the point of a paring knife into the tempered chocolate and dot it onto the surface of the piped design before the piped chocolate sets. This is much faster than preparing another piping bag. If more complex accents are desired, however, fill a separate piping bag with the tempered chocolate and pipe directly onto the surface of the piped design before it sets.
5. Let the chocolate set until it begins to curl up a bit and release itself from the acetate. As soon as it is set, remove the piece from the acetate and store at room temperature until ready to use.
If the chocolate is the right consistency, no outlining is needed to fill in the design. The eye can be added by dipping a knife into white chocolate.
Let the chocolate sit until it curls up and releases itself from the acetate.
This page created March 2011
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