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chopping chocolate

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I have an enormous 11 lb. brick of chocolate and am having trouble using it. I have developed a hammer/screwdriver method of making the large block into smaller 1 lb. blocks, but then it's quite difficult to get into pieces small and manageable enough for tempering, etc. I'd been using a cheese grater (the old fashioned kind used for mozzarella, not the microplane kind or the small grade side), but a lot of chocolate melts and the shavings have a tendency to fly all over the place, though the resulting shavings are incredibly easy to use. I was wondering if anyone out there had a better method than my homespun ones borne out of frustration and utility.
Thanks.

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  1. s
    Samantha Cummings

    Have you tried taking a serrated knife and chopping the small blocks into pieces? That may be a bit easier, although it may take a little while.

    1. I've dealt with this as a pastry cook...an ice pick makes quick work of a big block of chocolate. Just place point of pick about 2" in from edge, and press down (hard). Repeat until you have taken off as much chocolate as you need. Works great, but it's hell on your board. We kept a special board for this use.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lala

        When I was a pastry cook, I also used an ice pick, but I tossed the chunk into a stainless bowl and went after it in this. All the mess was self-contained, and there was no damage to anything.

      2. I use a large very sharp knife as well as a chocolate chipper. The latter is a great and inexpensive tool (looks sort of like a very small rake) which successfully makes choc. chips and chunks.

        1. I shave off pieces with a sharp chef's knife, starting at the corners. A chcolate chipper is a good idea as well.

          There are some brands of chocolate that come in discs called pistoles that are much easier to work with.

          3 Replies
          1. re: rjka

            This is the way to go. Use a heavy knife, and put your free hand on top of the blade to add/control pressure. You want to back away only a little bit from the edge of the block. The chocolate will "flake" away in sheets that disintegrate. You can actually do this pretty quickly if you don't try to take off too much at once. Sort of like routing wood.

            1. re: sbp

              I agree with the shaving knife method - and recommend using a chef sized serated knife "shaving" small pieces an then I store it in either plastic containers or ziplock bags.

              Lately I have been using the microwavable plastic containers to melt the chocolate. I like the microwave in 40 second increments trick.

              1. re: tigerwoman

                Ditto on the chef's knife. Use an eight inch one for good leverage on the one pound blocks. "Shave" off larger chunks until you have as much as you need, then use the knife in a rock/chop motion across the larger chunks to get it into the smaller pieces you need.

                I put my chocolate on my silpat and chop away-- that way I can tip all the powdered chocolate that inevitably results into the pan/batter. And it makes cleanup easy.

          2. b
            babette feasts

            I too use a large heavy chef's knife, but before chopping, I drop the (wrapped) block of chocolate on the floor a few times, breaking it into several more manageable pieces. Then hack away at each piece, taking off the corners, rotating, and so on.