Enhance your best-loved Valentine dessert with a chocolate decoration to make it even more lavish. Here's how to make dazzling decorations:
CURLS- For curls, use a bar of chocolate that's at room temperature. Carefully draw a vegetable peeler across the chocolate, making thin, curling strips.
- For shaved chocolate, using a vegetable peeler, make short quick strokes across the surface of a room-temperature bar of chocolate to make thin, irregular pieces.
- To grate, rub a cool, firm square of chocolate across a hand grater.
- Melt together 1 cup of semisweet chocolate pieces and 1 tablespoon shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Or, to melt in the microwave oven, place chocolate and shortening in a 2-cup measure and cook on 100 percent power (high) for 11/2 to 21/2 minutes, stirring after every minute. Pour melted chocolate onto a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet, spreading 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Chill until almost set.
- Firmly press hors d'oeuvre or tiny cookie cutters into chocolate. Chill.
- At serving time, lift cutouts from baking sheet with spatula. Be careful not to touch the surface. Fingerprints show clearly and can't be removed.
- Melt together 1 cup chocolate pieces and 1 tablespoon shortening over low heat, stirring constantly.
- Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or foil. Using a pastry bag fitted with a writing tip or a heavy-duty plastic bag with a small hole cut in one corner, drizzle the melted chocolate over the waxed paper in a 2-by-11/2-inch lacy zigzag. Chill in the freezer 5 minutes or until set.
- Meanwhile, finely chop 3 ounces white baking bar with cocoa butter and melt with 1 tablespoon shortening over very low heat, stirring constantly.
- Using a pastry bag with a writing tip or a heavy-duty plastic bag with a small hole in one corner, randomly drizzle the white mixture on top of the chocolate design. Chill in freezer until set.
- Store in a dry, cool place until serving time.
- In a heavy saucepan heat 2 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces over very low heat, stirring constantly until chocolate begins to melt. Remove from heat and stir until smooth.
- With a small paintbrush, brush melted chocolate on the underside of non-toxic, pesticide-free fresh leaves such as rose, lemon or ivy. Carefully wipe off any chocolate that runs onto the front.
- Place leaves, chocolate side up, on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper; chill or freeze until set.
- Just before using, carefully peel the fresh leaves away from the chocolate leaves, being careful not to touch the surfaces with your fingers.