It's important though to melt chocolate the right way so that the decorations you create are as pretty as possible - even colored, smooth and snappy. In other words, tempered.
Untempered chocolate is not attractive, and may suffer from a number of problems. It may not set up hard (tempered chocolate snaps when you break it), look dull and blotchy and/or have fat bloom which means the fat in the chocolate will move to the surface and cause whitish streaks and blotches.
And, what's the point of a chocolate decoration if it does this? Chocolate that is front and center needs to be tempered and this can be done without using a tempering machine or thermometers.
Tempering is simply encouraging the cocoa butter to harden into a specific crystalline pattern so that it maintains its sheen and texture. The best way I've found to do this is by adding a small amount of solid tempered chocolate to the melted chocolate. The technical name for this tempering method is called "seeding."
Simply melt chocolate using a microwave (heat in 30-second intervals, stirring after each) or in a double boiler over simmering not boiling water. If you use a double boiler know that it is essential that not a single drop of water get into your melted chocolate. Water ruins melted chocolate by causing it to seize and go grainy.
Once the chocolate is melted, add a small amount of solid chocolate (1/3 of the melted quantity is the general rule) to it and stir until melted. Now your chocolate is tempered and ready to use to decorate desserts.
To decorate the cheesecake, I melted 6 tablespoons of Callebaut dark chocolate chips in the microwave and added 2 tablespoons of "seed" chocolate for tempering.
|Get your dessert ready. I put pieces of foil around the cheesecake to catch chocolate spills.|
|Put 6 tablespoons of dark chocolate in one bowl and 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate in a second bowl.|
|Heat the 6 tablespoons in a microwave for 30 seconds and stir.|
|After another 30 seconds of heating, stir again. It obviously needs another 30 seconds of heating.|
|The chocolate is now completely melted.|
|Add the 2 tablespoons of chocolate to the melted chocolate.|
|Keep stirring until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.|
|It's almost there. I still see a few bits of solid chocolate.|
|Done. The chocolate is completely smooth and ready to drizzle on the cheesecake.|
|Quickly move a spoonful of chocolate back and forth over the cheesecake.|
|Done. Using the "seeding" method to temper the chocolate makes for an even colored, smooth and snappy chocolate decoration.|