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Can carob be used as a substitute for chocolate in recipes?

Not really. Carob is the dried pod of the carob tree and has a sweet taste vaguely like that of the cocoa bean. Chocolate contains caffeine, but carob does not, so some people prefer to use it for health reasons. Carob can be bought as a powder to use in place of cocoa, and it chips and bars, but it should not be thought of as a substitute for good quality chocolate. Both the flavor and texture of carob are very different from the real thing.

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16:20:26 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What is 'couverture' chocolate and what does 'tempering' mean?

Couverture chocolate is a type of chocolate used by professional confectioners. It contains more cocoa butter than ordinary chocolate and so melts and spreads easily. But cocoa butter is composed of fat crystals, and after melting some of these may recrystallize and form grey streaks in the chocolate called bloom which, though harmless, looks unattractive. So couverture chocolate has to be tempered: that is, heated and cooled to precise temperatures to prevent bloom and then spread and worked on a marble slab as it cools to produce a chocolate with a very smooth and shiny texture. All chocolate ideally needs tempering, but for most everyday cooking it is satisfactory to use good plain chocolate.

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13:05:01 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Sometimes when we try to melt white chocolate, it turned crumbly. What has gone wrong?

Some types of white chocolate have had some or all of the cocoa butter replaced with vegetable oil and these are extremely difficult to melt. White chocolate should never be directly substituted for dark or milk chocolate. Technically, white chocolate is not chocolate at all as it does not contain any cocoa solids. Should a particular recipe require white chocolate and it has to be melted, check that the type you buy contains a high level of cocoa butter and always chill and then finely grate before very gently melting it. If it seizes, white chocolate is impossible to rescue.

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11:56:16 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

When melting chocolate, it occasionally becomes grainy. How to prevent that from happening?

When melting chocolate, remember that you are not heating or cooking it. Chocolate will melt in the heat of your hand, and that is how gentle the melting process should be. Chocolate that is grainy, or turns thick and seizes up in a solid mass, has been overheated.

It is also important that the chocolate be kept dry, as even one drop of water will cause it to seize. When you are melting chocolate in a bowl over simmering water, take the pan off the heat before putting the bowl on top then reduce the heat so that the water simmers gently and does not boil, as boiling water creates droplets of steam that may fall on the chocolate. Do not add any cold liquids to the chocolate until it has melted.

When you are melting chocolate in a microwave, use the Defrost setting and check its progress every 30-60 seconds; the chocolate will retain its shape even though it has softened.

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09:30:00 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

What makes a good chocolate?

The key things to look for are cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The more cocoa solids a chocolate contains, the deeper and more intense the chocolate flavor will be. The wrapping must list the quantity of cocoa solids; any containing less than 50 per cent has little real chocolate taste; one with 70 per cent or more will have a much stronger, finer chocolate flavor.

The amount of cocoa butter listed on the packet will also help you to determine the quality of the chocolate. The more cocoa butter the chocolate contains, the softer it is, melting more easily and having a unique, mouth-feel quality.

But there is a huge demand for cocoa butter for use in cosmetics, which makes it very expensive, and so vegetable oils are substituted for the real thing in cheaper chocolate, reducing the flavor. Cocoa butter does not have to be listed on the packet by percentage, but you can work out how much is present by its position in the ingredients list, since these are shown in order of volume. If vegetable oil comes higher on the list than cocoa butter, it is an inferior chocolate. However, this is just a general guide and it is not necessarily has to be that way.

As a general rule, the thinner and smaller the pieces of chocolate, the finer the chocolate will be. Another way of identifying good chocolate is how smooth it feels on the tongue. This is because high quality chocolate undergoes a longer period of conching, or stirring, while it is being made. Very fine chocolate with a superior flavor is expensive, but you do not have to use as much to get an intense chocolate taste, so it is a good idea to pay a little more for the best.

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08:44:57 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Questions and Answers -

Oven Chips Recipe

Serves: 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

500 g large, waxy potatoes
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
Sea salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Scrub the potatoes and pat dry but do not peel. Cut them lengthways into thick chips. Put the chips in a bowl and toss by hand with the oil and sea salt. Spread the chips on two baking trays and bake for 40-45 minutes, turning them three or four times. Swap over the baking trays halfway through cooking for even browning. Remove the chips from the oven, then drain them on kitchen paper towels to remove any surplus oil before serving.

Note: Lightly sprinkling thick-cut potatoes with oil and salt before cooking them in the oven produces chips that not only taste great but are healthier too.

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03:32:46 on 10/13/06 by Webmaster - Recipes -