Working on Valentine recipes, we’ve been shaving a lot of chocolate for garnishes, and to incorporate into recipes like shaved chocolate ice cream. (It’s our preferred version of chocolate chip ice cream. The thinly shaved chocolate delivers more chocolate flavor than frozen-hard chocolate chips.)
GRATED VERSUS SHAVED CHOCOLATE
Grating tools have smaller holes and create bits of chocolate for garnish. Shavers have slits that produce strips and curls of chocolate.
For garnishing, gratings and shavings can often be used interchangeably. There are exceptions, like the traditional long chocolate shavings on a Black Forest Cake; but some pastry chefs use grated chocolate and even chocolate chips for the garnish.
And the same techniques can be used to grate cheese—you can garnish cupcakes and ravioli with the same tool, as well as coconut and vegetables and hard fruits, from apples, carrots and onions to zucchini.
Easy grating with a Microplane Gourmet Shaver. Photo courtesy Microplane.
In fact, experiment with what you own before buying something new. We’ve found that our classic Zyliss rotary-style cheese grater also grates chocolate, while our classic Microplane grater/zester produced too fine a consistency for our use.
We also have a William Bounds Chocolate Mill, which we fill with chocolate chips and bring to the table so people can grate their own garnish. Here’s our review. It’s a fun gadget but not as versatile as the options below.
Chocolate shaved with a professional-grade
peeler. Photo courtesy ComfortAndJoy.com.
TOOLS TO SHAVE & GRATE CHOCOLATE
Microplane Chocolate Shaver
We find using a grater with a handle to be the easiest. You may not want to acquire an extra gadget, but once you have it, peruse our “uses for shaved chocolate” list below. You’ll probably find ways to use it several times a week.
We most often use a Microplane Large Shaver, the shaver shown in photo above. There is also a medium ribbon grater.
You can also use a standard vegetable peeler. A peeler doesn’t create fine shavings like a ribbon grater, but the result may be just fine for your needs. Simply hold the chocolate firmly in place on the surface (we like to hold it on a non-slip silicone trivet) and shave down the edge of the chocolate.
A peeler is the tool to use when you want larger chocolate curls. Note that you need to peel the curls from a larger block of chocolate, not a thin chocolate bar.
The large and small holes on a box grater worked to grate chocolate, but at more peril to our knuckles (we rarely use a box grater for this reason). We preferred the Microplane and the peeler.
USES FOR SHAVED & GRATED CHOCOLATE
Shaved chocolate is usually a garnish, atop another food; but it can also be used as an inside ingredient.
Garnish for cakes (Black Forest Cake is a classic), cupcakes, cheesecakes and other baked sweets
Filling for cakes (use it to top the ganache, custard, jam or other filling material)
Garnish for pies: chocolate, coffee, vanilla, etc., plus pastries like cannoli
Garnish for custards and puddings
Bread: Make chocolate toast—like cinnamon toast, but with the addition of grated chocolate; or grate on hot cinnamon rolls or onto the dough before rolling; on peanut butter sandwiches
Anything with whipped cream
Cocktails: chocolate, vanilla, butterscotch, strawberry, etc.
WARM IT OR FREEZE IT?
Some people recommend that you place the chocolate in the freezer for about 10 minutes prior to shaving. Others swear that chocolate grates more easily if it is slightly warmer than room temperature, and microwave the bar for a few seconds.
This will depend on the particular chocolate: the higher the cacao content, the harder the chocolate; the more added butterfat, the softer the chocolate. See what works best for you.