Chocolate, cutting it

How do you cut up a thick bittersweet chocolate bar (the good stuff!) without reducing much of it to tiny shards?

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JohnT148 months ago

I explored this for a while and came up with a reasonable solution.

I placed my block of Callebaut on a paper plate on my pullout wooden chopping block. I made a few indentations on the top of the block with one of my chef knives by pressing down on the block, just enough to lightly score it.

I inserted my meat cleaver into the groves and with my meat tenderizing hammer, gently tapped the meat cleaver with the hammer. It broke up the chocolate rather nicely into chunks.

mole1 (author)  JohnT148 months ago

My first mental image was of you making indentations on your cutting board and wondering why that would help (ours already has some chisel indentations from earlier efforts.) Then I reread and caught both blocks :)

Your directions are simple enough and I think are the best answer. Four years ago I melted the whole chunk (when it surfaced after the move) and poured small blobs of it onto aluminum foil. I remember that it didn't seem to taste as good.

kd'horreur8 months ago

I had the same problem and through experimenting with a bunch of ideas (including the scoring/cracking technique)I found this method works the BEST:

1. Heat the chocolate SLIGHTLY (like just warm to the touch, NOT soft or near-melted), either by setting on the stove while you oven preheat or microwaving in 5 second intervals (for chocolate out of the fridge, or in a cold climate, about 15-20 sec total, but times vary by microwave). It melts fast so check often! If it is soft, throw in the freezer for a bit. If you live in a cool climate, cut your bar in half and go through the steps one half at a time, so it won't cool and harden as you're working. This step really helps because it warms the chocolate (at a level not perceivable by us), allowing the knife to easily slide through giving a clean cut, as opposed to cold/solid chocolate that offers resistance and will splinter.

2. On a HARD surface, using a SHARP sturdy chefs knife, hold the tip down with your free hand and slice the knife down SWIFTLY from tip to handle-end (not in a sawing motion and not chopping with the whole knife at once), all the way through to the bottom. Lift and move the whole knife with each cut as opposed to anchoring the tip and pivoting. These details really do make a difference!

3. Be CAREFUL when handling your chopped pieces, especially if they are small. Being too rough can cause them to shatter into flakes, splinter, or crumble. Also cutting the pieces really really small make them splinter/flake more... though I guess if your cutting them that small it wouldn't matter if that happened.

4. One more thing that makes a huge difference... many bars will have swirls of a lighter shade of brown on them. Typically only a small part/end of the bar will, though. If you see this, don't bother trying to chop that part into small pieces or chunks. They will unavoidably crumble. This is because this coloring indicates tiny air bubbles in the chocolate. They're at a microscopic level, but still big enough to make a difference.

5. If you are making chocolate chunk cookies...The best way to do chunks is to cut your bar in one direction into thin strips, and then cut the strips into cubes. Toss them in flour before folding them into your batter.

(I wrote a super long, detailed answer that took me, oh, 30 minutes or so and accidentally touched the advertisement and lost the whole thing... maybe its the universe telling me my response was too long and detailed and I need to get to bed but.... ugh, I wanted to cry!!) ...and then I spent 35 MORE minutes typing THIS comment... at 3:30 AM, standing up... my goodness. I really hope this is of use to someone!

kelseymh4 years ago
As always, Google Is Your Friend. I searched "cutting block chocolate", and the very first hit was Baking 911. About 1/3 of the way down the page:

TO CHOP: If you have a large block of chocolate, it's best to cut off a portion of it to avoid cutting your hand, overhandling and melting it.

  1. First remove a large piece of chocolate from the main bar:

    1. Score it first with a sharp, serrated knife, where you want to break it; run the knife blade, in a sawing motion on top of the block where you want to cut it, to make a small trough. Sometimes it is easier to cut across a corner.
    2. Then, push knife, with the help of your left hand on the top of the blade, into the score and the chocolate will break off in a chunk. If it doesn't, the chunk may be too big. Try to cut a smaller one to start.
    3. Weigh to make sure it is the proper amount; you can place it directly on the scale. You will weigh again after chopping. Return the large block of chocolate, well-wrapped, to its proper storage area.

  2. The next step is to chop the chocolate from the chunk, without overhandling it because chocolate melts easily. This is done by shaving off thin pieces from it before chopping.

    1. Place the chocolate chunk you just cut on a dry, plastic cutting board. I don't like to use a wooden board because it may contain moisture (when working with chocolate, be moisture adverse). If you holds two equally-sized knifes together, about an inch to 1/2-inch apart, the chocolate pieces won't fly around, but they usually splinter from the main chunk any way.
    2. Using a large serrated knife, place the handle in your right (left) hand and apply pressure with your left (right) palm on top of the blade, and push downwards along the edge of the block to shave off pieces of chocolate. It comes off more easily if you cut across a corner. Then turn the block of chocolate to the next available corner and cut again.

mole1 (author) 5 years ago
The robot is on my case again.... to choose the best answer... but I don't know because I haven't been able to try them.

Heated knife I have serious doubts about.... think the chocolate would close behind it and cool before getting all the way through .... same with a hot wire. Have you actually done this??

In the middle of moving, don't have a kitchen I can swing anything in, and at the moment I can't even FIND the friggin chocolate. Serious situation here...ready to just start gnawing on one end of the good stuff if I do find it. Arrrrrg! there's gotta be at least some M&M's around here.... somewhere.......
sharlston5 years ago
score it then hit it and it shouldc ctack
mole1 (author)  sharlston5 years ago
With what would you score it? I'm wondering about a plexi-glass cutter or a woodcut gouge (crumbs to go into brownies).
sharlston mole15 years ago
id score it with a knive then give it a tap with a tofee hammer or something simiiliar
SkinnE5 years ago
A sturdy knife. 

I used to have this problem with Valrhona's chocolate bars, they were about an inch thick, and would behave as you mention if you used any kind of flexible knife, or if you tried to take off too little chocolate.  I have a Chef's cleaver, basically a small, stiff cleaver which was sufficient to get good chunks of chocolate off the bar. 

A tip:  with the chocolate under your knife blade, and on a chopping board (don't use glass or anything remotely similar) anchor the tip of the knife (the end opposite the handle) on/in your chopping board with your non-dominant hand and bring the blade down swiftly and firmly into the chocolate.  You may end up with Chocolate on a Knife, but you can then treat it like Re-design suggests, swinging the whole shebang into the board to complete the cut (safer this way with the knife already embedded in chocolate, and another good reason not to use a glass board, beside the whole knife-dulling one). 

If you wanted to go all Instructables on it's ass, you could make and use a foam cutter for the purpose, eg. an electrically heated wire, like this, or this  Search on here for "foam cutter" for more ideas, just don't use the same cutter for both chocolate and foam! 
Re-design5 years ago
Try hitting it like you would swing an ax.  Be careful though.  Have it on a cutting board and use a butcher's knife.  When you hit it hard and fast it doesn't have time to crumble.  The knife just fractures it and you end up with chunks and a little small pieces.
orksecurity5 years ago
Heated knife?