Because chocolate is such a precious ingredient, I always want to make the most of it. And sometimes that means making a dramatic presentation with a small quantity of chocolate. I wanted to make a pretty, delicate chocolate container that was not too difficult (or time consuming) to make and did not require special equipment of molds. A lacy pattern seemed like just the thing for individual desserts for a couple of reasons. First, because the effect is so unusual in food (and impressive). Secondly, because you can make a container with very little chocolate. (My dessert cups are half an ounce each.) This is desirable not just to be thrifty, but because a huge hunk of chocolate is usually not what you want stuck in the middle of your dessert plate. But a delicate form you can shatter into shards offers a pleasant textural contrast to a dish-- much like you get with a mint chip or stracciatella ice cream.
It took a few trials for me to hammer out a technique that works, but I finally found a winner. First, I made a template for a parchment form, which gives you the shape of the bowl. Then the lace pattern is made by piping loops of tempered chocolate out over the back of the form. ( And don't worry if you don't have a clue how to temper chocolate-- I give details on a microwave method that will give you tempered chocolate in under ten minutes.) Let the chocolate set and then peel away the parchment . Voila! A stunning, (and simple!) bowl made entirely of chocolate. I’ve even attached a pdf of my template so you can make your own bowl forms in a snap. The bowls work perfectly for serving ice creams, mousses or chilled fruit.
The full project writeup is also available on my blog, along with a writeup on tempering chocolate including tips and troubleshooting.
Step 1: Assemble your equipment.
All your tools should be spotlessly clean and dry. The first two steps (which involve cutting and shaping parchment paper) can be done ahead of time, but once the chocolate is in temper, you’ll only have a limited time to work with it, so it is imperative that your necessary tools will be within reach.
To temper chocolate in the microwave:
at least 3 oz. high quality chocolate* (makes four bowls). White, milk or dark chocolate will all work equally well.
metal spatula (substitute butter knife if you don’t have one)
metal dough scraper (substitute metal spatula if you don’t have one)
small glass or ceramic bowl
To make lace bowls:
template (a pdf of my template is attached)
plastic lids (optional) These are used to make an extra-flat bottom for the bowl to stand on. If you want to plate your dessert with the bowl tilted to one side this is unnecessary. The tops of plastic containers work well.
*There is a great instructable on how to temper chocolate using the seeding method. The method I describe works best for small quantities of chocolate. If you want to temper more than 8 oz. you should check out the stovetop seeding method!