This technique is really one of the most fundamental in all of chocolate work. Mastering the skill of evenly casting tempered chocolate in a sheet so that you can then cut shapes from it give you an unbelievable amount of freedom to create.
Specifically, making a plaque like this is great for finishing celebration cakes (I always write the inscription in chocolate on the plaque and then place that on the top of the cake) or entremet, tarts, etc. As always, if you’re new to chocolate, check out my posts science of cocoa butter and chocolate tempering to get familiarized with tempering.
Generally, a chocolate plaque will have one side that is glossy (the side in contact with acetate, and one side that is semi-gloss (the side exposed to the air), but the technique today creates a high-gloss shine on both sides of the plaque.
For a list of basic chocolate work equipment, see my list under the method notes for the chocolate ring décor post. I have links to everything you need, and explanations of why you might need it.
Chocolate work is 50% making decorations and 50% managing the chocolate to keep it in temper and cleaning. It’s really important to get in the habit of working through a step in the method then taking a few seconds to tidy up and check the temper on your chocolate before moving to the next step. Obviously anything time sensitive needs to be addressed right away – setting chocolate waits for no one – but when you have the gap in time spend it wiping down your tools and arranging your work space back in order, not taking selfies.
Gather all of the tools and equipment you need before getting started with any chocolate. The last thing you want to do is have well tempered chocolate ready to go and then have to scramble around to find that one tool you forgot.
Gather all of the materials you need to make your decoration:
1 offset spatula for tempering chocolate
1 chocolate scraper for tempering chocolate
1 thermometer for tempering chocolate
1 pvc tube any size tube at least 18″/38cm long and with a 1-2″/2.5-5cm diameter will work
1 small bowl
2 pieces of 12×18″/30x45cm acetate substitute with parchment paper
1 beater paring knife*
1 ring cutter or cake ring
1 dough scraper
chocolate Guittard Chocolate**
*This is a special type of paring knife that I beat the crap out of, and that makes it perfect for chocolate!
**For this particular project I used a milk chocolate, but Guittard’s 61% Lever du Soleil is a great all-around decoration chocolate to use.
Before tempering your chocolate, prepare your plexiglass sheet.
Using a damp paper towel or your hand, spread a thing coat of water over the surface of the plexiglass. A little goes a long way!
Lay one sheet of acetate over the wet plexiglass.
Using the bowl scraper like a squeegee, gently draw excess water from between the plexiglass and acetate. Use gentle pressure to start, and always work from the center of the acetate to the edges.
Dry the surface of the acetate and any exposed plexiglass thoroughly with a paper towel (a kitchen towel isn’t as absorbent and may leave moisture on the surface).
Temper your chocolate and hold it in a small bowl.
Cast the tempered chocolate in an even band at one edge of the plexiglass.
Lay the second piece of acetate over the chocolate, aligned with the acetate sealed to the plexiglass.
Using the pvc pipe, apply gentle, even pressure to spread the chocolate out across the acetate sheets.
Run your offset spatula back and forth across the top piece of acetate, using the tip of the spatula and gentle pressure. This will begin to create the ribs.
Using the tip of your finger, go back across the ribs, defining them with slightly heavier pressure than you used before.
Place the ring or ring cutter over the top piece of acetate and press down with firm pressure all along the top of the ring.
Allow the chocolate to set in a cool, dry place.
When ready to use, peel the top layer of acetate back, and then gently remove your plaque by releasing it from the bottom layer of acetate.
Cheers – Chef Scott