Chocolate, made from the seeds, or beans, of the cocoa tree, is sold in many forms for eating on its own or use in cooking. Many cooks prefer the quality of European chocolate made in Switzerland, Belgium, France, or Italy. Store chocolate well wrapped in a cool, dry place for up to 4 months.
To chop chocolate:
Break the chocolate by hand into small chunks, handling it as little as possible to avoid melting. With a heavy knife, carefully chop into smaller pieces on a clean, dry work surface until the desired consistency is reached.To grate chocolate: Use a firm block of chocolate that has been stored in a cool place. Draw over the holes of a handheld grater to form delicate shreds of desired size.To melt chocolate: Put pieces or chips of chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Make sure the pan doesn't touch the water; the water doesn't create steam; and the chocolate doesn't scorch. Stir gently with a wooden spoon until the chocolate has melted.To cut chocolate shavings: Draw a vegetable peeler along the narrow edge of a block of chocolate.To make chocolate curls: Set a large block of chocolate in a warm place until slightly softened. Then, firmly drag the sharp edge of a large knife across the surface of the block to form long, thin curls.For specific types of chocolate, see bittersweet chocolate, chocolate chips, chocolate coffee beans, chocolate cookie wafers, chocolate cups, cocoa, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semisweet chocolate, sweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and white chocolate.