Must-Have Chocolate Kitchen Tools

Looking for the best results with your chocolate experiments? Always use the proper chocolate kitchen tools.

Any X-Choc fan who also possesses the cooking gene knows that you should always keep the proper chocolate kitchen tools on hand, just in case. What we mean are those specialized tools used to handle the sacred ambrosia, not such ephemera as spatulas composed of the stuff. Though they make those, too.

In this article, we'll introduce you to such items as the molinillo (the classic Latino tool for beating chocolate), as well as several other items you'll need to do your chocolate proud.

Beat it

Let's start with what may be the oddest chocolate kitchen tool of all, the molinillo (little mill). It's a wooden baton with a swollen, scored end that's used to whip liquid chocolate, either in melted or cocoa form. Also known as a batidor (beater) in the Philippines, it resembles one of those things you use to dip honey with.

Molinillos can be very ornate, and some are hollow. To use this particular tool properly, put the fat end in the chocolate, place the baton between your palms, and rub your hands vigorous, back and forth. As it spins, the tool will stir the chocolate rapidly in both directions.

I'm Melting....!

Before you can make use of your molinillo, you may need to melt your chocolate first. This isn't easy, as chocolate has a low melting point and can't handle direct heat. This means that it can a) scorch very easily; and b) crystallize badly if not treated with the utmost respect, using the proper chocolate kitchen tool.

In this case, that would be something known in cooking circles as a "double boiler." This is basically two fitted saucepans. Water is boiled in the bottom pan, and the upper pan uses the indirect heat thus created to gently melt the choco-bits. It works pretty well, as long as you don't let the steam get in the melt.

Slab'em and scrape 'em

Tabling is the best and most difficult way to temper chocolate -- but it takes a lot of skill. Don't even try this without the proper chocolate kitchen tools. Besides a double boiler, you'll need a high-quality metal spatula and a cool marble slab. A degree from Le Cordon Bleu might help, too.

After the chocolate melts in your upper boiler pan, take two thirds of it and spread it out thinly on the marble slab, very quickly. The coolness of the slab will suck the heat out and start the crystallization process. Then scrape it up and spread it out over and over again until it reaches the proper consistency.

At that point, put it back with the remaining chocolate, then stir it in until it's melted together. If you do it right, this will crystallize the whole batch, producing the perfect chocolate for dipping and coating -- and making you very glad you chose the proper chocolate kitchen tools in the first place.