Baking 101: How To Bake With Chocolate

If you’ve ever wondered about the difference between a simply good and a memorably great chocolate cake, Isha Shetty – the incredibly talented pastry chef behind Vanilla Miel – is sharing five ingenious hacks to elevate how you bake with chocolate.

A graduate of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management, Switzerland and Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Isha founded Vanilla Miel with her sister Mansi inspired by the vision of combining their passions for pastry and art. If you know, you know the exquisite experience emulated by their entremets and tarts, each having anywhere between 3 to 6 layers with every layer epitomising a unique taste!

And if you like me, have long since admired their artistic aesthetic, you’ll be pleased to know that they’re letting us in on a few of their best tricks from piping hacks to getting that super smooth finish on a ganache cake! Over to them.

1. Which chocolate should you use for baking at home?

Often, when you go to your local grocery store the storekeepers usually push Morde’s compound chocolate your way. Our recommendation is to steer clear of compounds of any brand, as the palate feel is quite oily owing to the vegetable fat often used to replace the cocoa butter in this type of chocolate. 

In terms of Indian local brands we recommend using any of Amul’s chocolate bars, specifically their single origin bars, it is both competitively priced as well as quite flavourful. Chop it up into roughly equal pieces and use as you would couverture pellets from brands like Callebaut or Varlhona. 

2. When you want to pipe something but don’t have a professional piping bag

This is something I used to do back in the day when I barely owned any baking equipment and began doing it on a whim. Get yourself a clean (dry) zip lock back, load it with your filling three quarters of the way and seal it. Cut one of the two bottom corners to make yourself a DIY pastry bag. If you have a nozzle you can always place it in there, like you would in a regular pastry bag and then add in your filling before sealing and piping away! 

3. How to make your chocolate cakes a little bit more intense.

My secret ingredient in a decadent dark chocolate cake is always some high quality coffee concentrate. I would recommend KCRoasters as a good source for quality coffee. It accentuates the flavour of the chocolate and intensifies the experience. 

Use this hack to bake this Ultimate Dark Chocolate Loaf Cake | Get the recipe, here

4. Never bake your cookie/ tarts on the same day that you make the dough. 

I always allow my dough, whether it’s a cookie dough or a tart dough, to rest in the fridge for 36 hours at the very least. This allows the gluten in my dough to relax, reducing post-baking shrinkage as well as allowing for superior end products. 

5. Heat your knife to get the super smooth finish on a ganache cake.

It’s often the small details that separates a home baked product from a professional one. While frosting a cake it can sometimes be extremely frustrating to get the smooth and shiny finishes you see so often on instagram. The easiest way to achieve this is to warm up your knife. I often dip my knife in a jar of boiled water while frosting my cake- the heat in the knife helps the butters and fats in the frosting to become more malleable, giving you a super smooth and professional finish.  

About Vanilla Miel

Taking inspiration from the simple elegance of vanilla and honey, Vanilla Miel is one of India’s only artisanal and art-inspired patisseries.

At the helm are the talented sister duo Mansi and Isha Shetty – a former corporate lawyer and qualified Le Cordon Bleu-trained pastry chef respectively. Their vision for Vanilla Miel is a sanctuary where their passions of art and pastry are combined. Their gourmet petit gateaux, entremets and tarts have anywhere between 3 to 6 layers each, with every single layer channeling a varying flavour and yet coming together beautifully once eaten, into a transporting experience. Follow them @Vanilla_Miel.

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