Crystallised Chocolate Crumb
Crunchy Chocolate Soil
Published: June 30th, 2020 | Last Updated: July 24th, 2021
This recipe is inspired by a component commonly used by Heston in his various recipes, such as his Tiramisu recipe. It has a beautiful crumbly and crunchy texture and a sweet and roasty chocolate flavour. Using dark chocolate, it resembles a soil and can work well for a nature themed dessert. It works great as a crumb for a plated dessert to go under a rocher of ice cream or a quenelle of cremeux (though honestly we could eat spoonfuls of this stuff on its own).
This recipe has fairly simple and accessible ingredients and doesn’t require much fancy equipment. In this recipe, we’ve used dark chocolate but you can use any chocolate that you like. We’ve tried using four types of chocolate (white, milk, dark and caramelised white) all at once and it tasted great. There is quite a lot of sugar in this recipe so bear that in mind when planning a plated dessert. You can use darker chocolate to offset the sweetness.
When reading the method, you might notice that it goes against your intuition and that it violates a lot of the principles we're taught about chocolate and sugar-work. Normally you shouldn't mix water with chocolate, heat it directly in the pan or agitate syrup (to avoid crystallisation) but we are doing all of those things! The chocolate undergoes a magical transformation within 10 seconds and you'll have crumbly and roasty crystallised chocolate. It's a fairly foolproof recipe and a great easy and quick component to add to your dessert repertoire.
- 90g water
- 240g caster sugar
- 110g dark chocolate (we used 85% dark chocolate)
- A thermometer is really handy to ensure consistency and precision but we've included instructions so that those without a thermometer should be able to do the recipe. We used an infrared thermometer gun but a probe or candy thermometer will also work well.
- Use a whisk that is not too large. If it is too large, it will not be able to reach the corners of the pot and the sugar will crystallise and get stuck to the corners.
1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces (roughly 1cm in size).
2. Prepare a silicone mat or sheet of baking paper which we will use to cool the soil.
3. Boil the water and caster sugar together over medium heat in a pan to make a syrup. (Tip: Add a lid on top. The water vapour will condensate on the lid and run down the side of the pan, which prevents crystallisation on the edges). Swirl the pan to incorporate evenly instead of using crystals.
4. Once the syrup reaches 135°C (or begins to colour at the edges), immediately add all the chocolate in at once and stir quickly with a whisk. Make sure you whisk all the way to the edges of the pan as that’s where the sugar will like to clump up. In about 10 seconds the chocolate will transform into soil!
5. Immediately pour the soil out onto the prepared silicone mat and baking paper. Allow to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container away from moisture.
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