About Chocolate and flour...
Two of the most important things pastry chefs must take into consideration when using chocolate is the amount of coco butter and the percentage. Usually, most chocolates found in supermarkets range from 30 to 40% coco butter and 50 to 75% cocoa mass. The more coco butter in the chocolate the better it is for glazing making it more fluid and more valuable. Clearly the higher the cocoa content (percentage) the bitterer the chocolate will be.
If you look carefully, you will find when the cocoa percentage is high the percentage of coco butter will be high as well because inside the cocoa mass is where a high quantity of coco butter resides. Beware of chocolate not containing coco butter but other ingredients used for the fat content; it is for this reason these other types of “chocolate” do not need mixing when melting.
Flour is another secret of professional pastry chefs. Flour is rated according to the amount of gluten, which is the measure of elasticity and resistance critical for bread making. Flour in Italy is classified into four types: Tipo 00 (7% gluten, used for pastry kitchens), Tipo 0 (9% gluten, best for bread making), Tipo 1 (10% gluten) and Tipo 2 (10% gluten). However this is not enough to understand flour and gluten, one must verify that the gluten quantity is coupled with it’s good qualities; the qualities given by the mills to the flour.
These three indices represent the characteristics of the various flours, these are: W, G and P. W represents the energy absorbed in the deformation expressed in thousands of erg/g of kneaded flour. G indicates the capacity of the flour to swell thereby trapping air. P indicates the maximum resistance against the deformation and is an index of the tenacity of the dough.
The knowledge of these indices gives the flour its bread quality. For example, good bread flour would be as follows: W from 110 to 150 G from 16 to 18 P from 40 to 50
Pastry flour on the contrary, should be as follows: W from 200 a 250 best for cookies W above 400 is best for long fermentation pastries such as panettoni.
Flour should be stable and in equilibrium, meaning all three indices must fall within the average predicted values for the use of that particular flour. In the United States, when buying flour in the stores these values are not listed (although at times some percentages of protein are listed) and sometimes there is not a choice between flour and pastry flour. Over here in Italy, it certainly is fun when you have a friend in the pastry business willing to share some of the ingredients. ;-)