One easy way to finish up a dessert is to make a little garnish for it. You can throw a mint leaf or a fresh raspberry on top of many things as a finishing touch, but a classic garnish that looks a little fancier are chocolate curls. Chocolate curls are small, curled pieces of chocolate that add a burst of chocolate and a dressed up look to a dessert. They look quite elegant when they’re topping a pudding, ice cream or cake, and they’re easy to make as long as you have chocolate and a vegetable peeler in your kitchen.
Start with a large chunk of chocolate, or a good sized bar of chocolate. Starting on a flat part of the chocolate, such as the side of a chocolate bar, press the edge of the vegetable peeler into the chocolate and slowly “peel,” as though you’re peeling an apple. You need to apply even pressure to keep the chocolate curling up into the vegetable peeler, and might need to experiment a little bit with exactly how much pressure to need to use, since both too heavy and too light of a touch can cause the curls to break. The chocolate will curl up into neat ringlets as you work. Keep peeling in the same spot so that you always have a nice, flat surface to grab curls from.
They can be made with milk, dark or white chocolate. Milk and white chocolate are softer and tend to be easier to make nice curls from. Dark chocolate can require more pressure to form a good curl. The curls can be used immediately, as it only takes a few minutes to make a bunch of them. If you’re careful about storage and take care that they don’t get accidentally squished in your pantry, the curls can be stored in a ziploc bag until you are ready to use them.
If you “peel” your chocolate quickly, with short, firm strokes, you’re going to end up with chocolate shavings instead of chocolate curls. The shavings can also be used for garnish, or pressed against the sides of a layer cake for a nice finished look. I’ve even stirred them in to ice cream when I want some chocolate in a batch, but don’t want chunks as large as chocolate chips. In short, don’t worry if your curls don’t always turn out perfectly because there are plenty of ways to use up any chocolate shavings that you make while you work on your curls.