Piping is a skill that allows the chocolatier to create shapes or even an entire scene with depth and dimension, rather than using flat cutouts. In order to create dimension, the chocolate must be tempered to the correct consistency. It should be on the cooler side, and the consistency should be thin enough to flow through a pastry bag, but thick enough that it will adhere to the surface it is piped on and hold its shape without running. While chocolate for piping can be thickened with a few drops of alcohol or syrup if absolutely necessary, it is better to achieve the correct consistency by tempering the chocolate, then letting it rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes so crystallization thickens the chocolate to the correct viscosity.
Creative techniques can be used to add additional effects to a piped shape or scene that cannot be achieved using cut-out shapes. For example, because piping creates a three-dimensional surface, confectioners’ sugar dusted over a piped figure will rest on the contours of the chocolate to create an illusion of depth that would not be possible on a simple cut-out piece.
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