Chris from down under writes:
Can you elaborate on the “standard” recipe that requires precrystallized chocolate?
I certainly can, Chris! Most people who bake and/or make pastry have had the experience of looking into a glass case and seeing lustrous chocolate glazes on tortes, bombes, truffles and the like. Those coatings are nothing more than layers of poured tempered chocolate.
Tempering is something we’ve all heard about, but that intimidates most of us. And for good reason, since tempering happens in a very narrow temperature range. It also happens invisibly for the most part, so the whole process is fraught with uncertainly.
Professionals get around this by employing expensive machines that melt, temper and hold the chocolate at the perfect point indefinitely. They also tend to employ hard-to-acquire high cocoa butter chocolates called couvertures which add extra sheen.
Most of us home bakers have no such machines, can’t get couverture chocolate without mail ordering it, and generally don’t feel like risking the ruination of a hard-won pastry in the final crowning step. An easy, gelatin-based mirror glaze is a low risk, high reward way of achieving a similar effect.