Because I was never good with a piping bag, I came up with techniques that didn't need one. This technique is one of them. Basically you spread melted white chocolate (not compound) onto a sheet pan. Then using different size putty knives available in hardware stores you shape the curls as shown.
The important point with this technique is the temperature of the chocolate. If it is too soft, it won't curl. If too cold, it will shatter. Although my bakery was air conditioned, in St. Louis summers with 4 ovens going, it could get very hot. So often, we would place the tray on a utility cart (as seen below) and roll it into the cooler where it would set up enough to make the curls. In the winter, we didn't have to do that.
If the chocolate gets too cold, let it sit at room temperature until you can make the curls. If the room is warm, it will be necessary to move the chocolate in and out of the refrigerator. We often had multiple sheets going at once so when one warmed up too much, we would trade it for one in the cooler. Once you have the technique down, the white chocolate curls go very fast. They can be made ahead and stored in covered containers. We stored them in the refrigerator to maintain them at a constant temperature.
To use the white chocolate curls, we would press them into the room temperature buttercream and then refrigerate the cake to secure them.
In addition to the curls, we made what I called squiggles which would add additional interest protruding above the curls. The thickness of the chocolate is ultimately what will make these successful or not. If it is too thick it won't curl, too thin and they won't hold up. So I have included the amounts we used.
Melting white chocolate can be a real pain. It isn't as easy as melting dark chocolate. The best method I have come up with is to bring a pan of water to a simmer. Place the bowl containing the white chocolate over the water and turn the water off. Don't stir until you see about 1 /3 of the chocolate has melted. Then stir, let it sit over the water again and stir once more. Continue until the chocolate is smooth. While I often microwave dark chocolate at half power, white chocolate doesn't seem to do well in the uneven heat of the microwave.
This curling technique can also be used with dark chocolate and was one of the favorite finishes for groom's cakes or speciality cakes. Full sheet pan - 454 grams or 1 pound of dark or white chocolate
Half sheet pan - 225 grams or ½ pound of dark or white chocolate
Here are the steps to making the curls. In the photos, Becca, one of my employees, is seen making the white chocolate curls. Spread the melted white or dark chocolate on a baking sheet. We kept special baking sheets just for the chocolate. The pans need to be flat without scratches in them. By using assorted sizes of putty knives, the size of the curls can be controlled. If the knife is kept in a straight line, you will make cigarette curls. To make these open curls, you need to turn the knife as though making a quarter circle, keeping the bottom of the knife in once place. The curlicues are made using the side of a spoon moving it diagonally down the pan toward you.I hope you enjoy using this technique as much as I did. While it does take practice, the uses are many and will add to your decorating repertoire.