How to Make Chocolate Curls {how-to}

chocolate curls on cake top

So Easy It’s Like Taking Candy From a Baby. (Then Making Chocolate Curls From It)

They don’t sell packages of pre-made chocolate curls that you can buy and throw on top of your cake to make you look like a goddamned semi-ho-made cake boss…

Trust me.

I searched high and low, and by “low,” we are talking some gangster-level, cash-only at the loading dock shit. I gave the girl at the bakery counter a hardcore Godfather look that apparently only translates in movies because she didn’t understand that I wanted her to just scrape the curls off a cake in the case into an opaque to-go box and give it to me in exchange for $50 in cash.

So eventually I just said it out loud. “Could you just scrape the curls off a cake in the case into an opaque to-go box and give it to me in exchange for $50 in cash?”

“I’m sorry. I can’t do that,” she said with some sort of weird tone of dessert-preserving dignity.

(Now that I think about it, I could have just bought the whole cake. Duh.)

I resigned myself to actually making chocolate curls even though the idea of working with chocolate is more terrifying than babysitting my niece and nephew without my mom there. (I know, when I babysit, I need adult supervision.)

They weren’t the best looking chocolate curls I’ve ever made, which doesn’t say much because they were the only chocolate curls I’ve ever made, but they worked well enough to top a Tiramisu Ice Cream Cake that wasn’t going to last long enough for careful inspection anyway. It wasn’t that difficult to do, but my guess is to get from my rookie results to the professional grade shit, you need a lot more precision and patience.

chocolate chips + vegetable shortening

chocolate chips and butter to melt

melted over very very low heat

melted chocolate

melted chocolate poured onto large baking sheet

melted chocolate on baking sheet

melted chocolate spread into thinnest layer possible

melted chocolate spread on sheet

after freezer time, scraping with metal spatula

rolling chocolate curls

scraping chocolate with metal spatula

rolling chocolate curls

chocolate curls on top of cake

chocolate curls on tiramisu cake top


makes enough to cover the top of a 9-inch square cake


6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I used chocolate chips because I already had them, about 1½ cups)
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (I used butter-flavor Crisco)


large metal baking sheet that fits in your freezer
metal spatula
wax or parchment paper


Over very very very low heat, melt chocolate with shortening in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Stir occasionally until melted, about 10 minutes. Watch the chocolate the whole time. Burnt chocolate is disgusting.

Pour the melted chocolate onto a large baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate into the thinnest layer possible. If you have too much chocolate, just scrape some back into the pot.

Place the baking sheet in the freezer for about 5 minutes or until the chocolate is “set,” but obviously, not frozen. You can check by touching it or poking it.

Place the baking sheet on a flat work surface. “Push” the metal spatula into the chocolate and away from you to form curls. Without touching the chocolate curls too much with your bare hands (you will leave fingerprints or melt the chocolate curls), place on a sheet of wax or parchment paper.

If your room temperature is very warm, keep the curls in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 luosha September 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I think that if you buy chocolate in big chunks (e.g. from the chocolate/cheese station at whole foods), you can just shave curls off directly — either with a paring knife or with a veggie peeler. I like Callebaut’s bittersweet, but it works well with their white, milk, and semi-sweet as well. (It doesn’t work so well with anything above 70% cacao … i think that’s because it gets too brittle without the fat to smooth things out).


2 Valerie September 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

All these years I’ve been killing my poor apple peeler(s), trying to shave wobbly blocks of chocolate. This is brilliant. Thank you!! :-)


3 countchoculah September 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I had no idea this was how to chocolate got a perm! I, too, thought you bought it in a dark alley somewhere you see brown tennies hanging from the light pole. good to know.


4 Castelle and Alico September 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

Usually, I buy the huge blocks of chocolate and take my chef knife to them. …but then I just end up chopping the block up and eating it piece by piece.

This is a great way for chocolate curls. It saves buying a small container from McCalls and having to trade your first born in for it.

Thanks for posting this! If we end up using this, can we link you in the post?

-The Masterbakers


5 kelsey November 27, 2014 at 9:45 am

I’ve tried doing this, but with no success! The shavings end up either trying to curl the wrong way and breaking, or they don’t curl at all, and I just get a whole bunch of chipped chocolate off the pan. I’ve tried using semisweet bakers chocolate, and then a mix of bakers and hersheys, but nothing worked. I also tried different temperatures and different thicknesses of chocolate. The only thing I can think of is that I don’t have any Crisco, so I used a tbl of butter intstead when I was melting it. Any suggestions on what I could do?


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