Sunday, May 09, 2010

Life Actualliy Is a Box Of Chocolates

Top: Fleur de Sel Caramel in dark chocolate, Left: Chai Infused Ganache, Right: dark chcolate, coconut, lemongrass ganache, dipped in white chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut

Lately my life is a box of chocolate. I am reading about chocolate, I am searching out chocolatiers at home and when I travel and I am making chocolate. If I need a reason it is because I am taking an online professional chocolatier course at Ecole Chocolat. If you know me at all, you know I have been making toffee and caramels for years. A few years back I took it up a notch by buying my own chocolate temperer (I’ll explain what that is later.) As part of the course, I spend a lot of time reading about chocolate, the origin of chocolate, how it can be grown only near the equator, how the beans have to be fermented, like wine, to develop that flavor we all love, and much more.

An important assignment in the class is to learn how to temper chocolate by hand. Most people don’t know it but chocolate is a fickle substance. There is a science and an art to getting chocolate to have that deep shine and snap when you bite it. Done incorrectly, chocolate never quite hardens or it develops clouds of gray “bloom” or can have a grainy texture when you bite it, not crisp with a clean audible break. The science in a nutshell has to do with melting the chocolate to a high temperature and then bringing it back to cool to a specific temperature. The key is to bring the temp to the two degree range it needs to stay at and keep it at that range while you work with it.
I have a hair dryer and a heating pad that are now covered in chocolate trying to keep that 2 degree perfect temperature. Tricky stuff. I don’t quite have it perfected yet but I got some really good batches of chocolate made this weekend using that and some other techniques I had never used before. Most took a couple days to complete and there is chocolate on the wall (hair dryer – don’t ask) but the home team agrees that they were all worth it.

The first is a Chai Tea dark chocolate ganache square. I infused heavy cream with an organic Marsala Chai Tea, made a dark chocolate ganache (fancy work for mixing chocolate and cream and a little butter) and then cut it into squares and dipped it by hand in more Vahlrona 63% dark chocolate.

The second kind I made is a real first for me – a molded chocolate. I filled my new triangle shaped molds with dark chocolate, emptied it to leave behind a chocolate shell and let it set, then filled the mold with a soft, white chocolate based sea salt caramel. It sat for a day to firm up and then I topped it with chocolate. A miracle occurred. They actually came out of the mold! All of them! Very exciting and fulfilling. The caramel stayed liquid and salty inside it little shell.

The last was a dark chocolate ganache infused with coconut, lemongrass and coconut rum, dipped in white chocolate and then rolled in freshly toasted coconut. I don’t think the lemongrass was fresh enough so I probably could have added more to infuse it. You don’t notice it.

The next assignment is to create some of my own flavors. So my life is a box of chocolate at least for the next few months. And if you are in the neighborhood stop by. We can only eat so many!


1 comment:

  1. Love this! As soon as our life gets into its 'next phase' (whatever that is...but different from NOW) and I start cooking again, really want to do something in you're doing with chocolate. This kind of post is wonderful and love it that you are enjoying so much and sharing!