Confessions of a chocolatier

Today I’m mentally regrouping my thoughts on chocolate; the experiments I’m going to do once the heat stops, my stock of supplies, what to order by mid-November, and what I’m making next Christmas. Yes, I was getting tired of muffin posts too.

I shall show you my chocolate book! While I’m immersed in chocolate this book is never far, and most of the pages are stained with my work. If I have a particularly brilliant thought, I holler at Spousal Unit to come take over the chocolate for a minute while I jot down my ideas.

20160803_163927

This page was from the day I was doing course work for my École chocolat class.  I had an assignment to temper chocolate using the tabliering method, then the seeding method, and what that lesson taught me is that while knowing how to temper by hand is a solid skill to have, I love having a machine do it for me!

Once I’ve got enough notes on a particular topic, I summarize what I’ve learned. It’s an easy way to give myself a refresher when it’s time to roll my sleeves up; when making matcha ganache you should be generous with the matcha powder or the flavour is weak, to cut the caramel recipe in half for the Christmas chocolates, (actually caramel has an entire page devoted to its complexities), don’t buy the Toblerone in advance or you’re buying last year’s stale stock, how many drops of flavouring oil is needed to get the right flavour to the ganache, things like that.

It’s also where I draw out my ideas for new chocolates and flavour pairings. Rooibos tea-infused ganache? Yes please.

In case of a computer problem, it’s good to have my important information on hand, such as the actual product codes of my preferred chocolate (online invoices don’t always specify and it’s rather critical when trying to source your favourite cacao percentages!), the quantity of each chocolate I actually need, the product codes of the boxes I buy, which merchants have the best prices, their shipping and sale times, the costs of my past orders, everything I need to go forward if my computer explodes.

Advertisements

Christmas chocolates 2015

This year we made the best box of chocolates so far, and created a new flavour. As usual I worked with Callebaut, opted for a less sweet white, but kept the same cocoa solid percentages for the others:

  • milk chocolate 823NV, 33.6% cocoa solids, 21.8 milk solids
  • dark (semi-sweet) 811NV, 54.5% cocoa solids
  • dark 70-30-38NV, 70.5% cocoa solids
  • white CW2NV, 25.9% cocoa solids, 23.7% milk solids

Ran into  a lot of trouble with fat bloom, starting with the Toblerone.

20151129_141101

I paid it no mind and got to work.

Later I had switched to the Callebaut and got bloom 3 times in a row.

20151130_095524

WTF.

20151205_092005

I know how to temper.  What is going on here?  I think it was the heat in my home, we ended up opening all the windows, and after that the problem went away, so I just remelted all the chocolate without fillings or centres.

20151207_120122

Ah! Ever so much better! I just love those little ornament shapes.

20151207_204709

Tried a new flavour this year, white chocolate vanilla bean with matcha ganache.  It was good. I have embraced using a squeeze bottle to pipe my fillings now and does it ever work better than a piping bag.

20151209_205244

I was quite happy with the peppermints this year. I switched the centre to a milk chocolate peppermint ganache, and it came out very delicious and creamy. Much better than previous years.

20151214_093931.jpg

After a few nights of tempering and filling like mad, the boxes were all made up and ready for shipping to my family.

20151214_152857

I always have such fun making these.  Even though sometimes I want to throw all my chocolatiering supplies off the balcony…

20151214_153112

So now that I’m back to making chocolate again, and looking after my blog again, what I have planned for the winter of 2016 is mostly flavour experiments and review of new products I’ve tried and courses I’ve taken.

Where to get supplies:

Toblerone truffles

So, my plan was to pipe Toblerone ganache into truffle shells, and dip them into perfectly tempered semi-sweet Belgian chocolate. I was envisioning something like a Lindt chocolate. After all, I had done this successfully before under the guidance of Hobby Victim and I was confident I could produce something worth keeping.

IMG_3216

Do you have any idea how annoying it is to pipe ganache?  Seriously? It sucks. It starts out simply enough. Take some truffle shells and dipping tools.

IMG_3197

Wrangle the ganache into a piping bag like a champion.

IMG_3207

Plan to snip a tiny corner off, and overdo it.  “Pipe” ganache into the shells.

IMG_3208

And by pipe I mean try to at least get some of the god damn stuff into the shell. At one point the chocolate shot out of the bag and got *everywhere*.  On the 3rd tray I got fed up and stopped.

IMG_3209

Now, dipping the first one looks so neat and contained. A perfect little truffle waiting to be enrobed in Belgian chocolate.

IMG_3210

However, all good things come to an end and after you’ve filled about half the tray, dripping chocolate starts to get everywhere. But after enough of them are dipped, a sense of pride starts to build. Smile at what you have wrought.

IMG-20131231-01551

After all, the tiny imperfections are the charm of homemade chocolates! They tasted pretty good, but the fillings hardened the next day, so I’m going to put some more experimentation into how to get a Lindt-like centre. Need a little more time at the drawing board for these but overall a success.

IMG_3211

Playlist: Celldweller

 

Ganache gone wild – WTF just happened

Ugh. On Sunday I spent 2.5 hours making a perfectly emulsified ganache for an experiment. I let it chill overnight, and it solidified. I am so steamed.

IMG_3202

Ganache is typically equal parts scalded cream to chopped chocolate, in this case Toblerone.  To achieve a proper ganache that doesn’t crack or separate, you need to emulsify it.  Emulsification is the process of combining two or more liquids, which normally don’t combine, into one. (Basically you stir and rest, stir and rest, chill, pass Go, collect two hundred dollars.) It was all going so well…

IMG_3185

I poured the heated cream onto the chocolate and let it sit for bit, and then stirred every 15 minutes, for 2 hours.

IMG_3189

The hell with stirring by hand. I’ll let Nemo do the work for me. After all that is what I have a stand mixer for, who wants to stand there the entire time? I have video games to play.

IMG_3192

After 2 hours, it had lightened considerably, and had a smooth texture. All okay so far.

So I covered it with saran, and stupidly forgot to press it down to the surface, so the surface hardened.

IMG_3194

I intended to use it on Monday but I was busy. I took it out of the fridge today, and lo and behold.

IMG_3201

What. Is. This? I tried to save it by reheating but the fat started to separate. Wuah! This is no good.

IMG_3204

I figured it might be salvageable if I could stir heated cream into it, and miracle of miracles, it seemed to recover.

IMG_3206

Alright, we’re cooking with gas now. As to what I made this for, well, just stay right there and find out. Next year.

Born to dye

Experiments with natural dyes have run amok. Using spinach, turmeric, and beets, I was able to produce pots of bright dye, but adding them to the fillings did not accomplish much.

IMG_3143

Have you ever had an idea that seemed really great in your head? When I was little, I decided I would carve a wooden deer for my dad on Father’s Day. I had no source of income, ergo my consumer purchasing power was nil. So I decided to carve! Mind you I had no experience with carving, but I did have a stack of firewood and Dad’s set of carving tools. Several hours later, I had a mangled piece of wood and some splinters for my pain, no deer; that’s what homemade dye brings to mind.

The concept of dying my chocolate fillings seemed solid.  Making a pot of dye is fairly simple, simmer about 4 cups of water with ½ C of puréed vegetable or spice, and voila! But after the dye is made, adding it to the filling did not change the colour. Oh, woe.

Notes from the drawing board:

This base yields enough filling for 30 centres x 4 flavours, 120 pieces total.

Combine: 2 C icing sugar, 1½ TBSP unsalted butter, ¼ tsp vanilla, 2 TBSP evaporated milk.  Divide into 4 bowls.

Add flavouring oils to 3 bowls (none for the butter creams)

Peppermint oil = extremely potent, no more than 3 small drops. Several drops of spinach dye, no discernible difference. Cannot taste spinach.

Raspberry cream oil = very potent, 3 small drops quite strong also.  Adding 8 drops of beat juice sweetened it, yields soft pink colour.

Orange cream oil = weak, lost count after 30 drops, flavour is mild and weak bouquet, wtf. Several drops of turmeric dye, no change. Cannot taste spice.

mario

I like the idea of dying my chocolate fillings for two reasons:

  1. I am a 2-bite chocolate person. I like to look at the centre before it’s gone, so I want to see a pink raspberry cream or an orange filling
  2. It’s difficult to keep 4 bowls of fillings straight, after awhile your sense of smell and taste goes numb and you sit there, “Is this the orange cream or the butter cream??” The different colours would make it easy.

I don’t want to give up and use artificial dye. After all, my chocolate packaging hails them as containing “dairy, nuts, and all-natural vegetable dyes”. It’s either figure it out or give up on dye. It tooks days to get the letter spacing just so, no way in hell am I redrawing the chocolate map.

Boyfriend asked me, “Why do you want to dye peppermint patties green anyway? Aren’t they white??”

I think it was that I wanted 4 distinct colours since we had 4 flavoured cream fillings, and I thought peppermint leaves are green, raspberries are pink, butter is yellow, and orange is orange.

My problem is I don’t experiment before I need the dye, I just assume I will do XZY on Chocolate Shoppe Day and it will work. Clearly I need to try substituting more of the evaporated milk with the dye to balance out the liquid, and add enough to see the colour, yet not taste the base of the dye, perhaps more icing sugar to stiffen it up.

Playlist: Halo 2 – Mjölnir Mix

Milk chocolates – all done

 

 

What was it like to use a professional chocolate tempering machine? Fabulous. Amazing. Spectacular. Am running out of adjectives. It works so well and it’s so fast. (Product review will be posted after Christmas.)

IMG_3137

So basically my our tempering machine works even better than I had imagined.  Yesterday Boyfriend and I made 66 solid milk chocolates (above), and 51 toasted almond milk chocolates (below). Look at that beautiful gloss!

IMG_3136

Today we are going to make the Toberlone pieces, and then the milk chocolate is all done, next weekend is for the more labour-intensive filled chocolates. And the peppermint bark. Huzzah!

IMG-20131207-01301

“Why do you have to name it?!?”

“I just do. And its name is Bernard. Deal with it.”