Sunday, March 28, 2010
Learnings: If you pour the brittle onto a marble slab, get to stretchin' right away. The slab cools down the mass very quickly (relatively speaking), and if you don't stretch it almost immediately after pouring, it'll set up and you won't be able to work with it. Also, I finally learned that with sugar work, the long boring part is waiting for the water to cook out of the solution. Once that happens, the mercury goes north very quickly and boredom is no longer a concern. Lastly: mise en place MUST include a bowl of ice water in case molten sugar solution splashes onto vulnerable skin.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I've finished the Professional Chocolatier course I took through Ecole Chocolat, and now I have to keep up the momentum by refining my recipes and learning others. Only problem is that I also have to prepare for a job interview on Monday and do my best to get more interviews into the pipeline. Searching for work sure puts a crimp in my candy making time. I do wish I had a bunch of spare money lying around so I could open a little shop. Le sigh. Anyway, after my Monday interview it'll be time to dive back into the sugar bag and come up with a new challenge: Seafoam. I do not have the natural affinity for sugar work that I do for chocolate making. It will likely take all my self-discipline to avoid cursing from frustration and teaching my parrots dirty words. But I'll keep at the seafoam challenge until I come out victorious. Then it's on to brickles and taffies and toffees. Some of which I'll have to cover in chocolate, of course. I'll keep you posted.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
I started my meltaway batch by chopping 12 ounces of milk chocolate. Then I measured out 4 ounces of coconut oil and melted it. Next I melted the chocolate to 120 degrees F, let the coconut oil cool to 120 degrees, combined them and added an eighth of a teaspoon of mint oil. Then I added the prepackaged nibs (I did it old-school, judging by sight and feel the correct ratio of nibs to meltaway base). I mixed it all thoroughly, then turned it out onto my slab. Chocolate mixed with coconut oil is extremely fluid. I could barely keep this batch from running off the slab, and I had to table it very quickly and deftly to temper the mass so it would set up properly. Once I got the mass in temper, I scraped it off the slab and into a bowl, then poured it into a frame set up on a silicone mat on my other slab. I cleaned everything up and started another batch of passionfruit caramels, and after an hour had gone by I checked the meltaway to see if it was setting. No dice. After another hour had passed without sign of much crystallization, I picked up the whole setup, slab frame and all, and took it downstairs. Our basement is wine-cellar cool -- an ideal spot for candy setting and storage. Soon the batch had set up nice and firm. It was easy to cut, and then I got to practice my dipping technique. I feel much more comfortable now with my pieces. I'm able to set them onto parchment, move them slightly forward to prevent a foot from forming, then swipe the fork out without leaving behind the dreaded vampire-fang points of chocolate to mar the smooth base. I needed to pause every few pieces to drop a few nibs onto each before the chocolate set up. The big bonus for today is that there was very little humidity, which meant my chocolate was very easy to work with, not sludgy at all. It's been a wonderful chocolatiering weekend.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Gianduja is tricky business for gianduja beginners. It lures you in with "I'm so easy" and then makes you work for it. Work for it I did, and after some struggle I met with success: cashew giandjua (a combination of cashew butter and milk chocolate) covered in perfectly tempered semisweet chocolate (it looks a bit matte here but that's just the lighting. Honest.) and topped with little moon-shaped handmade white chocolate placements.
The next morning I melted it down with 100 grams more cashew butter, tempered it again on the slab, put it back into the rulers, and let it set while I worked. The result: Perfectly smooth gianduja that was also firm enough to cut, enrobe, and then top with my little moons and discs (see previous post). The third out of five efforts for my final assignment can now be marked as satisfied. Additional note: I topped a finished gianduja with some cinnamon and tried it out. Tasty! I'll add this variation to my next recipe.
For this exercise, I decided I'd better thin out the couverture a bit. White chocolate can be vexingly thick and difficult to work with. So I fished out a few ounces of cocoa butter and nuked away until it was liquid. Then I melted the white chocolate and mixed in the heated cocoa butter until the chocolate was the consistency I wanted. I set the cocoa butter aside to be re-tempered and stored, and then I tempered the white chocolate on my slab.
spread it evenly, tapped out the bubbles, and waited for it to set up enough to scrape down. Learning the proper timing on this takes practice, as evidenced by the fact that I didn't do it quite right this first time. I scraped, and some of the chocolate came away from the circles I was trying to create. I'm not sure if this is because I hadn't let the couverture set up enough, or because I let it set up too much. I'll need to investigate. At any rate, I peeled off the stencil and after the chocolate had set, I saw that many of the little discs came out well enough to use for my assignment. Some were raggedy-edged, and I cut them down into sickle moons. If I want to do this on purpose next time, I'll remember to use my circle cutter when the chocolate hasn't fully set. Otherwise, it cracks and you lose most of your hard work.
Notes for next time: Thin the white chocolate more; figure out the correct timing for scraping down the stencil.