I guess haven't posted in a while, but it's because I've been busy taking in all my new surroundings! That's right, I'm finally in Level 2...it's like senior year of high school all over again (without all that adolescent drama, thankfully). Seriously, though, we're in a new kitchen, have new chefs, and the whole pace of the program has changed. While it's definitely slowed down since we're not making 3-4 things per class, the complexity of what we're making has been kicked up a few notches. Only a week ago, I tempered chocolate for the first time...not an easy feat, mind you, and now I'm getting ready to make a stand out of chocolate! Ka-razy!!
And now for a very brief lesson. When working with chocolate, it is important to temper it. While there's a whole lot of chemistry involved in this, the gist is that you need to raise and lower the temperature of the chocolate so that when it sets, it has the five S's (Mom, I could use your punctuation advice on that one): shine, snap, shrinks, smoothness, and sets. If you don't temper it properly, it tends to be soft, streaky, and messy.While not too difficult, it is a little tricky, and dare I say, temperamental. We learned three different methods to temper chocolate: tabling, ice bath, and seeding. Tabling is fun, but very messy, as it requires you to pour chocolate onto a table and cool it by moving it around the table. Ice bath is ok, and it can be a lot quicker, but if you accidentally get even a drop of water in your chocolate, it will seize up. Seeding is by far everyone's favorite in my class, although since it means you add already tempered chocolate to your bowl, it's very possible that you will end up with some left over lumps, or seeds, in your mixture, which then need to be strained.
I have to say...this is turning out to be my favorite unit, by far. I love that it's complex, a bit stressful, but fun. Have I found my "thing?" I'm not sure yet, but I'm just enjoying learning all these new techniques that had seemed so foreign to me only a week ago.
OK, long story short (too late!), let's get into the products!
First we have a delicious chocolate cake, decorated with chocolate leaves. The cake itself was almost brownie-like...dense and moist with added nuts and dried fruits. Clearly, though, the point of making the cake was simply to get practice in glazing a cake and making chocolate leaves. We did that by painting chocolate onto lemon leaves. Once the chocolate set, the leaves easily pulled away leaving a perfect imprint...kinda like a fossil, right?
This led into our first major project: the chocolate box. Let me tell you, this was stressful. As people were assembling their boxes, you could hear a pin drop in the class. Everyone trying to hold their boxes, fill in the seams, keep their chocolate from breaking on them, falling over, etc. We were able to use a variety of designs, but I chose to make it with a wood-grain technique. I also added a pig as decoration, using transfer sheets to create cool design you see. I had the cutter from my Carrie cake, and I figured that since we were filling the boxes with truffles, it was appropriate. Oh yeah, we also made truffles. Orange chocolate truffles, to be exact. Yes, we've been busy in Pastry 2.
Finally, we come to the chocolate bow. I made mine out of white chocolate. Here it is:
Well, that's all for now. Today in class we made some other candies, but I'll include them in my next post, when you see my show piece. That's right, we're already working on show pieces. This one is a chocolate stand with a chocolate bowl that will hold chocolate candies. Oh my!