Friday, June 14, 2013

Chocolate Class: Tempering Chocolate and Modeling Chocolate

A baseline skill needed to be able to work with chocolate is the art of tempering. The fats in cocoa butter can crystallize in a number of forms. If you can get it to crystallize in the right form, you get a glossy chocolate with a clean snap when broken, and a relatively high melting point, so that it can be handled without immediately melting. If you get one of the wrong forms, you end up with dull, crumbly chocolate that melts as soon as you touch it.

Tempering chocolate isn't difficult, but it does require patience and precision. You need an accurate, fast reacting thermometer. The basic procedure is simple. Heat the chocolate hot enough to melt all forms of crystals. Lower the temperature just until you would mostly have the crystals you want, then raise it just slightly.

There are two methods to get the crystals you want to form; seeding and tabling.

In seeding, as the temperature of the chocolate starts to decrease, add already tempered chocolate to provide seed crystals to encourage the proper crystals to grow. In the tabling method, about two thirds of the mass is worked on a heat conductive surface (a large slab of marble is ideal) until it cools and thickens (about 79 F), then it is added back to the original chocolate. Seeding takes a bit longer, but is fairly fool proof. Tabling is faster, but requires a bit more skill. To test the chocolate, spread a thin layer on parchment paper, and let cool on a conductive surface, like granite. It should harden relatively quickly, be firm and break with a snap, and be shiny.

So for dark chocolate:
  • Melt to 120 F
  • Cool to 84 F
  • Warm to 88 - 90 F
And for milk or white chocolate:
  • Melt to 115 F
  • Cool to 82 F
  • Warm to 85 - 87 F
If you are holding the chocolate at temp to be able to work with it for awhile, keep it to the low end of the range, that is, closer to 88 or 85 F.

After practicing both methods, we tried our hand at making roses with modeling chocolate. We did
not get to make the modeling chocolate, as it takes a few hours to set up. The chocolate we used was made with white chocolate, thus the ivory color.

The modeling chocolate works a lot like playdoh or polymer clay (Fimo or Sculpty). It needs to be worked a little to warm it up and make it plastic. It can get sticky if it gets too warm, so be aware if, like me, your hands run warm. In that case work quickly with minimum contact, or wear gloves.

To make a rose, first make a small cone, this will serve as the base. Make a short rope, and cut nine equal sized pieces from it. Roll the pieces into balls, and place them, well spaced apart, between two layers of plastic wrap. Flatten the rolls out, and work the edge for the top very thin. Take one petal, and wrap it tightly around the cone, with the thing edge just above the top of the cone. The next layer will use three petals. Place the middle of the first petal of the second layer over the overlap of the first layer petal. Press one side down, then slide the second petal to about the halfway point under the first petal. Place the third petal under the second, and overlapping the first. The third layer is done the same way, but with the remaining five petals. Once all the petals are in place, gently shape the edges to resemble a real rose.

Modeling Chocolate

(recipe courtesy Chef James Foran)

10 oz. b wt. chocolate – melt to 100 F
1/3 cup light corn syrup

Combine with rubber spatula until smooth and shiny. Let sit 4 hours to over night.

Good for one month.

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