Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chocolate Class: Another Molded Chocolate

Originally, the plan for last Thursday was to begin making our final project. We were supposed to make a chocolate box, decorate it, and make a dozen chocolates to go into the box. I spent the morning making a plan. I had a pattern I was going to pipe into the top of the box, and I had my recipes ready to make yellow modeling chocolate for a rose, and for the filling for my chocolates. I wrote out work schedules for both days.

When I go to class, I found that plans had changed. Chef was unhappy with the process on the day before, and felt we needed more practice before the practical. The practical was scaled back to just one day, and the box was eliminated, leaving only the molded chocolates for the final.

Instead, we made more molded chocolates. This time we made a passion fruit ganache to fill them. To decorate, the molds were flicked with brushes dipped into melted cocoa butter with red and yellow coloring. Once that was set, the molds were filled with dark chocolate, then emptied to create a shell.

They were then filled with the passion fruit ganache, then had a tempered chocolate foot added.

Once that set, the chocolates were unmolded.

Recipe courtesy of Chef James Foran.

Passion Fruit Vanilla Bean Ganache

1 vanilla bean, scraped
5 oz. passion fruit puree
3 oz. heavy cream
2 Tbsp. corn syrup
2 oz. salted butter, softened
21 oz. white chocolate

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine vanilla bean, puree, cream, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil. Strain over chocolate.

Let stand two minutes. Whisk gently to combine. When smooth, add butter and whisk until smooth again.

Cool until thick enough to pipe.

Happy eating!

Chocolate Class: Two Molded Chocolates

Our final lab was working with chocolate molds. You may have seen the flimsy thin plastic molds sold at crafts stores. We did not use those. Professional molds are hard, durable polycarbonate plastic. They are designed to get beat on the table to level fillings, and remove air bubbles.

The procedure is simple but exacting. The molds are filled with tempered chocolate. The chocolate is emptied out, and the chocolate allowed to harden. It is then filled with whatever relatively fluid ganache you want, leaving just enough space to add a thin layer of chocolate, the 'foot', to seal it. Once the foot sets, the chocolate can be unmolded.

The trick is to fill and empty the mold quickly, to get a thin shell with no air bubbles. Keeping the top of the mold clean and free of excess chocolate is a must.

We made two different fillings. The first was the white chocolate vanilla lemon ganache we made previouslyintending to dip, but that did not set up thick enough. It has a strong vanilla taste, but more lemon on the nose. It had a good consistency, but was a little sticky getting it into the piping bag. It did pipe just fine, however.

By way of decoration, my lab partner splattered the mold with some tempered milk chocolate. This produced a marbled effect that I think looks very nice.

I like the contrast between the filling and the shell. The white chocolate filling is sweet compared to the shell, but the strong lemon and vanilla flavor cuts the sweetness some.

The other filling was a caramel milk chocolate hazelnut ganache. I really liked this one. Of course, you had me at caramel. We started by making a thin caramel, pouring it over the milk chocolate, blending everything together, then finishing by adding a little hazelnut liqueur.

This filling has a luscious mouth feel. Very smooth, and a little thinner than the lemon vanilla ganache.

For decoration, I painted one thin diagonal stripe of tempered milk chocolate. I wanted to keep it simple and elegant.

In some ways, making molded chocolates is both easier and more difficult than hand rolling or dipping. It is certainly faster to produce large quantities of chocolates. It is more exacting, however. While variation in the product is part of the charm of hand rolled truffles, molded chocolates are expected to be perfect, and without flaws. Bubbles, cracks, blooms, or thick or uneven shells are not acceptable.

All recipes courtesy of Chef James Foran.


Vanilla Lemon Ganache

5.4 oz. cream
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
½ vanilla bean
zest of 1 lemon
8 oz. by wt. white chocolate

Line an 8" x 8" pan with plastic wrap.

Split and scrape vanilla bean.

In a small heavy saucepan over medium heat,  combine cream, corn syrup, vanilla bean and scrapings, and zest. Bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Return to heat, bring back just to a boil.

Strain liquid into chocolate. Let stand two minutes.

Whisk to combine. When smooth, Pour into pan. Allow to cool. When thick, transfer to a pastry bag.

Caramel Mill Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache

13.5 oz. Milk chocolate – chopped fine
¾ oz. Cocoa butter
3 ¾ oz. sugar
1 ½ oz. water
9 oz. Cream
¾ oz. Corn syrup
½ tsp. Salt
1 ½ oz. butter – soft
1 ½ Tbsp. hazelnut liqueur

In a bowl, combine chocolate and cocoa butter, set aside.

In a small heavy saucepan over medium to medium high heat, dissolve sugar in water. Cook to a medium amber color. Remove from heat. Add cream carefully, in three stages, while continuously whisking.

When well combined, add corn syrup and salt. Return to heat, bring to a boil.

Pour over chocolate, let stand two minutes.  Whisk together until smooth. Add butter, whisk until smooth. Add liqueur, whisk until smooth. Allow to set until thick enough to pipe.

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chocolate Class: Homework

Our homework for my chocolate class was to make three homemade chocolates, either hand rolled truffles, dipped chocolates, or molded chocolates. Because the spouse and I will be out of town next week, I needed to turn my homework in early. That meant no molded chocolates, in that we will be covering that today, and today is the day I am handing in my homework.

I decided to make a hand rolled truffle. I wanted to try something different. I was inspired by a curry chocolate we tasted the first day of class. Yellow curry is becoming more common in sweets these days, but it is not my favorite curry. I like Thai green curry. I've never seen it used in a sweet before, so I thought it would be a novel idea.

I wanted a garnish that would go well with the curry. I chose dried mango, since mango is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine.

The photo doesn't show it well, but the ganache in the center of the truffle came out a very pale green color.

For the class, presentation counts. The spouse found a pattern online to make a triangular box. She made one out of blue corrugated tagboard. I like the color, I think it shows off the truffles well.

Overall, I am happy with these truffles. The curry flavor is subdued, but definitely there. I think the mango ends up making it a little sweet. I think next time I will try dried kiwi, which retains a little tartness.

One thing I learned; dried mango does not want to be diced. It has a leathery texture, making it resistant to slicing. It also leaves a sticky residue. I found it necessary to keep a bucket of hot water at hand, so I could clean my knife between each piece.

Green Curry White Chocolate Truffles with Dried Mango

For the ganache:

6 ½ oz. 24% white chocolate
2 ½ oz. Heavy cream
½ tsp. Thai green curry powder
½ oz. Salted butter, softened

Bring cream to a scald. Remove from heat. Stir in curry powder, cover and let sit fifteen minutes.

Return to heat, bring back to a scald. Pour cream through a strainer over white chocolate. Cover, let
sit 2 minutes.

Stir together until smooth. Add butter, and stir again until smooth.

Let sit until mixture is thick enough to pipe. Transfer to piping bag, pipe onto parchment lined baking

Allow to dry until moldable. Roll into balls.

To finish truffles:

1 pound 24% white chocolate
½ lb. Dried mango
1 tsp. Corn starch

Dice mango. Toss with corn starch, set aside.

Melt and temper chocolate.

Dip truffles in tempered chocolate. Allow to harden. Dip again into tempered chocolate, then
immediately roll in diced mango. Place on parchment to dry.

Makes 16 – 18 truffles.

Happy Eating!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chocolate Class: Two Dipped Chocolates

Yesterday we dipped two of the fillings we had prepared last Thursday. One of them, the lemon vanilla white chocolate praline, turned out too soft to dip. It is, however, the right consistency for filling molded chocolates, so we will see it next week.

So, the fillings we did dip were a caramel, and a milk chocolate raspberry ganache with a layer of raspberry pate de fruit. Pate de fruit (pronounced more like 'paw de fweee' (it's French)), is fruit jellies. It utilizes pectin, the jelling agent in most jams and jellies. You can use gelatin, but it results in a more rubbery texture than pectin.

The pate de fruit is fairly easy to produce. It involves cooking raspberry puree, sugar, and pectin. The sugar is divided in half; one half is mixed with the puree, the other half with the pectin. Pure pectin cannot just be added to hot liquid. It would just seize up immediately, and give you a rubbery ball. It is mixed with sugar to give it time to become incorporated. The puree and sugar mixture is brought to a boil, and then the pectin and sugar mixture is added. The whole thing is whisked vigorously for a minute and a half to two minutes, until it becomes fairly stiff. It must be spread quickly in a plastic wrap lined pan. It will cool and firm quickly.

The raspberry ganache has milk and dark chocolate, corn syrup, cream, raspberry puree, butter, and raspberry liqueur. The butter helps add back the fat lost when some of the cream is replace with fruit puree. The liqueur is added at the very end, to prevent cooking it out. This is poured over the pate de fruit, and smoothed flat. Let everything sit for several hours, or over night, to become firm.

The caramel involves cooking sugar and corn syrup to hard crack stage (300 F), then stirring in butter, cream, vanilla, and salt, then bringing it back to a boil, and cooking it to a very precise 246 F. The point of the precision is the texture of the caramel. If you cook it too long, it will be too chewy, and tend to stick to the teeth. If the temperature is too low, it will be too soft to hold its shape to be dipped. Once the caramel is at the correct temperature, it should be spread quickly over a pan lined with aluminum foil, and greased. Let stand several hours, or over night, to harden.

Once everything is set, it needs to be footed. This means a thin layer of tempered chocolate is spread over one side. Once hardened, this will provide a slick surface that will make it easier to slide the dipped chocolate off onto parchment paper.

Once the footing is set, the candy can be placed chocolate side down on a cutting board, and cut to size. We cut the raspberry candies to one inch squares, and the caramels to 1 inch by 1 1/4 inch rectangle.

At this point, you can arrange your dipping station. Place the cut candies on a tray on one side, your bowl of tempered chocolate in the middle, and a parchment lined pan on the other. You will want food handlers gloves on. As I am left handed, I placed the candies on my right, and the tray on my left. Similar to breading, you keep one hand away from the messy stuff. You pick up a candy, and drop it footed side up into the tempered chocolate. With the other hand, using a dipping fork, press down on the footed side to submerge the candy, then roll the fork to bring the candy to the surface on top of the fork. Tap the fork on the edge of the bowl to remove as much chocolate as possible, then wipe the bottom of the fork on the edge of the chocolate bowl. Gently slide the candy off the fork onto parchment.

At this point, you can do whatever manipulations you want. For the caramels, we pressed one tine of
a dipping fork into the chocolate to create a diagonal line, then garnished them. We experimented with a number of garnishes, including sea salt, hickory smoked salt, balsamic salt, and candied cocoa nibs. For the raspberry candies, we place a bit of chocolate transfer sheet on top. Transfer sheets are sheets of acetate with patterns printed in colored cocoa butter. They come in a bewildering variety of patterns. The transfer sheet is placed on the wet, unset chocolate, then gently pressed into place. It is let to sit until then chocolate is completely set. The acetate then can be peeled off, leaving a pattern embedded in the chocolate.

Both these candies came out really nice. The caramel is smoothly textured, and soft. The raspberry has a rich, silky mouth feel, with a lot of the tartness of the raspberry coming through.

On an unrelated note: I have yet to hear from anyone on the banner design contest. All y'all that repeatedly ask about me cooking for you, now is your chance. I will come to you with food, and cook it. All you need to do is create a cool banner for the top of the blog. Way too many of you are talented artists to let this go by.

All recipes courtesy of Chef James Foran.


Caramel for Dipped Chocolates

9.5 oz. by wt. sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 oz. by wt. butter
2 cup cream
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Line a 9" x 13" pan with aluminum foil. Grease pan well.

Place sugar and corn syrup in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Using a clean pastry and plain water, wash down the inside of the pan twice, to remove any excess sugar crystals. Cook sugar mixture to hard crack stage (300 F).

Remove from heat, whisk in butter. Whisk in cream, salt, and vanilla. Return to heat, cook to 246 F. Remove from heat, spread caramel evenly in greased pan.

Raspberry Pate de Fruit

5 oz. by wt. raspberry puree
4.25 oz. by wt. Granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. pectin
Spray an 8" x 8" pan very lightly with oil. Use this to hold in place a lining of plastic wrap.

 Mix together half the sugar and the pectin.

 Place the puree and the other half of the sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium to medium high heat. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the sugar and pectin mixture. Bring to a full boil. When at a boil, whisk mixture for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes continuously, until mixture is very thick. Quickly spread evenly in lined pan.

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

6 wt. milk chocolate
1 oz. by wt. 58% chocolate
2 oz. heavy cream
1 tsp. corn syrup
2 1/2 Tbsp. raspberry puree
1/4 oz. by wt. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. raspberry liqueur

Chop chocolates fine, and place together in a bowl.

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, corn syrup, and puree. Bring just to a boil. Pour over chocolate, and cover. :Let stand two minutes. Whisk together chocolate and cream until smooth. Add butter, whisk in thoroughly. Whisk in liqueur. If  ganache feels grainy, or is not thick and smooth, use a immersion blender to emulsify chocolate and cream.

Spread over top of pate de fruit.

Happy eating!