CHecking my temper while tempering
This week was chocolate's week! I was so excited for this week because I have never had the opportunity to learn how to properly temper chocolate, I have always just used "chocolate glaze" which you melt down and it hardens on its own with no tempering needed. For those of you who don't understand what I mean when I say tempering, it is a process in which you heat up chocolate and then cool it down in a specific way and to a certain temperature that it allows proper formation of "good" crystals in the chocolate to form, resulting in a shiny finish and a proper snap to it. It can be a very challenging and frustrating task (do you understand the humor in the title now?) because of how sensitive it is to temperature changes.
When you really dive into the science behind tempering it can get super confusing so this week we simply just learned the basics and the process on how to do it. There are a few different forms of tempering such as tabling, seeding and block seeding, all of which are great ways to temper but they do require a varying amount of skill to master. We tempered our chocolate with the block seeding method, which is one of the easiest. To put it simply, we melt chocolate down and add a large chunk of already tempered chocolate from the factory into the melted chocolate. The chunk provides the "good crystals" needed in the melted chocolate. You stir the melted chocolate and the chunk around for awhile until it reaches the proper temperature, at this point you can play with the chocolate.
We were required to make a few different items before being allowed to experiment on our own. Those items were a minimum of 12 "disks" which are created by spreading tempered chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper and then dragging a comb through it to create a pattern. Once that stiffens up slightly you go through and cut out shapes, let it sit again until completely hard and then you have your final disks. We also had to do two separate designs of filigree. I chose the more classical designs, but filigree could be just about anything.
Once I got my work approved I was able to play around on my own a bit. I remembered seeing a video online of Chef Frank Haasnoot piping bird with chocolate and decided to try it myself. The body turned out pretty good but the head just slid right off and looked rather odd. On the second day of chocolates I tried again. This time I made the head separately and attached it. It looked great! Then I realized I had plenty of time left so I played around just to see what I could create. I am so proud of the final product! Unfortunately I don't have a decent photo of it because once it set I picked it up off the tray to take a picture of it on a clean table and I hit it on something, causing it to break :(
I managed to get a few photos though, look through the slides to see!
~ Remember to smile :)