I steered away from chocolate for years because its finicky .
but then I became friends with a chief engineer for Cadbury (through a non-food related hobby).
He pestered me to get more into chocolate work, I learned a lot from him, but hands-on skill took longer to acquire.
In the trade, we call unsweetened baking type chocolate Liquor.
He persuaded me to get Callebaut semi-sweet, and to check ingredient labels if the first item is sugar its not very useful.
The factory he designed for Premier Biscuits is in Wirral, I visited and got a late night tour, interesting attention to detail such as air curtains, if you stand in one spot the temp and humidity is at one level, move 3 feet over and the temp/humidity is different.
I learned I can buy callebaut 811 and add 10% cocoa butter to make my own couverture which is just a fancy word for free flowing, for a thinner coating on truffles.
Same with adding some choc liquor to the 811 , it will boost the depth of taste.
When I first switched over from fake to real chocolate I had occasional bloom problems, any open window can cause a draft which will ruin a batch. Fixed that by getting a small tempering machine, which I still have sitting in the middle of my kitchen at home. there are small table top home versions that seem very good, not too expensive.
For me, the difference was immediate. I could mold using almost anything for a mold due to the precise shrink with machine tempered choc. Hand tempering is a bit of hit or miss, choc might not bloom, but it may not shrink enough to free itself from a mold.
I must admit I'm the same, it's the faff of tempering and getting the consistency right and then the glossiness and then for it to dry and set right and then it melts the list goes on. Then like you say having the added factor of humidity etc. It's a minefield!
However, on the other hand, it does intrigue me, and I want to have a go at playing about with it. I've seen many vids of experts pouring the chocolate out onto a slab of marble and then making the most beautiful ruffles with it. But I know it's a skill that will take time to learn.
I have seen vids of people tempering and even been on a course for it many years ago. The last vid I saw was of a girl melting two-thirds of her choc and then adding the final third in its natural form; she said that the formed choc in its natural state would temper the melted choc and temper it.
I did try making a drip cake with regular choc, but the choc wasn't tempered properly so no beautiful glossy finish, the choc was also too warm, and my cake/fondant slightly bowed under it. I then bought some choc pouring glaze, but that didn't give me the finish I wanted either.
I have seen the chocolate that they drip onto transfer paper then wrap around the sides of the cake and the beautiful decorations they make by dropping melted choc into ice water. That I fancy having a go at.
I have managed to make chocolate lollies and chocolate moustaches so not bad.
So would you recommend a tempering machine then? Do you grease you moulds or don't you?
No never grease molds, just polish them. Real chocolate shrinks a couple percent when tempered and the parts drop out of the mold when tipped over.
Tabliering is fast but very messy.
seeding is quick and easy.
i often melted the choc in the microwave...carefully.
set timer 1 minute and stir it after 30 seconds, then stir again every 15 seconds.
It has to be stirred very often to prevent hot spots which will scorch and ruin the batch.
After a few cycles, it begins to feel sticky, reduce the periods down to 10 seconds, keep feeling the bottom of the bowl, no warmer than 110F. Once melted add a handfull of virgin choc and stir, if it melts quickly its still too warm , keep adding fresh chips (not cookie chips) until the chips barely melt, it's ready.
Problem is, once it's ready it needs to be constantly slowly agitated to even the temp, the machine does that very easily.
Making ribbons and curls is easier without marble, the marble requires you to work very quickly whilst the choc is still in its plastic stage. It really makes it almost impossible to get more than a few pieces. I found pouring it onto a stainless table was a lot better, the back of a clean sheetpan or even a formica counter.
If you have a big slab of chocolate its possible to just pull curls right off the block with a cheese slicer or drag peeler, the choc has to be quite warm but not over 100F . This woman makes big curls . We did it this way for years, it works.
It's unbelievable how quick and effective it is once you have the right consistency and tools.
I didn't think you had to grease the moulds as it usually drops straight out but thought I would check.
Do you use cotton pads to polish your moulds or kitchen towel to remove grease/moisture dirt etc.?
I only ever use the microwave to melt chocolate. I usually do it in 30-second bursts and then stir the chunks and place it back in; then when it gets to the last bits of large pieces, I stir until it's dissolved. I have burned chocolate once in the microwave and obviously had to bin it, but I steer well away from melting it over a bain-marie for steam water and seizing purposes.
I've seen some people use cookie chips for melted choc, would you advise against that? I usually use blocks and break them up.
I don't have a stainless steel top I have caesar stone, so it's probably on par with the marble.
I have seen people use potato peelers before on chocolate, but the choc has always been solid so it was just for a little sprinkling of chocolate or for decoration. I didn't realise how easy it would be to create curls by warming it slightly. I think when I get a second, I may have a go at the curls as they seem relatively easy to do and then if I get really clever I might invest in the tempering machine down the line. Would the lady in the vid have put her choc bar near something warm, because I'm assuming she didn't put the block in the microwave with the wrapper on? Dairy Milk works for me too. 😊
The easy methods are great, so thank you for that, I may even try the back of a sheet pan.
The Cake Decorating Co and Amazon sell Callebaut brand but only the Callets which range between £11 - £13 a kilo.
I've never seen a bar as big as the lady had in the vid, but that's because I buy blocks from the supermarket rather than a chocolatier.
Now that you have mentioned more quality ingredients, I may look to try that. You get what you pay for so the better the chocolate, the better the results are going to be.
As for the temp, I agree she must have placed it near a radiator or sat it on something warm; then it's back to trial and error. Ooh, the joys of chocolate. You have to have such respect for it, or otherwise, it won't play nice.
I've just searched the Callebaut Chocolate block on Amazon and found it to be £45 in the UK, it's also available in the US but for $85! Yikes, that's for an 11lb block.
I see the issue with the pan it would either be a two-person job or very messy for one. 😂
The cheese slicer looks good on size but would it still curl it because after watching the vid it's more of a slicer than a roller. Although I do think you'll get a better slide/cut with the slicer.
What chocolate decorations have you made?
I'll have to do more research on the choc because I only buy it when I need it. I have previously purchased chocolate cigarillos for a cake I was doing.
Striped, white and milk, mini chocolate cigarellos (cigarillos) for decorating cupcakes, celebration cakes and desserts. These mini chocolate cigarellos measure 35mm long by 8mm wide approximately.www.chocolatetradingco.com
But I think if I use it more often, then I'll have to look at wholesalers for it. I've not been in Costco for years, but I'm sure they still do stuff like that.
That's an excellent price on the Callebaut, but 550 miles is a bit of trek! Wow, you weren't kidding that you were out in the sticks. Do you stock up on ingredients and buy bulk because you have far to travel and then make your desserts and post them for your sister?
Thanks for the pics, I love the little chocolate cups they're so dainty. I've never heard of barquettes before, and I've never tasted a banana cream pie either.
I like your philosophy; at the end of the day, you want all your products leaving the shelves, value for money and customers wanting more.
Ah, you just make from scratch with your own proportions.
The barquettes are really pretty, but I think they belong more in a restaurant rather than a shop. I'd love to make things like that, but the time it takes to do so doesn't seem worth it unless you were selling them to the masses. It's good to expand your repertoire so it would be nice to make them for myself. I tend to stick with the cupcakes and decorating, the fun stuff as I call it.
Would you also make the Wedding Cake if you cater for weddings or would you stick with the food/desserts? Do you make lots of pastries for weddings too?
Lots of people have got caught up in the baking trend, so there are lots of people into it and wanting to learn more. They're also pushing boundaries, with flavours structures etc. but those guys are real cake artists. Some of the things I've seen done with cake is truly amazing. That's why I tend to stick more with the teaching/decorating side of it and wrote my book at least that way; I can teach people far and wide and help out where I can. It's one of the reasons I built the site.
You must have seen a total change in the years you have been doing it. Are there any trends that keep coming back around?