As promised, details about the chocolate-making class that Jenny and I took last weekend at Canady Le Cocolatier.
Now, I am not going to go into all of the details of harvesting and processing cacao beans into chocolates. The Field Museum has a pretty good website (and apparently a chocolate exhibit) that outlines the process well.
Interestingly enough, it starts with chocolate.
Technically, we were using coverture chocolate, which has a very high cocoa butter content and when tempered properly, will have a super shiny sheen and crunchy snap to it. It is often used to make chocolate covered candies, or in our case, ganache and other fillings covered in chocolate.
First came the tempering. The teacher merely gave us a demonstration, and as it involves melting followed by subsequent cooling and constant agitation that results in a homogeneous mixture of very small molecules. You can do this at home “easily,” especially if you have a marble or granite block which help cool the chocolate. The chocolate shop also had a $27,000 machine that constantly kept chocolate tempered.
It looks something like this. If you looked down into it, you would see swirling chocolate that would remind you of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
We used this tempered chocolate and molds to make chocolate shells.
But first we painted the bottoms of the molds (which will eventually be the top of the chocolate) to make them extra pretty.
Then we filled them, and subsequently emptied them to coat the sides of the mold. It sounds relatively simple, but there are a lot of other steps and complicated maneuvers that would be hard to re-create exactly at home.
(This part was really nerve-wracking, as you don’t want to drop the mold into the $27,000 machine. Jenny had graciously volunteered me to go first – I think my hands trembled the entire time. She did much better than I did.)
Set them on their side to let them dry.
Now for the filling. (We actually made the fillings prior to this, before we put the tempered chocolate in the molds – this was by far the most time-intensive step).
We ended up making 6 different fillings:
Dark chocolate ganache
Dark chocolate ganache with red pepper flakes
Milk chocolate ganache with tamerind
White chocolate ganache with raspberry
I can’t tell you very much about making the ganache, other than it involves heavy cream, butter and chocolate all melted together.
Instead, Jenny and I spent most of the evening making caramel.
It starts with some corn syrup (~3 T) over medium-low heat.
“Pepper” it with sugar. Really, only about a 1/4 teaspoon or so (we had 3 cups of sugar to get through, so you can imagine the time commitment involved). Let the sugar melt (but not burn) and keep rotating the pot (so that it won’t burn) except for when you need melt the sugar. You can see how complicated it is.
Continue to “pepper” the caramel.
Eventually it will turn a beautiful golden color.
Add about 3 cups heavy cream, stand back and stir like crazy.
If only you could smell this from the photos. It was heavenly.
Now add it to some milk chocolate.
It was “utterly perfect.” (And I am allowed to quote the teacher on that).
Then we started filling our chocolate molds.
Cover with more tempered chocolate and put in the freezer to let dry.
Oh and clean up the giant mess that has been inevitably been made.
But then you get the chocolate boxes so the clean-up was worth it…
Remove from molds while ooh-ing and aah-ing over your masterpieces.
We left with our boxes jam-packed (and maybe even with an additional bag).
And tried not to eat them all in one go.
While way more complicated and time consuming than I anticipated, chocolate making was a ton of fun and a great way to spend a Friday night.
And now I get why fancy chocolates are so expensive.