Yay! It’s chocolate week! This week saw us making a variety of chocolate truffles and our piece de resistance, a 2D chocolate picture centrepiece. Both practicals were quite fun and everyone seemed in quite a light-hearted mood, even the chefs. The main focus was of course on tempering chocolate. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, we use the direct method of tempering at school. Using dark chocolate as an example, we heat it to 45°C, cool it down to 26-27°C, then warm it up again to 31-32°C. Other ways you can temper chocolate include the seeding method, tabling method and using a microwave. For the microwave method, if you get the settings just right you can gently heat your chocolate to the correct stage without having to go through the heating, cooling and re-heating process as chocolate is sold in an already tempered state. Tempering 200g of chocolate is quite a quick process, however tempering 1.2kg of white chocolate is a different beast. Patience is key as you don’t want to cool the chocolate too much resulting in crystals that will make your chocolate lumpy, and you don’t want to re-heat it too much as you’ll have to start the process all over again. When we think that we have the chocolate at the right stage, we do a quick test by applying a few thin lines of chocolate onto a knife blade or palette knife to see if it sets within 5-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the room. I’m pleased to say that my partner and I managed to successfully temper the dark and white chocolates for both practical sessions.
So on to the truffles. As a class we made four different types of truffles. Each pair had to make a moulded chocolate (chocolate moules) and either the white chocolate truffles using pre-made white chocolate spherical shells, the malakoff (chocolate slab with praline, almonds and pistachios) or the caramel cups using pre-made snobinette chocolate cups. My pair had to make the white chocolate truffles, which had a Malibu and raspberry flavoured white chocolate ganache centre, rolled in tempered with chocolate and raspberry sugar. The moulded chocolates had a dark chocolate shell with a milk chocolate ganache centre flavoured with rum. The moulded chocolates were really messy to make as you had to flood the polycarbonate moulds with tempered dark chocolate and then vigorously tap the excess out so that you don’t end up with a very thick shell. The chocolate just went everywhere, even though I tried hard to do the tapping over a large bowl. I was quite happy with how these turned out – there were very few air bubbles, my white chocolate design was quite neat and the shells were beautifully glossy.
As a dog lover, it made sense to pay homage to one of my favourite dog breeds for my 2D chocolate picture centrepiece so I looked on the internet for cartoon images of corgis. I found one that I liked but it was a bit plain so I added a neckerchief and a dog bowl. The lesson went well and both my partner and I got a ‘pretty good’ from chef, which in my books is the equivalent to a ‘well done’! Haha! You need to take all the compliments you can get from the chefs. He also thought that the dog bowl was a good idea. The colours were done by dissolving liposoluble (fat-soluble) powdered colours in cocoa butter then painting a layer onto a sheet of acetate, allowing it to set then flooding with white chocolate. I was very pleased with how the paw prints turned out on the base. I missed out some parts with the colours but it wasn’t too bad and I could have cleaned the over-flooded parts a bit better. I was happy that there were no air bubbles and I managed to apply the colours at the right point so there was no bleeding of the colours.
We also had a technical demonstration on soufflés this week. Chef demonstrated two different types of soufflés: a hot soufflé (soufflé chaud) and a pudding soufflé. The difference between the two are a hot soufflé is served in the mould with the sauce in a jug on the side whereas a pudding soufflé is served de-moulded with the sauce on the plate. We will be making soufflés in superior so I was paying close attention as chef was explaining the important points to pay attention to in order to produce a good soufflé. One of the key things for a good soufflé is starting off with a good base mixture or panade. It’s also vital to grease the moulds well to prevent sticking and ensuring you get an even rise. As chef says, don’t trust your commis chef to grease your soufflé moulds – you must do it yourself!
I managed to fit in a practice run for the gateau Sabrina this week. Oh dear, I needed just over 3 hours to complete this cake, which is not good. I need to figure out how I’m going to work faster and figure out a better workflow. The end result itself wasn’t too bad. The main thing that I wasn’t happy about was the spreading of the tempered chocolate and application of the design using a serrated knife on to the marzipan disc. It worked much better when I did it in class but with one or two more practice runs it will hopefully improve. As my baking tray is a bit deeper than the one we use in school, the sponge is a bit thicker than it should be so I’ll need to spread the batter a bit more thinly next time around. More practice is needed for this cake before I’m confident that I will be fine if we get this for our exam.
For the next week and a half we will be tackling hot and cold plated desserts, then it’s exam time! I am looking forward to doing some plating up as we haven’t done any since the fourth practical in Basic Patisserie. And we will be making chocolate fondants! Yum!