Week 9 (cont.): CHOCOLATE week is here!

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This is the inside of a roasted cocao bean, crushed. Also known as cocao nibs. They are pure chocolate basically – and an acquired taste. This is is the part of chocolate that is good for you.

Last we we began chocolate week, and chocolate is awesome. I love chocolate, always have, and always will.

We began with learning how to temper chocolate, with different methods. Essentially we melt and cool the chocolate in the right way so it sets beautifully for serving to others.  Chocolate is so fascinating: from it’s chemical properties, to health benefits, to where it comes from and how it is made. Every step in the process is quite interesting.

Once we learned the basics of tempering, we began to cover fruit and nuts in chocolate and build from there. We chocolate, like your classic pot of gold that grandma serves every christmas holiday, are alot of work to make. Each one is like a little entremet cake because every layer requires a recipe and work. You really need to have a vision for what you want, and plan it out.

Good chocolate is also not cheap either, and with good reason. It requires real talent to produce fine quality chocolate. I fully support your consumption of good chocolate: it is generally better for you – in the raw form mainly – and the quality is worth it. I’m talking about Lindt, Green & Blacks, Calebaut, Valhrona, etc. Not your Nestle or Cadbury (sorry).

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@eastvanroasters (a social enterprise) is a local shop in downtown Vancouver, and they make great chocolate – with beans sourced directly from the farmers. Go look them up. Here is a jar of roasted beans we looked at in class, they smelled amazing.

By the second day of chocolates we had a chocolate tasting lesson.

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The chocolate was all set up for the lesson as we arrived to class. Great way to start the day!

There are so many varieties of chocolate. We tried 14 of them before 10am! We were tasting the different cocoa percentages, from white chocolate all the way up to 100% pure cocoa. Our range was from about 31% to 100% cacoa, and you can really taste the difference. The latter one was awfully bitter, I could not eat it. White chocolate, the first ones we tried, actually contain no cacoa at all, but it does contain cocao butter (the fat extracted from the cacoa beans), at least good white chocolate does.

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As I tried each piece of the chocolate, I took notes on the their flavour and the cocoa percentage of each piece.

The entire lesson was very fun and we compared notes with each other for what flavours we tasted. It was a sophisticated experience, I thought. I could not tell the difference between some of the flavours at first though, until someone else identified it – then I could taste it too. I guess I just have to eat more chocolate to practice. Darn!

Chocolate is much like wine, there are so many kinds. It depends on who made the chocolate, where the beans are grown, how they are roasted, and how the cocao is prepared, and who is tasting it.

Once we learned to temper chocolate, we began making different chocolates. Here is a look at a few of the things we made in the first few days. Much more to come in the next week too.

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My first chocolate covered strawberries, and my first tuxedo strawberry (and bride). They taste as good as they look.

Looking forward this week’s chocolate agenda!

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We made orange caramels and then covered them in chocolate, sprinkled with salt and sugar on top.

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Candied pineapple about to be layered with marzipan, and coated in dark chocolate. Super tasty…

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All the caramels we made in class…. A LOT OF CHOCOLATE!

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My first chocolate leaf. Very delicate, so pretty.

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