So I have a friend who is serious about Chocolate, who for the last 15 years has been taking a week off to make chocolate things. Many things. Amazing things.
Since I started making truffles, the possibility of making desserts has seemed slightly less intimidating and I’ve started exploring baking.
This year, I took a couple days off work to help/apprentice with the chocolate making. Confectionery was the first half of the week, and I’m here for the baking portion.
Things I have learned so far:
- I had an impression that both egg whites and cream were similarly fussy when whipped. I was wrong. They’re both fussy, but differently. Egg whites want a completely clean and dry bowl (no water or fat) and room temperature eggs. Cream is not so fussy about water or fat (since that’s what it’s made of anyway), but everything should be cool/cold.
- lozenges of baking chocolate are not so awkward to use/store as I’d thought they’d be, so I’ll probably buy that form next time
- Michel Cluizel processes their chocolate more than most and so they don’t use soy lecithin as an emulsifier
- Using coconut fat in the vegan truffles as a brilliant idea because professionals pick coconut fat to create meltaway centers (from Chocolates & Confections by the CIA) – keyword: lauric fat
- it’s no so hard to spot soft peaks of whipped cream
- double boilers are for suckers. Melting chocolate in the microwave is where it’s at.
- I should get some larger smooth glass bowls
- the weird transfer of stuff between containers before folding in whipped stuff is not so much about temperatures (since they should probably both be cool) but about making the heavier stuff light enough to mix all fluffy-like
- jelly-rolls – you can wait 5 min after making, roll them up, and then let them finish cooling rolled up.
- you really should buy superfine sugar sometimes
- it’s awesomely helpful to have cooling racks that fit inside your jelly roll pans
- I’m not sure I could duplicate it, but I saw two gorgeous textbook perfect demonstrations of pouring ganache over cake to make a mirror-shiny coating. – proportions came from
Cocolat by Alice Medrich
- I used a disposable (brand = Wilton) pastry tube for the first time. To make white chocolate drizzles. Easier than expected. All pastry tips come in 2 sizes. There are universal screw couplers to keep them on the bag. Used a pastry bag again to frost cupcakes. Think that went well, too. Kept worrying my hands would be warm enough to melt the frosting.
- I’d forgotten, but this household is where I picked up the knack of wrapping teabag tags around the mug handle to keep them from slipping into the cup when you pour hot water.
- I had not forgotten, but this is also where I picked up the strong opinion that am important step toward sharing food accessibly is to just fucking label everything with the ingredients. It takes a little time and thought, but it’s not that hard.
- bread pudding out of stale croissants!
- If you have fresh croissants and a bowl of excellent mousse (Saturday is going to be yummy), you should scrape up that mousse with the croissant. I will be every bit as good as you think it will.
- Cakes and cupcakes iced with cream cheese frosting should not be packed away in plastic right away. They need to sit out until the frosting has a slight crust, lest moisture condense and they become all melty and not pretty inside the container
- there’s a(n avoidable) reason dried milk tastes nasty. Look for ones without lipase “a fat-degrading enzyme, resulting in a sort of controlled rancidity… done to increase the buttery flavor… to obtain the signature flavor profile the manufacturer seeks.” (Also from the CIA book)
I think I’ve separated about 3 dozen eggs. With only 1 broken yolk among them.