The Ultimate Challenge

So we had the lecture on chocolate. The secret to tempering chocolate is never do it in a room hotter than 70 degrees or cooler than 60 degrees… unless you are doing it at SFBI on the day they are stoking up the hearth oven for bread and pizza. Oops, sorry this is the real world.

Brian had set the chocolate to melt overnight in a special chocolate warmer so we had a headstart. And even though the temperature of the kitchen was increasing, we began the process of tabling (cooling part of the melted chocolate on a granite slab then stirring it back into the remaining melted chocolate). We also seeded a batch (adding unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate to align the crystal formation to produce the “right kind” of crystals… the ones that make chocolate shine and snap.) Brian showed us how to test the temper on a piece of paper so we’d know when it was ready for use.

We poured the melted chocolate into rigid plastic molds, let it drain out to form a thin (not thick) shell, and then set them on a rack to cure in the molds overnight. We could see already that the temper was right in spite of the less than perfect conditions in the kitchen. There were no white bloom streaks or grainy gray areas where the cocoa butter rises to the surface. Brian has spent a lot of time with chocoate and knows how to coax those crystals into alignment.

The next day we piped our fillings into the chocolate shells–coffee, lemon, pistachio, raspberry caramel, and dark chocolate ganache leftover from the Parisian Macaroons we’d made earlier in the week. We let the fillings sit to settle and develop a crust on top. The final step was to close them with more tempered chocolate. This was an incredibly messy job that required a bit of finger licking prior to hand washing at the end.

When the bottoms were set, we tapped the molds on the table to release our perfect chocolates. I gave everyone little boxes I’d folded the night before to put their candies in.