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Kerry Beal

Chocolate Course

85 posts in this topic

I'm heading out tomorrow evening for Belgium to take a course on making chocolate showpieces at the Belcolade factory in Aalst, Belgium. Puratos - the supplier of Belcolade in Canada has arranged the course and was kind enough to invite me along.

So in preparation for this trip I've been following a jet lag program that I have used with success in the past. It involves dietary manipulation and caffeine restriction, with reintroduction of caffeine at the appropriate times to 'reset' the body clock.

So starting on Wednesday I have done alternating days of 'feasting' and 'fasting' eating mainly protein for breakfast and lunch, and carbohydrates at dinner. No after dinner snacking allowed. Caffeine is allowed only between 3 and 4:30 in the afternoon. Apparently studies have shown that depleting glycogen stores makes you more sensitive to the effects of the caffeine.

Tomorrow - the day I fly - is a 'fasting' day - about 800 calories - and at 6 in the evening I drink several cups of black coffee. In combination with resting at the appropriate time, waking 1/2 hour before breakfast Belgium time, doing a bit of physical exercise and brain exercise, then starting another 'feasting day' - I should be good to go for the start of the course on Monday morning.

I've used this program a couple of times before when traveling to europe and it has made a world of difference to the jet lag I feel. The down side I suppose is the headache from caffeine withdrawal on Wednesday and the boring diet for these few days. This morning - a 'feasting' day I had a 3 egg omelet with onion, mushroom and cheese for breakfast, a steak for lunch and I felt rather yucky all day. It was all I could do to eat the high carbohydrate dinner - I don't think I achieved the kind of calories the program requires for a feast day. Can't wait to get back on a regular varied diet - some protein, some carbohydrate at the same meal. Moule frites I hope will be one of my first proper meals in Belgium.

This will be a pretty much all chocolate and food trip, so I'd love to take you along with me. The plan is to attend the course Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday - with any luck we will hit a mold factory on Thursday - then Friday I'm taking the train to Germany. I'll have a quick stopover in Cologne where I hope to get some pictures of Schneich's chocolate lab - then off to visit friends who collect old metal chocolate molds and produce very large equipment for chocolate factories.

I'm the proud owner of a new Asus eee computer - a tiny little thing (less than 1 kg) with full WiFi capabilities that should allow me to keep in touch as long as I can find wireless. Picture transfer is a bit of a challenge, so I'll probably post a bunch when I get back, but I'll try to download some while I'm away.

I'd love any suggestions about foods I should try - if anyone knows of restaurants in Aalst that are worth checking out I'd love to hear about them. I found lots of threads on Brussels, Bruges and Antwerp, but nothing about Aalst.

Also anxious to hear suggestions for any particular chocolate I should try in Brussels.

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Kerry - I've not had Belcolade chocolate. Not that you want to say anything negative about your host, but how is it? What is best used for - confections, baking...?


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

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Kerry - I've not had Belcolade chocolate.  Not that you want to say anything negative about your host, but how is it?  What is best used for - confections, baking...?

Belcolade prides itself on being the only Belgian owned company producing couverature chocolate. They appear to be a fairly big outfit. I became involved with them while searching for some peanut and tree nut free chocolate for one of the preschool moms who's child is allergic. She had intended to start a business making chocolate items for allergic people - but got put off by the requirements of the health department. All Becolade's chocolates are guaranteed peanut and tree nut free.

I was under the impression that, at least for a while, Jacques Torres was using their chocolate exclusively.

I find that their standard milk, dark and white - while very nice, very smooth chocolates - are a bit too sweet for my taste. But where they shine is in their collections of organic and single origin chocolates. Each one very different, not excessively sweet, quite wonderful. I have cupboard full of the little sample bars obtained from various receptions and occasions that Puratos has invited me to. They had a reception in Toronto for the Belgian ambassador several months back and the variety of wonderful chocolate creations that the various pastry chefs produced from these organic and origin chocolates was astounding.

gallery_34671_2649_80351.jpg

Here is a showpiece from that event.

Here's the album if you want to see more.

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Sound like fun! I'll have a look at their website for other courses - chocolate courses aren't exactly run of the mill in Europe

I've seen the Belcolade range at my wholesalers, but I have been hesitant to try them, partly because they come in bars as opposed to the handy callebaut drops. Based on your recommendation, I'll have a look for the organics and singel origin next time (especially as most of my other ingredients are organic, and I coud impress the hell out everybody by making nice organic chocolates :biggrin: )

Have a fabulous trip - looking forward to the nitty-gritty details

/Mette

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gallery_34671_3115_872.jpg

So I arrived in Belgium thinking I was attending a course on making chocolate showpieces. Most of the gang arrived early on the Sunday morning and after settling in our Aalst hotel we headed back to Brussels for a little sightseeing. I caught this picture of a showpiece in the window of one of the many chocolate shops in town. Valentine's day was everywhere in evidence.

Turns out that two of the people in the course had never worked with chocolate before. The company they work for is opening a new store at the end of the month and they will be putting in a small 'Perfect' equipment temperer and making a few chocolate items in the store starting with truffles. The course content was therefore changed to a more basic level. Still lots of things to learn.

Our instructor was Stef Aerts, a french pastry chef who works for Belcolade. The first thing he stressed was the method of making ganache.

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He boils the cream with any flavouring components, strains out any flavouring, then adds it a bit at a time to the chocolate pieces.

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The idea is to have some unmelted tempered chocolate present when you start to mix with the immersion blender. Once the last bits of chocolate are incorporated you use the immersion blender to incorporate the room temperature butter, then any liquor.

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He used a series of plexiglass squares - first he stacked two of them (held together at the corners with a dot of chocolate between the layers) put the first ganache in, leveled with a bevelled piece of plexiglass. He then topped the squares with two more plexiglass squares for the next layer of ganache.

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After cutting with the guitar (this was done on the second day after the ganache spent the night in a 15º C refridgerator) the items were sent through the enrober.

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A drizzle of dark chocolate was applied to the wet enrobed chocolates while they were still on the vibrating chain of the enrober, then a sprinkle of grated coconut.

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To top another enrobed item small squares were made. Coloured sugar was sprinkled on to a thin layer of chocolate applied to an acetate sheet.

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The wires of the guitar cutter were used as a guide to mark perfect squares in the damp sugar topped chocolate.

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A piece of parchment was placed on top and the acetate piece turned face down. A marble slab was placed on top to keep the squares flat while they crystallize.

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Once dry, the sugar decorated chocolate breaks into perfect squares to be used to decorate the top of your enrobed chocolates. This chocolate was a baked hazelnut biscuit topped with an orange marmalade like layer, then an orange ganache. Very tasty.

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A neat trick - use wet hands to remove glucose from the pail. A quick dip of the hands in cold water and the glucose doesn't stick. I don't think I'd want to to this with my 35 kg bucket of glucose - but would have no hesitation to do it in the 1 litre containers that I keep in the kitchen.

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Stef was adamant that colours for airbrushing are not simply a mixture of the desired colour and cocoa butter. His yellow contains yellow dye, some red dye, milk chocolate and cocoa butter. This gives an excellent yellow. Red contains red, a bit of blue, dark chocolate and cocoa butter. He uses the immersion blender to combine the mixture. The mixture is allowed to sit in the warming cupboard for 24 hours before use. A bucket of cocoa butter is kept in the 40º C warming cupboard so there is always melted cocoa butter when required.

gallery_34671_3115_10473.jpg

This little trick is going to be very helpful. In this picture a liquid filling has been piped into the bottom of the shell (rum and sugar syrup - made in the classic way for a starch molded liquor center) then the airbrush used to spray cocoa butter on the surface. This allows you to pipe ganache on top of the liquid without the liquid oozing around the ganache. I think this might just be the solution to backing off cherry cordial centers without leaking.

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Wow, thanks for the pix, Kerry! Looks like you had a great time.


John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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Hey Kerry, thanks for uploading the pictures. It's always fun to see different way of doing things!

Interesting... supposedly blitzing in the untempered chocolate into the warmer ganache tempers the ganache mix? Is there a set proportion of untempered chocolate to reserve? Did he let the ganache cool down to 38˚C before mixing in the butter to keep it in temper too or did he let it melt in? That trick with the cocoa butter at the end is very clever.

Hope you're having fun in Europe! Enjoy the rest of your stay...

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Wonderful time, learned a ton. I'll gradually add more pictures over the next couple of days.

I took over 600 pictures in the 3 days of the course and another 400 or so when I went to Germany overnight. I've got pictures of Schneich and his wonderful chocolate lab and pictures of the 3500 or so metal chocolate molds in my friends collection.

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Hey Kerry, thanks for uploading the pictures. It's always fun to see different way of doing things!

Interesting... supposedly blitzing in the untempered chocolate into the warmer ganache tempers the ganache mix? Is there a set proportion of untempered chocolate to reserve? Did he let the ganache cool down to 38˚C before mixing in the butter to keep it in temper too or did he let it melt in? That trick with the cocoa butter at the end is very clever.

Hope you're having fun in Europe! Enjoy the rest of your stay...

I think what happens is that the remaining unmelted but tempered chocolate actually 'tempers' the ganache. He didn't bother to measure the temperature, essentially if the chocolate in the bowl was melting too much he would just let the liquid cool down a bit and add it more slowly. The butter didn't melt - by them the temperature was low enough that it just went into the emulsion.

I'm home now, found it too difficult to post while I was away - stayed up too late, got up too early.

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Kerry, thanks as always for sharing with us. I would love to get the opportunity to visit Belgium on a chocolate tour, but I don't think I could manage to take as many photos as you seem to have taken :-)

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awesome, really appreciate the photos.

Question on the last photo. If I understand correct, are those chocolates 1/2 liquidy 1/2 ganache on the inside?

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Thanks Kerry,

Wonderful pictures.

Loving the tip on the liquid filling! Thanks so much for sharing.

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This little trick is going to be very helpful.  In this picture a liquid filling has been piped into the bottom of the shell (rum and sugar syrup - made in the classic way for a starch molded liquor center) then the airbrush used to spray cocoa butter on the surface.  This allows you to pipe ganache on top of the liquid without the liquid oozing around the ganache.  I think this might just be the solution to backing off cherry cordial centers without leaking.

How thick a coating of cocoa butter is that? I'd imagine it would have to be fairly thin not to be noticed.

If the liquid filling is made in the classic way, wouldn't it set up with a layer of sugar crystals on top given time? Is this just a way of speeding up the process, or is the sugar solution made weaker so it doesn't crystalize?

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awesome, really appreciate the photos.

Question on the last photo.  If I understand correct, are those chocolates  1/2 liquidy 1/2 ganache on the inside?

These chocolates will end up about 1/3 liquidy and 2/3 ganache. In that picture just the liquid had been added and sprayed with cocoa butter. The ganache will be added after the sprayed cocoa butter sets up. Then they will be backed off in the usual way.

This little trick is going to be very helpful.  In this picture a liquid filling has been piped into the bottom of the shell (rum and sugar syrup - made in the classic way for a starch molded liquor center) then the airbrush used to spray cocoa butter on the surface.  This allows you to pipe ganache on top of the liquid without the liquid oozing around the ganache.  I think this might just be the solution to backing off cherry cordial centers without leaking.

How thick a coating of cocoa butter is that? I'd imagine it would have to be fairly thin not to be noticed.

If the liquid filling is made in the classic way, wouldn't it set up with a layer of sugar crystals on top given time? Is this just a way of speeding up the process, or is the sugar solution made weaker so it doesn't crystalize?

David,

It's just a very thin layer of cocoa butter, you don't notice it at all when eating the chocolates. Indeed the sugar solution would crystalize on top given time - this just allows you close them quickly and with no liquid leakage.

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Kerry, thanks for sharing... I'm especially appreciative of the tip about the glucose, which I am still struggling with. I'm looking forward to trying out the wet hands trick.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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How lovely! Thank you so much! I can't wait to hear to more about everything. How was your jet lag?

Waiting...!!

More to come...

I looked at Chocolate World for pig molds for you - the one plate mold (which is a double) is available for less money from Chocolat-Chocolat - and it isn't a really nice mold. I did however find a pig figure mold - PM me and I'll send you pictures. I also have pictures of a metal mold from my friends collection that I took just for you to admire.

Going over - no problem with jet lag at all. While next morning everyone reported their eyes popping open at 4 am and unable to get back to sleep, I slept through the night and woke up feeling great. I didn't even find myself wanting a nap in the afternoon.

My biggest problem was just the long hours we kept. We were a large group - 10 participants and a couple of spouses along, we would be heading out for dinner at 9 at night. I don't think I made it to bed before 1am on any night. Then up again early so I'd have time to catch up on e-mails and of course try to follow along what was happening on eG. Not to mention that I also consumed a bit of alcohol - something I very rarely find time to do at home.

Normally when I take a course I go over the notes I've kept during the day, interpret what I've written and put it into a notebook in a more readable form - this trip I did that the first day only - because of lack of time, the second and third day are just scribbles in the binder we were given. I'll have to do that now while I write up this report for eG.

Coming home I didn't follow the jet lag program - so here I am awake at 5am for the 3rd day in a row! Somehow I don't find it as painful having jet lag in the eastbound direction.

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Kerry, thanks for sharing... I'm especially appreciative of the tip about the glucose, which I am still struggling with. I'm looking forward to trying out the wet hands trick.

Chris,

I thought of your glucose struggles when he showed us this trick. Couldn't wait to report it when I got home.

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. . .

I think what happens is that the remaining unmelted but tempered chocolate actually 'tempers' the ganache.  He didn't bother to measure the temperature, essentially if the chocolate in the bowl was melting too much he would just let the liquid cool down a bit and add it more slowly.  The butter didn't melt - by them the temperature was low enough that it just went into the emulsion.

I'm home now, found it too difficult to post while I was away - stayed up too late, got up too early.

Since I was lucky enough to try ganache made this way (so smooth and silky!) I am wondering, Kerry, if you made notes of the proportions of choc, cream, butter, and liqueur that were used.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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. . .

Stef was adamant that colours for airbrushing are not simply a mixture of the desired colour and cocoa butter.  His yellow contains yellow dye, some red dye, milk chocolate and cocoa butter.  This gives an excellent yellow.  Red contains red, a bit of blue, dark chocolate and cocoa butter.  He uses the immersion blender to combine the mixture.  The mixture is allowed to sit in the warming cupboard for 24 hours before use.  A bucket of cocoa butter is kept in the 40º C warming cupboard so there is always melted cocoa butter when required. 

This is very interesting and something I want to try ASAP. Is the chocolate tempered or just melted before being blitzed? Thanks.


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Stef's technique for flat plates of chocolates.

Stef is a highly skilled chocolatier - and of course his way is the only right way! By the end of day one he was rolling his eyes every time I picked up anything except my camera. When you've never done any formal chef training - you lack the knee jerk response of saying 'yes chef' and doing it his way.

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Stef preparing these molds by polishing with cotton batting then spraying just the bottom part of each mold with colour.

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After airbrushing, rub off the additional colour on a paper towel.

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The molds were filled first with chocolate using a disposable piping bag. The temperers were the big Selmi units and they didn't have the heads for filling molds. If he had placed the mold under the spigot there would have been a lot of chocolate flowing over the sides. A quick shake on the vibrating table, turned over and scraped on the scraper in the Selmi - then into the 15º C fridge.

The ganache was piped in as soon as it was made so it was still liquid and flowing - which meant it leveled itself. I'm holding the piping bag up here so you can see just how liquid it is.

Then back into the 15º fridge.

gallery_34671_3115_21678.jpg

Before backing off the heat gun is applied briefly to soften the chocolate on the edge - not trying to melt - just soften. This will aid the back sticking properly to the shell.

gallery_34671_3115_8924.jpg

gallery_34671_3115_6606.jpg

Again the chocolate for the back is applied via a piping bag then tapped and scraped off.

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Stef's demolding technique involves turning the plate over, holding it just above the surface, giving it a quick twist, then tapping on the back with his exoglass spatula.

Watching me demold caused a huge amount of eye rolling. I've been doing it my way a long time. I did try his way last night while making some solid hearts for the kids in my child's class, but small miscalculation - I twisted before turning over. I do like the fact that doing it his way, all the chocolates land evenly spaced, far neater than the way I usually demold.

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. . .

I think what happens is that the remaining unmelted but tempered chocolate actually 'tempers' the ganache.  He didn't bother to measure the temperature, essentially if the chocolate in the bowl was melting too much he would just let the liquid cool down a bit and add it more slowly.  The butter didn't melt - by them the temperature was low enough that it just went into the emulsion.

I'm home now, found it too difficult to post while I was away - stayed up too late, got up too early.

Since I was lucky enough to try ganache made this way (so smooth and silky!) I am wondering, Kerry, if you made notes of the proportions of choc, cream, butter, and liqueur that were used.

It looks like the proportions for a ganache to be piped into a mold is close to equal parts for cream and dark chocolate. So 520 g cream, 50 g glucose, 460 g dark chocolate, 40 g milk chocolate, 40 g butter.

For the ganache to be cut with the guitar the proportions were 290 g cream, 40 g invert sugar, 410 g dark chocolate, 40 g butter. This was topped with a coconut ganache that used 180 g of boiron coconut pulp, 300 g white chocolate, 30 g invert sugar, 30 g cocoa butter and 40 g of dried coconut.

. . .

Stef was adamant that colours for airbrushing are not simply a mixture of the desired colour and cocoa butter.  His yellow contains yellow dye, some red dye, milk chocolate and cocoa butter.  This gives an excellent yellow.  Red contains red, a bit of blue, dark chocolate and cocoa butter.  He uses the immersion blender to combine the mixture.  The mixture is allowed to sit in the warming cupboard for 24 hours before use.  A bucket of cocoa butter is kept in the 40º C warming cupboard so there is always melted cocoa butter when required. 

This is very interesting and something I want to try ASAP. Is the chocolate tempered or just melted before being blitzed? Thanks.

He added tempered chocolate to these. Not sure how important that would be.

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. . .

The molds were filled first with chocolate using a disposable piping bag.  The temperers were the big Selmi units and they didn't have the heads for filling molds.  If he had placed the mold under the spigot there would have been a lot of chocolate flowing over the sides.  A quick shake on the vibrating table, turned over and scraped on the scraper in the Selmi - then into the 15º C fridge. 

The ganache was piped in as soon as it was made so it was still liquid and flowing - which meant it leveled itself.  I'm holding the piping bag up here so you can see just how liquid it is.

Then back into the 15º fridge.

. . .

Before backing off the heat gun is applied briefly to soften the chocolate on the edge - not trying to melt - just soften.  This will aid the back sticking properly to the shell.

. . .

Again the chocolate for the back is applied via a piping bag then tapped and scraped off. 

. . .

Stef's demolding technique involves turning the plate over, holding it just above the surface, giving it a quick twist, then tapping on the back with his exoglass spatula. 

Watching me demold caused a huge amount of eye rolling.  I've been doing it my way a long time.  I did try his way last night while making some solid hearts for the kids in my child's class, but small miscalculation - I twisted before turning over.  I do like the fact that doing it his way, all the chocolates land evenly spaced, far neater than the way I usually demold.

Here's hoping there's no limit on one member's questions!

So how long in the 'fridge:

After pouring the shells?

After filling?

After backing off?

I think I read this right: He is using tempered chocolate in a piping back to back off? Sounds a bit less messy than my operation but then how fast must you work to be sure that the chocolate is still in temper? I am so accustomed to checking my temperature as I back off mold after mold.

In your spare time, do try repeating: "Yes, chef!"; "No, chef!; "Three bags full, chef!" in a brusque but respectful tone. Hey my Dad was an RSM - I learned "Yes, sir!" before I said "Dada".

:laugh::laugh::laugh:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.” William Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Here's hoping there's no limit on one member's questions!

So how long in the 'fridge:

After pouring the shells?

After filling?

After backing off?

Of course no limit on questions. After pouring the shells they went in the 15º fridge until you were ready to pour the fillings. After the fillings they stayed in there overnight I think. After backing off they were back in the fridge until we demolded. So much longer than I leave things in my 4º C fridge. He mentioned that you didn't want to leave things in there for weeks, but it seems that a day or so it not a problem because of the higher temperature. Apparently the chocolate doesn't get 'shocked' as it does in the 4º fridge.

One other thing to note - the plates etc didn't go into the fridge until they were showing signs of crystallization - ie starting to firm up.

I think I read this right:  He is using tempered chocolate in a piping back to back off?  Sounds a bit less messy than my operation but then how fast must you work to be sure that the chocolate is still in temper?  I am so accustomed to checking my temperature as I back off mold after mold.

Tempered chocolate. Remember your chocolate will remain in temper even as it cools, so you can fill a bag with chocolate, pipe onto the back of your first mold, tap and scrape. Have a small bowl ready to curl the piping bag in with the open end up so you don't lose all your chocolate on the counter. Then pick up the bag of chocolate, do the same with a second mold. If it's taking too long, or the chocolate is getting too cold, just squeeze the remainder back into your working bowl and warm it up before refilling the bag.

If just the tip of the piping bag is getting cold, you can just hit it with the heat gun for a couple of seconds.

It was quite amusing to watch them scrape the hardened bits of chocolate from the end of their parchment paper piping bags with their teeth. It is europe after all.

In your spare time, do try repeating:  "Yes, chef!"; "No, chef!; "Three bags full, chef!" in a brusque but respectful tone.  Hey my Dad was an RSM - I learned "Yes, sir!" before I said "Dada".

:laugh:  :laugh:  :laugh:

This is why I only lasted 3 years in the military. I couldn't stand wearing the same clothes as everyone else and I wasn't good at following orders.

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