Just to update on my quest to become a baker… I’ve turned more towards pastry chef studies, and have found them more interesting than baking.
This autumn we’ve had some short special courses with fun stuff. First there was marzipan course, where we made figurines and flowers and leaves. This week we’re doing chocolate, and the poor picture is a little (~130 grams) Santa I had some fun doing earlier today.
I did a couple of these chocolate figures with molds just for kicks, while the main course consists of candy. There’s two sets of pear confections (caramellized pear and nougat with pear liqour inside), and then another set of salmiac fudge candies (salmiac = ammonium) that I’m going to dip in chocolate.
I also wanted to use chocolate film to make long flat stripes of chocolate, then use the film to shape them like a set of bow ties. However the course is only one week and I’m pretty tight on getting all the rest done before it ends…
Working with chocolate is very comfortable, I find. With marzipan I was always feeling a bit disoriented, but with chocolate there’s nothing like that. It requires some care with the temperatures – they have to be exactly as stated and not almost – but once they are handled the rest becomes easier.
Chocolate is very versatile. It can be liquid, but it turns quite hard. In the middle states it can be flexible, easily shaped with hands. If it’s still warm, you could drop a chocolate item to the table and it won’t have any damage. If it’s tempered correctly and a polished mold is used, the chocolate will have a very reflective, beautiful shine to it. Of course other types of surfaces can be made with some work: Freezing the target surface and then spraying the chocolate to it results in a rougher look. You can use differently colored chocolates to make fun color effects to the surfaces.
There are countless other little tricks. One recipe told to put the chocolate to the mold first, then use a toothpick to scratch it from the inside, and then fill it with another color. This brings yet another type of visual look.
Perhaps the most intriguing part about chocolate is that we don’t know everything about it. Scientists still figure out new effects and functions to chocolate, and new ways to use it are brought forward at a decent rate. I’m seriously considering becoming a worker in a chocolate workshop. There’s not much choice in Finland (I think two choices, of which only one has any real work done by hand), so I might have to aim towards Central Europe.