One year obsession

Fact:  I don’t like routines and I get bored easily.  To remedy this, I often obsess over things.  Not the kind of obsessions that take over your life, but the kind that keeps things interesting.  For example, I’ve obsessed over knitting, making the best buttercream, finding the perfect trench or purse, and beating my own high score on bejeweled.  These obsessions often last a few weeks to a month at most, until I get bored and move onto the next thing, much like a child gets tired of their shiny new toy.  It’s a wonder I’ve had the same job for 8 years.

My longest obsession thus far is this blog.  That’s right, trials in food just turned one.  This blog has become a part of my life, but it is not a routine and I have not yet gotten bored.  The reason being, I think, is that every post is a little different and I am constantly learning, whether it is a new recipe, how to take better photos and make my posts more interesting or learning from other blogs about health and nutrition, different cultures and so on.

So, on this one year anniversary, it is only fitting that I do a post on my obsession at the time I started this blog:  chocolate making.  This time, however, I wanted a new challenge, so I decided to make bonbons using molds instead of just dipping ganache into melted chocolate.  I also wanted to temper (the technique used to give chocolate a smooth glossy surface and a “snap” when you bite into it) the chocolate the old school way (melting chocolate to 115ºF, seeding with more chocolate to get the temperature down to 90ºF, while mixing like crazy) instead of using Mycryo.

For the inside, I made a caramel filling, which was actually not difficult to do.

I could not say the same for the rest of the bonbon making process.  It was one messy gong show.  I quickly remembered why I abandoned this obsession.  Chocolate making is not easy.  There was chocolate flying everywhere:  on the counter, floor, fridge and even light switch.

I apologize for the lack of photos of the process (you can see beautiful images here).   My assistant, the hubby, had better things to do like work.  😉  And since chocolate is so temperamental, I had to keep a constant eye on the temperature and wasn’t able to stop to take photos.  On top of that, I was/am also battling a cough and the sniffles.

I was actually ambitious and made another filling (hazelnut cream) to fill a different mold for bigger bonbons.  But this did not turn out so well.  Bigger, in this case, is not better.  Twenty-four hours after making these larger bonbons, I still have not been able to release them from the mold without ruining the design and shape.  😦

I am happier with the small bonbons.  I think they turned out well.  The outside is shiny (you can even see my reflection on them in the photos) and they do have a snap when I bite into them.

I think this was a success and I think I finally got the hang of tempering chocolate.  After 5 hours of tempering and re-tempering, I was able to judge when the chocolate reached the right temperature and how much chocolate I needed to seed to get it down to the working temperature.

What do you think?  Would you like a box of these chocolates?

Happy anniversary to me trials in food!  🙂

Recipe (adapted from seriouseats.com):

  • 6.9 ounces (~0.896 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces (~59.2ml) water
  • 2 ounces light corn syrup
  • 5 ounces (~148ml) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons rum, whiskey, or bourbon
  • colored cocoa butter (optional)
  • 16 ounces (~454g) 58% couverture chocolate
  • sea salt for sprinkling
  1. In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir.
  2. Wash down the sides with a pastry brush dipped in clean water, then place over medium-high heat for 7-10 minutes, at which point the mixture will begin to darken.
  3. Swirl the pot to even out the caramelization, and allow the caramel to turn deep amber.
  4. Then, stand back and slowly add the cream (the mixture will sputter, rise in the pot, and spit; be very careful) and turn off the heat.
  5. Once it is safe, whisk in the heavy cream, until smooth. Whisk in the butter until it melts completely.
  6. Whisk in the vanilla seeds, booze, and salt and allow the mixture to cool completely.
  7. Chop the chocolate into very small pieces and divide the chocolate evenly into one very large bowl and one small bowl (the large bowl is the bowl that you will melt the chocolate in, the small one contains the “seed” chocolate for tempering).
  8. Set a pot of water to boil on the stove. When the water is boiling, turn off the heat and place the large bowl of chocolate over the water. Temper the chocolate (for a full tutorial, click here) by stirring to bring to chocolate to 115°F.
  9. Then, begin adding the reserved chocolate a little at a time and vigorously stirring the mixture, without stopping. Continue to add the reserved seed chocolate and agitating until the chocolate comes down to 90°F.
  10. The chocolate is now tempered. Check to be sure that there are no solid pieces of chocolate left in the bowl.
  11. Wave the mold over a flame on the stove or place it in a warm oven for just a moment to warm it up slightly (this will help the chocolate flow over it, rather than seizing up immediately when it hits the mold, which prevents air bubbles from forming).
  12. Then pour the chocolate into each of the cavities in the mold. Tap mold on counter and allow it to stand for 10 seconds, then invert the mold over the bowl, allowing the excess chocolate to run off.
  13. Tap the mold to shake out additional excess, then turn the mold back over. With a flexible metal scraper (I used a knife and a rubber spatula), scrape over the top, cleaning off any excess chocolate on the sides.
  14. Place the mold in the fridge for 2-3 minutes, then remove.
  15. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt into each of the shells. Using a piping bag fitted with a small tip or a cone of parchment, pipe the cooled caramel into the shells, stopping a 3-4 millimeters below the edge (it’s very important to leave room, otherwise the chocolates will not seal).
  16. Ensure that the chocolate is still tempered (if it is not, you will need to bring it back to 115°F once again, then down to 90°F, otherwise, your bonbons will be streaky on the bottom).
  17. Pipe or pour chocolate over the tops of each bonbon. Scrape the top clean to create a seal, then place the mold in the fridge for 2-3 minutes and remove.
  18. Twist the mold to release the chocolates, then turn it upside down and tap them out of the mold. Clear the work surface of bonbons, and pound the mold against the counter to release any stragglers.
  19. Store the chocolates in a cool, dry place.

Notes and Tips:

I halved the ingredients for the caramel filling and it was more than enough to make 28 small bonbons.  I used ½ tsp vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean and I used 1 tsp brandy extract instead of the real thing.  To temper the chocolate, I put the bowl with chocolate to be melted on top of a pot half filled with water and heated it on medium heat.  After the chocolate melted and reached 115ºF, I removed the bowl from the pot and wiped the outside to remove any steam/water before seeding.  Be careful to not let the chocolate come into contact with any water!  I found it was okay if the melted chocolate reached above 115ºF.  After the chocolate was tempered, when it started to solidify (temperature decrease to less than 90ºF), I would re-temper it by bringing it back to 115ºF and then seeding it with more chocolate to bring it down to 90ºF.

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41 thoughts on “One year obsession

  1. Congratulations on one year blogging! Your bonbons looks delicious, but I have to admit I may not be adventurous enough a cook to try. Actually, “not skilled enough,” is more accurate! Great work, they look beautiful and I’m sure taste just as good.

    • thank-you so much! 🙂 believe me when i say i’m also not skilled in the kitchen. there is still a lot i have to learn and there’s been many occasions when my dishes didn’t turn out.

  2. Congratulations on your anniversary and on tempering chocolate! I was obsessed with trying this at one time, but it’s fallen to the wayside for some reason. This is inspiring me to try again! I think they turned out perfect!

  3. These are stunning! A whole year of blogging congratualations. I am so much the same I drift from one hobby to another with ease and have cupboards full of all sorts of abandoned projects and crafty things. Baking is the longest hobby so far but I must admit to getting itchy feet but I am trying to work through it and find that even if I say I am not making any more I soon have to get in the kitchen and bake! I changed jobs like the weather but this too is my 8th year. Happy blogging and I hope that the love affair with baking continues.

    • thank-you! it’s good to know there are others out there like me. i don’t think it’s a bad thing to try new hobbies though. how would you know if you like it until you try? as for the stuff in the cupboards, out of sight out of mind right? maybe you will pick it up again sometime down the road when you feel inspired. sounds like you’ve found what you like doing in baking if you can’t stay away too long. what keeps you at your job? for me, it’s become mainly as a way to pay bills. i don’t enjoy it anymore, but there is simply not that many jobs available in my field. 😦

      • Ah the job I have is a teacher and I do to fit round the school holidays – some days are good others make me want to scream! As for the baking yes I know I will come back to it as I end up dreaming about it – how annoying is it to be chased down the road by a giant cupcake! As for jobs they give us money to live I guess.

      • you sound like a close friend of mine, who is a teacher. she loves the teaching and students, but hates the bureaucracy. i would love to dream about cupcakes instead i have nightmares about work.

  4. Thanks for stopping by.. I hope you DO make those oreo-stuffed cookies.. I can’t get enough! Looks like I’ll have no trouble finding something off your site to try myself 🙂

    • well, hello twin! we should grab a coffee and chat. 🙂 thank-you so much for the kind words! i don’t have a lot of patience either, most of the time. but if i really want something to work, i will try my darndest to make it happen!

  5. What beautiful shinny perfect chocolates… you are now my chocolate making HERO! After 5 hours, I would have definitely resorted to eating out of the bowl…A.D.D…. what can I say? Congrats on the milestone and the delicous looking bonbons!

  6. I’m exactly the same – obsessive until I get bored (I often have to ‘challenge’ myself for this very reason). These look divine, working with chocolate is something that is definitely on my list.

  7. Wow, those are beautiful! I’m an obsessive sorta person myself sometimes–I have to admit, it does get nice results when you’re working on things! 😉

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