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
- In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom, combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir.
- 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.
- Swirl the pot to even out the caramelization, and allow the caramel to turn deep amber.
- 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.
- Once it is safe, whisk in the heavy cream, until smooth. Whisk in the butter until it melts completely.
- Whisk in the vanilla seeds, booze, and salt and allow the mixture to cool completely.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- The chocolate is now tempered. Check to be sure that there are no solid pieces of chocolate left in the bowl.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Place the mold in the fridge for 2-3 minutes, then remove.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.