Minding my temper – attempt number 1

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What can I say? I’m as likely as the next person to blow my lid occasionally, but not this time. Not even when things didn’t go to plan.

The temper in question is the process used to stabilise chocolate for making candy/ dipped chocolates. I’d never done it before and figured it was as good a time as any to try it out. Pushing myself for the sake of a story – ah, this is what blogging is all about ☺

I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and attempt a boiled fondant for the filling of my chocolates, as it was another thing on my “to try one day” list.

Looking good so far...

Result? Fondant = success, chocolate = tasty fail. Yes, the chocs ended up tasting fab and we hearted them (pun alert! pun alert!), but out of the twelve chocolate hearts I made, only two didn’t develop a bloom.

Wait, what's this?


There were so many variables during the chocolate tempering process, but I think the following points may have contributed to the bloom. Any chocolate experts out there care to help?

a)    useless sugar thermometer – many tempering methods I’d read recommended using an accurate thermometer. I’ve got an el-cheapo glass one that takes a little while to get up to operating temperature (pun catastrophe imminent). Perhaps it’s time to get a digital one? (Ahem, Mr. Kitchen Hand ?? Short of birthday present ideas? ;P)
b)    Poor quality chocolate? I did use couverture chocolate, but not one of any recognisable brand. I’d just picked up a bag from my local shops. Next time I think I’ll make the trek to a specialty store.
c)    I was using the “bowl set over hot water” method, and worried that the temperature would get too high if I left it there, I removed the bowl from the heat when I started dipping. I think this may have caused the temperature to drop too much, which is why the bloom occurred.
d)    All of the above?

Ah well, I’ll just have to try again to find out won’t I? I don’t think the rest of the family will mind too much!

 Never mind, I'll just close my eyes and eat you, yum, yum, yum

I attempted to temper my chocolate according to the very informative post by David Lebovitz, found here.

Here’s how I made the boiled fondant.

Almost-strawberry fondant
Adapted and halved from a Family Circle book : Sweets and Chocolates, Murdoch Books (1993).
¾ cup caster sugar
1/3 cup pure cream
2 tablespoons glucose syrup
(the recipe also called for glycerine, but I added a few drops of lemon juice instead)
To flavour  - I reduced the juice from 200g strawberries, but the flavour was too mild to compete with the dark chocolate. The recipe in the book suggested using essence, but I really dislike the aftertaste of fake essences. Extracts however, are a different matter, and next time I might have to see if I can hunt some down.
Food colouring if desired (I didn’t use any)

Start by filling a large heat proof bowl or the kitchen sink with cold water.

Place the sugar, cream, glucose syrup and a few drops of lemon juice in a heavy based saucepan and stir over medium/low heat (without boiling) until the sugar has completely dissolved. If you’re anything like me, this will cause a lot of the sugar to actually creep up the sides of the pan. Wet a pastry brush and clean up the mess. You can do the wet pastry brush thing as often as needed.

Bring the mixture to the boil and boil without stirring until the mixture reaches soft ball stage. To test, use a teaspoon to catch a bit of the mixture and drop it into a glass or bowl of cold water. The drop should settle into a sort of soft slumpy ball. If you can fish this out of the water and form it into a squishy ball, it’s ready. Careful not to burn your fingers!! The sugar mixture is very, very hot.

When ready, take the saucepan off the heat and dip the base in the sink/bowl of water to stop the sugar cooking. Add desired flavours and colours. Use electric beaters to beat the mixture until it cools and becomes opaque and crumbly. It takes a little while.

Turn the mixture out onto a work surface lightly dusted with cornflour and knead until smooth. I didn’t actually need any cornflour, I tipped my mix out onto a smooth wooden bread board and it didn’t stick after I kneaded it well.

Leave to cool completely, form into a ball and cover in plastic wrap. At this stage, I popped it in the fridge overnight, and let it come back to room temperature the next day when I wanted to use it. To use, roll out to desired thickness and cut into shapes using your favourite shaped cutters.

Dip in chocolate and set on a baking tray covered with baking paper.

Sending these hearts out to all of you in blog land. And speaking of blog love, this is a little late but I must say thank you to Jane from A Taste of Koko and Debbie from Little Red Said, for the lovely giveaways they sent my way. Big huge virtual hugs to you both. ☺


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Great job making your own fondant! I've never tried that! :P And yes I'm sure your family are loving you experimenting! :P

Barbara said...

Frankly, Shaz, I'm impressed with your efforts! I've never done either. Love the photo of your eating the heart.
Cristina has a blog this week all about tempering. Do you read her? http://frombatoparis.blogspot.com/

shaz said...

Thanks Lorraine, the fam have been begging for more chocolate actually :)

Thanks Barbara, I'm a newcomer to Cristina's blog thanks to Project Food Blog. I'm definitely going to try again using the process she described, but I think I'll need a better thermometer first.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Weird Shaz! I was just thinking about you yesterday and you leave a comment.

These are adorable! I don't care if they're not all shiny they're super cute! Sighh... Homemade chocolates. I have got to stop visiting friends when I'm hungry.


Linda V @ Bubble and Sweet said...

Wow that must have taken some time, chocolate is sooo temperamental isn't it. I think in the end all that matters is the taste.

♥LOVE2COOK♥ said...

It's okey Shaz, we'll finish them for U too..hehehe! :D

That's a great effort, I never made one b4! ;)

shaz said...

The Cooking Photographer - hi Laura, been a tad busy, but I've still been stalking, I mean, reading you :)

Linda V - so temperamental, but yummy at least!

♥LOVE2COOK♥ - you can have the next batch ok ?

Trissa said...

I've been meaning to temper my own chocolate... haven't found the time... nor the guts to try... maybe this weekend! Good effort on your part.

foodwink said...

Tasty fail = success in my books :) they look great and well done! You ate up for any challenges, aren't you?

Vanille said...

I've also made experimentation in the kitchen lately, that did not turn out completely how I wanted (still wondering if I should post it...).
Anyway, remember the potted herbs: don't give up ;) Tempered or not, it's so yummy !

Barbara Bakes said...

I've always been a bit nervous about tempering chocolate, hopefully, you'll get some great tips to share. But at least they were a tasty fail!

shaz said...

Trissa - oh I'm sure you'll have it down pat! You pull off restaurant standard meal with such aplomb.

foodwink- yup, I was the kind of kid who got motivated by the words "you can't do that". My response was usually "wanna bet?" :)

Vanille - yes, I will make like your parsley and keep on trying ;)

Barbara Bakes - yes, this is one fail I really don't mind too much, it's just a visual faulty really...

Art and Appetite said...

I am loving it a lot! What a great way to add flavor isn't it? I just saw your blog and I am already a fan! Love your work! And of course, please send me some of those "hearty" treats.

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

Well odne for making your own fondant and attempting on chocolate tempering!! I meant to do it but never get around to do so. The hearts look good!

jen cheung said...

cute heart shape chocolate you made here! makes me feel like valentines day already!! :) hehe thanks for the post!

have a lovely weekend!
jen @ www.passion4food.ca

Lisa said...

I'm so impressed, fondant and chocolate all homemade. These sound like delicious little goodies. I'd eat them even with the bloom on them.

grace said...

something can taste really bad, but if it's shaped like a heart, chances are good that i'll eat it and love it. tasty work, shaz, perfect or not. :)