My son, the chocolatier

by Sarah on March 17, 2011

chocolates

We had bad luck with birthday presents this year. First, my son’s cockatiel chick, Nesher (Eagle in Hebrew) flew away never to return. We replaced him with Nesher II, affectionately called Nesher Kire’ach (bald eagle) because his siblings pecked all the feathers off from the top of his head. If a pet bird is named after a symbol of open space and freedom expect it will fly away, especially if his wings are not clipped.

Two weeks later, our dog, Totach (aka Rambo) ate my youngest son’s birthday present along with his Purim costume. From the kitchen window I saw him munching on the remote control with just the antennae protruding from his jaws, impossible to rescue. Totach’s chewed legacy includes scissors (he ate the handles off four pairs), a darbuka drum, several trees (uprooted or branches destroyed), exactly 385,857 socks (one of each pair), our guests’ shoes (twice and they had to go home barefooted), a musical happy birthday candle (which kept playing in his mouth), an entire bag of water guns and plastic toys which he turned into sharp confetti and scattered all over the lawn…..the list goes on and on.

My eldest son opted for a sustainable birthday present this year; one that could not fly away, be eaten or huffed and puffed and blown away “I want to learn how to temper chocolate” he announced while the sniggering adults teased, “Ooooh, who do you want to impress?” Finding a serious workshop that would accept a boy his age proved to be much harder than I anticipated. Most just said, “Sorry he is too young, he won’t have the technical ability” which in my opinion is absolute nonsense.

chocolate molds

Michelle Nordell, a  fellow Israeli food blogger recommended Sarina’s Chocolate, owned and managed by Limor Drucker, an expat from what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Although the business evolved from her love of chocolate, its success is a result of her professionalism and ability to transfer her passion to others.  She is also not afraid to take chances, letting my son join her workshop despite being two heads shorter than everyone else. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t accompany him as I scheduled a weed walk for the same day and would be eating nothing but chickweed and nettles (but they did bring home lovely chocolates for me to taste).

Chocolates

Alon is now making amazing chocolates at home, our very own chocolatier. The downside to all this is a little extra step my son added to keep things interesting, “When the chocolate is fully melted, randomly coat the kitchen with it, especially the refrigerator doors and kitchen counters “. Although he tries to bribe us with his pralines, he’s the one doing the cleaning up, at least most of it.

A Rough Guide to Making Chocolates

All the recipes start off by melting the chocolate in the bain-marie but in practice most people I know don’t have one.  To make your own you’ll need a medium sized pot and a bowl that is big enough so that the narrow part is nestled within it while the top sits above it. There needs to be enough room left in the pot to fill part of it with water without touching the bowl. A stainless steel bowl works nicely for this job but any heat proof bowl or pot will do.

Heat the water in the pot without the bowl so it’s easier to see when it begins to boil. Cut the chocolate into small chunks, either by breaking it or cutting with a kitchen knife. When the water begins to boil turn the heat off. Add the chocolate to the bowl and place it on top of the pot. Make sure no water gets into it otherwise the chocolate will “freeze” and you’ll need to start from the beginning. Gently heat the chocolate if necessary.

Chocolates filled with caramel fudge

The precise heating and cooling determines how the cocoa butter crystallizes and the characteristics of the chocolate. If it is tempered correctly the chocolate should be smooth, glossy and snap when it is broken. The exact temperature for tempering depends on the type of chocolate used. Below is what Alon used for dark chocolate.

Heat the chocolate to 45°C

Cool to 25°C

Heat gently to 32°C

Once properly tempered fill the candy molds with chocolate.  Wait a few minutes and flip the tray upside down. Tap firmly so the excess chocolate drains out (preferably not on top of the kitchen table). Set aside to harden. If it’s a very warm day, put it in the refrigerator to speed things up.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. My son made caramel fudge based on Faye Levy’s Chocolate Sensations .

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy cream (38% fat)

100 grams dark chocolate (60%-70%), cut into squares

1/4 cup water

Add the water and sugar in a small pot and heat gently. Meanwhile heat the heavy cream to a simmer.

The sugar mixture will turn into a clear sugar syrup and then slowly begin to turn a rich amber color. It needs to be watched continuously since it can easily scorch and turn bitter. Turn off heat. Care needs to be taken since this is extremely hot and even a tiny splatter can cause a severe burn.

Carefully and slowly add the heavy cream to the caramel. The mixture will probably start to bubble like crazy. When the bubbles have settled pour the remainder of the cream, mixing continuously to dissolve lumps of hardened caramel that may have formed. Heat gently if necessary.

Wait 10 minutes and add the chocolate, mixing to incorporate it. Cool completely and put in refrigerator.

filling chocolates

Pour the filling in a pastry bag and fill the chocolate molds 3/4 of the way. Let cool.

At this point the chocolate left on the counter has probably gone out of temper but since this is going to be used at the bottom it is less of an issue. Spread a thin layer over the filling and removed the excess with a stiff spatula.

chocolates removing from tray

Wait until it cools and hardens. With firm taps on the back of the tray, knock the chocolates out, straight into the mouth of Totach. No, just kidding, with five chocoholics in the family there was not a chance of that happening.

Read more:

Michelle’s chocolate workshop at Sarina’s

How to temper chocolate at Cooking for Engineers

Updates:

My post on the Green Prophet: Miswak is Nature’s Twiggy Toothbrush

Yael, Israel’s only Finish food blogger organized a wonderful raw food buffet with an impressive selection of colorful dishes.

Liz wrote a tutorial on how to adopt your blog to Google’s recipe search.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Faye Levy March 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

These are beautiful! I love the photo of your son piping the chocolate. Bravo to him!

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Yael the Finn March 17, 2011 at 2:53 pm

So cool to have your own private chocolatier ;-) I love that first photo!

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Faye Levy March 18, 2011 at 12:46 am

At cooking school in Paris we always made the bain marie the way you described, by setting a bowl above a saucepan.

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Sarah March 18, 2011 at 12:49 am

Thanks Yael and Faye, If its good enough for the French than its good enough for us ;-)

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turkey's for life March 18, 2011 at 2:05 am

Well, that’s a very clever son you’ve got there! And fully agreed; when I was teaching, the kids always surprised by coming up with some fantastic results. If they want a go at something, let them do it. Your son’s obviously not too young.

Now, these pets of yours…I’m getting a picture in my head of your household. :)

Julia

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Lael Hazan @educatedpalate March 19, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Your story had me smiling! Lovely and I can just imagine your dog happily devouring anything that pleases him. Bravo to your son and to you, not only did he get to learn a fun and useful skill, you get to enjoy the fruits of his labor. I hope that being a chocolatier won’t just be a phase :)

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Sarah March 19, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Thanks Lael, He enjoys baking and making sweets in general so don’t think its a phase. His first success was a beautiful Pavlova topped with strawberries which he made for his friend with Celiac. He cracked 10 eggs instead of 4 until he learned how to separate the yolks and whites properly. Cleaning is another story, he does not have the motivational spirit to do a proper job of it and I have to be on his case ;-)

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Miriyummy March 21, 2011 at 2:46 am

I had just signed up for a chocolate workshop at our local Taste shop when I realized that it was going to be on Purim and we weren’t going to be around, so I had to cancel. Reading your post has made me want to get into one of these course even more.

How lucky are you, to be related to Willy Wonka! Now, if only you can adopt an Oompa Loompa for the clean-up, everything would be wonderful!

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Sarah March 21, 2011 at 3:33 am

Miriyummy, You’re funny, would love to turn into Mary Poppins for a day and get the entire house spic ‘n span while I am at it.

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