The Wine and chocolate indulgence was conducted by a stylish dessert bar here in Singapore. The chef was a young lady, who had travelled to learn how chocolates were made around the world. Interestingly she shared with us three chocolate recipes that did not use the traditional milk-sugar- cocoa powder concept alone.
My learning from the chocolate indulgence took me on a steep curve.
Lesson 1 : The bitter chocolate base that is used in making chocolates differs based on the percentage of cocoa in it. They come from exotic places like Madagascar, The Rhone valley and Venezuela!
Valrhona Manjari is extra bitter with 64% cocoa and is superior base chocolate to make high quality chocolates. These are cocoa beans from Madagascar. It has an Orangey flavour and highly acidic if eaten plain.
The plain Valrhona is a high-grade luxury chocolate from the Rhone valley of France. The cocoa percentage of the Valrhona differs.
The Araguani is a fine blend of cocoa beans from Venezuela .It has 72% cocoa and is very bitter.
Lesson 2: The PATE A BOMBE is THE base used for many mousse, chocolates and cake recipes!
Ok, if you are new to the terms in baking and chocolate making like I was till last evening, Pate a bomb will sound like jargon. The term is used to describe egg yolks beaten with sugar syrup and then aerated. Just like the term Meringue is used to refer to whipped egg whites and sugar.
Lesson 3: Chocolates can be made in unusual flavours using your imagination!
The chef demonstrated three different recipes of chocolates with unusual ingredients like vinegar and chillies!
We were also told that we could bring an exquisite twist to the taste when we replace it with orange peel, cognac, whisky, mango puree, citrus peel or any other berries.
Lesson 4: When you don’t need air bubbles in your whisked mixture, it is always safer to use a spatula than an automated whisk or beater.
Also there is a technique in hand whisking with a spatula. Never start from the outer side of the pan and work inwards. Always work from the middle to the outer so that you don’t agitate the mixture. Agitating the mixture will cause the mixture to ‘split’ the chocolate. The split can be rectified using glucose or water to the mix but not without changing the consistency of the chocolate mixture.
Lesson 5: No matter how much you have whisked the pate a bombe or meringue, ultimately what decides how well your chocolate will set depends on how you fold in the mixtures into each other.
This is a technique one has to master if you don’t want your chocolates to collapse in front of your eyes!
Lesson 6: You may have whisked up the best of ingredients to the perfect stage and folded it in and set it perfectly. The ultimate success of your chocolate is in the presentation.
I could never imagine using dill flowers to present something as exquisite as chocolate but the smell and taste blends so well with the chocolates served last evening!
Lesson 7: No matter how old your wine or how fresh, no matter if it is red or white, every wine can be paired with a chocolate ganache!
The Tintoralba went superbly well with the Vinegar chocolate and the Pedro Ximenez was delightful with the Chilli chocolate bricks.
If you are dying to try out the recipes, I can be persuaded to share them with you!