Get the workshop

I'm afraid of chocolate (or about overcoming your fears)

Jun 01, 2015

I've always been a good baker. With these recent efforts of baking regularly and going to culinary school, I'm getting better and better. But there was one thing that I was really afraid of: chocolate.

You could ask me whatever you wanted me to do. Cakes, muffins, cookies, dinner, anything. But if you asked me to do a truffle or a bonbon to you, I would probably kindly decline your request. I've had some more or less recent adventures with passion fruit truffles (my favorites in the whole world), but the result was nothing short of messy. Out of the dozen truffles I've tried, about a couple were really ok.
So from there you can imagine how scared I was when I saw that we had about three classes that involved tempering and molding chocolate.

As a good engineer myself, I paid milimetrical attention to these classes. Then, with my very long and detailed notes, I went to the class for the first of the three classes.

It should be easy, shouldn't it? Melt the chocolate at 50°C, cool it down to 28°C then heat it up slightly to 32°C and use it. What could possibly go wrong?

As I started tempering the dark chocolate, it started to get quite lumpy during the cooling process. Not to mention the very irritating thermometer that used to beep every 5 seconds, and wouldn't stand still for a second.
In the back of my head, I though it wasn't for me, that I should just accept the fact that I cannot deal with chocolate and focus on the cakes only.
While heating it back, and with the help of an awesome friend who works with chocolate at her bakery, the lumps were somehow gone and the chocolate seemed back to its normal stage.
Then, after testing it at the fridge for a few minutes, the chef said my tempering was good, and that I was ready to go.

Squares of coffee-flavoured marzipan were dipped in this chocolate, as well as some old-fashioned truffles. I was really afraid of the outcome, but the only thing I could do was to wait until it would come up together after resting in the fridge.

So then, to much of my surprise, the result was fantastic. The chocolate was shiny, it wasn't sticking at the finger after cooling and the coating was perfect. I could not believe it. Got top grade for the day.

Second trial was the same thing, but with milk chocolate. Temperatures were different, but the principles were the same. The result? Absolutely amazing.

Third trial, though, was a disaster. Even though I've done everything right, the temperature in the kitchen was way too high for such practical class. The mousse was falling apart, the decorations were melting right away and the chocolate disks we were supposed to do were not setting.
Regardless of that, I finished everything well in advance and the chef was really happy with my work. I do work well in the kitchen, but the cake was nothing short of terrible. Go figure.

This whole experience, however, kept me thinking. All the three things I feared the most -- chocolate, puff pastry and macarons -- ended up being not so terrible at the end.
Yes, my first try with macarons were bad. My first try with puff pastry and chocolate before the school were also bad. But then after some practice, I started to be good at it (I still have to work more with macarons though). Good enough to see that during this period I even got the highest puff pastry score with the most picky chef at the school (remember from the Streusel Cake post -- it did look good, didn't it?). My grades in general were also good (I might even graduate with honors if I manage to keep it like this until the end), which was a good surprise these days.

So I think that when it comes to my life in the kitchen, the key word is practice. Hopefully one day I'll come to a point where I don't have to fear some recipes or techniques any longer. But until this day comes I'll keep practising, and then some more.


Creamy Fudge Filling

Shelf-stable for 7 days, extremely adaptable and price-conscious filling recipe. This one stays creamy even after refrigerating or freezing without changes to texture or taste. Freaking. Game. Changer.

Get the workshop