This week was all about chocolate, something that’s a key focus for the Intermediate course!
Prior to making my decision on whether I wanted to do the IP, I looked through a gazillion pics on the Le Cordon Bleu location tag. Of course, being in school to learn more about something I really love was the key propeller to making me register. But what really confirmed that decision was the exposure to chocolate work and entremets. With that, I was super excited for this week of lessons – lots and lots of tempering (something I’d never done before & was sure would be super challenging).
We started off demo with a new chef – Chef Fabrice Danniel, Assistant Culinary Arts Director
Head of Le Cordon Bleu Pastry Department. He’d just flown back from Bangkok, where he is the Technical Director, and was going to be taking us for most of the demonstrations to come. As it was his first lesson back in Paris, he had Chef Park as his assistant, rather than the usual alumni assistants. It was quite a sight to see 4 chefs in our demo – Chef Danniel & Park up there and Chef Guillaume & Verger watching the class as well.
Chef went through the basics of tempering chocolate, something that seems really simple in theory but extremely difficult to achieve. He completed 4 different kinds of chocolate bon bons, with us having to complete 2 of them in practical. Initially, we thought that it was rather strange that we’d only be doing two of the bonbons. But when practical came, it was clear why this was so.
Tempering chocolate and making bonbons by hand is no easy feat! We had to table the chocolate which is a lot more messy and complicated than it seems! Firstly, you need to closely monitor the temperatures of the chocolate at each stage. Secondly, you have to be super clean. Dirt & water are huge enemies to chocolate & any of these could spoil the temperage of your choc.
It seems really simple – melt the chocolate, cool it down, heat it up. At least that’s what I thought! When my chocolate finally set (after a mad rush of a practical), I realised that I’d not tempered it well at all! There were white streaks in my chocolate (cocoa butter, I’m quite sure), meaning that I did not temper the choc well. Furthermore, I was not neat at all. My apron had some chocolate stains at the end of it = more washing for me! The positive was that the choc was super yummy haha (supposed to be yummier if it’s tempered well haha). The difficulties I faced tempering choc in this class helped me realise why we were only doing two bonbons and scared me for the next practical – the heavenly chocolate.
As the name of the cake suggests, this is one that is heavenly. Created first by Pierre Hermé, this cake is super decadent, hazelnuts, milk chocolate, praline, basically a giant ferrero roche *slurps*.
What really scared me during the demo was how we’d have to create two circle discs of chocolate by tempering the milk chocolate, spreading it evenly on a plastic, and then assembling the cake. Chef Danniel made it seem so easy (again) but I had a bad feeling about how practical was going to be.
Again, I followed the temperage curves and tried my best to replicate what I’d seen during the demo. But many many many things went wrong this practical >< Firstly, I didn’t manage to get my dacquoise out of the ring smoothly. If you see the pic below, the sides of my cake aren’t so pretty 🙁 Secondly, I followed the curve but alas, my chocolate still wasn’t well tempered! Jianhua’s one turned out PERFECT, shiny and all, while mine had those beautiful white streaks again haha. Was so frustrated with myself as I couldn’t figure out what was wrong, and neither could Chef Guillaume (oh yes, we got him for the prev practical too), because chocolate is such a finicky little thing~ This propelled me to buy a laser thermometer from Amazon hahaha. Going to have like 3 thermometers the next time I temper my choc!!!
Still, the cake was yummy and being able to give it away and hear that people still enjoyed it was awesome.
Things I took away from this week of chocolate:
- Tempering is a pain in the butt
- I love chocolate. A lot.
- Tempering is a pain in the butt
Next week’s cakes are all gna be about mousse and entremets – super super super excited for that 😀 Till my next post!
P.S. pls pardon my shaky pics – I keep rushing to catch sunlight to photograph the cakes + my hands are always trembling after practical (with all that whipping) :'(