Saturday, 24 March 2012

Cooking the Books: tempering chocolate for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It seems like ages since I last participated in Cook the Books - what with one thing and another I totally missed the Outlaw Cook round so I haven't done one since last November.

But what a book to come back on! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a classic children's book - a wonderful fantasy with a good dollop of the macabre and some none-too-subtle moralising. Just the way I like them really.

It's a great book for the food lover. From the painfully austere, watery, cabbage soup that the Bucket family lives on, to the small, tantalising luxury of Charlie's birthday chocolate bar and then the unimaginable abundance of the chocolate factory itself, it is all described with an acute ear for language and a beautiful sense of timing.

My favourite bit is when the children first enter the factory, and go into the room where everything is edible. It always concerned me a bit that the chocolate river had to be untouched by human hands but there were no barriers to eating the mint sugar grass or anything else. I thought briefly of trying to make an edible garden, but quickly discarded the idea as being far too much hard work.

I decided to do something straightforward and absolutely fundamental to making chocolate. Tempering it.

Apparently chocolate contains several different types of crystals, and to get the best chocolate-eating-experience, you have to line them all up in the same direction. Or something. Anyway - tempering is the controlled heating and cooling of chocolate which gives it a professional gloss, a crisp snap and stops the fats from blooming out of it and making it look patchy.

I followed these instructions, from Hope and Greenwood, using the "Middle ground for people with a social life" version.


As you can see - for the dark chocolate I was tempering, I got it to precisely the right temperature. That's 31.5C, in case you can't see the decimal point.

I used my tempered chocolate to line two of my silicon rose moulds. Once it set, I filled the moulds with chocolate mousse and chilled them to set.

They turned out beautifully! The perfect snap, the perfect smooth texture and a lovely glossy finish. Willy Wonka would be proud of me!


Deb is hosting this round of Cook the Books, and the closing day is tomorrow, so check back in a few days for her round-up of the entries.

19 comments:

Angie's Recipes said...

The chocolate rose looks so smooth and shiny!

Eliotseats said...

I love that you tempered chocolate using the "I have a social life" technique. Wasn't this a fun read?

Jude said...

They look wonderful! How clever you are. Hope you win . .

Foodycat said...

Angie - they do, don't they? I was delighted by how they turned out!

Eliot - I'd forgotten how good it was!

Jude - thanks! Pretty stiff competition, usually.

hungryandfrozen said...

I've never tempered chocolate before, it certainly does look shiny and beautiful! So you didn't attempt a chocolate palace like the prince in the book wanted?

Claudia said...

Great tempering technique. I've tried the "Tricky Smarty Pants" method twice now with poor results, so now we'll be using the middle ground method, or even the microwave one sounds good.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Beautiful shiny chocolate flowers! Willy Wonka would give you his factory. Great post--chocolate tempering is an art. I am happy to have you back for this round of CTB, revisiting your childhood with us. ;-)

The Cat's Mother said...

what flavour / colour was the chocolate mousse filling?

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

Such a tricky process... but the results are beautiful!

Rachel said...

If you like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I think you'll like reading Dahl's book, The Twits. Even more sardonic and certainly less sweet!

Great job tempering your beautiful chocolate roses.

Suelle said...

Well done - tempering is something that I should tackle too!

Foodycat said...

Laura - far too warm for chocolate palaces!

Claudia - the middle ground was very successful.

Deb - thank you!

Mother - dark choc with some kirsch.

Leafy - thanks!

Rachel - I loved Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator too, but I've never read The Twits!

Suelle - those really are very good instructions!

mscrankypants said...

Your chocolate is perfectly tempered! I've seen contestants on Masterchef rush and botch it completely but yours is so glossy.

Joanne said...

I've never really learned to temper my chocolate correctly but it's definitely a good trick to have up your sleeve! Those roses came out gorgeously!

Hotly Spiced said...

What a beautiful looking chocolate rose. It's very brave of you to be tempering chocolate. The very idea of it terrifies me! xx

Esi said...

Wow, these look beautiful and so professional

~~louise~~ said...

Love the Chocolate Rose, Foodycat. You did a great job! I haven't worked with chocolate in ages. You may have just inspired me:)

Thanks for sharing...

Caroline said...

Wow, must get round to attempting to temper chocolate. So many things on the list of stuff to do though. I'll have to check out those instructions.

Choclette said...

Oh well done, I'm very impressed. Tempering chocolate is my nemesis - I just can't seem to get my head around it. First I need to get a thermometer, but can't even get my head around finding out which one I should get - so the tempering stasis continues!

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