Chocolate beyond the basics II

To the technical stuff. What did we do/learn in the course?
I told you that I recently enjoyed a ‘Beyond the basics” course at the chocolate academy in Wieze, Belgium. Here are some more details and pictures for those of you interested in what we technically did in the course.

Chocolate Academy course 'Chocolate beyond the basics' in Belgium
Precoating different ganache fillings made at the Chocolate Academy course ‘Chocolate beyond the basics’

Chocolate beyond the basics

Coming from science I do not find it very difficult to understand the science behind chocolate tempering, ganache emulsions, caramelization or Maillard reactions. Yet the practical work with those things is another story. I had to start as a full beginner.

Chocolate Academy course 'Chocolate beyond the basics' in Belgium
Releasing chocolates from molds (molds were airbrushed with colored cacao butter)

Beyond Criollo, Trinitario, Forastero

When entering the world of high-quality chocolates you immediately get confronted with a number of categories in order to understand or classify a chocolate. There is the technical aspect of the chocolate manufacturer: roasting, conching, adding cocoa butter. But all of this can only enhance or suppress the flavors that come from the cacao bean itself. The bean flavors are strongly influenced by the process of fermentation and drying. Finally, beyond that come two major labels: geographical origin and cacao variety. At first this all seemed to make sense to me, but the more I think (and read) about it, the less I buy it.

Online Courses on Science and Food

Now, how was the HarvardX course?1

Science and cooking – HarvardX online course Screenshot
Screenshot from HarvardX online course on “Science and Cooking”

  1. I kind of advertised it some month ago. Well, it’s not officially finished, but all lectures are done and all homework and lab tasks are given. []

Kallari Ginger & Andean Salt

Today I tried the “71% Cacao with Ginger & Andean Salt” chocolate from Kallari, a Ecuadorian chocolate maker with a good story. Actually it is one of the very few chocolate makers that produces in the region where the beans grow1
Medium Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Andean Salt from Kallari
Very pleasant ginger taste that teams up very well with the chocolate. The ginger flavor is intense but not harsh or hot, and it stays around for quite a while. Good, interesting chocolate.
However, the chocolate flavor itself is too mild in my opinion (too much cocoa butter?). As it is, the chocolate in this bar is only the support that transports the ginger. A stronger chocolate and a little more salt would probably be better to balance the dominant ginger taste.

  1. Other examples I can now think of are Grenada or Madécasse. Both also produce great high quality chocolates. Producing the actual chocolate in the same region where the cocoa growth typically results in a higher fraction of the sales remaining in these regions. []

Chocolate Naive – intense milk

The chocolates form “Chocolate Naïve” are quite particular in many respects. There is their beautiful and uncommon packaging as well as chocolate bar design itself1. It further comes from a place in Lithuania I have never heard of: Giedraičiai. That’s by the way a small town about 40km from Vilnius, but maybe you guys all knew that already? Whatever, the place at least has one gigantic chocolate maker.

Intense milk chocolate from
Intense milk chocolate from “Chocolate Naive” comes in a pretty design

  1. Hence another addition to my collection of beautiful chocolate packaging. []

Mushroom chocolates!

This year started for me with some rather unconventional flavored chocolates, one of them: “Mushroom chocolates”1. The mushroom pralines are made by the fantastic hungarian chocolatier and bean-to-bar chocolate makers “Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé” and come in a very pretty box containing 9 pralines of 3 different mushroom flavors (Chantrell, Morel and Porcini).
Although I like combinations of savory/salty flavors with chocolate (such as more common classics with pepper, chili, or smoked salt…), I have to say that I was first a little afraid of eating mushroom flavored chocolates. Somehow that didn’t sound like a good match to me. Mushrooms and chocolate?

  1. I would say that is even the most unconventional flavor paring in chocolates that I had so far. []

2014: Happy New Chocolates!

During christmas shopping I couldn’t resist to buy the one or other chocolate. Many became presents, some were kept. Then I also got chocoholic presents… now I end up sitting here with a big bunch of (most likely) delicious chocolate bars. Not a big problem, except for: where to start?
Chocolates and chocolates and chocolates

I wish you all a delicious 2014!
Your Sweet Matter Physicist

Madame Pompadour – the old lady

After the highly popular ‘Puccini Bomboni’, and the well-known ‘Unlimited Delicious’, today a brief travel back in time: Madame Pompadour.

Madame Pompadour - Amsterdam chocolatier and patisserie
Grandma style chocolates and cakes at Madame Pompadour