Friday, April 18, 2014

Maddy and The Chocolate Factory

Rachel Dunn Chocolates For Sale
This year, I wanted to do something different to expand cooking experience. I was not sure what yet, but I suspect that it would be a class of some sort.

I ran into this chocolate making workshop from Rachel Dunn Chocolates. I was a bit hesitant to take up chocolate making, since I did not envision myself becoming Willy Wonka, but I thought this was the point: to get out of my comfort zone a bit. So, I signed up. It was really economical since I had a deal through Amazon Local.

What was really cool is that the chocolate factory is it is only about 15 minutes away from me (almost like Charlie Bucket).  When I came in, I was greeted by a room full of chocolate: brittle, cherries, truffles, you name it and all of them looked delicious. 

Chocolate Store Pantry
Their pantry was filled with different types of chocolate chips, sprinkles, and other decorations: just name it. My favorite item in the pantry was actually the cocoa transfers: I’ve never seen these before and we actually used them in class.

Rachel Dunn actually taught the workshop. She is such a hoot and made the class lots of fun. She was assisted by her staff and students apprenticing from the Cordon Bleu. They were really helpful. Of the students who enroll at the Cordon Bleu, only about 10% get into chocolate making. Reason is that chocolate making uses both the left-side and right side of your brain: technical and artistic. Thus, very few have the knack for it.

As a result, most people in the confectionary/chocolate industry usually stay in that industry for a long time. As an example, I believe one of them started when he was 18, and he is now in his late 60’s. It is really a craft and and art, and you can tell that they are passionate about what they are doing.

We used 54% couveture chocolate in class. I sampled it while we were at the store, and it was delicious (although I prefer the 64%. For me, darker = better). We started out with a tray of centers, marshmallows, sprinkles in the center, and graham crackers (what?). I was getting really excited.

Since the class was held in the factory (I think it was their sugar room), we could not take pictures in class. We also CANNOT sample our goodies while we’re making them: food safety regulations. It was really fast paced, and we worked really hard that evening. I was so tired after class since we were on our feet most of the time. I can use an energy boost from one or two of the chocolates that we created, but I resisted (It was very hard).

I do not think I can reprint Rachel’s recipes here, but will show you some of my creations, during class and post-class.

Winter class creations. I think my favorite is the Tuxedo Strawberry (gone on class night). My husband’s was Peanut Butter Cups. He requested that I create that one. Recipe yields 100; he said that is a good start.

Winter Class Creations

Giant Peanut Butter Cup - Cross Section
First-attempt of my own Peanut Butter Cup. I wanted to make a giant one for my Hubby (I used a cupcake baking cup). This was also inspired by what we saw (and he devoured) at Bouchon two Christmases ago. Admittedly, I did not use couveture chocolate for this attempt because I wanted to use my remaining chocolate chips (and it was my first time). I used Rachel’s recipe as a guide since I am not sure how the proportions will work with a huge cup. I do think I used too much PB, but there were no complaints. I also used dark chocolate instead of milk (Remember, for me, darker = better). Nice thing about this is that one can eat their mistakes. This one was actually a hit - Thank goodness I only created one.

White Chocolate with Walnuts
White Chocolate with Candied Walnuts. This one was actually a mistake too. I overcooked the chocolate and it did not work out too well. When I tasted it, it was kinda crunchy, and I hated to waste four tablespoons of white chocolate. I thought the nuts would compliment it. I almost put chia seeds on it, but I resisted.

There is actually another mistake in presentation, but turned out how I imagined it in taste. It's a huckleberry-jam filled white chocolate. I was going for a psychedelic look in the chocolate, but the color was not too appealing (hence, the obvious omission of picture). 

It was still yummy though.

Chocolate Summer Truffle Tart
My version of a Summer Truffle Tart. I love how this tart looks. Again, using a cupcake baking cup, instead of the flat tart cup that we used in class.

Although, this looks perfect, this blog would not be Mad Gourmet Adventures if I did not experiment. A bit of a fail, no… opportunity for improvement on the crust: I did not have graham crackers, so I used granola. We have a lot of it and it inspired me. However, the turn for the healthy did not work ot so well: the granola got soggy. I need to use other options next time. I also used 2% milk instead of cream for a lighter fat option. Watch next time, this will have chia seeds (just kidding).

I really enjoyed this class. It did expand my horizons, and now, I am thinking of what chocolates to make from her collection. Or maybe even create my own, maybe using pastels for the Spring/Summer.

In fact, it was so good, I just took another one - for Easter. See...

Easter Class Creations