We’re constantly experimenting with new flavors and formats in our pastry kitchen, and every few months, we like to roll out a new, seasonal menu.
We keep some pastries on our menu year round—the s’more, the brownie flight, the chocolate chip cookie—but when the season’s first figs or persimmons or oranges come to market, our kitchen team just can’t help but do those flavors justice.
Meet the newest additions to our menu! (Spoiler alert: the winter citrus is almost too delicious right now.)
Salted Caramel Éclair
This season, we swapped out our earl grey éclair for a salted caramel rendition. With salty, caramelized cream inside and a rich, chocolatey Camino Verde glaze on top, it’s our new, delicious take on a classic.
Creamsicle Panna Cotta
Winter citrus, meet chocolate. This season’s version of our panna cotta is infused with nibs from Camino Verde, Ecuador and topped with chocolate orange streusel and citrus. Infusing nibs in cream creates a panna cotta that tastes like chocolate but looks like white cream, and when we mix that with blood orange? It’s a luxuriously rich and delicious creamsicle.
Chocolate Bostock with Roasted Apples
Our almond-laced, Camino Verde custard-filled bostock gets dressed up with roasted apples just in time for the chilly weather. We recommend it with a hot chocolate and a warm, cozy sweater.
Lime Macadamia Tart
Last but not least, a chocolatey, zested zinger. Meet our newest tart: a little bit tropical, a little bit tart, and a whole lot of delicious.
We’re almost at the end of our nine-day pop up in New York City, and…WOW. We are just so humbled.
Day in and day out, our tiny little corner café in Chelsea has been flooded with such warmth and enthusiasm, and we can barely keep the s’mores in stock! Chef Lisa and her team have doubled down in their little commissary kitchen, rolling out impossible numbers of cookies and tarts and brownies and more. We’ve made more hot chocolate this week than we thought we ever could, and we’ve been teaching chocolate making classes to the best and most welcoming crowds.
We have a few more classes and book events before we hit the road back to California on December 3rd, so come see us before then! The full list of events is here.
12 Nights of Chocolate is an annual fundraising event where we invite the best chefs in the city (and beyond) to take over our space and create an experience, and there’s only one rule: use our chocolate, and run with it.
This is our fifth year and we couldn’t be more excited to announce the amazing line-up of chefs – 15 Michelin stars – not that we’re counting! Every evening is so unique, creative and different from the next: State Bird Provisions will be cooking from their just-released book; the ultimate ice-cream social with Salt & Straw, Revival and Smitten; Manresa Bread, Neighbor Bakehouse and Jane The Bakery are teaming up for “Bakery Night”; Toothache Magazine celebrate their forthcoming issue with Nick Muncy, Shawn Gawle, Kim Alter (Nightbird), Val Cantu (Californios), Rupert & Carrie Blease (Lord Stanley) – an all-star line-up.
The dates are December 4th through 15th and most evenings will take place in a beautiful loft space on the second floor of our upcoming chocolate factory on 16th and Alabama, and others at our Valencia cafe. As in years past, all proceeds will go to the SF-Marin Food Bank, for whom last year’s event raised over 65,000 meals.
A donation bin will be located inside our cafe for the duration of the event. Stop by to drop off cans and non-perishable food anytime during the holiday series.
We still have tickets left for our book launch party on November 14th at The Archery! Our book hits shelves that day, and we’re really excited to share it with you and celebrate. We’ll have cocoa nib-infused beer from Almanac Beer, Co., smoked brisket from Central Kitchen and bites from The Cheese School, cocktails from Workhorse Rye, and of course, a decadent spread of cakes and more from our own Lisa Vega and her team. We’ll be signing books, too. Hope to see you there!
Our 2016 Sourcing Report is here! In it, you’ll find profiles of every origin we purchased cocoa beans from in 2016, details about how they get to us, information about how much we purchased and how much paid, as well as updates from our factories.
We write an annual sourcing report because we believe that transparency is good for everyone. Historically, it’s been difficult for consumers to get a clear view of the supply chain and the conditions surrounding cacao production, and for producers, it’s similarly opaque. As a craft chocolate maker, we are part of a small but growing set of companies that seeks to shift focus to the bean. We strive to make chocolate whose origins are distinct, clear, and sustainable, and we hope this report helps to connect our producers and their practices with each other and anyone interested in learning about where chocolate comes from.
Now, you might be saying, “2016? That was, like, a really long time ago.” And you’re right! This year, we were a little caught up writing this other thing, which meant the sourcing report took us a little longer than expected this time around. But it’s here, and we hope you enjoy it!
Recently, our head of kitchen R&D, Meredyth Haas, traveled to Tokyo with Chef Lisa to visit the pastry team at Dandelion Chocolate Japan. Below, she tells us a little about workshopping pastries, and what makes Tokyo so different (and not so different) from home.
At our factory in San Francisco, our pastry menu changes every few weeks. New things come into season, and we love keeping things fresh and working through all the ideas on our back burner (which is a very full back burner). The pastry kitchen at Dandelion Chocolate Japan in Tokyo serves more or less the same menu, but their ingredients and techniques are a little different over there. So this past April, Chef Mai invited Lisa and I to the Tokyo kitchen to spend some time workshopping pastries and updating the menu.
We hopped on a plane with seven new pastry recipes in our pockets and a suitcase filled with canelé molds and aprons. We boarded our 13-hour flight with nervous energy and anticipation.
So far from home, but so much like home.
Tokyo is more than 5,000 miles from San Francisco, but stepping into DCJ for the first time felt a lot like home. The distinct scent of chocolate, sounds of the roaster and winnower, English descriptions of the chocolate making process on the walls, and the same Japanese-made ceramics being used in the café made the space feel familiar. I immediately felt at ease despite not being able to communicate much beyond the occasional smile and awkward head bow. After meeting some of the café and kitchen staff, Lisa and I checked into our nearby Airbnb and prepared for a week of work ahead in the kitchen.
Just as we have two pastry kitchens here in San Francisco (one on Valencia Street and an upcoming one on Alabama Street), DCJ has two pastry kitchens in Tokyo. Lisa and I worked at Honjo, which is their external factory location. There are many, many differences between the DCJ kitchen and ours back in California. Some I noticed right away, like the windows (our kitchen is windowless)! A full gas range (we use induction burners)! A walk-in refrigerator (we only have reach-ins)! A sheeter (machine used to roll large batches of dough and make laminated pastries like croissants)! Upon closer inspection, I noticed their ingredients were also different. They don’t use brown sugar, the egg yolks are a different orange, the butter has a higher water content, and the flour was more pillowy and less dense. Their kitchen had temperature-controlled cabinets to keep chocolate melted or in temper. Their stand mixer was twice the size of ours, enabling them to make enormous batches of marshmallows at once. Their oven fan had six different settings, compared to the simple choice I make every day: On or Off.
It took me a while to learn the flow of production in their kitchen. The team had one pastry assistant on staff who knew some English and was able to translate some for us. Other than that, there were a lot of hand gestures and laughter as we tried to communicate, but we managed. Luckily for me—since the only Japanese phrases I know so far are “I’m lost” and “ramen please”—teaching our new pastry recipes to the Honjo team is largely a visual exercise.
We spent the week workshopping our tiramisu, bourbon caramel tart, almond tea cake, mocha paris-brest, celebration cake, yuzu chocolate cheesecake, and canelé. After five days, Lisa and I spent the weekend in Kyoto, and the Honjo team buckled down, mastering the new recipes. By the next week, they’d mastered each and every one beyond a level of perfection I would have ever anticipated (especially considering we couldn’t even really talk to each other!).
Tokyo is a really exciting place to be a visiting pastry chef. Some of the world’s most well-known pastry shops have branches in Tokyo, including Pierre Hermé, Bubo, Dominique Ansel, Pierre Marcolini, Ladurée, Jean-Paul Hévin, and Janice Wong. It was interesting to see how international brands brought their specific aesthetic to a cosmopolitan city like Tokyo. I ate some really incredible pastries, but I have to admit, it’s the savory food that really blew my mind. I had the best sushi of my life at a 15-course Omakase in Ise, and ate tuna sliced and served to me within hours of being caught at the famous Tsukiji Fish market. I ate fresh uni out of the shell, waited two hours for Michelin-starred ramen (worth it!), had pork katsu cut by a 100-year-old zen master chef, and copious amounts of matcha soft serve. On our weekend, Lisa and I spent the day at a traditional Japanese onsen, relaxing in an outdoor spring overlooking the Kyoto foothills.
It was a surreal experience watching our pastries come to life on the other side of the world. Though ingredients and kitchen equipment and units of measure may differ across countries, the joy of eating delicious food is a universal experience, and it’s a joy to be reminded of that so far from home. Thank you, DCJ!
Exciting news! Our 2017 Advent calendar is just about here. This year, we’ve collaborated with some incredibly talented chocolatiers who have gone above and beyond, but before I share all the details I thought I’d tell you how this whole crazy Advent calendar idea started…
Todd and I had very different upbringings. Todd’s family embraced sweets. Todd’s mother carries a purse full of treats and she’ll stuff one in your pocket if she thinks you look even slightly hungry. Todd’s father has an insatiable sweet tooth that cannot deny a brownie (or a cookie or an eclair or a slice of chocolate cake). And Todd? He inherited the sweet tooth genes from both sides. For his high school science project, he bought many tubs of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream from different makers to see which dough yielded the best cookie. He extracted the dough from the ice cream, baked it off, and ran a questionably scientific bake-off and cookie tasting comparison. And many years later, it probably shouldn’t surprise anyone that he started a chocolate factory. As his wife, I can attest that Todd just really, really, really loves chocolate like no one else I’ve ever met.
Back in Missouri, my mother was a nurse and a goat farmer. We grew up on rice and vegetables. And I mean that literally — each and every day we had the exact same dinner like clockwork — brown rice and frozen vegetable mix — without deviation for all of my elementary school years. So when a family friend gave me an Advent calendar loaded with chocolate to count down the holidays, I slept with it like a teddy bear. A piece of chocolate each day? We weren’t religious but whatever occasion brought with it a daily sweet treat — big fan! Big, big fan!
Separated by a thousand miles, Todd and I grew up. And as college freshmen, we met and later married. And at some point, we started making chocolate from cocoa beans in our apartment. And then this hobby chocolate project grew legs and we moved to San Francisco to see what would happen. And yet when each holiday passed, I found myself longing to try the Advent calendars I saw in the grocery stores but knowing that the calendar I enjoyed as a girl probably wouldn’t give me the same joy today. This even became one of our favorite discussion topics — what would be in our dream Advent calendar? And who would make it? And eventually, how would we organize an effort to design an Advent calendar that showcases a local talented chocolatier each day?
Norah, our fearless product manager in 2015, heard those conversations and insisted on co-designing an Advent calendar with Yvonne Mouser, a talented local artist. And thus, the dream came true. Norah sought out chocolatiers across the Bay Area to make toffees, caramels, truffles, and all sorts of treats with our chocolate. And to her amazing credit, she made it happen.
In the process, we also learned why this project makes no sense. Most Advent calendars are designed with long shelf lives in mind since they are made so many months before the holidays. But we just couldn’t do that. Our partner chocolatiers are quality-driven, shy away from preservatives, and intend their treats to be eaten fresh within a few weeks. So, we didn’t have the option to make and assemble Advent calendars in October, or even early November.
Designing an Advent calendar with the best chocolatiers in San Francisco means that everything has to come together just before Thanksgiving so we can sell and ship calendars within 5-7 days. Anyone with any business inclination would say this is a horrible, terrible, no-good idea. The likelihood of a printing mistake, a collaborator dropping out, a batch of chocolate just not tempering the way it should, or a box of truffles getting accidentally smooshed… there’s just no time to recover from error. The project is seriously riddled with potential for failure and I can’t even imagine how Norah did it that first year.
At the same time, the Advent calendar is so good. Once we saw that it was possible, we had to find a way to make it happen again. When life gives you a chocolate factory, it just seems like you should take the next logical step, which is obviously an annual San Francisco Advent calendar.
This year’s calendar is our third. Norah has moved to new responsibilities and I’ve taken over this tradition in her stead. The project doesn’t live on any official product roadmap — everyone just assumes it will happen because we can’t imagine December without it. And this year, we stumbled upon the very talented Ronan Lynam. When he showed us his initial winter San Francisco scene, we were floored. And from there, Indica, our graphic designer, imagined watching this bustling nightscape from her window. The flaps open to reveal twenty-five individual boxes with detailed iconic San Francisco landmarks. It’s our most elaborate Advent calendar yet.
And the best part of the Advent calendar is what is inside. Our collaborators represent the small San Francisco chocolatiers who might not have a public storefront or a national presence. I don’t know of any other place where you can celebrate the very best of San Francisco’s chocolate all in one place. For them to take on this project during an already-busy holiday season is absurd & yet they rise to the challenge each year. I’ve included the full collaborator list below. If you haven’t heard of some of these small makers, please take a moment to visit their websites and learn more about these individuals who bring so much to our local food community.
Given how many times I’ve opened and closed our various prototypes this year, you would think that this project might lose its charm by October. But no — opening this Advent calendar still gives me the tingles of joy that I recall having as a young girl. I can not wait until December 1st to open the first box!
Though the holidays might seem far off, to a chocolate maker or chocolatier, December is just around the corner. If you’d like to see what we’ve all been working on this year, please head over to the pre-order page.
Richard Huynh came to our production team from a life cooking professionally in kitchens like Mission Chinese, and he’s become known around these parts for his culinary experiments with chocolate. He’s a bit of a kitchen wizard, and we’re really excited every time he brings a new adventure to the table, like this one. And ICYMI, check out his primer on smoking meat with cacao husk, and making charcoal too!
When I was interviewing to be an apprentice chocolate maker here last year, I’m pretty sure I spent more time talking about dim sum, baos, and dumplings than I did talking about the job I was applying for.
That’s because prior to making chocolate here, I spent most of my free time making soup dumplings, or xiaolongbao (小笼包). Soup dumplings are pretty much exactly what they sound like: starchy balloons filled with hot soup. It sounds like a bit of an impossible trick, but the principle behind them is actually pretty simple; when you make the stock for these dumplings by boiling bones with aromatics, all the yummy collagen seeps out of the bones you’re simmering (or pig’s ears and chicken feet in my case) and turns into a firm jelly that you can mash up and integrate into your dumpling filling. Once you steam the dumplings, all that jelly melts back down into stock. Magic!
At some point, I got the idea to try this out with things other than stock, including, of course, chocolate. Soup dumplings are nearly always savory, and I really wanted to try making a sweeter equivalent. Eventually, this idea mutated into something else because when I tried to make soup dumplings filled with ganache, they were very leaky. And so, I resorted to another more durable dough: bao.
Bao dough is that fluffy, soft, shiny dough that you’ll sometimes find taco’d or totally wrapped around pork belly. It’s a kind of Chinese dumpling, sort of, and it seemed like a much more durable skin for a ganache-filled masterpiece than thin, traditional dumpling dough. And, it worked! There are a few ways you could do this, but you’ll find my favorite method below.
You can also riff on this method using any filling that’s somewhat solid when cool, and liquid when hot. The principle is always the same: make the filling, cool it down to solidify it, wrap the dough around it, and when ready to serve, heat it back up. (You can make loads of them and keep them in the freezer, too.)
Typically, these buns are steamed, but I don’t have a steamer so borrowed a trick from making gyoza (or potstickers) and pan-fried the buns in oil for a nice crispy, caramelized edge. Then, I spooned a little water into the hot pan with the dumplings and capped it real quick to seal in all that steam. This steams and cooks the buns and the filling, and after all the water boils off, the leftover oil crisps up the bottom of the bun.
Panfried Chocolate Ganache Baos (巧克力生煎包)
240 grams // 2 cups all purpose flour
50 grams // ¼ cup warm water
80 gram // ⅓ cup milk
2g // 1 tsp yeast
5 grams // ½ teaspoon salt
50 grams ¼ cup sugar
150 grams // 1 cup chopped chocolate,
150 grams // ⅔ cup heavy cream (or coconut cream if you’re lactose intolerant like myself)
First, make the dough:
Combine yeast and warm milk, let sit for about ten minutes until it is bloomed. When it becomes bubbly and frothy, it’s ready to use
Then combine the flour with the milk, and knead until the dough is smooth, springs back when you poke it, and no longer sticks to your hands. Afterwards leave the dough to “proof” in a warm area, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes.The dough should have doubled in volume in this time. Meanwhile, make the ganache.
To make the ganache:
Heat the cream slowly until just steaming, but not simmering. Add chopped chocolate and stir until fully melted and incorporated.
Place ganache in fridge, and let cool until solid enough to scoop, at least one hour. Use an ice cream scooper to scoop out balls onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Cover the sheet pan and store in fridge for at least 20-30 minutes or until ready to use.
Divide the dough into twelve portions, roughly 35 grams each.
Flatten out each dough into disk with your hand, and use a small rolling pin to flatten the sides. Turn the disk as you roll to make it even.
Place ganache ball in the center of the dough disk and wrap it or pleat it shut by making small folds and creasing them together with your fingers.
Once all baos are wrapped, grab a skillet and put it over medium high heat. Once hot, add oil.
Once the oil is hot, add buns to skillet. They should sizzle when they hit the pan.
Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the skillet and cover. Once water has all boiled off, turn heat to low and let buns fry in the bottom.Turn off the heat and let buns sit in pan covered for at least five minutes, if you take the buns off too early, they will collapse due to the drastic change in air pressure
After five minutes take the buns off the skillet and let cool.
Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much in the Wine Country fires this past week. This Saturday, October 14th, we’ll be donating 50% of all hot chocolate proceeds to support fire relief efforts and families who have been impacted and displaced by devastating loss in Northern California. If you’re going to come visit us one day this week, make it Saturday. And maybe order an extra hot chocolate or five.
We love you Sonoma, and we’re here for you. We’ve got our eye on relief efforts but please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for donations, requests, and to keep us attuned to ways we can support.
Let’s start with this: I’m not a chocolate tempering master or god. It would be great to be one, because that would make my amazing job go a lot smoother. If you have ever tempered chocolate, then you know that it’s tricky business. At Dandelion, we’ve learn a lot as we go, and because others have helped me understand this whole process, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. What I’m about to write is from my personal experience, including my failures and those few times I have actually succeeded.
Before I joined Dandelion, I worked for a huge chocolatier making confections. That was my first job here in US, after moving from Guatemala, and among all the new words I was learning at the time, ‘temper’ was one of them. My supervisor used to use the word in nearly every single sentence, but I didn’t exactly know what he was trying to say. I associated the word with the fact that we were decreasing and increasing the temperature of huge tanks of about 200 or more pounds of “Belgian” chocolate. My tasks were also obscure; bring the chocolate up to 80°F (~27°C), then down again between 86 (30°C) to 89°F (32°C) degrees. Then, do a test with the temper meter and if the reading was in the appropriate range, I was allowed to open the valves so the chocolate could start circulating around the pipes. That’s pretty basic and kind of covers the whole process but there’s a lot more behind that simple and innocent word: temper.
THE NITTY GRITTY
Structurally and chemically speaking, the fat (read: cocoa butter) in chocolate can exist in six crystal forms and most of them are unusable when it comes to making finished products, like truffles or chocolate bars. The point of tempering is to establish the crystal structure we want by changing the temperature of the chocolate in phases. Let me explain.
Forms 1 (I) and 2 (II) are crumbly in texture and to the bite. The snap is non-existent and the chocolate melts easily, almost too easily. Forms 3 (III) and 4 (IV) will have a good snap and the texture will be more consistent, but then the appearance will be a little dull or matte and will still melt too quickly on your hands or in your mouth. Form 5 (V) crystals are the crystals we are looking for. This form of crystal will maintain its quality and structure over time, giving the chocolate a nice glossy finish and the firm snap we’re looking for. The chocolate will melt around body temperature. It is said that when chocolate is in good temper, you feel a nice cooling sensation in your mouth. This sensation happens because some of the crystals present in the cocoa butter (a natural fat found in cocoa beans) melt just below our body temperature, and the phase change from solid to liquid absorbs some of the mouth’s heat energy. Form 6 (VI) crystals have a higher melting temperature and only form when a chocolate in Form 5 (V) has been left for a long time—in our experience, at least a year. At that point, the crystal form actually shifts to Form 6 (VI).
So, now you’re probably wondering how you reach this type of crystal. Remember that range I mentioned in the beginning? That’s part of how you do it, but it is not as simple as it looks. There are many other factors involved.
The tempering process starts with warm, or as we sometimes call it, molten chocolate. I usually start somewhere around 105°F (about 41°C), but some people will suggest starting above 115°F (46°C) just to be sure you’ve melted all of the crystals out. At this point, the chocolate will be liquid due to the fatty content of cocoa beans, cocoa butter, being fully melted. In this first step, most of the crystals are melted and non-fat particles—meaning particles that are not cocoa butter— are floating all over the place haphazardly without structure. Next, I would decrease the temperature to somewhere between 80°F (27°C) and 82°F (~28°C). At this temperature, the chocolate will start becoming more viscous because the crystals have begun to form structures; some weak (Forms I-IV) and some strong (Form V).
From this step onwards it is absolutely necessary to continuously stir the chocolate for two reasons: a) stirring promotes the growth of crystals and b) it helps to keep the chocolate from growing the wrong sort of crystals too quickly (in other words, solidifying). To get rid of those weak structures that developed while the chocolate was cooling, we raise the temperature back up again to 86°F-89°F (30°C-32°C), depending somewhat on the origin of your beans. This will help to melt the weak crystals off and, if done right, crystal Form V will largely prevail among the other crystals and the chocolate will be considered in temper. This works because every crystal type has a different melting point. In the process, you’re melting everything, then allowing a few types to form as the chocolate cools, and then remelting every type except Form 6 (VI) which, you’ll remember, only forms when chocolate in Form V sits for a matter of months.
I usually think about tempering like opening a new set of assorted building bricks where you have strong and weak bricks. In my head, these bricks (crystals) are in a big bucket (bowl) without organization and without structure (molten chocolate). To start building, you will need to organize them (crystallization) and remove the weak bricks (raise temperature) . By the time you finish you will have a nice solid structure of the organized, stronger bricks (Form V).
The ambient room temperature also plays an important factor in how easy or difficult tempering can be. Some people say that a good ambient room temperature for tempering is around 70°F to 72°F (21°C to 22°C) with 40% humidity, maximum. Sometimes, due to our open space, we have to tweak our tempering temperatures according to the weather. If it is cold and rainy we know the chocolate will start solidifying on us faster. If it is sunny and looks like the perfect day to be at the beach, we will probably be struggling trying to get the chocolate to stay cooler.
And then comes the ingredient factor. Our chocolate has only two ingredients (organic cane sugar and cocoa beans) which makes our chocolate a little different, not only in flavor, but it also drastically changes the way we handle it and temper it. Our chocolate varies in thickness according to where it comes from—the further from the equator, the lower the fat content of the bean, and the higher the viscosity. For example, our chocolate from Madagascar is more viscous than our chocolate from Mantuano, in Venezuela. This is the reason we can’t temper all our origins at the same temperature.We can’t lower the temperature too much on an already viscous chocolate because it will crystallize faster, so we will keep it warmer and lower the temperature on a runny chocolate.
I guess this is the main difference when it comes to our chocolate. Our chocolate is often more viscous than the chocolate in pastries, the culinary world, or even other chocolate maker’s bars because many of them add cocoa butter or lecithin, and other ingredients that keep the chocolate thin and runny, and easier to temper.
Although my team uses a tempering machine, most of the time it’s not a walk in the park. Our tempering machine holds 25 kilograms, and works in three stages; keeping the temperature high on the first stage, lowering it on the second, and finally rising it on the third stage. The chocolate is transported from the bowl through a cooling column with an auger that works like an Archimedean Screw. After this cooling column there’s a pipe where the chocolate is heated again and it comes out “almost” in temper.
THE THING ABOUT EQUIPMENT…
Why almost? If there’s something I have learned through the years is that you can not rely completely on a machine. I talked to you about the three stages, but our machine only uses two of those. That’s partially because our tempering machine is so complex (with so many settings we don’t use) and partially because there’s little to almost no instructions on how to operate it.There’s also the weather factor that pushes us to adjust our settings from round to round of tempering (we do two to three rounds a day, making about 600 to 700 bars on average).
Due to all these challenges, my teammates (more like family) have learned to temper and “fix” it, which to us means recovering the chocolate either from over crystallization (over temper) or falling out of temper. There are still times when we are unsuccessful and need to call the tempering round to an end. We have learned so much together that we have a really strong team, who genuinely care that you have the best experience possible when eating our chocolate. So, the next time you visit us and watch us work, cheer on the guys tempering (besides, we love to see you around and answer any questions you might have).
A BIT ABOUT HAND TEMPERING
Recently, we were encouraged to start learning a new skill: hand tempering. This skill is pretty much an art, and it takes knowledge and patience to master it. While the machine uses all sorts of electronic components, hand tempering requires bowls, offset spatulas, regular spatulas, thermometers, and a marble slab. The general process is the same (melt the crystals, let them form, melt out all but Form V), but hand tempering takes a whole different kind of skill set.
We only hand temper sample batches because if we attempted to hand temper all of our chocolate, it would take us forever to produce the number of bars we produce today.
To do it, we pour molten chocolate on a marble slab, scrape it around with a metal bench scraper to encourage the crystals to form, and then mix it with a small amount of molten chocolate to warm it up again, melting everything but Form V. Personally, I like the hand tempering process. Although it can get a little messy, it feels more personal, challenging, and even if 90% of the time you won’t get it right, when you do, you get that feeling of accomplishment that makes you smile from ear to ear.
So, overall, tempering is really challenging because you need to be as precise as possible, butIs it worth attempting? YES. Your chocolate not will only look better and be more enticing, but it will take your mouth on a different, slow-melting flavor journey. If you’re interested in learning more about tempering, pre-order our new book Making Chocolate, or stay tuned for our newest class all about tempering!
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