Sunday, October 16, 2011

Culinary School - Weeks 1 and 2 (Chocolate and Sugar classes)

Saturdays are long days for me! I wake up at 5:15am, leave for school by 6am and don't get home until 6pm. There's a quick 30 minute break for lunch and that's it. The rest of the day is spent playing with chocolate and cooking sugar! (Lots of fun!!!) Saturdays are when I have my Chocolate & Confectionary class and Sugar Works class.

The first week of Chocolate class we watched a video about the history of chocolate, learned all about tempering chocolate (much more involved than just melting chocolate!!!), and we got to sample different types of chocolates (dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and plain cocoa butter - which tasted like eating a crayon or chunk of wax.) We also got to practice tempering chocolate for the first time. There are 2 ways of going about this - tabling or seeding. We spent the remainder of the class working on a group centerpiece that is due in a few weeks.

During week 2 of chocolate class we learned how to make truffles. OH MY!!! These truffles are dangerous! They were so amazingly good!!! Each person got assigned two different types of truffles. I got to make 1) white chocolate truffles with pistachios, dipped in milk chocolate and chopped hazelnuts and 2) dark chocolate truffles. We also had to make chocolate bowls (by dipping balloons), chocolate straws and chocolate cigarettes.

My white chocolate pistachio truffles are in the top right hand corner (the one covered in nuts):

Here's my chocolate bowl with a variety of truffles in it:

It can sometime be very challenging and time consuming to get chocolate in temper. What is even more frustrating is keeping the chocolate in temper. All of which will just take some practice.

After my chocolate class I get a quick break for lunch and then I have sugar class. I immediately fell in love with this class. The main thing about sugar class is hitting the correct temperature. Cook the sugar too long and your end result is too hard, don't cook it long enough and your sugar won't set up properly. The key is hitting the mark on temperature.

I forgot to take my camera for week 1 but we made Caramel Sauce, Simple Syrup, Sorbet, Nougatine, Marshmallows, Meringue, and Candied Pecans. During week 2 we learned all about crystalline and non-crystalline candies. We made Fondant, Vanilla Fudge, Pralines, Peanut Brittle, Toffee, and Leaf Croqants.

Here's my table's toffee. It turned out perfect.

Here's a picture of the assortment of things we made. Starting at top and going clockwise: Vanilla Fudge, Peanut Brittle (Everyone in class had issues with the brittle. It crystallized on us so we were not able to pull it like it should have), Leaf Croquants (caramel and ground nuts folded together like puff pastry), Pralines, and Toffee.

You can see the fondant in this picture. We had to use part of it in order to make the vanilla fudge.

That's all for now...Good night!

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