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Our Blog: Chocolate Talk

An Intern's Perspective: New Tools

Rolled Truffles

Thanks to a happy holiday season, we picked up a few fun new tools for the kitchen that we’ll be breaking in for 2010. I also participated in a little chocolate boot camp experiment today to sharpen my skills, and accepted a new assignment at the kitchen that I’m excited about.

So there was dancing in the kitchen today. You might remember I was lamenting the task of cutting ganache with machine precision using a ruler and pizza cutter when we were preparing our holiday collection. I’m especially thankful for that opportunity now, because we decided to indulge ourselves in a chocolate guitar to ring in the new year. You may imagine, as I first did, that a chocolate guitar would be a lovely, giant hunk of chocolate you’d never have the heart (or stomach) to eat, but for an aspiring chocolatier, it’s something far more useful. In our world of chocolate delight, a guitar is a plane that we lay the ganache on, with a handle connecting several wires to one side, which can be raised and lowered to cut ganache into evenly spaced rows with a single motion. Awesome. We’re also experimenting with some new molds for medallions, and ganache trays, which when combined with the guitar can make perfect, identical blocks of ganache.

This won’t affect our truffles much, though we may increase the butter content of some recipes slightly, to make the ganache softer and easier for the guitar to cut through. As a side note, I learned that while changing the amount of cream might ultimately yield the same result, it would also increase the amount of water, which increases the likelihood of breaking the ganache while preparing it, or causing the fat to separate from the mixture while still in the pot.

Anyway, while all this joy was buzzing in the kitchen, I was honing my craft rolling ganache for some traditional truffles. Traditional truffles are round, something like marbles, though without a mold, a perfect sphere is not what you should expect to find, hence the word “truffle,” like the round mushrooms that pigs dig up, from which the term was derived. I was given a very specific training exercise, which was slow but effective. Jennie even quoted Mr. Miagi when I got started, I am not making this up. My instructions were very clear: roll 100 balls of ganche to weigh exactly 0.1 ounces, then 100 more at 0.2 ounces. Ultimately, I was to do again this without a scale. It was great, I’m confident now that I can make or identify ganache rolled to these specifications, which vary by only the slightest pinch (for reference, 80 ganache balls at 0.1 ounces each weighs the same as one cup of water).

Another thing I learned about making truffles is the significance of the core temperature of the rolled ganache. After the chocolate sets, if the internal temperature is too cold at the center, that cold will creep out to further cool the shell, causing it to contract and crack. Our first batch suffered this fate, so the batches that followed were made to rest at room temperature until the prepared ganache reached a consistent temperatures throughout.

Once my ganache was rolled, I enrobed them and did a quick study on the amount of chocolate each consumed. Interestingly, both sizes seemed to use the same amount of chocolate, though we’ll have to look into this further, because I suspect that a thicker temper was to blame for the last of this batch consistently yielding thicker shells. I’ll be very interested to do more analysis of our processes in the weeks to come. It was a valuable lesson to learn in the end that often we may be more efficient to take the time to re-temper rather than to continue working with thick chocolate.  That said, the part that I’m not looking forward to in evaluating our methods is facing the music about how much time it takes for me to finish them. I know I’m getting better, but I also know I’ve got a long way to go, and that harsh reality is about to become official.

 
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