No, I didn't manufacture the chocolate - that is a serious factory production handled best by Valrhona and others - but I made two fillings and covered them with chocolate tempered by me.
Amy came to the chocolate demonstration class with me, and after all the complaining I did about Chef D, he was in such a good mood, even smiling! White-gloved, he hand-delivered Amy and me a special chocolate. I almost fell out of my seat. Of course, he didn't stop with the keeping clean lecture, but it was in a joking way. The chef made about five different chocolates, my favorite being just a square of chocolate with nuts and a candied fruit. Simple and pretty - not too sweet. My next favorite was the Rocher - same as the ones made by Ferrero wrapped in gold foil, but much more moist - praline filling mixed with crushed crepes, covered in milk chocolate and crushed almonds. He also made some chocolate bars covered with gold dust and a chocolate plate!
I love the pastry papparazzi!
The two chocolates that we made ourselves in the practical class were much sweeter - Pralines and Muscadines. European praline filling is made by caramelizing sugar to coat almonds and hazelnuts, then grinding it into a fine paste. We use a commercial version that is thicker than peanut butter, it is difficult to make smooth praline without huge rollers to pulverize the ingredients. The praline paste is mixed with milk chocolate and rolled out between candy rulers before cutting into crescent shapes. The chef made two sizes - small crescents for French people and large circles for Americans! Mine turned out OK, a little too much chocolate on the coating that made 'feet' on the chocolates when it cooled. It is just practice to get the excess off and my chocolate might have been too cool to coat the praline thinly.
Muscadine filling has cocoa butter, cream, glucose, vanilla, praline and melted chocolate, beaten until it gets light and airy, then piped in lines to cut into little logs. Then dipped in chocolate and rolled in powdered sugar. At first the filling was too difficult to pipe, but I warmed it for a second in the hot water bath, and it came out fine. They are almost too sweet to eat! I think if they were enrobed (that is the right word!) in dark chocolate, they would be much tastier. Without the powdered sugar, they look exactly like Tootsie Rolls.
The chocolate tempering was very technical, getting the temperatures exactly right and then keeping it at the right consistency to coat the chocolates. Most chocolatiers have trained their little finger or the area between their lip and chin to sense the right temperature. So, if you see a French chocolatier with a smear of chocolate on his face, it might not be from tasting the goods, just testing the chocolate's temperature.
Amy brought back the chocolates I made in class, so they should be at my sister's house some time this weekend, if they made it through customs!
Next up: working with dark chocolate.