Friday, September 25, 2009

Payback is a Beach

After the chef's criticism of my Opera, I was a little relieved to see that even he can make mistakes - creme anglaise base for the chocolate mousse is supposed to have milk and cream, but he only added the milk, and realized it when the assistant gave him two bowls of whipped cream - so maybe it wasn't completely his fault. Then he spilled chocolate glaze all over the edges of his cakes - making a chocolate mess - but of course his cakes looked magnificent in the end, and he was very kind to the assistant who mistakenly whipped both creams. He also congratulated one of my classmates who stayed perfectly clean while making the Opera, and pointedly put on a plastic apron to show those of us (me) how to keep my uniform clean.

We start with making a round lady finder cake to place at the bottom of the ring mold, dunked in a cocoa imbibing syrup. The bavarian cream base is creme anglaise, added to white, milk and dark chocolate, then lightened with whipped cream. A chocolate glaze tops the cake with white chocolate decoration. There are really six chocolate components to this cake. It sounds very rich, but it was light and airy.

The Chef also started us on chocolate tempering, which we have seen before, this is the process that makes chocolate snap when you break it, by getting the right chemical compounds to solidify. It looks easy, heat the chocolate to a certain temperature (45 C), cool it to another (25 C), test for shine and snap, then heat to workable temperature (29 C). The Chef now pretends to lick his fingers after testing the chocolate's temperature, and then pulls them away, with a very French "Non non non!" I think he is starting to like me.

The chefs here seem to love showing off with chocolate work. Making bands to surround cakes, scraping chocolate cigarettes in perfect cylinders, and my favorite, the "frou-frou" - a ruffle of chocolate to place on the top of the cake!

I had a good day in the kitchen, feeling like I was working on schedule, staying clean, and never even putting my fingers close to my face. I practiced making a cornet (the paper cone) to pipe white chocolate decorations on the cake, and am finally getting the hang of it. As the cake cooled to make the glaze solidifty, I made some nice designs as practice. When I went to get my cake, it was behind another classmate's and as I lifted it, I scraped the chocolate glaze off one edge. I was so frustrated, I could almost feel tears, but the chef came over and told me that he was sorry and not to worry. I would have been able to fix it, but he used the rest of my chocolate glaze (because it was perfect) to help other people. I wasn't able to recreate my design very well, my hands were shaking too much. Chef D was appreciative of the cake even with the minor mistakes.

And I only got ONE drop of chocolate on my chef's coat! Good day indeed!


  1. you are a rockstar!

  2. Hi Sarah,

    Your 2nd cousin Harry sent me over to your blog... we worked together on a photo shoot just before I quit my job to move away and go to pastry school. So good to see someone else doing the same thing! Best of luck to you... maybe one day I too will be able to work with chocolate without it ending up all over my coat :)



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