Tempering chocolate whilst keeping your cool.

Until now I have only been on the receiving and eating side of chocolate.
Never have I been subjected to the messy and unpredictable nature of
tempering the thing.

My praliné

To temper chocolate.. you need to take it over several temperature changes.
This regulates the crystallization of cocoa butter within the chocolate
resulting in shiny, uniform appearance which has a pleasant 'snap'
when you get your teeth into it.

For the specific "Barry" brand of milk couverture chocolate we used in class,
we had to first melt it to a temperature of 45-50 degrees Celsius. 
After that, we cooled it down to 27 degrees by pouring 
two-thirds of the chocolate onto the marble and scraping it about..
We then place the chocolate back into its original bowl and reheated it back up to a 
working temperature of 29-30 degrees Celsius. 

A delicious combination of nuts and milk chocolate

The most exhausting part is however,
keeping the tempered chocolate at a steady 29-30 degrees while you 
fastidiously dip your half-moon praline filling with your little chocolate
'fourchette' making sure it looks pretty, all the while going back and forth
to the bain marie if the temperature dips to 28 degrees.

So yes, you gotta work with your thermometer engaged the whole time!

Muscadine logs

As after meticulously working to get my Pralinés looking as good as possible,
I was relieved when it came time to make these rustic "Muscadine" chocolates.
Just dip the logs in chocolate and roll in icing sugar..
Nothing fussy about that!

All in all, although this practical was painstaking and way too fiddly for its own good..
I have to say I learnt A LOT and had a bunch fun getting all messy and chocolaty.

I am excited.

x Tal


Bavarois aux Trois Chocolats

Let me start today's post by saying that this cake...
is V E R Y tasty.

It is the kind of dessert that serves as a pretty little bow
that ties together a bistro meal neatly..

Le Bavarois aux Trois Chocolats..
is my dream treat.

Its rich chocolate taste is balanced by the light texture of the mousse..
and the shiny chocolate glaze on top serves 
as a self saucing chocolate goodness.

We started with a cocoa-syrup imbibed ladyfinger sponge biscuit at the base,
where it is hidden amidst the dark chocolate creme-anglaise mousse.

But then when your large spoonful grazes the other two layers,
you realize that your taste-buds are also being sparked up by 
white chocolate

Actually, the mousse is so delicious that I got sent off to wash my hands in a scowl 
after the Chef Deguignet caught me licking white chocolate off my finger!
He was undoubtedly mortified!! But I really couldn't help myself...

But thankfully the chef later pardoned by temporary lapse in kitchen hygiene,
and helped me design a decoration for my cake.

It was a good day.
With three types of chocolates in a cake..
I'm not sure how it could've been any better.

x Tal


The importance of being well imbibed.

Funny that this cake is called the Opéra.
Mainly because I had to sing to myself to calm my nerves down
while composing the layers and writing in chocolate.

It was an intense practical.

But the rewards are sure worth it!

The Gâteau Opéra is layers of coffee-imbibed "biscuit joconde",
separated with coffee buttercream and dark chocolate ganache.

A creation of  pâtisserie house "Dalloyau" in 1955,
It is simple, classic and elegant.

No wonder it is one of the world's most famous French cakes.

I've tasted numerous Opéras from many patisseries..
Fauchon, Dalloyau, Pierre Herme, to my neighborhood boulangerie.
(Mainly because I am attracted to chocolate
like cold travelers to heater lights at Gare du Nord.)

But not until you get down and chocolaty from making it yourself,
do you come to fully appreciate the work that goes into this dessert.

And why now, I'll happily fork out €4 for a tiny slice of heaven.

xo Tal 


Finally we got to make something I know well! 
What's this for eye candy...

Macaron Anis-Framboise!

I felt so spoiled with all the red berries we got to don our "big mama"pink macarons with.

And this is the first time we had to plate a dessert on a plate,
like one would at a restaurant.

Here's Sandra being creative:

And yes they are huge!!
Imagine taking big bites of these babies while clasping it with both your hands.
It's like a berry macaron burger bonanza. 

And I sure am "lovin' it".... :P

xo Tal


Strawberries and (pastry) cream

Today we made the "Fraisier", which are made from Kirsch-imbibed genoise sponge, pastry cream mousseline.. and of course fraises fraîches! And just how girly and sweet does this cake look? 

This has to be the most attractive gâteau we've made so far..! I can just imagine the "oohs and aahs" it would garner sitting on the display case of a bakery. 

Chef Cotte said several times during the demonstration how this cake would be infinitely better during the summertime using Gariguette or Marie de Bois strawberries.

But to be honest with you.. if this cake gets any better..
I will not be able to control myself.



Jamais plus, Jamaique.

Todays pastry practical at school was the "Gâteau Jamaïque". The cake has a creamy coconut mousse interior, encased within walls of thin chocolate joconde biscuit and generously garnished with mango-passion mousse. This cake takes your taste-buds on a trip straight to a tropical island!

The cake was not too difficult to reproduce. And I felt like I did a really good job composing all the different elements of the dessert in a timely manner. I was really proud of my product and was filled with  delight when I went to present the cake to the chef. Unfortunately this feeling of confidence did not last long.. The attending chef thought my decor was "bizarre" and too simple. He was fast to give me a low mark, as if to disregard all the attention I paid to the form and make up all the different parts of the cake.

Yes. I have to say. It does look a little strange.. But I did try my best to be original, and wanted to do something different, while still keeping it simple and tasteful. And I don't think my decor is very different to what the demo chef (who in this case is different to the attending chef) did at the presentation:

But I guess, I kind of understand that I can't expect every chef to have the same aesthetic preference. But I am also bummed that something I put my heart and soul into was so quickly written off.

Sorry about the sombre mood of this supposedly bright and tropical blog post! It is just ONE cake. I definitely will get over it, there are still plenty of cakes I get to prove myself with :)

Also, I don't really want to let what the attending chef thought 
of my decor get too me too much..
I am still proud of my latest creation :)



And we're back for Intermediate!

I am back in Paris! And it's been a pretty mild winter here. Apart from mere 9 hours of sunlight we get a day.. I have to say it has not been feeling like winter at all. Though the holiday season is now over, I was very happy to get right back into the cooking! And Tarte Passion-Framboise is what's on the menu today. Before class I was a bit nervous, as I was worried that my pate sucre mojo has diminished due to weeks of neglect.. but I was happy that we had Chef Walter as he is super-chill and put us all at ease :)

So here's my tart:

This tart is very light, tart and fruity! 
It is making me miss summer..!!

The decor was my favourite bit. 
It was awesome to have lots of fresh fruits and berries to be creative with!

Group B v2.0 with Chef Walter. 
Probably one of the nicest and most attentive chef we've had.

I'm so happy to be back. Bring it on intermédiaire! Je suis prête!