Even as a fresh-faced basic patisserie student at Le Cordon Bleu.. it was impossible to escape the worried whispers and troubled whimpers of the more advanced students of their grievances in working with notoriously temperamental (pardon the pun) noble product…
Sometimes you see them walking through the winter garden, uniform smeared and stained, looking like they are ready to curl up into a ball and hide inside their locker rooms.
Just the smell of this product in its melted state is often enough to send some people into fits of panic.
And the fact that they can no longer love and look at this thing they once adored, in the same way ever again.. has in some way.. changed them..
Just what is it about CHOCOLATE that can trigger this kind of response from patisserie students, I sense you wondering..
Well here's a few reasons:
1) Tempering - the temperature curve that melted chocolate is taken through is the MOST VITAL and delicate step one must learn if one ever wishes to overcome the chocolate, and not let the chocolate overcome them.
2) Hygiene - keeping workstations and uniforms as spotless as humanly possible whilst also keeping sanity in check is also of paramount importance.
3) Time management - for the chocolate exam, you have to create a candy box with a decorative lid with perfectly tempered chocolate and ALSO clean your work station in two and a half hours and not a minute more. Sounds scary?! Almost impossible?! That's what I thought!
So I had to do a little practice at home before the time came to do a trial box in class! I knew my final box will definitely include a flower of some sort.. So here is an attempt at one I did at home:
When came the time to do a trial box in class, I was a little more confident. But the curved chocolate didn't quite turn out the way I wanted..
So back home to practice again.. I finally figured out the right curvature for the curved chocolate by using a kitchen towel roll I had lying around the kitchen..
However.. The fact that I was mentally and physically exhausted after an intense
6 hour cuisine atelier right before the exam.. the design changes once again.
I decided to stay with what I knew well (which were flowers)
and not risk making the tricky curved piece.
I finished in time and worked relatively efficiently and was very proud of the result..
The attending chef looked pretty pleased too :)
So.. was chocolate really as frustrating as they say, you ask?
All you need is patience and persistence!
Don't believe the whispers! Chocolate is not evil!
I shall end this chocolate post with some pictures of Mart eating a chocolate hen: