The Chocolate Life

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Chocolate Technique: What would you like to learn more about?

I'm currently wrapping up a guide to fine chocolate technique. The expected audience is advanced hobbyists and those with professional aspirations. The finished manual will be released as a free e-book. Those of you who are new to chocolate or still actively learning: what would you like to see included in such a book? What have you found to be poorly documented, what has caused you ongoing frustration, what makes you say "wow, how did they do that"? Any feedback (however broad or specific) would be appreciated and will hopefully help others. Here are some of the topics already covered:

Characteristics of fine chocolate
Blending couvertures
Principles of tempering chocolate
Ganache composition
Overview of commonly used ganache ingredients
Commonly used tools and equipment
Slabbing and piping ganache
Dipping/enrobing bonbons
Molding
Storage

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Nicole:

What does your reply have to do with the question? There are other ways to promote your site on TheChocolateLife.com. This is the not the right way to do it.

:: Clay
I know you're not writing specially about chocolate production but I'd love to see a graphical interpretation of the chocolate making process.

I hope you'll take Clay up on his offer to read over your book before it's published. Nothing more distracting then a typo ;)

Looking forward to reading it!
Sorry, I don't quite follow. Do you mean a walkthrough of the bean-to-bar process?
Hi Brendan

That's what I'd be very interested to see in a book on chocolate, a graphical and descriptive walk through of the bean-to-bar process, highlighting where and what changes can be made in order to achieve different products.

Cheers

Rob
Hello,

As a small time cacao producer with about 600 trees, I would think that if you have a bean-to-bar process description you might also consider a short (very short, like one or two pages?) seed-to-bean process (planting, growing, harvesting) to which I could contribute some, though don´t consider myself an expert. However, I could certainly proofread that part, as I sometimes see glaring mistakes about growing chocolate. I look forward to the book, I have a lot to learn....

Jesse Blenn, Costa Rica
I would be interested in seeing in your work, transfer imaging onto chocolate,
chocolate with alcohol (ie: Amaretto creams, Grappa creams, Kirsch cherry bon bons, alchol infusions etc.)
working with colored cocoa butters, applications of these, the pitfalls of using them, what to avoid etc.
Hi Brendan,

So, I guess that if I had to suggest something I struggled with in my first year was how to avoid getting cracks in the bottoms of molded chocolate pieces. Specially when working with soft caramels or ganaches with a high alcohol content.

Chocolate is so technical and every step of the tempering/production process is bound by so many rules, as a beginner you often get frustrated because after researching, studying and over thinking every single thing you still don't get things right. There is no book in the world that will give you every answer. It becomes so technical that it sort of cancels your instinct and your senses. I feel that only after you are confident enough do those very basic tools that we all have within ourselves come into play.

To me, that is the true technique of a chocolatier, that ability to rely on your instinct. I don't think it's ever emphasized but I feel it is important.

Chocolate sometimes becomes too serious, it could be fun to do a playful piece where you brake the rules and encourage the reader's imagination to do the work. Pipe melted chocolate into ice and water and see how the chocolate sets, creating sinewy branches, or perfect chocolate drops. Pipe thin strings of tempered chocolate on a frozen french sheet pan and roll it as if it where plasticine, mix tempered chocolate and alcohol,...
We all know that chocolate is supposed to snap but when you mix it with other elements, chocolate morphs, it becomes pliable, flexible, soft.

Good luck with your book!

Susana
Best of luck on your endeavor, Brendan. When it's released, I'll let my vast Facebook fanbase know about it. (By "vast" I mean 16.)

For background, I've been studying chocolate for about 8 years, buying every book, studying with some chocolatiers, and though I've made about 20,000 pieces over those 8 years, I still feel quite the tyro with my share of moments that go like this: "I don't get it? I'm doing everything right? Why the heck is THIS piece blooming, but THAT piece isn't????"

I mention this because one of the major flaws of most cookbooks (including chocolate books) is that there is very little attention paid to what goes wrong and why it goes wrong. Some will show pictures; such as the look of a broken ganache, and certainly they all describe untempered vs tempered, but they do very little to help the reader figure out what she or he is doing wrong. Granted, some of this is just getting the feel of it, and I suspect some cannot be learned without a "mentor" on one hand, or trial/error on the other. But to the extent you can help the beginner figure out WHAT she/he is doing wrong with tempering, molding, making ganache, dipping (large "feet" for example), etc. - I think you'd be doing a real service.

Anyway, just a thought. Again, best of luck. - Bruce
Thanks for offering 'free' e-book.

It would be nice, if you include a 'trouble shooting' section.

A common problem is "blooming". If you can tell the reasons of blooming and how to avoid it, that would be helpful.

Arun
www.ipfco.com
Such wonderful ideas!

Recipe development is crucial. Taking into account all the ingredients we can include, I don't think there is an excel sheet that accomodates all. Say, a bonbon with cream, glucose, alcohol, nut paste, fruit, etc- say with milk chocolate. Now what is the best balanced recipe in terms of taste and decent shelf life? All the fats and sugars-percentages etc. I know Morato has some info but not at all all- inclusive.

I also think a really fun chapter would be the "Home Made Devices" we can use. An example would be gluing a tray onto a dental vibration machine. Or things found in hardware stores that have great use for the chocolatier. Homemade tempering machines and guitars I have read about...

Much luck! Sounds quite amazing.
The one thing most new business owners (chocolatiers) don't understand is required labeling. What are the laws- where do they go for help.
I don"t create chocolate, so my comment is more as one writer to another. My best wishes and prayers for a joyous writing experience and a successful book.
Rev. R. M. Peluso

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