Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Vegan & A Dog Named Keiko: A review

Recently, I joined foodbuzz, a content aggregator and foodie community and lots of fun. Recently, Jennie from A Vegan & A Dog Named Keiko bought and reviewed some of our vegan chocolates.

The upshot, she liked them. She also took some very nice pictures. Kim's quilts adorn each of the bars. They look good in the photos. Read her blog. It's a good one. Very interesting and very helpful.

I'd also like to remind everyone, we also make other vegan confections, bark, chocolates. I'm glad that our vegan chocolates are starting to catch on. People, vegans and nonvegans, love them. We also make other chocolates and confections.

We often get reviewed but this is our first blogger review. A landmark review. Pass the champagne. Thanks Jennie.


Post for Maggie at Dog Hill

The funny thing Maggie is that I use many of my ice cream flavors in my confections. Orange cinnamon ice cream with 25 year old balsamic vinegar became a white chocolate slabbed ganache, dipped in dark chocolate with a orange peel confit. My banana saffron ice cream became a caramel. My orange cinnamon ice cream became a caramel. Ditto with my bacon, banana and maple ice cream. And the list goes on. You'll see these confections and the truffles during the holidays.

Then when I was first doing the chocolates, I would take all my broken, poorly tempered, whatever problem chocolates and confections and I'd save them and add them to my vanilla base.

My vanilla base is:

1 qt 1/2 and 1/2
3/4 qt heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean (Madagascar, Mexican or Tahitian, depending on what you are doing. I do a Tahitian vanilla that is fantastic.
Optional Flavoring (Ex, cinnamon sticks.)
9 egg yolks

Combine vanilla bean, Flavor, cream, 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar, bring to a simmer. Put aside and let cool. Temper the egg yolks and the reheat the cream mixture while pouring the tempered yolks into the mixture in a thin stream. Very thin. Constantly stir. Cook on low to medium heat till you get to 180F. Use a candy/oil thermometer.

Strain into a metal measuring cup or two and put into an ice bath to cool. So, strain into container and insert into an ice bath. DO NOT POUR THE ICE CREAM INTO THE WATER, ICE AND SALT. Put the whole container into the bath, please. (Sorry if you understood that already but I felt my wording was ambiguous.)

If you do the nougat ice cream, put the nougat into the metal container and strain base into the container and put whole container into water bath. Do not add optional flavor.

Get your ice cream maker going and pour the cooling mixture in. You know your ice cream machine so, you do what you need to do to get it to work. I have a Lello by Muso that is killer. If you have a home Cuisinart, which I used for years, you need to chill your ice cream before churning. With my Lello, I just turn it on in advance and voilà, ice cream.


Nota Bene

I normally pour the chocolate into the molds or work with the molds OVER either my temperer, behind me, or my melter, which you can see behind me. But, since we couldn't get a good shot doing that, I am pouring the chocolate into the molds over a sheet pan.

Making Chocolates with Molds: don't fear the molds

Not only do some people fear the molds but they disdain them as well. How could you disdain a chocolate mold. That's like disdaining a screwdriver. For some, only slabbed ganache and dipped chocolates will do. (A ganache is a system of chocolate and a liquid, usually cream, sometimes butter but really any liquid.) Perhaps, if it is in the shape of a mouse or rabbit, piped ganache will be allowed. But mater, pater, no molded chocolates unless it's a holiday. Rubbish, I say. These are probably the same people that disdain milk chocolate and white chocolate. Double rubbish. All you milk chocolate bashers, can we talk? ;-)

It is easy to make molded chocolates. Well, sort of. Easier than brain surgery or even knee surgery. I'll let you be the judge of how easy it is. For me, at least, all confections and chocolates are easy.

Let's start. First temper your chocolate. That's a mouth full right there. I wont explain in this post how to temper chocolate. If anyone is interested in hand tempering, ask. I'll post a mini-tutorial, with, I hope, video. If not, buy a tempering machine. Chocovision has some great machines. They range from 5 lbs to 10 lbs. I think they have a 25 lb machine, too. Good people. Good machines.

First you must polish your mold. Not wash, not clean, but rather take a bed sheet, that's what I use, tear it up and wash it till it is super clean. Use the washing machine. Next, use the cloth to get out any residue in your molds. Don't wash your molds in the dishwasher or you will ruin them. Don't wet the cloth. Use it dry. It has to be soft or you will ruin your mold. After the mold is polished and you know it is dry, bone dry. Pour chocolate into the mold.

Use a spatula to get rid of the excess.

Put this on a sheet pan with parchment and bang it for many minutes. I tell my assistants that they must bang a mold every time they touch it, whether it means filling it or emptying it. After you bang the molds, empty the extra back into your tempering machine or bowl or what have you. I have another video of this. (Come on, blogger, get your video act together.) NB, milk chocolate takes longer to set or dry than dark. Much longer. Double the time.

Next, if you are making a shell, empty out the excess chocolate.

Then turn the now emptied mold onto forms or some sort of sticks to keep it off the parchment.

I use these great Plexiglas sticks. They make great forms as well for caramel. Much better than metal.

You may want to slam the mold down hard or rap its back to get the excess chocolate out. I'm using pictures from two different chocolate sessions. This one is from a milk chocolate cordial session. These will eventually become Milk Chocolate Irish Mist Apricot Cordials. The milk chocolate I use is the best I have ever eaten. Even better than Peters milk chocolate, and Peters invented it at Nestle.

Also, after about 10 minutes, before the chocolate sets and becomes had, you need to scrape away the excess chocolate.

Next fill the molds with whatever you want.

Here we are making my famous chili chocolates.

Finally, we need to cap these wonderful chocolates.

And in the end, you get beautifully molded chocolates that taste like heaven.

Can you make your own molded chocolates. Yes. Can you make my beautiful molded bits of heaven? No. If you would like to try my creations, please go to Life by Chocolate and order some online today. Or go to your local health food store or grocery store and buy some. We distribute to stores in five state. Click here for more information. Enjoy.