Thursday, September 10, 2009

Confection: an elaborately constructed thing . . .

. . . especially a frivolous one.

This chocolate showpiece took me approximately eight hours to construct over the course of yesterday and today. Whew!

I have to say that it was ridiculously, incredibly fun though!

After an hour lecture by Chef C on how to assemble our finished products, I got to work.

Today was like a finishing day for me, since I had done most of the harder work yesterday. It was really nice to be able to take my time and not feel rushed at all. I had to eek into my lunch break a little bit, but it was worth the peace of mind.

First, I started by making the modeling chocolate since it needed time to harden up before I could shape it. I decided that I'd leave it white and color it in individual portions after it was made. I melted the white chocolate, added the corn syrup, mixed it and watched it seize and come together. Amazing! I let it sit on the marble for a little bit, then stuck it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so to get rock hard while I focused on other things.

My dome had cracked when I removed it yesterday, so my focus was on making a second one with both halves staying intact. It worked! I'm so glad that I had the extra time to do that. Not only did the halves stay intact, but they came out better than the first one!

I took some time arranging and removing my other pieces from the excess chocolate, praying that everything would come out okay and not break. Whew! So far so good.
Once my modeling chocolate was in its ideal state, I picked out some food coloring and got to work. Since it is chocolate, it does melt. Fortunately, my hands helped warm it up so I could knead in the color. I did a nice green for the leaves, and then made a yellow and light-peachy-orange for the rose petals. I rolled the yellow and orange out separately, to an eighth of an inch thick. Then I used the warmth of my hands to warm up one side of each color, then pressed the warm sides together (so one side was then orange and the other yellow). I rolled this out further to an eighth of an inch thick. This would give me a petal with two colors - cool! Not very easy to see in this picture, but I think the lighter color on the inside and darker color on the outside helps to make it look more real.
The challenge with the roses was getting the petals to stick but not melt in my hands while I was placing and shaping them. It was such a hassle! I'd be able to place three petals and then I'd have to stick it in the fridge for awhile to harden it up. And I was wearing two pairs of gloves!

The leaves were fun and easy to make. I rolled out the green and then used two different sizes of leaf cutters to cut out the shape, then pressed them between two soft silicon leaf molds to get the veins. Then I shaped them into bendy leaf-type shapes! Modeling chocolate will hold its shape pretty easily, and then get quite hard, but still be a little bit bendy later.
After ALL the components were ready, I started to assemble my showpiece.
the back!

The white chocolate base was glued onto the dark chocolate base. I then piped chocolate onto the scrolls and stood them up, holding them until they stayed in place. Amazing! This part was pretty hard because the scroll pieces were very thin and I didn't want my fingerprints to be all over them. The domes were glued together with tempered chocolate and then the whole sphere was glued to the base. I removed the acetate from the ribbon pieces and glued them down too. Then disaster struck! While I was figuring out ways to place the roses, some of my ribbon loops cracked :( I had made them a little too thin so they couldn't support the weight of the roses. Luckily I had made extra, so I made it work!

The assembly part took wayyy longer than I had originally thought, but it was amazing to see it all come together. What a lot of work! I'm sure if I did this kind of thing every day, it'd get easier.

At the end of class, we took our pieces up to be critiqued by Chef C. She brought up my fingerprints, cutting techniques of the scrolls, thickness and thinness of the chocolate, and any holes and visible "glue". I feel that it was a great attempt for my first try, and from far away you can't see any flaws :) Good thing she is only grading us on completion! And can you believe it - this assignment is worth ONE POINT! Great fun.

Tomorrow: sugar pulling!
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