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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Culinary School - Session 62: Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cake and Chocolate Leaves

Culinary School: Session 62 (01.14.15)

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cake and Chocolate Leaves

If at first you don't succeed...

It's a new day in chocolate (actually, it's just the second day). Time for a new tempering technique!

Seeding: Less messy than Tabling. More direct than the Ice Bath Method. No wonder it's the tempering method of choice for many pastry chefs. 

With Seeding, chocolate is first heated to a temperature where all of the existing crystal structures in the cocoa butter melt (i.e. over 97 Fahrenheit). The chocolate is then removed from the heat and actively stirred. As the chocolate cools, small pieces of already tempered chocolate are stirred into the mix. These pieces of chocolate help to cool the melted chocolate. But more importantly, the small pieces of tempered chocolate eventually catalyze a crystallization reaction that tempers the melted chocolate.

For dark chocolate, at temperatures above ~94 Fahrenheit, any Form V Beta Crystals (the "good" crystals) that are added to the melted chocolate will simply break down. Below that temperature, however, the crystals begin to form a network. By agitating (i.e. actively stirring) the chocolate at this point, the crystallization spreads and the chocolate comes to temper.

Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cake with Chocolate Leaves

- Ingredients Running Tally -

Ingredients used to date (01.14.15):
  • Flour: 23,900g
  • Eggs: 14,050g (281x)
  • Sugar: 16,875g
  • Butter: 15,080g
  • Milk/Cream: 12,945g
  • Chocolate: 1,225g (since 01.12.15)

    - The Recipes -


    Chocolate Fruit & Nut Cake

    This is what happens when someone decides to make a chocolate version of a fruit cake. But wait, that's not a bad thing! This fruit cake is not one of those stomach churning, grocery store monstrosities. This is an incredibly dense and rich cake carried to greatness by an impressive quantity of chopped walnuts, cherries and dried pears. The fact that it is chocolate flavored is just an added bonus... as is the chocolate glaze... as are the chocolate leaf decorations.

    What's most notable about this cake is that, although it is very moist and has an amazingly dense crumb, it does not have that fudge-like, almost unbaked consistency that seems to dominate and destroy many would-be chocolate cake indulgences.

    Focus Techniques:
    Let's be honest: this cake was just an edible canvass on which to showcase some tempered chocolate leaves.

    Chocolate Fruit and Nut Cake with Chocolate Leaves

    Chocolate Fruit and Nut Cake with Chocolate Leaves


    Chocolate Leaves

    Chocolate shaped leaves molded using tempered chocolate.

    Focus Techniques:
    - Creating molded chocolate pieces. In this case, lemon leaves are dipped in tempered chocolate and allowed to set. Once the chocolate is sufficiently hard (which does not take long with well tempered chocolate), the leaves are pulled away from the chocolate, leaving a perfect leaf impression.
    - Using white and milk chocolate as design highlights. To create various textures and designs, white and milk chocolate can be applied to the leaves prior to dipping. A sponge dipped in chocolate achieves a textured appearance. More dramatic drizzles and swirls can be piped on the leaves for an abstract appearance.

    Lemon Leaves

    Drizzled Milk Chocolate as a Highlight for Chocolate Leaves

    Swirled Milk Chocolate as a Highlight for Chocolate Leaves

    Highlight Layers Applied to Lemon Leaves

    Chocolate Leaf with a Layer of Sponged White and Milk Chocolate

    Chocolate Leaf with a Swirl of White and Milk Chocolate

    Chocolate Leaf with a Drizzle of White and Milk Chocolate

    Chocolate Leaves

    Next - Session 63: Chocolate Orange Truffles and Chocolate Boxes

    Previous - Session 61: Introduction to Chocolate and Tempering Chocolate

    Take a look at the full syllabus

    Questions? Comments? Send me an email or leave a comment.
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