Thursday, September 02, 2004

Okay, the chocolate leaves are good to go. Spend Monday and Tuesday nights on them. Monday, everything seemed to go well. I had all my equipment ready, bought some organic roses at my local Farmer's Market. I was ready to go. I calibrated my thermometer in boiling water (212 Fahrenheit), melted the chocolate (Ghirardelli Dark) to 120 degrees, cooled it to 110, manipulated it with a spatula on a marble surface until it reached 90, stirred it all back together, painted it on the back of the rose leaves, chilled it, painted an extra layer, chilled again, and.... ^@#%! I couldn't get the chocolate off of the leaves. Just the heat from my hands was enough to melt the chocolate faster than I could work with it. Over and over again I turned leaves into blobs.

So, Tuesday night, I tried changing a few things around. I used Trader Joe's semi-sweet chocolate chips. I planned on being extra super precise with the thermometer. When I went to recalibrate it, it seemed to be off by a good ten degrees. I couldn't figure how that could have happened since the night before. The, every time I went to take a measurement, the number was all over the place from one second to the next. It was worse than useless. I ended up forgetting about the thermometer and just attempting to guess the condition of chocolate myself. What else was I going to do? So I got the leaves painted and chilled and then I was afraid to melt them again, so I left them in the fridge over night.

So tonight, I look up some tempering instructions online, and they're so freakin' casual! Oh, just melt it in the microwave and then stir it up til it's not so hot anymore! Voila, tempered! I had been so paranoid about getting all the temperatures just so. Well, whatever. If it works, it works. If not, maybe no chocolate leaves for the cake, or maybe I'll just keep trying every night this week with different brands and formulations of chocolate until one of them is stable. Or maybe I'll build giant refrigerated robotic hands to peel the real leaves from the chocolate ones. Probably not that last one. Well, I did decide to take the extra step of purchasing latex gloves. I theorized that they would perhaps delay the transfer of heat to my hands long enough to let me deal with them. And you know what? I'm not sure if it was the type of chocolate, or the relaxed temperature restrictions, or the overnight refrigeration, or the gloves, but something worked and the leaves look great! Whew! I'll probably work on an extra batch tomorrow, just in case. Meanwhile, here are some pictures of tonight's success. Enjoy! Who wants to play Guess What Else Is In Ben's Fridge?

choc_leaves1 choc_leaves2