Another Nasty Learning Curve

Did you know that chocolate needs to be tempered?  Neither did I.  I’m not even sure how I came upon this fact, but needless to say, I now know how to temper chocolate. You know how when you buy commercial chocolate it has a snap when you break it, and a glossy sheen?  As well, it doesn’t melt in your hands instantly?

This is all thanks to the arduous and picky tempering process.  You’ll recall that last weekend I’d experimented with various chocolate bark recipes, and came up with four combinations.  I sent samples of each to my web designer to photograph and put on my site, and took a bunch of samples to the all-women gym I attend.

Then I discovered the process of tempering chocolate, and had to tell the web designer to just eat and not photograph what I sent.  He admitted he was a bit dismayed upon seeing the bark, as even though tasty, it wasn’t overly attractive.  Now he’s going to be photographing the Michelangelo of bark in that it is absolutely gorgeous.

To temper chocolate, you have to melt it very carefully, and use a chocolate thermometer to measure the temperature.  It has to be heated to 125 degrees F.  Then you take it off the heat, and cool it until it’s 86 degrees.  At that point you return it to the heat until it’s not more than 90 degrees, and work with it within that temperature range.  Can you see why I’m a bit prickly about it?

In any case, I now have glossy bark that has a beautiful snap.  It was tasty before, and still is, but now it’s also nice to handle and look at.  I’ve wrapped the pieces in cellophane and then put ribbon around it.  Tomorrow I’m going to put a display in the glass case at the Woman’s Place gym.  Women plus chocolate should be like shooting fish in a barrel, non?

And speaking of the gym, it’s the most wonderful conglomeration of interesting women.  I ordered a bee hive for this spring from my pal Lorraine, who has hives and sells honey.  She advised me to get a bee suit, saying, “you’ll feel better if you have one.”  Then she proceeded to tell me about forgetting to zip the hood shut one day and getting hundreds of stings on her head.

I figure the hundreds of stings I’ll be getting as I learn beekeeping will help distract me from the pain of holding a thermometer into a bowl of melted chocolate. 

Yesterday as I stood at the stove for three hours, sweating from the process, I was thinking this appears to be another fine mess I’ve gotten myself into.

However, maybe the learning curve associated with the impending bees will top this.  But it’s all very interesting and wonderful, and contributes to the general excitement I feel about the Year of the Rabbit, which is supposed to be a lucky year for us all.

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