Don't be fooled by these round shaped chocolates. Nope, I did not buy them from a shop. I actually made them at home, fresh from preservatives and certainly well moulded into its dainty sphere delights.
Thanks to The daring Kitchen challenge of the month, I have been playing with plenty of chocolates lately. From tempering to moulding, and filling each chocolates with its own complementary flavours, my Chocolate Factory is on full steam and always rearing to go. It was literally a gift from heaven when Natalie from Squires Kitchen sent me a chocolate book for review, and a beautiful polycarbonate chocolate mould to try on. I was over the moon to say the least, and I just could not contain my excitement to try out 'working with chocolate' on that exquisite mould.
This 71-paged chocolate heaven book is a definite God sent. Authored by the famous pastry chef and chocolatier, Mark Tilling, exclusively published for Squires Kitchen, this book contains everything beyond basics that would help any inspiring chocolatiers to create homemade chocolates with glossy, professional finish. Written in approachable manner, easy to understand instructions, the tempering techniques were so easy to follow that one does not need to attend chocolate masterclass, provided the instructions are followed verbatim.
It was time to put the reading into practice. Armed with some luscious Belgian couverture chocolates, I chose the tempering method using bain-marie, outwinning the other two techniques taught in details in the book; the microwave method and tempering with powdered cocoa butter. What I thought was a great help is how tips are given for testing the tempered chocolates without the use of candy thermometer. I erred on the side of caution and used my ever-so-reliable thermo though this tip is definitely worth a try on next experiment.
Flipping through the pages, I was rushed with adrenaline to try out the beautiful creations displayed. Have you ever tried chocolate transfer sheet? Guess what, despite cooking and living chocolates for years, I have not come across much use of chocolate transfer sheets, until this book was in my hand. The next thing I knew, I ordered some Swiss marble chocolate transfer sheet online and anxiously tried out my tempered white chocolate on those magical sheets. Verdict, these easy to create decorations looked so deceptively extravagant, hence a must-have for that glamorous finish.
This clever book also has sections on piping, working with marble slabs to create chocolate nests and fans, as well as using moulds to create your own fancy chocolate bars. I was particularly delighted with the recipe chapter at the end. With arrays of truffles, cupcakes, mousses and celebration cakes to try from, this book is definitely worth a buy. Having said that, I would not mind a larger section on the recipes to be included in the book and probably more on chocolate decorating techniques and party ideas if a new edition is to be released.
Finally it was time to try out the polycarbonate mould. This is very exciting, given my exposure to chocolate making all this while has been limited to silicone moulds. Making full use of my tempering practice, I decided to make some milk-and-white chocolate filled with whipped dark chocolate ganache. This simple creation sums up the knowledge of tempering different types of chocolates ie milk, dark and white, as they need to be tempered at its ideal temperature, respectively. The final product was exquisite, with decadent silky smooth ganache encased in crusty chocolate shells. I just tapped the mould gently on my kitchen top and all the chocolates came out of the moulds perfectly!
As I am writing this, my freezer is already laden with pistachio and nougat filled chocolates, ready to be boxed into their pretty little giftboxes for family and friends. It goes without saying how satisfying it is to make your own professional looking shop-bought lookalike chocolates, thanks to the techniques learnt from the Squires Chocolate book and the high quality polycarbonate moulds.
This is truly a wonderful experience and a much welcomed culinary skill that will be cherished in my kitchen for years to come.
Note: Special thanks to Squires Kitchen for this wonderful polycarbonate chocolate mould and the book.
Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion, based on my own experiments trying out the products and not prejudiced by any external influence.