Chocolate is not only good for you, but it may help your memory too. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology found that the flavonoid epicatechin (epi) in chocolate helped snails improve memory function. The benefits of chocolate just keep getting better.
Chocolate World has done it again. They’ve developed a StarterKit for the beginner chocolatier that has everything you need to make molded chocolates. The kit includes their top-of-the-line professional chocolatier tools and utensils:
chocolate world mold
disposal pastry bags
And there’s more. The kit also includes a booklet with two recipes and an accompanying YouTube video demonstrating how to make molded chocolates from start to finish.
You could buy these items separately, but in the end you’d probably 1) purchase lesser quality products (You can’t find polycarbonate molds in the US. What you find at places like Sur La Table and Michael’s are flimsy plastic molds that are only appropriate for making solid chocolates not filled chocolates) and 2) pay more because you’d pay for shipping from several vendors.
When I give chocolate making classes people always ask what they need to get started. A while back I wrote a post listing all the items I use. Chocolate World has made it easy by putting all the items you need together in one box. The only thing missing are the ingredients.
I’ve written about Chocolate World more than once. It’s the happiest place on earth for the chocolatier. When I would take classes at Callebaute’s Chocolate Academy in Belgium chocolatiers who came from around the world would always make a pilgrimage to Chocolate World to invest in chocolate molds and machinery. I know I never left Chocolate World without dropping a respectable amount of money. Now that I’m back in the USA, I realize what a treasure I have in all my Chocolate World merchandise. A trip to Belgium might not be possible for a person just starting in chocolate making, but you can do the next best thing. Bring a bit of Belgium into your home kitchen by investing in Chocolate World’s new StarterKit.
>/a>If you’ve ever wondered what differentiates French chocolate from Swiss chocolate from Belgian chocolate. Or wondered how chocolate goes from beans on trees to high priced bars in fashionable stores. Or was curious about how some of world’s finest chocolatiers got their start. Then you need look no further than Mort Rosenblum’s Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light. Written as part fine chocolate ethnography and part first person travel log, Rosenblum looks at chocolate not as a mere confection, but a cultural phenomenon worthy of study at every stage from the growing and harvesting of beans to the art of processing, production, and presentation.
An easy and well worthwhile read for the confirmed chocophile.
Once again science is pointing out that chocolate is everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure.
A new study reported in Prevention via NBC’s Health on Today (the article did not link to the original study) found that feeling guilty actually enhances pleasure. As if we needed a study to tell us that. To conduct the study researchers had one group scaned covers of health magazines and the other group look at magazine covers of non-health related publications. Afterwards both groups were given a piece of chocolate. Did I mention that all the study participants were women. The women who had spent time looking at the health magazine reported enjoying the chocolate more than the women who looked at other magazines. What did the researchers find out? The write-up quotes Kelly Goldsmith, PhD, an assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern as explaining “If guilt and pleasure are repeatedly connected, either by others or by ourselves, over time our brains may start to expect pleasure when we experience guilt,” she says. So go ahead and embrace the guilt with another piece of chocolate.
I knew I had to have one the minute I saw it. I was taking a chocolate class from Belgian Chocolate master Ryan Stevenson. While he was stirring a bowl of melted chocolate he took what looked like a square plastic gun from a holster on his waist and shot a red beam into the chocolate. “Almost ready,” he said. He had just taken the temperature of the chocolate without inserted anything. Fast. Clean. Efficient. I needed one. I asked Ryan the price and he said his professional quality infrared thermometer with holster cost about 80 Euros.
For the rest of the class I keep coming up with reasons to try the thermometer. I took the temperature of the room, the molds, even my scraper. Now I could find out the exact temperature of the room; it is best to work in a room around 68 degrees. Room temperature impacts how quickly chocolate cools during the tempering process. I could also find out the temperature of my molds. You don’t want to put chocolate in a really cold mold. It is best to use molds at room temperature (no colder than 68 degrees). When I first saw Ryan take the temperature of the chocolate using the infrared gun I was intrigued. After playing around with it I knew I had to have one.
That night I went on Amazon to see my options. I found dozens of infrared thermometers ranging in price from $16 to $75 dollars. I then started to read the reviews and found that some of the less expensive ones received outstanding reviews. These less expensive options didn’t come with holsters, but I thought I could live without it.
Sometimes a kitchen gadget really does make a task easier. I bought my first infrared thermometer about a year ago. Now I can’t image tempering chocolate without one.
I should mention one drawback to purchasing the inexpensive thermometers. I had to retired my first one after a year of hard use because it no longer was giving me accurate readings. It may be retired from the chocolate business but it’s still going entertaining my cats.
This blog addresses the needs, concerns, and interests of the home chocolatier.
Recipes: You'll find annotated and expanded recipes for making chocolate candy so that all your questions are answered
How To: Instructions on the different tasks involved in making chocolate from tempering chocolate to working with molds
Where to Buy: Suggestion on where to buy ingredients, supplies, tools, and utensils needed to make chocolate candy in your home kitchen.
AND Reviews: Reviews of chocolate shops, chocolate shows, chocolate events, chocolate recipe books, chocolatiers, and anything else chocolate that's fun to write about or review.
I originally started Writing with Chocolate in 2008 to blog about Belgian chocolate while living in Brussels. You can read my reviews of artisan chocolate shops in Brussels and check out my chocolate-themed walking tours by clicking on the "Belgian Chocolate Resources" button on the top navigation bar.
Now that I’m back home in Alexandria, Virginia, I have a new focus that brings together all that I learned in Brussels. As the saying goes, build the web site you want. In late 2012 I revamped Writing with Chocolate to address the needs and concerns of the home "do-it-yourself-er" chocolatier like me.
Cheers and chocolate,