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StarterKit from Chocolate World

Posted by on Jun 6, 2013 in Announcements, Blog, Molds, News, Supplies, Utensils | 0 comments

Chocolate World's new Starter KitChocolate 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:

  • pallet knife
  • digital thermometer
  • chocolate world mold
  • disposal pastry bags
  • scraper

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.

Right now the kit is only available for purchase directly from Chocolate World in Belgium for the price of 36 euros plus shipping.  However, the kit will be available from their US distributor Chef Rubber who sells the complete line of Chocolate World’s polycarbonate molds.

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.

You can buy small amounts of chocolate in the grocery store, such as Trader Joes’ Pound Plus (Here is a link to a short post I wrote on this topic).  Or you can buy  top quality chocolate in bulk from around the world online, such as from Worldwide Chocolate or Chocosphere.  Here is a link to a post I wrote on my trials and tribulations in finding ingredients online to make artisan chocolates when I first moved back to the USA.

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.

Chocolate World’s StarterKit YouTube video

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Tempering Tips Tuesday – Infrared Thermometer

Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 in Blog, Featured, How to, Infrared Thermometer, tempering tips tuesday | 0 comments

 

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.


Order one on Amazon

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Buying Fine Chocolate in Small Quantities at the Grocery Store

Posted by on Sep 23, 2012 in Ingredients, Supplies | 1 comment

If you’re looking to buy small amounts of fine chocolate at the grocery store for making chocolate candy, here are two of my favorites.

The first is Trader Joes Pound Plus where you get a generous amount of Belgian chocolate at a ridiculously low price.

The second of my “go to” brands is Ghirardelli available at most grocery stores  whether in Alexandria, Virginia or Akron, Ohio.  Ghirardelli makes good quality dark, milk, and white chocolate baking bars in 4 oz quantities. I found that Target has the best prices on these Ghirardelli bars.

 

Trader Joes Pound Plus
Price: $4.99 for dark (Bittersweet and 70%) or milk
Weight: 16 (plus) oz
NOTE:  This chocolate states on the packing that it is made from Belgian chocolate but doesn’t state which Belgian chocolate manufacturer.  Though the packaging doesn’t name names, it does say that their “supplier is a well-known artisan confectioner in a small-town just outside of Antwerp, Belgium.”
Ghirardelli
Price: $3.95
Weight: 4 oz
Flavors:

NOTE: I found the best price for these bars at Target.  Also Ghirardelli’s baking chocolate is kosher.

MORE OPTIONS: If you expand your search to specialty stores, such as Whole Foods, your choice of wonderful chocolates  that you can find in small amounts increases.  Here are three amazing chocolates made in the USA.

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Finding Ingredients is Not a Spectator Sport

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Blog, Ingredients, Supplies | 1 comment

Making chocolate in my new home should have been easy. I knew how to make chocolate. I had made chocolate several times a week back in Brussels. I thought that once my chocolate making tools had arrived I would be right back into my chocolate making routine. What I hadn’t anticipated was how hard it would be to find ingredients I needed. Ok, so Alexandria, Virginia is not one of the world centers of chocolate like Brussels. Still, I didn’t expect it to require days of super sleuthing. Suffice it to say, finding high quality chocolate making ingredients in a new town is not a spectator sport.

The first challenge was finding Belgian chocolate. I knew that Callebaut and Belcolad sold chocolate in the USA.  So, I called their US headquarters and tried to get in touch with a mid-Atlantic representative. After several phone calls and numerous unanswered messages I decided to try a different approach. I started asking everyone I knew if they had any suggestions. The suggestion everyone made was look online. On the internet I found many places to buy chocolate. The ones that looked the most promising were: Worldwide Chocolate and Marque Foods

But I still wanted to find a local cash and carry source. After visiting several big box stores, I finally found 5 kilogram blocks of Callebaut at Restaurant Depot. After I got the chocolate home, I realized that I bought Callebaut 811NV with 2 teardrops instead of the 3 teardrops I normally bought. Each teardrop represents how much cocoa  butter is in the chocolate.  Buying a block with only 2 teardrops meant that the chocolate had less cocoa butter. Fortunately I had brought a 4 kilogram box of cocoa butter with me from Brussels.

Now that I had the chocolate, I needed the ingredients to make the fillings. This turned out to be harder than the chocolate. Sugars such as trimoline and sorbitol were nowhere to be found. The only glucose I could find was a small Wiltons tub at Michaels. In the end, I found all my sugars on Amazon.

Callebaut chocolate and Penzeys spices.

I was pleasantly surprised in terms of spices. After lamenting that I was having trouble finding good quality spices, my friend Courtnay suggested a trip to the local Penzeys Spice store. I found everything I needed from whole mace to four different kinds of stick cinnamon.

All that said, I’m pleased to report that my quest to find all the ingredients I need to make yummy chocolates in the Belgian tradition is complete.

Off to make chocolates.

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Starter Kit

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Appliances, How to, Molds, Supplies, Utensils | 0 comments

My friend Teresa recently asked for a list of essential items for making chocolate in a home kitchen.  “Not a problem” I replied and set out to put together a short “Chocolate Making Starter Kit.”  What began as a short and simple list quickly grew into a long list of items I can’t live without when making chocolate in my home kitchen. Here are my lists. The first is the Basic Starter Kit. The second list features other items I can’t live without. And the third list consists of additional items I use but didn’t photograph.

Basic Starter Kit

  • Callebaut Dark Chocolate 811NV (12.50 euros at Colruyt)
  • Plastic Mixing Bowl (5 euros @ Chocolate World)
  • Chocolate Mold (16 euros @ Chocolate World)
  • Digital thermometer ($10 @ Amazon.com)
  • Box of 100 Plastic Piping Bags (17 euros @ Chocolate World)
  • Chocolate Scraper (6 euros @ Chocolate World)
  • Pallet Knife (7 euros @ Chocolate World)

 

Items I Can’t Live Without

SCRAPING, STIRRING & POURING  
Palette Scrapers and Knife
I like to have several different shapes and sizes.
Plastic Scrapers
These are for scraping bowls and cleaning chocolate off the table and floor.  I like to have many on hand in different shapes and sizes.
Plastic Spatulas
One can never have too many spatulas.  They come in different sizes and styles. For making fillings, be sure to have some that are silicon and can be used with hot liquids.
Plastic Chocolate Stirring Spoons
These long and flat spoons were made for stirring chocolate without producing air bubbles.
Plastic Containers for Filling Piping Bags
I use a plastic pitcher or pasta storage container as a stand for filling piping bags with tempered chocolate. This makes it easier to fill the bag up with chocolate for filling and capping moulds.
TAKING THE TEMPERATURE  
Thermometers
A key tool for tempering chocolate at home is a thermometer especially if your home kitchen is like mine where I cannot keep the room at a constant or consistent temperature (one entire wall of my kitchen is a window resulting in the room temperature fluctuating with the weather).  There are many different kinds of thermometers on the market.  One can use a simple meat thermometer (you need a thermometer that can read low temperatures).  Digital thermometers with long probs are nice because they work well in large bowls.  My favorite thermometer is my infrared thermometer.  You just point and read the temperature; No need to insert anything.
WEIGHING IN  
Digital Scale
Making fillings for molded chocolate requires precise measuring. To do this one needs a digital scale. The scales come in different shapes and styles. One need not be fancy, just accurate.
KEEPING IT CLEAN  
Micro fiber dish cloths
I use these to wipe down the molds, spatulas, scrapers, and even my hands. I like to use micro fiber because the cloth won’t scratch the molds or tools
Trash Can
I like to have my trash can near to my working area.  However, I don’t need a large trash can out in my kitchen all the time.  The answer is a colaspable container.  I use a child’s laundry basket from IKEA.
This is what it looks like collapsed Here is what it looks like with a garbage bag inside. 

Additional Items not Shown

  • Extra plastic bowls – One can never have too many plastic bowls around.
  • Blow dryer or hot air gun – This is to reheat the chocolate and/or warm up the molds.
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