October 29th, 2006

Chocolates&Me (ganache truffles recipe)

chocolate jars

First, a quick report on last Saturday’s trade:
Broadway Market being outdoor, weather plays an inevitable part in the sales & general foot count. Rain is my enemy & whenever I checked the weather forecast during the week, it had the ‘double raindrop with dark clouds’ symbol for Saturday. So not expecting great number of customers to show up, I made considerably less…

On Saturday morning, it was raining & was piercingly cold when I was loading the car. It was to be expected but the thought of bad prospects of sales gave me a mild depression anyhow… But by the time we were in the market unloading, the rain had stopped & soon as my table was set up, three large fruit tarts got sold to one couple organising a big celebration. That’s my stall rent sorted easy! And no more large fruit tarts to flog. That set my happy mode for the day, & I managed to sell all my stuff except for five truffles which I gave away to my stall neighbour.

– In the end, it didn’t rain again until four o’clock! Damn you, weather forecast…! I could have made more & sold more…

Anyway, for this entry I ought to start writing about my favourite subject; my absolute devotion to chocolate, that is to fine & honest chocolate, not to the usual suspects lining up the shelves in corner shops.


Chocolate is my first love before pastry, & the initial intentions of the Coco&Me stall was to sell just chocolates.

The stall name itself is a play with the word ‘cocoa’, & was the idea that came out with my good friend Ari. It makes me smile when I look back at the list of candidate names we came up with at the time; there was choko, choco, choco&co, cocoa&jo… Coco&co was the major candidate, but the name was already taken by a business some where obscure in England. Hence, a slight variation of it ‘Coco&Me’ was born. We thought ‘Me’ sounded more personal & friendlier anyway.
Now I’m just glad the name is something that doesn’t especially tie me down to solely selling chocolate, because as for the Summer I am a 100% cakes stall (I can not sell chocolates in the Summer because they melt from 19 degrees temperature, & it is virtually impossible to try to temper it in a hot kitchen!).

In very very basic terms there are two types of chocolates in this world:

  • Cheapo chocolates using vegetable fat (a substitute to cocoa butter to reduce costs) & poor percentage of cocoa solid content. It uses artificial flavourings & preservatives to make up for poor quality starting ingredients. It might use a chemical substitute called Vanillin instead of Vanilla, which has a cheap ‘candy’ like metallic after taste.
  • Fine chocolates using cocoa butter (the cacao bean’s natural fat) & high quality natural ingredients. Good chocolate should only contain cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar & sometimes real vanilla & soya lecithin as an emulsifier.

On my stall I have four big jars of fine chocolate buttons. I sell them by weight from 50 grams upwards. I scoop them out on demand in to a transparent satchel bag & tie it with colourful Mulberry paper string.

Currently the jars contains the following:

  • White: El Rey ICOA. The only white made with undeodorized cacao butter (deodorization is a chemical process that strips flavour). It is buttery smooth, & it isn’t cloyingly sweet like any other whites around either (others use more sugar) I truly think it is the best white the industry offers (although based on looks only, I like the Green&Blacks’ white bar with vanilla seeds – black specks on densely cream coloured chocolate looks rather lush). The ICOA is the best seller out of the four, & is very popular with the parents with small children. (By the way did you know that white chocolate is actually not really classified as ‘chocolate’? It is because it contains only cocoa butter & no cocoa solids!)
  • Milk: El Rey Caoba 41%. It is one of the darkest milks around (the usual milk chocolate has around 35% cocoa content).
  • Dark: Organic Noir Selection Belcolade 53%. It has a perfect balance between bitterness & sweetness. It is important to have ‘organic’ on my stall. It attracts so much more interests!
  • Dark: El Rey Gran Saman 70%. For the true chocoholics. Deep & intense chocolate with slight berry flavour.

You’ve probably noticed that I am El Rey-ed out in my selection. It’s plainly because my main chocolate supplier doesn’t sell any other brands that are just as worthy, & I don’t want to buy different brands from different suppliers as it’ll incur additional shipping costs for them. Besides, aesthetically I like it that all the buttons are the same size! It looks good when customers want a mixed bag.

On the subject of selection, I must let you know of the existence of a treasure cove for chocolate lovers called In’t Veld Schokoladen. It stocks chocolate bars from most of the best fine chocolate brands! Probably the best chocolate shop in Germany in terms of the huge selection on offer. That said, my less-chocolate-aware partner had a ‘bitter’ experience in their cafe when he asked the man about the wonderful hot chocolate they served… D asked them “what do you put in your hot chocolate? Is it cocoa powder and milk…” when the cafe man snapped on my poor guy & scoffed at the mere thought of using anything other than real chocolate! Maybe he was having a bad hair day… But what is all this snobbery surrounding fine chocolates about hey?!

If the subject of fine chocolate interests you, there are some specialized websites like seventypercent.com, where I swotted up & gained knowledge on the last two years. Through what they had organized during the National Chocolate Week, I have been to talks & seminars & even a factory tour at L’artisan du Chocolat, which was insightful as to how ‘fine chocolate’ can be made at a huge production like theirs. I also bought two fresh cocoa pods from their shop in Sloane Square for £7 each. One for consumption (the white pulp was sweet, the beans were acrid) & one for drying whole (which I have as a display on my stall).

Working with chocolate is initially all about trials & tribulations. Tempering (a specific method of melting the chocolate so that the end result is shiny with a crisp snap) really is tricky to master. It’s another whole new chapter if I was to write about it, so maybe that’s for future posting.

But instead, maybe I can share a recipe for a basic ganache (‘ganache‘ is a french term referring to the blended mixture of chocolate & cream) & how to make rolled truffles which does not require you to temper if you coat it with cocoa powder. Also from this I can briefly discuss how to easily make varieties of flavoured truffles with it. Please click HERE to view the recipe on another page.

I know, it was a long entry again… But… but, I really can go on forever about chocolates…! Thank you for reading til the end. Please leave a comment if you’d like to, & I’ll be hoping that you’d come back for my next installment next week!

t xx

23 Comments »

  1. Hey you! I’m working at the desk today so a rare moment to catch up on emails and a chance to read your blog! And read it I did right till the end! Very entertaining and interesting too! How’s the jam going? L xx

    Comment by Lisa - October 29, 2006 3:30 pm

  2. Hi Lisa! Thanks! Jam making is in good progress & I have already sold several ‘strawberry &*kirsh’ jam. I’m gonna develop more but it’s always on the back burner… Lookin’ forward to meeting up in Germany! T xx

    Comment by Tamami - October 29, 2006 11:10 pm

  3. I’m so impressed with your knowledge! You’re a real Master!
    Keep it up Tam, you’ve inspired me with your dedication.
    From your chum in NY, land of (processed) grilled cheese sandwiches and other non-choccie delights.

    Comment by Layla - October 29, 2006 11:56 pm

  4. Hey L! Ta. Whenever you have time, go visit Dean & DeLuca for me. There’s one on 560 Broadway (Prince Street). I haven’t been, but it’s apparently really good food department store…

    Comment by Tamami - October 31, 2006 12:07 am

  5. Sugoi!!! I am soo impressed! It was very interesting indeed! I want more!

    Comment by keiko - October 31, 2006 6:28 pm

  6. Ha ha, thanks Keiko! Some peeps have said the entries were too long…! So I’m v. glad you read it til the end.

    Comment by Tamami - October 31, 2006 10:35 pm

  7. Wow, that was a great read! Thank you for educating me on your favorite subject of chocolates. I’m a big fan myself and I’m easily satisfied with the cheapo kind but you’ve inspired me to splash out more and have the real “fine” ones once in a while! I can’t wait to read your next entry. The longer the better!

    Comment by Akiko - November 3, 2006 12:54 pm

  8. Aki-chan, hey, I’ve realized that doing this blog actually turns out to be a good way of keeping in communication with you! I’m so happy!

    Comment by Tamami - November 4, 2006 12:13 am

  9. Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought! Keep up the good work so we can stay in touch!Ganbatte!

    Comment by Akiko - November 4, 2006 10:14 pm

  10. Hi there,

    Would just like to firstly say that I think your blog and photo’s are terrific. I wish I had the time to do a blog myself but with 4 children I honestly don’t have the time none the less very well done you.

    I’m actually looking for a bit of advice therefore if you had a moment even to send me a little email I’d be very grateful.

    At the moment I prepack and label all of my homemade goodies at home which as you can imagine is seriously time consuming! I’d really like to cut down on the amount of prepacking I do as I’d be able to spend more time making then.

    I noticed you use acrylic picture frames/display infront of your goodies. I’ve noticed the bakers up here also do that and just wondered as I have no one to compare to is that o.k. for the chocolate also?

    One of these days I’ll find the time and get my blog started, you are such an inspiration!
    Keep up the good work.

    Kindest regards Dawn :0)

    Comment by Dawn Tyson - March 16, 2010 1:26 am

  11. Hello Dawn, thank you for your lovely comment! – Yes, I use a frame in front of my good to stop pets & children reaching for the food. All of my stuff is ‘bare’ – no packaging, & once I have a customer, I pack them in boxes/ bags. I find that in a farmer’s market situation, it looks more appealing. – By the way, I don’t sell chocolates from late-spring to mid-Autumn, as it would melt/ spoil.
    Hope this helps, & good luck with your business!!

    Comment by tamami - March 16, 2010 9:21 pm

  12. I have enjoyed reading this.. I am also a lot into cooking and baking, I found you while looking for Tarte Tatin recepies.
    Its great that you made a step forward and let our dream come truth..
    I wish you all the best on you way!
    Blanka, South France

    Comment by Blanka - December 26, 2010 9:38 pm

  13. Blanka,
    how lovely of you to leave a comment! Thank you xx Good luck with the Tarte Tatin!!!

    Comment by tamami - December 27, 2010 12:56 pm

  14. Hello Tamami! thank you so much for your lovely truffles recipe, which I’m going to try right away. I might pass by your stall at the market soon to try the originals :D

    Comment by Eli - April 20, 2011 6:48 pm

  15. thanks Eli! Happy truffle making!!! And hope to see you one day down at the market! x

    Comment by Tamami - April 20, 2011 9:07 pm

  16. Oh no. I’m in trouble again, Tamami. I love chocolate, too, but usually only dark chocolate. A trip to Ghent, Belgium is coming up and I’m sure to fall victim to the chocolate delights on offer there, especially after reading your inspiring chocolate blog. In Italy we make and eat chocolate-covered toasted almonds in little pirottini (paper cases) at Christmas. (No point attempting to make anything with chocolate in the Mezzogiorno in mid-summer!) I’ve made them here in the UK, but not with great success because the chocolate doesn’t seem thick enough to coat the almonds well and it doesn’t dry to a sheen. I use Green & Black’s 85% Organic bar choc. Any advice? I have a proper temperature probe… BTW, I made your gorgeous !!! scones and used an 8 cm cutter and added Cointreau-soaked dried fruit and citrus zest to make them ‘Christmas-y’. Peeps at work adored them. They were incredibly light and had that beautiful crack around the middle. The main difference from my usual recipe was cutting in very cold Lurpak block butter in cubelets instead of rubbing in spreadable Stork margarine and keeping it all cold until it went into a hot Aga. I took your sage advice: ‘Think: making butter croissants.’ Excellent advice! Heavenly! BTW #2 the brownies keep remarkably well. I saved a little square stash at work and slice a tiny morsel off when times get tough. It is relished with delight! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Next time I’ll use even more pistachios and pecans and no Brazil nuts. The chopped green pistachios look especially pretty on top. I hope your sales are fab in the run-up to Christmas and that you experience moments of mindful joy and peace in the midst of the usual flurry of activity associated with the Season. Maybe you can steal a few hours to enjoy a winter picnic in the park with a little fire burning with your nearest and dearest. Mothers hurtling towards exhaustion as Christmas approaches can suffer particularly in Advent. Just think! Dipping marshmallows into a pot of chocolate melting over a little stove in a crisp winter landscape without rain. Ahhhh. Beaming good vibes your way. Rebecca x

    Comment by Rebecca - December 8, 2014 7:56 am

  17. Sorry about the long message. R.

    Comment by Rebecca - December 8, 2014 7:58 am

  18. Hi Rebecca! :)
    Oooooooh, enjoy Belgium!!!! I’ve never been! And about the chocolate & giving it a sheen, it’s all about mastering the tempering method… Which is I’m afraid a rather tricky thing to get right. But since you have a temperature probe, maybe you could try one day? (You’d need a marble slab also).
    .
    Scones with the crack in the middle!!!!! Yayyyy! Many congratulations, I really think you have a knack for all things baking! :) And yes, cold butter – the way to go! I haven’t made them in ages, you’ve reminded me!
    .
    Brownies: oh! I like that it keeps so well! Did the texture/ mouth feel change over the course of the week? (Just curious!)
    .
    Take good care & wrap up warm! It’s gone terribly cold since last week hasn’t it!?
    x

    Comment by Tamami - December 8, 2014 9:37 am

  19. Yes, the crack in the scones… I wanted to photograph it, but they were eaten so quickly that I didn’t get the opportunity. They really were scrumptious. I’m already known for baking tasty scones. To be honest, though, the results of baking your recipe was like going from a Masters to a PhD.

    Texture of brownies? Weird as this might sound, I like the texture more the older they get. I wonder if this is known as ‘curing’? They started out quite gooey, shiny on top and dry around the periphery. Now they’re drier — but still moist — and offer more resistance to the bite. I’m still ‘straightening up the edges’ as the square gets smaller and smaller. I think it’s keeping well because its cut sides are not exposed to the air, so it stays moist. It’s wrapped in ‘Parchment lined foil’ (from Lakeland, an expensive experimental purchase used judiciously and sparingly that was well worth it!), and I’ve kept it in a tight-fitting-lidded tin. Also, I used a small, deep, scalloped cookie cutter to punch out little rounds presented in pirottini (little paper cases) to offer as gifts for people who pop by to visit. These tend to be stressed out lecturers. The facial transformation as the taste kicks in is A-mazing: the best therapy EVER!

    Comment by Rebecca - December 11, 2014 7:03 am

  20. I can’t believe you’ve never been to Belgium! It’s practically on your doorstep!!! With your chocoholism? You could do it as a day trip easily from London. Ghent is a fab city with proper bread available everywhere. They make a traditional little cake that resembles a pound cake available in bakeries all over the city. It’s delicious. Also, there’s a cooking shop (Dille and Kamille) on the river that I can’t wait to visit again… I’d live in the shop if I could… and Japanese cooking shops, too, come to think of it. That’s where I bought my ceramic ginger and garlic grater… don’t know how I lived without it before… and a really effective stiff-bristled brush for cleaning earthy veg. The citizens of Ghent are fiercely independent, yet helpful and hospitable. Every Thursday in Ghent is vegetarian day, so all public establishments serve vegetarian food in schools and hospitals. I’m not vegetarian but I like the attitude. And finally, the chocolate… and the markets… and the trams. I could go on and on. It’s a cycling city, so if you are driving it’s a bit of a nightmare. I once found myself driving on a tramline where only trams were permitted! Ghent, here I come!

    Comment by Rebecca - December 11, 2014 7:27 am

  21. I happen to have an old slab of marble that I found in our 300 year old cellar that measures 46 cm x 56 cm (19″ x 22″). It just needs to be wiped off. Do you think it’s big enough? And I have two silpats that are used to refrigerate croissant dough, invaluable. I’m going to have a go at tempering chocolate. A huge bag of shelled and blanched almonds are just begging to be enrobed with the finest dark chocolate. Shelling nuts is one of our winter evening activities in Italy when it’s too dark to work outside. I love ‘skinning’ almonds, a satisfyingly meditative job. I’ll let you know how it goes… x

    Comment by Rebecca - December 11, 2014 7:42 am

  22. Sorry for my long-winded message. x

    Comment by Rebecca - December 11, 2014 7:44 am

  23. Hi Rebecca! :)
    You’ve sold me Ghent! Sounds so good!!! I’ll definitely go one day! The “Thursday in Ghent is vegetarian day” sounds so awesome too. What a great idea. Enjoy enjoy enjoy!!!
    And about the marble slab – sounds like a great size. Just make sure the surface is dry after washing – as chocolate seizes with contact with water! Also, worth mentioning: there is other method of tempering, namely, “seeding”, whereby you add solid tempered chocolate to melted chocolate. The correct alignment of molecules from the tempered solid helps the melted chocolate to align properly too. – But for the best shine, marble slab is best. x

    Comment by Tamami - December 12, 2014 12:48 am

 

Leave a comment