December 6, 2012

What Heaven Looks Like …

Yes, it’s been confirmed, heaven looks like a table full of hand-dipped chocolates with side chairs painted the most cheerful color of turquoise, in case you didn’t know.

Two years ago I wrote about a beautiful box of handmade chocolates given to me by a friend at Christmas. You can read that here.

A few days ago, I spent an hour watching that same friend as she explained to me and showed me how she became a chocolatier. I am in love with the idea that she is carrying on a legacy started by her grandmother and continued by her own mother. She is truly a master chocolatier.

Let me start by saying I was BLOWN AWAY by the mulitple steps, attention to detail and skill it takes to truly ‘hand dip’ chocolates. It is not at all what I imagined.  I had an image in my mind of Angie holding a little dipping fork, gently placing each center into a little vat of chocolate until covered. Ta da. Done.

Nope.  That’s not what happens. At all.

Before I ever got there Angie had already spent who knows how long making all the centers – orange, lime and chocolate cremes, cherry cordials, toasted coconut haystacks, almond and pecan turtles, toffees and who knows what else! 

Look at these turtle centers. I could have eaten this entire tray just like this!  She has perfected all of her recipes over the years, using her mother’s, creating her own. This caramel had the perfect shine. Oh man, I’m drooling on my computer.

Next she tempers the chocolate.  It’s not just any chocolate, either. It’s the really, really good kind and she orders it by the hundreds of pounds. I seriously like this girl.

Tempering chocolate is an art.  Chocolate contains butter fats, that when heated to certain temperatures separate which can cause your chocolate to spot and stain when cooled. Tempering is warming and then cooling the chocolate to the point where the butter fats are reincorporated for perfect sheen, “crack” and taste.

Angie tempers her chocolate by hand. She uses her granite countertop to help cool the melted chocolate. When it’s the right temperature and consistency – and she just knows when it is – she takes a turtle center and hand dips it. As in covers it with chocolate right there in her hand!

Then it goes onto a tray with its other turtle buddies, where it will cool and cure for twenty four hours. Did you have any idea this was how to hand dip a chocolate? I didn’t!

Now consider the time it takes to make all of the centers, temper the chocolate by hand, and then hand dip each and every center.  Then look at this picture of the cherry cordials Angie had already dipped before I got there. HOURS OF WORK.  Now pick your jaw up off the floor.

I got to eat one of these.  It was so good a tear might have escaped my eye. And I’m not even a fan of cherries. Look at the swirl on top of each one. Not there by accident.

I’ll leave you with one last perfect chocolatey image. It’s a chocolate crème center. It wants to come live in my belly. I have such a great respect and love for my friend Angie. A little of it has to do with chocolate. But mostly it’s because she’s a class act, she makes me smile a lot, and she let me sit in her kitchen and watch her perfecting her craft. It was a very special treat. Pun totally intended.


Ronalin said...

Holy cow, my mouth is watering just by looking at the pictures. They are beautiful Angie! Samantha, I think you did a great job writing this up, I almost smelt the chocolate.

Apis Melliflora said...

How many hours to shop, stir, craft & wrap them all?
What a hard working chocolate visionary Angie is!

The Queen Vee said...

These photos remind me of my childhood. Samantha, your grandmother (my mother) was a very talented chocolatier also. I remember helping her make all the different centers and I even tried my hand at dipping the chocolates. (I wasn't very good at it) There is a real art form to it and my mother, like Angie, had that talent. I remember one Christmas, as a fund raising project, the RS sold boxes of had dipped chocolates all created in the basement kitchen of our home. The smell in our home for many days was heavenly.

squeezeme said...

I'm drooling! Wish I was there to help you eat! :)

I'm going to be carrying on my Grandma's tradition of english toffee this year....much less involved I imagine!

I love chocolate and I love traditions!

Bells said...

Yeah my turtles look nothing like that! Thanks for the fun little glimpse into chocolate heaven!

Anderson Zoo Keepers said...

That really is pretty amazing. Very interesting look at a craft I don't appreciate nearly as much as I should!

christa said...

WowI I learned alot! It really is an art, wish I had a good friend like that! You are very blessed. Thanks for sharing this.

Aiketa said...

Wow!!! Even though I'm not a chocolate fan, after reading your post and seeing your photos, I can assure you that I wanted to try one of those hand-dipped chocolates. They must taste deliciously good. The amount of work and time required implies that there's lots of love on the making so for sure must be delicious.

I must add too that the turquoise chairs are perfection!

I also read the other post on your blog about your friend and her mother. What an amazing story, and what a brave woman! Incredibly beautiful story!