Tag Archives: milk chocolate

A Look Beyond the Heart-Shaped Box: How a Bonbon is Made

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There’s a common saying out there concerning the manufacturing of sausages. It implies that once someone learns about the intestines, guts and other general all-around yuckies that go into something as wonderful as a sausage, that our newly graduated sausage scholar friend will lose his or her appetite for the very sausage he or she just studied.

As it turns out, that saying really doesn’t apply when it comes to chocolates.

I’d never taken a ton of time to consider how the truffles, bonbons and other filled chocolates are made, but given how much Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood I watched as a kid, I kind of generally assumed the process was a lot like how people make crayons or macaroni: mostly using big machines, with some oversight by men wearing hats and distribution by means of Mr. McFeely.

That in mind, when my friend and noted chocolatier Chef Amanda Tommey Terbush told me that she was getting ready to make some bonbons to sell during Valentine’s Day weekend at her Southern France Patisserie*, I was intrigued, as her kitchen featured neither big machines nor Mr. McFeelies. [Ed. note: I can’t say one way or another about hats.] Immediate further investigation revealed my preconceptions were woefully inaccurate and that I actually had no idea how one creates a bonbon; for the benefit of my vast readership, Amanda was kind enough to invite me to observe her make a batch.

*[Ed. note: Southern France Patisserie is a hybrid French and American Southern bakery on Irving Park and Southport just north of Wrigley Field. It’s a perfect place to eat pastries, drink coffee and complain about Mizzou football, and has become one of my favorite spots in the whole city. If you find yourself free on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday morning, mosey on over and give literally anything a try; there’s a more than 50 percent chance you’ll giggle at how good it is.]

Constructing a Bonbon

When I arrived, Amanda was already hard at work, having already completed batches of milk chocolate/Tahitian vanilla bean ganache and white chocolate/strawberry champagne ganache bonbons [Ed. note: Scroll to the bottom for tasting notes]; I was going to watch her make a dark chocolate variety, which would be filled with a blood orange salted caramel ganache, because of course it would.

The first step of creating one of these confections is to create the outer shell of the bonbon. Amanda had already taken care of this at the time, with racks upon racks of dark chocolate shells already cooled and ready to be filled.

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Racks on racks on racks.

Now, just about anybody would see that rack and get excited, but Amanda made sure to note to look more closely to ensure that everything was going according to plan. Perhaps the most important thing to look for at this point is the shine and coloring of the chocolate shells. If it’s shiny and uniform throughout, it means that the chocolate was tempered at the right temperature; this chocolate will taste wonderful and “crisp” when it breaks. However, if it was tempered improperly, the chocolate will demonstrate “blooming”: streaks of lighter brown interspersed with the darker chocolate.

Have you ever had a candy bar that totally melted and you tried to save by putting it in the freezer, and when you pulled it out and opened it, it mostly looked the same save some lightish stuff on the outside? That’s bloom.

Bloom is evidence that the chocolate was tempered at the wrong temperature; the fat from the cocoa butter does not emulsify with all of the chocolate and separates. This will lead to imperfections in the mouthfeel and cleavage of the chocolate, a major bummer for all involved. No “crisp”, no glory.

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Chocolate tempering in a tempering machine, called, what else, a Choc-o-vision. [Ed. note: This chocolate would later be used on truffles, but demonstrational purposes, yo!]

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Otters, Crowlers and #TaskTourism

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I just returned from a magnificent and too-short weekend in Portland, Ore., where I got to celebrate a Festivus I might have accidentally foisted upon my hosts.

I highly recommend at least a cursory exploration of the town. If you’re at a loss for what to do, you might consider just following your host around town as he/she runs errands. That might sound like a snide thing to be saying, but, very genuinely, I got to see a great deal of the city in a very efficient manner. Whoever figures out how to monetize #TaskTourism might just stumble onto the next AirbnB.

Before my trip, my hosts Chris and Rachel Bar had spent some time on St. Juan Island in Washington State and brought back the lavender milk chocolate pictured above for me to try.

Now, before I go any further, it is important for me to note that when I was growing up, my mother had a therapeutic neck pillow that contained lavender beads. You could put it in the microwave and wrap it around your neck, and it would somehow make life better.

It is also important for me to note that said pillow also was shaped like an otter and my mother named it Jethro.

The lavender chocolate is uniquely delicious. It is smooth and light and the lavender complements the milk chocolate in a fun way that dances across the tongue. It’s almost like enjoying a chocolate-covered flower.

But all I could think of when I ate it was my mother’s microwavable therapeutic neck pillow otter Jethro.

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I also ran into an Alcove Banana Cream Crunch bar out there, which seemed like it would be a lot of fun. It turns out it’s not; the banana flavor comes across as too fake, even if it’s not, and the crispy rice bits compromise the integrity of the admittedly nice chocolate — you end up having to chew it to get the full effect, which is kind of a bummer.

At the same liquor store I bought that lackluster bar, though, was a wonderful invention/craft beer distribution system called the Crowler. Basically, instead of having to fill an entire growler of beer, the store/bar pours beer into an oversized can and SEALS THE GIANT CAN RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. I took home 32 oz. of Boneyard’s Notorious triple IPA, and also took home a newfound sense of wonder.

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Google Search That Brought Traffic to BOaP of the Day

“keebler elf house”

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Something for the Rest of Us

  
In honor of Westivus Weekend, allow me to air a couple of grievances. [Ed. note: Early, of course, which in and of itself is actually my first grievance.]

I got a LOTTA PROBLEMS with this candy. 

  1. “Iddy biddy”?
  2. Iddy.
  3. Biddy. 
  4. How you going to call them “iddy biddy” and not also call them “widdle”?
  5. People who use the word “widdle”
  6. The voice people use when they use the word “widdle”
  7. 60 Santas (approximately)! What an unorthodox (approximate) number! [Ed. note: I can only assume there will be more widdle Santas, like when they throw extra screws in Ikea furniture]
  8. Approximations
  9. Unorthodox approximations
  10. IKEA furniture
  11. That they don’t throw in more things like when they throw extra screws in Ikea furniture
  12. That apparently counting the widdle Santas in O’Hare is something worth staring at
  13. That there were EXACTLY 60 widdle Santas.
  14. 60 widdle Santas. I wish I were kidding.

  15. Precise, accurate unorthodox approximations
  16. Wrapper images that are actual size
  17. The need to justify enlarged images on wrappers by telling consumers it’s “for texture”
  18. That these are pretty much just eating an individual bag of chocolate chips
  19. That stupid shit about the Reese’s Trees
  20. That they don’t sell individual bags of chocolate chips

Happy Festivus weekend everybody. 

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    Landlines, Semantics and E.T.

    IMG_3905E.T. knew, like, eleven fking words.

    Everybody remembers two.

    [Ed. note: No, Ricky. Valiant effort, but “Ellliottttttt” is not one of them.]

    Phone. Home.

    They’re so memorable because they’re so simple (and, admittedly, because it was pretty damn cute to watch that vacuum talk like a toddler). This much is clear.

    But they’re also so memorable because they’re so universal. Everyone’s phoned home.

    What aisle do you find baking soda in? Phone home.

    It’s Christmas. Phone home.

    You crashed your car? Phone home.

    Whatever happened to your Beanie Baby collection? Phone home.

    It’s Sunday morning.

    Phone home.

    [Ed. note: Stevie Spielberg did a much better job hammering this point home.]

    Yesterday, my folks disconnected their landline. Continue reading

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