Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chocolate Sculpture week cont'd

Small but steady progress. I've decided to make the dress hundreds of chocolate panels instead of one large sheet. I just didn't think I could get the fragile large dress to Albuquerque without it breaking. This new strategy will offer a more dynamic effect anyway.

And I've finished her head and a series of flowers.

Today I hope to start on the marble columns.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Sculpture week

I'm getting ready to melt down my Valentine's Mardi Gras sculpture - Voodoo Love:

And now I move on to a sculpture for a competition this weekend in Albuquerque. My biggest fear/problem is that the competition is 5 hours away and we'll need to transport the sculpture. I'll take it in pieces and assemble on site, but still that's a lot of rough roads and potential warm weather to wreak havoc.

The competition is part of a fundraiser for the New Mexico Natural History Museum and the theme is Venetian Ball. The title of our sculpture is "Venice Crumbling," because I'm fascinated by how the city is eroding into the canals. We have a very tight production schedule for the week related to the competition:

One key strategy I learned at the World Pastry Forum showpiece workshop is to make way more pieces than you think you'll actually use. There will be inevitable breakage and need to hide flaws, so make plenty of flowers and other items for that purpose. We're working on mums and sugar gems for our bling.

Yesterday we poured our primary vertical base. Start by drawing the design on butcher paper taking into account structural strength, overall weight, quantity of chocolate. Our base won't be seen so it is purely structural.

You'll notice that I took out negative space in spots where I believe there is adequate structural support and where I thought I could save some weight and chocolate.

Then we poured. This is where our troubles have started. We don't have a tempering machine so we have to do it by hand. That's not a problem with a pound or two at a time but we're doing about 15 pounds per pour and so our temper is not very good. I'm not concerned about the look since it will be covered but I am concerned about internal fracturing due to improper temper.

That was allowed to set up overnight and this morning I removed the frames and cleaned the edges. Sure enough - due to the poor temper I had a crack which I fixed but it raises a lot of concerns about the overall durability of the internal framing.
Curious Kumquat

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Season of Love pt 1

Our staff is finally getting some down time - well, slower anyway - now that Valentine's is over. A few Mardi Gras King cakes and then I'll have some time myself. Some of the servers are just scratching at the mouth from all of the craziness.

Some pleasant surprises came my way right about VDay - a fantastic box of baklava courtesy of Mina Yamashita (foodie and author):

And one of my servers and her friend (Annette and Shawna) brought me a plate of Valentine's cookies. Annette's father was a baker in Germany so her treats are always delicious:

And this was our knockout super mega success of VD week - a non-chocolate cake. Two layers of hazelnut dacquoise, vanilla bavaroise, creme fraiche panna cotta and fresh strawberries. If there's interest I'll happily post the recipe.

As for me - well, I'm wrapping up a couple of chocolate sculptures and preparing for the eGullet Chocolate and Confections Conference - hope to see some of you there in DC!

Curious Kumquat

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Recent Updates

Sometimes I just like to let my online friends know I'm alive. This is one of those posts. Lots going on but nothing earth shattering. Here is a recent plating I did for Bauscher. This was actually tougher than I expected. The plate comes with the platter, cup and spoon. It was an obvious tea time or dessert platter. I put one of my tahini/honey bon bons on the spoon, added a fresh ginger stout cake (Old Rasputin stout), dark chocolate mousse and passionfruit chocolat elixir.

A birthday cake I made this weekend - Two layers of the same ginger stout cake, a thick layer of lemon curd, lemon mousse and salted caramel glaze with milk crumb.

And today I was the first ever chef to teach an online interactive cooking class on Google+ at There are about two dozen chefs on the site that were hand selected for their social connectedness and style and I'll be focusing my classes on chocolates, pastry and molecular gastronomy. I'm trying to see if I can't do some foraging classes but I'm not sure how I would since botany changes across the planet.