My friend Carla took a photo of me last week that I thought was pretty cool, so I thought I’d post it (with permission, of course):
In front of me are the various fillings we prepped on Sunday – raspberry-orange fruit jellies in the foreground, Concord grape next to the raspberry, and maple fudge, strawberry fruit gels, and (I think) hazelnut gianduja in the far left. The metal bars are 1/2″ aluminum, and can be adjusted to make virtually any size frame.
Behind me is a rolling cart full of full-size sheet pans. I bought it at a secondhand restaurant equipment supplier, and it is awesome. It increases my counter space tenfold (and more!) I use it for storing all sorts of things – trays full of freshly dipped chocolates, frames full of bonbon centers, extra sheets of parchment paper, and so on. I don’t know how I ever got along without it!
Barely visible in the lower right is my chocolate tempering machine, which will easily hold about 6-7 lbs of chocolate at working temperature. Here’s a better pic of the machine:
The metal bowl, which rotates, is divided by a white plastic divider which keeps unmelted chocolate on one side of the bowl and melted chocolate on the other side. The unmelted chocolate slowly melts and “seeds” the melted chocolate with cocoa butter crystals – and replenishes the melted chocolate, of course!
Temperature is maintained via a thermostat and a fan/lights inside the machine. Three 100-watt light bulbs turn on to heat the bowl (the bottom is painted black); the fan blows air to cool the machine. (Yes, I have laid in a lifetime supply of 100-watt light bulbs, since you can no longer buy incandescent light bulbs in California!)
I used to temper chocolate the really old-fashioned way – on a marble slab – but the machine is less bulky, less messy, and can be used all day (after about 20-30 lbs of chocolate the marble slab heats up too much to continue working it). So onward with technology!
I have now finalized my flavor list (with one or two possible last-minute tweaks). This means I can start constructing my ingredients spreadsheet, a process which is every bit as dreary as it sounds but which is absolutely necessary! Otherwise I wouldn’t know how much cream, chocolate, etc. to buy and might well leave out some essential ingredients. The spreadsheet neatly gathers up and sums all the quantities, giving me a comprehensive and accurate shopping list.
I’ll share my final flavor list with you tomorrow…for now, it’s off to bed!