There are days when Theobroma (Goddess of Chocolate) and I get along just fine. This was not that day. It 's cold, snow is approaching, and my energy level is just this side of a black hole. She let the chocolate be in temper just long enough to dip one tray of truffles and then she smote it. It went all streaky and swirly. So much for that batch. I had to stop. I turned up the heat to let the chocolate relax and moved on to other things.
As I washed about a hundred Valentine's themed chocolate molds, I realized that there was nothing urgent that needed to be done in chocolate today. With a sigh of relief, I put the chocolate away.
On to the mis en place. The literal translation: 'everything in place'; it refers to the ingredients and tools needed for a recipe, and it also refers to staples, such as tart dough, pastry cream, toppings, fillings and so on.
I love doing mis en place. It's satisfying, it's productive, and it tends to go very well. Today it was outstanding. 4 perfect batches of tart dough, toasted coconut for garnishing one truffle, candied lemon and lime zest for garnishing another, and an outstanding batch of secret recipe cake syrup. My mood improved; less of a black hole, more of a nebula.
We're trying a new tart this week, and putting a spin on two old ones. Because we get bored. The new tart is called Winter Fruit Tart - it uses dried fruit plumped in booze. (Which reminds me, there's an episode of Spine Chillers called Fruitcake of the Living Dead - it's hilarious). The recipe, from Witch in the Kitchen, calls for soaking the fruit for at least 15 minutes. Mine is soaking for about 48 hours, in a blend of secret recipe cake syrup and blackstrap rum.
There may be a more demanding culinary goddess than Theobroma. I imagine Sucrosia, goddess of sugar showpieces is also very difficult. After that incident involving Jolly Ranchers and a microwave, I'm not inclined toward that path.
My path is a three-fold one: doughs, batters and custards. All the things I love to make come from this trinity: bread, croissants, pie, cake, cookies, ice cream, scones, cream puffs.... Yes, I noticed that too. Chocolate is not on the short list. She's not first with me, but to be fair, I'm not her favorite in the kitchen either. Unlike Patisseria (Triple Goddess of Pastry). She loves me.
I have to confess, my favorite way to eat chocolate is not in truffle form. Not in a complicated dessert. Not in cake, not mousse, not ice cream. My favorite way to eat chocolate is - right out of the bag. A few buttons of Guittard or Felchin, a glass of something sparkling like Rosa Regale or Sweet Astoria Lounge....ah. Bliss. My second favorite: with bread, unsalted butter and a light sprinkling of salt. Preferably sourdough, but croissant or brioche is okay too. When the chocolate is really good, there's no need to get fancy.