Story time! Every now and I then when I’m meeting new people in the pastry world, the question of how I got started often comes up. I worked in kitchens for many years before getting involved in pastry. It started almost 11 years ago when I was attending teacher’s college in 2019. I had recently gotten into sugar work, and when I went to a restaurant trade show I was asked if I’d be interested in participating in a chocolate competition. I said yes without any hesitation, not realizing that I would be competing at the National selection of World Chocolate Masters – the winner would get to represent Canada and compete for their country in Paris. Fake it till you make it, right? The thought of winning never crossed my mind, knowing that I lacked a few skills here and there.
Just a quick idea about what we had to do in 2 days (with some items prepped in advance): a chocolate showpiece, 2 types of bonbons (moulded and dipped), plated desserts and an entremet. Practice! Practice! Practice! With only 5 or so weeks ahead of me, I would go to school (in Kingston) Monday to Friday, and then drive back to my mentor’s shop to practice. There were weekends where I would come back to Toronto only to spend most of my time at the shop, I don’t even think my parents realized that I came back. Long story short, the weekends leading up to the competition involved many hours of practice, with a fair amount of time spent dipping in chocolate.
Even though I didn’t fair well in the competition, my chocolate work didn’t stop there. When I got to the competition, I realized I was way out of my league. That motivated me to continue learning and working on my craft to improve. Years later, I still do a little chocolate work here and there (heh). Every year leading up to the holidays, Megan and I will make these German gingerbread cookies called Printen, and I’ll get in some extra practice hours to maintain my skills. This year we accidentally made around 400 cookies (whooops!) – I definitely got my practice in, enough to film myself 100s of times and get some good shots for a video (see below).
1. Dipping forks (I like the ones with a slight offset angle).
2. Thermometer (Infrared/probe).
3. Heat source (Heat gun, microwave, bain marie) to maintain working temperature of chocolate.
1. I tempered my chocolate correctly, but it is too thick. What can I do? Choosing the right chocolate is key in dipping chocolate properly in order obtain a coating with the right thickness. If you use Callebaut/Cacao Barry products, they have a droplet system indicating the viscosity of the chocolate. What you need is a 4 or 5 drop to properly dip chocolate.
2. My chocolate is too thick and I don’t use Cacao Barry. Not a problem, add 5% of cocoa butter to the weight of chocolate mass that you will be using to thin out the chocolate mass.