Everything you don’t know about chocolate

Food and drinks

Everything you don’t know about chocolate


Minette Smith, Chocolate Academy Manager, South Africa, Barry Callebaut Group at the Nairobi Serena Hotel on February 7, 2022. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • Minette Smith, director of the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in South Africa, was in Kenya this week to train pastry chefs and confectioners on how to pair Callebaut chocolate.
  • Making or gifting chocolate has a lot to do with experimenting with different flavors, ganaches, pralines and mastering how to extend its shelf life.
  • During his one-day training at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, over 50 pastry chefs had a one-on-one session with the Executive Chef and his team.

Before Valentine’s Day, which chocolate is best to give to a loved one or order for dessert? A couverture or compound chocolate?

Many people don’t know the difference.

Minette Smith, director of the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in South Africa, was in Kenya this week to train pastry chefs and confectioners on how to pair Callebaut chocolate, the world’s most premium artisanal chocolate.

Making or gifting chocolate has a lot to do with experimenting with different flavors, ganaches, pralines and mastering how to extend its shelf life.

“This [chocolate] can be hard, soft, rigid, flexible, colored, flavored, molded, etc. It can be manipulated endlessly in multiple ways. Every time I make a product or perform a technique, I learn to develop new ideas and techniques to push the boundaries of chocolate and baking,” explains Minette, whose love for baking and confectionery has started at a young age.

“I feel privileged to be a pastry chef because the proof is always in the pudding. I chose a career that would allow me to be creative, inventive and truly inspiring,” she says.

During his one-day training at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, over 50 pastry chefs had a one-on-one session with the Executive Chef and his team.

The pastry chefs discovered the various creative desserts and pastries that would appeal to diners, especially on Valentine’s Day.

She taught how to temper chocolate and more specifically tempering with Mycryo.

Chocolate tempering involves pre-crystallizing the cocoa butter, a technique that forces the chocolatier to use the best temperature.

Once tempered, cocoa butter transforms into a stable crystalline form. This is what guarantees the right hardness, shrinkage strength and gloss of the final cooled product.

In 2013, Minette wowed guests at the Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards with a ginger beer gel dessert with yoghurt crumble, meringue sticks, compressed apple, yoghurt mousse and apple and verbena cream and it’s what she says she brings to Kenyan hotels.

The Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy hopes to drive innovation as consumer habits shift towards premium chocolate and more unique designs, colors and flavors.

Based in Zurich, Switzerland, Barry Callebaut produces an average of 2.2 million tons of cocoa and chocolate.

Callebaut only processes couverture chocolate which has a crunchy texture and a shiny finish.

For example, when you break a chocolate couverture bar, you will hear a snap unlike compound chocolate, which, on the other hand, is softer and you won’t hear that “snap” when you break a bar.

So, which do you or your loved one prefer as a dessert or as a gift?

The couverture chocolate melts in the mouth and leaves a silky aftertaste. While compound chocolate leaves a slight oily aftertaste because it contains vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter.

The chocolate couverture contains cocoa butter, which has been shown to maintain cholesterol levels in the body and improve heart health.

Compound chocolate contains hydrogenated vegetable fats, which counteract the health benefits of cocoa. These fats can damage the arteries and cause long-term cardiovascular problems.

Price is probably the biggest difference between couverture chocolate and compound chocolate. The couverture is more expensive because it contains chocolate liquor in its purest form. While the latter is much cheaper.

Due to its rich taste and shiny texture, couverture chocolate is often used for coating, decorating or dipping.

It is also used in good quality chocolate cakes and desserts. You will find compound chocolate used in chocolate imitations or in lesser quality chocolate desserts.

“Chocolate is a language, a craft in itself. It is our role, as an intermediary between the producer and the consumer, to elevate the history and the taste of chocolate”, explains Minette.

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