Chocolate has been a delectable dessert for centuries. Although chocolate is readily available in grocery stores, gas stations, and other places today, the difference between prepackaged candy and artisanal candies is huge. Some people devote their careers to studying chocolate. These are the best chocolatiers in the entire world.
Interview with Josh Gingerich
Josh Gingerich, a friend of ours, spent time with one of the finest chocolatiers in America to learn the art of making chocolate. He was gracious enough to tell us a bit about his experience.
How did you get started in candy-making first?
Spontaneously. I began in the bakery industry because I wanted to work with bread and be a baker. I enrolled in YTI’s pastry arts program and received an internship straight out of school. I was introduced to a well-known chocolatier by a friend.
Tell us about the experience you had working with candy
I worked as an assistant chocolatier in a French-influenced artisanal chocolate shop. I only had tempered chocolate a few times in school. I needed to learn fast. The shop I worked in had tempering machines, which I used to prepare candies for sale. However, the owner encouraged me to temper chocolate manually during my free time to get a better understanding of the process.
What is tempering chocolate?
Chocolate is a crystalline material. There are two kinds of crystals in chocolate that interlock at different temperatures. But there’s a window between the two temperatures where tempering occurs. A well-tempered chocolate will have a satin finish.
How do you temper the chocolate?
To temper chocolate at home, you need to use a double boiler. Having chocolate directly on the heat will burn at the bottom while the top is still solid, so you’ll end up with a mess. It would be best if you also were really careful not to get any liquid in the chocolate because that can ruin the process, too.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when learning how to make candy?
Candy-making is a skill that requires specific knowledge. You have to get used to it, and you will eventually be able to tell the difference between stages by just looking and smelling. When working with caramel, I will still use a Candy Thermometer, but with chocolate, I am familiar enough to know when to add cocoa butter and when to remove it from the heat.
Why would you add cocoa Butter?
The fat in cocoa beans is called cocoa butter. The processing plants separate the cocoa beans into their solids and fats. Artistic blending of these two ingredients is the art of making chocolate. You can add cocoa to ganache at any time, as cocoa is solid at room temperature. It keeps it stable and is also tasteless so that it won’t win your candy candy. This is important when working with exotic fruit or other flavors.
To give you a better idea, pure white chocolate is just sugar and cocoa butter, with no cocoa powder.
Do chocolatiers ever process the raw cocoa beans themselves?
I have seen cocoa beans processed, but they are inconsistent. The processing plants are equipped with the right equipment to produce consistent, high-quality cocoa ingredients. The chocolatier can then select from a catalog of products provided by the manufacturer. I have worked with single-origin cocoa and discovered that each region has its distinct flavor profile.
There are also similarities between chocolate and coffee. The top products are made from older plants. It’s different from coffee in that it takes more than just roasting and grinding a whole bean to produce a finished product. Chocolate making is a complex process, and most chocolatiers leave the first step of production to a processing facility.
What is the difference between commercial and artisanal chocolate?
The major difference is that commercial chocolate manufacturers will substitute some cocoa butter for other fats. It’s expensive to use cocoa butter, but it’s difficult to use commercial chocolate to make the ganache or to make any other type of pastry because the fats do not melt as quickly and do not solidify correctly. I worked mostly with couverture chocolate, which is made from 100% cocoa butter. It’s considered tIt’s a high-quality chocolate.
If you remove cocoa butter, the chocolate will lose its snap and shine. So, if the chocolate has a dull sheen and is prone to bending, there are probably other oils present.
What makes a good chocolate recipe?
There must be a balance between acidity and liquid content. You can make ganache using a combination of cream, tea, fruits, or pure caramel. Once you understand the basics of chemistry, it’s time to get credits. You can adapt recipes that you find online or in books into your creations.
It would be best if you also considered the visual impact of your chocolate candy. You can create a variety of effects with colored cocoa butter by spraying it onto the candy mold. We’ve done splatter eWe’ves, swirls, and other things to enhance the presentation. The classic French look is brown with a small lavender flower or seed in the corner.
To what types of businesses have you sold your chocolates?
Our online store was where we conducted most of our wholesale work. We had a wide range of customers, including high-end hotels as well as small artisanal pastries shops across the country.
The boxes would contain about 50 pieces per type. Customers would often purchase 12 different types of, which would be packaged separately in separate boxes. They would all be insulated with ice packs and shipped within two days. Once the containers arrived at their destination, hotel staff could separate them into different assortments.
Although we didn’t have a lot of retail, some people came in to say they would keep us in their minds for small sales or events.
Do you have stories to share that show the importance of candy-making or the impact on customers?
The universal language is chocolate. Nearly all nations enjoy chocolate in some form, and cultures have their twist on it. People from different cultures, such as French, Mexican, or Ghanaian, put their twist on the ingredients to create recipes that represent their culture.
When someone tastes a piece of really good chocolate, the look on their face shows how much they appreciate that particular type of chocolate. It’s satisfying to watch.