Tempering is still a bit insane. More experience, better equipment and boundless confidence should make the difference now.
11AM February 14, 2009: Unveiling the 8 pound loaf of candy.
It has been a year since my last giant chocolate experiment. I've done other, less unreasonable candy making and chocolatiering projects in the interim. Making simple things has improved basic competency, but the most important lessons are learned attempting things beyond one's comfortable skills. This candy bar shall be correspondingly more ambitious and more delicious. Goals for Candybar2:
- Better ingredients
- More variety
- Even bigger
- Tempered chocolate
The first two will not be difficult. Candybar1 was made using the cheapest ingredients possible. It was made as fast as possible, largely put together in two days. Start earlier, move carefully, plan methodically and quality will naturally follow.
Size should follow suit as well. More variety means more layers, which will make the loaf rise to triumphant heights. Of course, simply starting with a wider and longer base is another option.
Tempering is still a bit insane. More experience, better equipment and boundless confidence should make the difference now. While it is a lot of work, tempering is entirely worth the effort. Tempering adds crystalline structure which greatly increases the structural integrity and thermal stability of the chocolate. Basically, untempered chocolate will melt at room temperature and squish between your fingers. Tempered chocolate melts at body temperature and crisply snaps under sufficient force.
This year's layers include:
- peanut butter
- lots of chocolate
The base was made using a bread pan for the mold. I decided to do something a little strange to this layer. The base takes a lot of abuse. If it is too soft it will collapse under the weight. If it is too brittle it will snap at the slightest twist. A large amount of granulated sugar was mixed in to improve the stability. Four ounces of sugar were blended into the eight ounces of chocolate. The result was thermally stable and had a forgiving amount of flex. Its texture was a little strange, most similar to a nonpareille.
Much much lazier with the cookie this year. Simply crumbled up the vanilla wafers and poured chocolate over the bits. Frankly, last year's cookie layer was really weird. This is both less weird and so much less tedious.
This year the caramel would be pure, and not blended with nuts. I also opted not to freeze the layer, thinking I could simply freehand pour it. The pouring went pretty well. The molten caramel was generally well behaved. The problem came when it was time to cap it. While waiting for the caramel to cool, large portions slid down the sides, as if Salvador Dali was making the candy. Not sure why it was so much softer this year, but whatever. I piled the caramel back on, capped it with a layer of chocolate, ...
... and while the chocolate was still molten I pressed in as many almonds as would fit. This is when the chocolate's temper is put to the test. The loaf is stored at room temperature, so everything is softer and more willing to flow. The thin walls of chocolate along the sides need to retain the outwards pressure as more layers are piled on. Last year, I could have not bothered with chocolate side walls, as the entire bar was kept solid in the refrigerator.
This is not how a candy bar should look. There should not be gaps in the sides like that. Why did this happen? I forgot the most important rule to a fast and easy candybar: Never freehand layers! Freehanded layers have a tendency to go convex, so you need to either save them for last or alternate them with cast layers. The Nutella was cast in the freezer, but it is on top of three hand poured layers. Whoops. I will do my best to plug up the gaps with extra chocolate, and try very hard not to serve anyone the heel of the loaf.
10 ounces of peanut butter were frozen into this slab. The gaps from the nutella layer were completely filled.
Marshmallow fluff has taught me about many things. Like thermal expansion. Moral of the story: marshmallow fluff expends expands with considerable force. Another half a pound of chocolate was poured over the marshmallow for reinforcement. This layer also cracked, as the marshmallow further lifted the chocolate. Another eight ounces were applied when it finished warming up. Altogether, it looks pretty good from the outside.
This monster of chocolate weighs in at just over eight pounds. It is 9" long, 4.5" wide, and 5.5" tall. Half its weight is chocolate. Each pound of chocolate required about two hours of folding to achieve a good temper.
Each slice from the loaf was about 500 calories, a meal in its self. Like last year, we could only serve half of it at the unveiling party. It was bigger, more varied and tastier than last year's. It has been declared a delicious success.