What did I do last Saturday? It seems to me something unusual happened. It’s coming back to me… Ah. Yes. Saturday involved chocolate royalty and making my very first chocolates. 🙂
(Disclaimer: If melting down existing chocolate to make other chocolates is cheating, then I cheated. Because it’s simply not possible to grow my own cacao, roast it, grind it, conch it, AND mold it within the space of a few hours, which is all the time I had.)
I’d be happy to recount my day with El Rey, which totally involved cool photo ops like this one:
Part 1: Choosing a chocolate to use in my new chocolate mold. Shipping in Valhrona (which seems to be a popular chocolate to melt down to make other things) was cost prohibitive. Yet using the first chocolate I could lay my hands on at the grocery store didn’t seem special enough. The solution: El Rey (Literal translation: The King)
Established 1929, Chocolates El Rey has been around for, well, 87 years. That’s over three quarters of a century of practice making fine chocolate. They’re so good at it that the El Rey white chocolate “Icoa” bar has won Gold at the International Chocolate Awards… four years a row. Most internationally recognized chocolate bars made from Venezuelan cacao are manufactured in Europe or North America. Not El Rey. It’s cien por ciento (100%) Venezolano. And 100% delicious.
Moving on… Momentary panic (or disappointment, to be less dramatic) set in when I remembered most chocolate has to be tempered and tempering requires a candy thermometer, which we don’t seem to have. The project came very close to being shelved until I was saved by closer inspection of the El Rey wrapper: “No Necesita Temperar”
You’ve probably already guessed what that means, even if you don’t know a lick of Spanish. The show could go on.
Part 2: Chopping and melting and molding. (That first photo, above? The chopping was quickly interrupted by photo-taking. That’s part of the reason it took me so long to make the chocolates. I kept trotting things back to my studio* to document the process.)
Lunchtime also came along at one point, at which time the chocolate was set aside in a glass bowl awaiting a swim in a saucepan filled with hot water (otherwise known as “the double boiler”). Some of the chocolate in the bowl started disappearing when my back was turned. I even caught a few family members red-handed.
“What are you chewing on? You look guilty! What are you chewing on?”
“What kind of chocolate is that?”
“If I tell you, will you tell me what you’re chewing on?”
“It’s El Rey. What are you chewing on?”
“Yeah. Right. Chocolate thief.”
“What are you making?”
“If it works, chocolates. If it doesn’t work, I’m making a mess.” (As it turns out, I made both.)
Into the freezer they went. (The “rules” say to put them in the refrigerator, but I figured the freezer would be faster and I was in a hurry to see the final results.)
Part 3: Finished Chocolates. A little plain, a little rough around the edges, but a girl’s gotta start somewhere:
Mmmmmmmmmmine. (I shared. Really I did.)
And that concludes my day with El Rey. I don’t think it will be the last. Future batches are already being discussed, with fillings (berry jam or ganache), flavors (mint or lemon), and inclusions (fresh ginger).
I can’t wait.
*By studio, I mean “on top of my bed, which is under a window, which is where all the pictures get taken”. But that’s a mouthful, and doesn’t sound nearly as professional, so “studio” it is.
(I am not affiliated with Chocolates El Rey – or any of the other chocolates I write about, for that matter – in any way. I’m just a fan!)