Skip to main content

L'Ecole de Chocolate a le Maison Robert

This article is about a chocolate class I took at Maison Robert in Chamblee. I've been looking forward to taking a class there for a long time. I finally found one that fit into my schedule. The class lasted all morning, which we used to build a chocolate birdhouse. Chocolate is one of those materials that provides a well-rounded sensory and creative experience. It's very plastic and can be used to make all sorts of things. It is relatively easy to work with but it does respond to careful handling. It smells and feels wonderful as you work with it. Wood has many of the same characteristics, but chocolate is a lot more fun to eat than sawdust.
This is Chef Robert showing us how to temper chocolate. He is a very good teacher who mixes explanation to the group with one-on-one. Tempering chocolate is, he reminded us, a critical operation in working with chocolate. Tempering requires keeping the chocolate at exactly the right temperature, about 89 degrees F, so that it gives a smooth, glossy texture when cooled. You need to keep the chocolate at this temperature during all the time you are working with it. We spent the morning in a pas de deux with our bowl of chocolate: too cool and we warm it in the double boiler, too warm and we add a little chocolate to cool it down.
Chef Robert has a special and very clever technique for building a birdhouse. We used an egg mold to cast an egg that serves as the walls of the house.
We cut the birdhouse door and the flat spot for the stand by heating spots of the egg on a warm pan. We then spread chocolate into a sheet to make the roof and stand. We then glued them together with chocolate and applied some decorations. Voila!
My hands have smelled of chocolate all day long. This class has been a welcome respite from what turned out to be a long day in a long week. Maison Robert Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pressure Cooker Candied Ginger

I made candied ginger a few years ago. It's not something I would do every day but I had a lot of fun doing it. I recently acquired a pressure cooker and it inspired an interesting idea to me: why not make candied ginger in the pressure cooker? It should be very soft and flavorful. Here is the result. I peeled two large ginger roots, cut them into small cubes, and put them in the pressure cooker with heavily sugared water. The traditional method first boils the ginger in plain water to soften it and then again in sugar water to candy it. The resulting candy was very tender but still with the characteristic ginger texture. It was also sweet without being overpowering. The traditional method leaves a lot of sugar crystallized around the ginger. The pressure cooker gives a much more subtle result. The ginger stays moist even after it cools but you can dry it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. That inspired me to dip it in chocolate. While I was in the b

Ann Arbor MI: West End Grill

Trev, Jan, and Karem took me to a wonderful evening at West End Grill located, appropriately enough, in the West End. The restaurant still has its old tin ceiling festooned with stained glass chandeliers. I was too hungry to take a picture of our appetizers: crab cakes and bleu cheese tarts. The crab cakes had just a bit of heat to them, something you don't always find in a crab cake but which worked very well. The bleu cheese tarts lived up to their intriguing premise, rich and tangy. This is my caprese salad. The mozzarella, tomato, and basil were all outstanding. The balsamic vinegar had been very well aged, giving it a thick consistency. My main course was tuna, perfectly prepared to a medium well. The tuna left just enough room for a chocolate lava cake paired with decaf coffee. The cake was rich and moist. I kept scraping my plate to be sure I retrieved all of the chocolate.

Miami: Shorty's BBQ

The Widens introduced me to another Miami favorite, Shorty's BBQ. We had three different meats: brisket, ribs, and chicken. All were excellent. I would say the brisket was my favorite, which was was fork tender and moist. Shorty's is best known around town for its piquant sauce. In the photo, the top sauce is a standard red, sweet BBQ sauce.  The bottom container holds Shorty's special BBQ sauce.  It was great---the highlighted spice is, I believe, cumin.  The sauce is of a lighter color than the sweet sauce, so there are other things going on as well; I suspect it has less sugar. I love cumin because it tweaks the palate in a different way than many spices.  I loved this sauce so much I ate it by the spoonful.  Bill and I agreed that this sauce is reminscent of the sauce from Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City.