- Minette Smith, the head of Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in South Africa was in Kenya this week to train pastry chefs and confectioners on how to pair the Callebaut chocolate.
- Chocolate-making or gifting has a lot to do with experimenting with different flavours, ganaches, pralinés and mastering how to prolong its shelf life.
- During her one-day training at Nairobi Serena Hotel, more than 50 pastry chefs got to have a one-on-one session with the Executive Chef and her team.
Ahead of Valentine’s Day, what chocolate is best to gift a loved one or order for dessert? A couverture or compound chocolate?
Many people do not know the difference.
Minette Smith, the head of Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in South Africa was in Kenya this week to train pastry chefs and confectioners on how to pair the Callebaut chocolate which is the world’s most premium artisan chocolate.
Chocolate-making or gifting has a lot to do with experimenting with different flavours, ganaches, pralinés and mastering how to prolong its shelf life.
“It [chocolate] can be hard, soft, rigid, flexible, coloured, flavoured, molded, etc. It can be endlessly manipulated in so many ways. Every time, I make a product or execute a technique, I learn how to develop new ideas and techniques to push the boundaries of chocolate and pastry forward,” says Minette whose love for pastry and confectionery 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, invent and truly inspiring,” she says.
During her one-day training at Nairobi Serena Hotel, more than 50 pastry chefs got to have a one-on-one session with the Executive Chef and her team.
The pastry chefs learned about the various creative desserts and pastries that would entice diners, especially over Valentine’s Day.
She taught ways of tempering chocolate and specifically tempering with Mycryo.
Tempering chocolate means pre-crystallising the cocoa butter, a technique that requires a chocolatier to use the best temperature.
When tempered, the cocoa butter is transformed into a stable crystalline form. This is what guarantees the right hardness, shrinkage force and brilliance of the final cooled product.
In 2013, Minette wowed guests at the Eat Out DStv Food Network Restaurant Awards with a dessert of ginger beer gel with yoghurt crumble, meringue sticks, compressed apple, yoghurt-and-apple mousse and verbena custard and that is what she says she is bringing to Kenyan hotels.
Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy hopes to drive innovation as consumption patterns shift towards premium chocolate and more unique designs, colour and flavours.
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, the Barry Callebaut, produces an average 2.2 million tonnes of cocoa and chocolate.
Callebaut only deals with couverture chocolate which has a crisp texture and glossy finish.
For example, when you break a bar of couverture chocolate, you will hear a snapping sound unlike compound chocolate, which on the other hand, is more pliable and you will not hear that ‘snap’ when you break a bar.
So which do you or your loved one prefer as a dessert or a gift?
Couverture chocolate melts in your mouth and leaves behind a silky aftertaste. While compound chocolate leaves behind a mild greasy aftertaste since it contains vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter.
Couverture chocolate 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 cardiovascular problems in the long run.
Price is probably the biggest difference between couverture and compound chocolate. Couverture is costlier since it contains chocolate liquor in its purest form. Whereas, the latter is a lot cheaper.
Because of its rich taste and glossy texture, couverture chocolate is often used for coating, decorating, or dipping.
It is also used in good-quality chocolate cakes and desserts. You’ll find compound chocolate being used in imitation chocolates or in chocolate desserts that are of lower quality.
“Chocolate is a language, a craft by itself. It is our role, as the middleman between the producer and consumer, to elevate the history and taste of chocolate,” says Minette.