An amuse bouche is literally an amusement for the mouth, a little bite of something in advance of the meal.
Here’s a peek at working with chocolate, a piece that didn’t make it into my story on local cacao and chocolate appearing July 7 in the Star Advertiser. Melanie Boudar makes the most amazing creations with cocoa butter; she colors and paints with it in ways that you won’t believe can be accomplished with a food product. Check out her Web site for pictures. She sent me some but I couldn’t download them for some reason.
CHOCOLATE TIPS FROM AN EXPERT
Melanie Boudar of Sweet Paradise Chocolates, based on Hawai’i Island, is considered one of the Islands’ most accomplished chocolatiers. “Chocolate,” she says, frankly, “is not real home cook friendly. People get very frustrated with it” when they attempt to get beyond the usual cookies and simple cakes.
She did offer these two ideas for cooks ambitious enough to try truffles and more complex confections:
Do not refrigerate chocolate treats; moving from the typical Island kitchen temperatures in the ‘70s or even ‘80s to the 40-something degree confines of a refrigerator shocks the chocolate, causing its liquid content to condense. “It gets sticky and miserable and you can’t taste chocolate when it’s cold,” she said in a phone interview.
If you possess a a wine cooler, which holds items in the 60-degree range, cool chocolate and hold it in there. If not, if for example, you’re doing chocolate-dipped strawberries or other fruit, freeze some gel packs, line the bottom of a cooler with them, place the strawberries or truffles or other confections in a try and hold them there until serving.
The dividing line between the amateur and the accomplished confectioner is tempering chocolate; melting it and quickly cooling it (often by pouring the warm chocolate onto a cold marble slab) which causes the chocolate to hold its shape when molded.
The temperature parameters for this process are very rigid and the best tool for assuring the right temperature at each step is a laser thermometer. But, she said, “you don’t need to buy an expensive culinary one, you can go into a hardware store and by a laser thermometer they make for electricians. It will be much cheaper. It’s the most user-friendly medium for the home cook.”
Boudar teaches periodic candymaking courses for the home cook on the Big Island; find out more about Sweet Paradise at sweetparadisechocolate.com.