TIPS: Interpreting the “tests” for chocolate tempering

*disclaimer: This post is written purely from my past experience and current knowledge of chocolates. I am not a trained chocolatier so please read it with a grain of salt.

I have been making 100 chocolates for 3 nights now and I can safely say, “I don’t know anything!” about interpreting the tests* that we use in tempering chocolates.

I have made hundreds and hundreds of chocolates before (i.e. once during Christmas 2013, once during Jun/Jul 2014 – ‘hundreds’ each time), and therefore I thought I have already mastered the ‘skill’ of reading the test that is so crucial in telling us whether our precious chocolate is indeed tempered after all the stirring or tabling or seeding and more stirring. But I was so wrong. Chocolate will always ‘set’ in the layman terms if the temperature is cold enough, but it doesn’t always ‘set’ in the tempering terms even if it is ‘set’ in the normal way.

What do I mean?

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Life 101: A letter to myself (Sep, 2014)

Hello May Ling,

As I am writing this letter, you are feeling a little bored, a little unmotivated and a little tired of doing what you’re doing.

That’s OK. Do you still love the industry that you’re in? Are you happier than before or if you were to be working in a corporate job? Are you happier in general? If you answered yes to any of the questions above, keep holding on.

Life is like a graph, it has ups and downs, so long we have the resilience to bounce back once in a blue moon when you’re feeling down, then that is okay. Resilience comes mainly from within, but if you need help or a little push, you have supportive family, friends and mentors that you can speak to. You may be sliding at the moment, but sliding is good, it gives you time to discover yourself and give yourself power to bounce back up. Because in life, you have to.

Please remember the following points:

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Lorraine’s Patisserie, Sydney

I love cheese and all kinds of cheesecake. However, my absolute favourite type of cheesecakes are the kinds that are very light and not too rich. For example, I love Tiramisu for the lovely light mascarpone, and I love Asian cheesecakes for their airy texture. Which is why I was so excited for the Strawberry Mascarpone Cake from Lorraine’s Patisserie in Sydney.

Strawberry Mascarpone

Strawberry Mascarpone

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Gelato Messina, Sydney

I have heard many good things about Gelato Messina prior to my visit to the one in Sydney (I’ve forgotten which outlet we visited but I’m sure the quality is consistent across the board). Other than the occasional “it is too sweet!”, all comments have been very positive so I was very keen to try it out. This is especially so after I’ve seen them appear on Masterchef Au!

Gelato Messina

Gelato Messina

They have a great and interesting concept where all the fillings of the different flavours are freshly made every day! I was very impressed as I read through their processes. It is no wonder that they are able to produce such high quality gelato!

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My Top 3 Patisseries in Melbourne (2014)

Melbourne is jam packed with good and great patisseries. Whether you’re just looking for a casual for a catch up with friends over cake and coffee, or whether you’re looking for a place to eat great pastries, it is not difficult at all to find a decent place but here are my picks for Top 3. 🙂

1. La Belle Miette

Morning Tea at La Belle Miette

Morning Tea at La Belle Miette

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Tips: Baking Macarons

If you’ve all been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that I’ve been on a macaron baking spree in the past couple of weeks. I’ve probably baked about 300-400 macarons in total for various reasons (house warming, orders, gifts etc) so I can say, I am quite an expert when it comes to using MY home oven to bake my recipe of the macarons, so I thought it’d be a good idea to share some tips that I found from baking such large batches with 99% success rate.

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Koko Black (Collins St), Melbourne

Koko Black is quite an iconic chocolate brand here in Australia, with many stores across Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne. Recently, they have also opened up a salon in New Zealand.

I have a very distinct (and humiliating) story of Koko Black. In 2007, my best friend and I were both only 17 years old with very limited experience in the ‘dining out’ scene in Melbourne. We were shopping for our formal dresses and wanted to find a place to sit down and have a drink. As we were walking past Koko Black in Chadstone Shopping Centre, we both thought it would be a good idea to go in. We were poor students. As soon as we saw the menu, sat in the dimly lit salon, alarm bells immediately went! We were contemplating whether or not to walk away after the waiter has explained the specials to us, as well as pour us 2 cups of water.  We ended up trying their afternoon tea item which included some chocolates, cakes, ice cream and ice chocolate. It was a very expensive pit stop.

Fast forward 7 years, I am now confident enough to walk away (when needed). But obviously, why would I walk away from Koko Black? I have never tried their chocolates prior to this visit, although I’ve always been a fan of their decadent iced chocolate, which I only reserve for days where I am feeling especially vulnerable. Haha. During this visit, I bought a box of 6! I was at the Collins St store at about 8.30am and there were already 3 tables of dine-in customers, ordering chocolates. Wow. There really isn’t a specific time for eating desserts.

Koko Black - box of 6 chocolates

Koko Black – box of 6 chocolates

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Making Coloured Moulded Chocolates

Officially, I’ve only done the Level 1 Chocolates & Praline class at Savour School and in that class we only learned basic tempering, moulding and cut pralines techniques. Nothing too fancy such as colouring/spraying was taught in the level 1 class, which is why I was so excited when I was offered the chance to make hundreds of different coloured moulded chocolates at the Shanghai Callebaut Academy while I was assisting Manfred Rindler.

Pistachio, lychee lemon, salted ganache, raspberry, raspberry & strawberry

Pistachio, lychee lemon, salted ganache, raspberry, raspberry & strawberry

These are the final product from my 2 days worth of hard work (8am-5pm?). My favourite colour is the ‘Pistachio’ one in the cocoa bean shape.

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Aimé Pâtisserie, Shanghai

Today is the first day of September, which means I’ve left Shanghai approximately 2 months ago. I was only there for 5 months in total, but I would call it my 3rd home now. If not for the environmental & health concerns, I would definitely consider going back for longer term. It is modern, it is a metropolitan, it is fast paced, everything there is efficient and it is international enough (while retaining the fundamental Shanghainese culture).

Visiting Aimé Patisserie was a pure coincidence. My boyfriend and I were just walking around Middle Huai Hai Road in the Xuhui District (near IAPM) on our final full day in Shanghai. When we were about to leave the area for our dinner booking, I noticed this eye catching patisserie that looked really promising (think: clean, white gift box-like shop amongst the colourful shops in that district) and we immediately made a mental note to visit after dinner.

Coolest sign ever

Coolest sign ever

Usually, I walk straight to the display case because it is honestly the only thing that concerns me. However, the renovation of Aimé is so different & refreshing that I was pleasantly surprised everywhere I looked.

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