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Bakers Dozen shares the secrets of chocolate

ANNA BLOOM, Of the Record staff

The chefs and pastry enthusiasts at the Bakers Dozen meeting at Silver Lake Lodge Monday evening sometimes coo as the hot chocolate dribbles toward the edge of a cold marble table.

Stein Eriksen Lodge’s Dutch-born Executive Pastry Chef Raymond Lammers is revealing his approach to "tempering" or "pre-crystallizing" chocolate for molding, by walking around the marble top, masterfully scraping the viscous cocoa with metal paint stripping tools he claims he bought at Home Depot. At the very last moment, he appears to save the chocolate from trickling on the carpet, as only someone who has done it a thousand times can. He coos back at his audience and they giggle.

"How many minutes does it take for the chocolate shells to crystallize before pouring in the filling," wonders an audience member. "How do you know when the chocolate’s at the right temperature," asks another.

Lammers responds that he doesn’t know the exact time, but he knows that by the time he finishes a sixth tray of chocolate shells for filling, the first tray will have crystallized. The right temperature for pouring and molding chocolate depends on the kind of chocolate used and a darker, more refined chocolate needs to be melted between 113 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit and then cooled or "tempered" to 80 degrees to work with it. Milk chocolate needs to be heated to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and tempered to 86 degrees for shaping.

These days, Lammers uses a laser candy thermometer to test his chocolate, which shoots out a laser so that the candy remains untouched, but he demonstrates how he was taught: he tastes it with his mouth.

"This is the old fashioned method and is not recommended by the U.S. Health Department," he says, adding that the chocolate should feel "almost cool" when the temperature is just right.

Lammers fills his chocolate shells with his curry-flavored white chocolate filling. During his five years at Stein’s he’s been known to create other unique flavored chocolates as well: lemongrass, licorice root, chai tea, sea salt and passion fruit.

He will share the "tabling" tempering method and the other method called "seeding" in which a chef will add flakes called Callets, already in the crystalline form to the melted chocolate. He will share that, when he can, he buys tools and moldings at stores like Wal-Mart. He will share the history of cocoa beginning in South America as it migrated to the Ivory Coast. He will also supervise a taste test of chocolates from the high-end chocolate makers Callebaut and Vairhona. Good chocolate shines, and snaps when broken into two halves, he explains.

Lammers will not share his recipe for filling, however.

Last summer, Lammers competed in the Amoretti National Pastry national Pastry Team Competition with a team that won second place.

Deer Valley Resort’s Executive Pastry Chef Letty Flatt organized the "Everything Chocolate" event along with co-founders of the Utah chapter of Bakers Dozen, Grand America’s Executive Pastry Chef Kurtis Baguley and Mandarin restaurant’s Executive Pastry Chef Angel Manfredini, from Bountiful.

"[Utah’s Bakers Dozen] has been meeting about two or three times a year, sharing tips and networking with other pastry chefs and passionate home bakers," Flatt explains.

Flatt has been a member of the Bay Area’s Bakers Dozen for 15 years she says, and began the Utah chapter of the group three years ago.

The first meeting was a tour of the Crumb Brothers’ bakery, she says.

Utah’s chapter now has well more than 130 members, but meetings are open to anyone who is interested. For the "Everything Chocolate" seminar, Flatt estimates the group attracted a crowd of 50, including new member Stephanie Krizman, executive pastry chef for all of Bill White Enterprise’s restaurants.

Krizman says supervising the production of all five restaurants cakes, breads and sweets leaves little room for "extra curricular" activities, but that now that she’s had a taste, she expects she will return.

"I don’t really do much chocolates, but now I think I will," Krizman promises.

June 4, Utah’s Bakers Dozen will host an ice cream and cup cakes social tour of the Spotted Dog Creamery.

For more information, visit http://www.utahbakersdozen.org.


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