The Equivocality of Chocolate

As the students at pastry school all enjoyed a much deserved one-week autumn holiday, the adult group diligently came to class and had a mini 3-day chocolate workshop! (We also have tomorrow and Friday off as a pseudo-holiday). I must admit that after around half a year in this program, chocolate work has truly been the highlight of my study!

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Triple threat chocolate (white chocolate shell, milk truffle filling and dark chocolate base) with crispy rice.

We made an assortment of different flavors of what is referred to in Finnish as konvehti, which I assumed were truffles or pralines… or maybe bonbons. And whenever I have a nagging question in my brain, here comes Google to the rescue! According to various websites (and my understanding of them, which may very well be wrong), there is a huge confusion about what these little chocolate bites are actually called. What is commonly called a truffle is a ball of ganache that is dipped in chocolate and rolled around in cocoa, nuts or coconut flakes. These can also be flavored or filled. Etymology lesson: truffle comes from the Latin tuber, which means ‘lump’.

On the other hand, a praline is also known as a Belgian truffle. And, still in the realm of pralines, there still seems to be some sort of confusion regarding what it actually is. In America, pralines are creamy and milky (like a truffle basically) and resemble fudge. But what is considered to a Belgian praline is what I made in school: a hard chocolate shell with liquid or cream fillings. In some parts of Europe, the only confections that qualify as pralines (aka French pralines) are those with nuts in them. Etymology: named after a French guy. Period.

In addition to this already confusing conundrum, let me introduce the bonbon. A bonbon is defined as ‘a sweet that is enrobed in chocolate.’ Basically, this could mean chocolate-covered gummies, caramels, dried fruit, etc. It should be no surprise that the word’s roots are also traced back to the French, wherein bon means good, so a bonbon is doubly good!

*Sidenote: In France, a Belgian praline is called a bonbon! And in Belgium, a bonbon is a cookie or candy, that is not made with chocolate! Plus, we all probably have Ricky Martin’s Shake Your Bonbon now playing in our heads right now. So, yeah. 😛 Is your mind spinning yet? Shall we continue with the fact that there is technically a difference between a praline and a praliné? Don’t ask me – I don’t know!

So let’s just keep it simple and call a spade a spade. It is what it is, and these delicious lumps of goodness are simply knows to me as chocolate. YUMMMMM.

Below is a sampling of my chocolate creations:

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My very first creation: a citrus (orange-lemon) flavored treat.

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These are both filled with coffee-hazelnut filling, but the white chocolate ones have actual chopped up hazelnuts on the inside.

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These are 2 different versions of cookies’n’cream. My little brother loves Oreos, so I decided to run with that theme as I chanced upon 2 leftover cookies on the shelf. They weren’t technically Oreos, they were Dominos, the Finnish version (which, honestly, just aren’t as satisfying as the real deal in my opinion.) The ones with little chocolate (okay, I google translated the word ‘rae’ because those are what those little balls are called in Finnish, and it claims they are ‘granules’ or ‘grains’. I beg to differ and will instead call them round sprinkles) on top are filled with cookies and cream only, while those cute little black and white lumps have layers of cookies and cream and milk chocolate truffle ganache.

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And of course, I had to make the classic mint filled bite. 

Today, I decided to change it up and step away from the little konvehti molds (I was beginning to get addicted) and went instead to these fun little shaped chocolate shell molds. The school has an assortment of easter eggs, bunnies and CHICKENS (Okay, I have literally NEVER had an Easter CHICKEN chocolate!!! Is this normal?!?!?!) and also some Christmas Santas. I wasn’t feeling very Christmassy (I may be a little bit of a grinch this year!) so I went with the cutest bunny I found and a couple of eggs! As seen in the picture below, I got a little messy with it. 😛 I’m extra happy with how the bunny turned out though – and they are still here sitting (standing?) in my apartment, with a handful of chocolate pralines/truffles/bonbons/whatever they are… waiting to be eaten. 😀

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XOXO R

Minion Dave and Minion Me

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I decided to bake a 3D character cake for the very first time over the weekend – and though it was not entirely perfect, I was quite pleased with how it turned out. I made the goggle and eyes a few days in advance, though perhaps I did not get the timing exactly right because the marzipan was in between soft and hard and thus not very easy to attach to the cake via toothpicks (hence, the crooked eyes). I attempted to use my toy Dave (the one that talks, rolls its eyes and farts) as a model and was hoping to get the cake to scale, but unfortunately my brain must have not clicked because i was only able to come up with half of what he was meant to be. (I premade parts of the overalls, i.e. the Gru logo, and his shoes but they all went straight into the trash can after the cake was assembled.) Inside is 3-layers of 6-inch red velvet cake, frosted with cream cheese icing (which I now realize I should have put a LOT more of).

After making the cake and taking pictures and being proud of myself for a good three minutes, it suddenly hit me: HOW ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO CUT THIS CAKE? I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t the easiest of tasks and I didn’t even attempt to do it myself. Knives and I – let’s just say we aren’t besties. After a few minutes of “no, you do it…no, you!”, my good friend Pedro did the honors, and I have to say, we teased him all night about being a minion murderer. Is that called minionicide?

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After seeing this, I will now rethink suggesting this cake for young children’s birthday parties…but what do I know? They might even get a kick out of it anyway! 😛 I just hope that no birthday celebrant gets nightmares from the sight of his birthday cake.

… But onto less gruesome things…. it looks like I myself will become minionized in the coming months. I have just been accepted as a slave trainee for the months of January – April in my first choice patisserie in Helsinki! I’m quite excited about the internship… and also about moving back into the big city! 🙂 Friends and family, it will now be easier to come meet up with me as I will no longer be a resident of the Arctic Circle next to Santa Claus. 😛 Though I will miss the few dear friends I have made here in Rovaniemi, I am so ready to live in a place that has an actual shopping MALL, instead of the two teensy “shopping centers” they have here. So Minion Me is ready to put the overalls on and head to work!

But before that, 3 months left here and I’m going to make the most of it! 🙂

XOXO R