Wednesday, March 19, 2014

It was not Holmes's nature to take an aimless holiday (but it is in mine!) (FINA)

I've finally had a break between exams and work to post about this thing I did about a month ago. I mentioned it tangentially in another post, but I got a couple of emails asking me about how I made Valentines for my scion societies as well as some progress pictures. So I thought I'd post them here.

I made chocolate ears and fridge magnets enclosed in a "cardboard box" packed in salt, inspired by CARD. You'll have to excuse some of the low quality pictures since I took them with my phone. The reason why some of them are milk chocolate and others are white are because one of the ears sent to Miss Cushing was a tanned sailor's ear and the other one, a pale lady's ear.

To make the ears, I used this tutorial on making chocolate: LINK
And then I bought ear shaped molds here on Amazon: LINK

Some things to note that I would have loved to know before I started:
  • If you are casting chocolate for more than 3 people, DO buy more than one mold! For some stupid reason, I bought only one mold. Therefore, since my groups consisted of about ~15 people that I was expecting, I had to cast chocolate about six times and go through the tempering process each time.
  • DO buy a good quality instant digital read thermometer. Initially I had a cheap candy thermometer, but it was too slow to react so my chocolate wouldn't crystallize properly until I used a digital read one.
  • Check the temperature of your chocolate constantly if you're doing dark or milk. White chocolate goes so much faster, but the milk and dark will stratify into layers which have different temperatures.
  • Bring lots of paper towels. Throughout the process, I kept wiping the thermometer on a clean paper towel which accomplished two-fold goals: clean the thermometer so it could better sense the chocolate temperature. Also, as the chocolate cools, you can see whether it's been tempered properly. Properly tempered chocolate should harden within a few minutes, whereas non-tempered chocolate will look slick, and will remain liquid even when cold.

 Instead of doing something useful or reasonable like studying or sleeping at 2 AM, I was making fridge magnets from Paget's illustrations of CARD. I was concerned about whether some of my fellow Sherlockians were diabetic or avoided eating chocolate. It seemed only a nice thing to do that they should get a treat that they would want.

I used my school's copy center to make the flat part of the magnet and glued magnetic backs to each one.

Clearly this is what Jim Browner had to go through.

The only way I could make my handwriting look uneducated was to write it with my non-dominant hand!

Was it worth it? Absolutely. One of the people I have the ears to told me that even after a long time, the chocolate remained stable and was still good even after she had forgotten about it. I guess the tempering process really works!