A bittersweet moment indeed tonight on Good Eats. I just finished watching a fun, hour long Good Eats special on the subject of chocolate. This was the final episode of Good Eats (boo hoo!) as Alton is moving onto other projects. It's a sad night as a Good Eats fan. This show has had such an impact on the way I view and cook food. Without Good Eats, there might not be an Eat Like No One Else.
Alton packed a lot of information into this final episode. He did a fantastic job of explaining chocolate from how it's grown to the entire process of making a chocolate bar to finally how to use chocolate in different ways in the kitchen.
Types of Chocolate
When looking at a bar of chocolate, you see terms like bittersweet, unsweetened, milk, semi-sweet, etc. These terms are whatever the chocolate makers want them to mean (except unsweetened is simply that chocolate with no sugar added in all cases). Alton talks of how in recent years chcocolate makers are using percentages to indicate what you are really getting. The percentage indicates how much cooca mass or chocolate liquor (this is not alcohol) is in the bar, so 70% means 70% chocolate liquor.
Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory | Click here for their website
Alton takes a trip to the only place in the United States that grows cocoa beans - Hawaii. I never knew there was any place considered U.S. soil that grew cocoa. You learn something everyday. The company Alton visited is called the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory. They do the entire process from bean to bar. Here is the steps they take:
1. Pick the pod
2. Open the pod
3. Remove the seeds
4. Ferment the seeds
6. Winnow the seeds until you have only the nibs
7. Grind the nibs & add cocoa butter
8. Temper the chocolate
9. Form into bars
Not exactly a quick 3-step process!
After his visit to Hawaii, it's back to the house to whip up some chocolate treats.
Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate | Click here for the recipe
Alton has given a hot chocolate recipe before. But I think this was sounds even better and I can't wait to try it. It involves grinding 1 oz of cacao nibs in a coffee/spice grinder. Then you add some milk and heat up in the microwave. Next, let the mixture steep for about half an hour. Meanwhile using a French Press, you place 6 oz of 70% chocolate, sugar, water, and salt into the press. Reheat the mixture and place into the French press. The point of the French press is to aerate the drink. This is truly a chocolately drink. It is suppose to be based on the original chocolate drink that chocolate was first used for, but made to accepted by the American palate.
Cocoa Nib Frappe | Click here for the recipe
The neat thing about the hot chocolate recipe is that you can save the leftovers to make another drink. You just freeze the leftovers for next day's treat. Just pull it out of the freezer, dump into your blender along with some milk. You could also use half and half or coffee instead of the milk.
Chocapocalypse Cookie | Click here for the recipe
This was the recipe I was most excited for. These chocolate cookies include milk, 54%, 70%, 100%, and nib chocolate. They take a little while to come together but they seem worth the wait. You need to first melt the 54% and 100% chocolate together in the microwave. Then you will add that to some brown sugar and room temperature butter. Then add the flour, baking powder, and salt. And then finally the rest of the chocolate payload. The key thing about these cookies is that they need to be cooled for 45 minutes before baking. If you skip this, the cookies will spread all into one huge mash. So you will need to be patient in order to get rewarded.
A Lesson in Tempering
Alton takes his time to show two methods of tempering. The first one is a microwave method. This is to make chocolate to dip things in. Tempering is all about melting and then maintaining the perfect temperature 90 degrees. This will give the chocolate the bite that is oh so pleasing. Check out the full method at Food Network's website.
The second method is using a food processor to temper. As the chocolate goes for a spin, it heats up just enough to melt and make it to the magic 90 degree temperature. He uses this chocolate for this next recipe.
Rocky Road Bark | Click here for the recipe
Next up a way to make your own chocolate bars. Alton adds marshmallow creme and roasted almonds to his melted chocolate, that he then pours into a molds. This is one of those sky is the limit recipes. You can add anything you want to the chocolate, maybe some Rice Krisipes, fruit, orange zest, any type of nuts, etc. I thought maybe the marshmallow creme with some crushed graham crackers and then you have your very own S'mores chocolate bar!
Foam Whipper Chocolate Mousse | Click here for the recipe
The final recipe in Good Eats history is for a chocolate mousse. Now normally a mousse would include milk and/or egg whites. But instead Alton uses a 1-liter cream whipper and 1 N2O (nitrous-oxide) charger to give the mousse that delightedly airy texture. Not something I have in my kitchen now, but would be fun to try if I have come into possession of one.
It's sad to see the show come to an end. I can't think of a better way to go out. A lot of wonderful recipes that I really want to try out. There will never be another food show like Good Eats. I am thankful for the many years and many episodes I got to experience. And I still have a ton of recipes of Alton's I ahve not tried yet, so there is still some adventures to be had. Thanks Alton and the crew of Good Eats for bringing such an inspiring, life changing show to the airways.
Kitchen Gadgets Used in this Episode
Here are some of the gadgets Alton used in this episode. They may or may not be the exact gadget he used.
1) Coffee/Spice Grinder - Used to grind the nibs for the chocolate drinks
2) French Press - Used to make the chocolate drinks
3) Chocolate Candy Bar Mold - Used to make the final bar for the Rocky Road Bark
4) Cream Whipper - Used to make the chocolate mousse