After singing the praises of Indian supermarkets for finally giving me a decent source of milk powder actually trying to use the stuff today proved quite problematic. I’m hoping that it just happened to be the sucky brand that I bought and not something that happens with all milk powder, but as hard as I tried I just couldn’t stop it from being lumpy or grainy. I did start off the afternoon’s chocolate making by taking pictures of each new experiment at all the key stages thinking that by now I’d have a lovely stream of photos to show you the progression from “experimental” to delicious… but I had to stop as it just got too depressing as try after try turned out looking like some sort of godforsaken mutant turd.

Experiment number 1 was 40% milk powder and 60% melted dark chocolate. I really should have known that this wasn’t going to work before I put the bits together seeing as the volume of the powder was like twice the chocolate, but seeing as this is more or less the industry standard for ratio of milk to cocoa solids I just sort of assumed it would turn out alright and that somehow the milk powder was actually some sort of mystical magical thing that turned into liquid as soon as it hit other liquid. Of course I was sadly mistaken and what I got was basically a whole load of brown dough that solidified into something that tastes more or less like bitter milk chocolate mixed with sand and looks like a camel’s cowpat. Back to the drawing board there.

Clearly there was too much milk powder so for the next try I just used half the amount I had before and ended up with something that looked more or less like milk chocolate, but it had these big lumps of milk powder that just refused to go away after mixing for ages and ages the chunks were still big and hideous and I’d managed to beat enough air into the chocolate mix that it had actually started fizzing. I didn’t even bother trying to temper it and now its sitting on the sideboard looking like nothing so much as dodgy cardboard I tried throwing it to the sarlacc out in our garden but all that happened was that it vomited out Boba Fett.

OK… somehow got to break down all those chunks… hmmm…. a sieve should do the trick right? WRONG!!! On attempt number 3 I sieved the milk powder very gently into the milk chocolate in tiny tiny amounts mixed it in like folding flour into a cake mix tempered it and then sieved the mix into another bowl and then again into a mold. It looked beautiful and smooth and almost like real milk chocolate until it started to set, then these funny specks started appearing. Looked a little odd but I just thought that I just hadn’t tempered it very well and then the sieving had broken down any nice crystals that I’d made and then cooled it down too much before they had a chance to reform, but then it turned out that actually it wasn’t dodgy tempering that was to blame…. it was little microchunks of milk powder!!! For some reason quite a lot of the surface had stuck to mold, but the bits that weren’t were shining like a mirror and it made a pretty good snappy breaking sound but the crossection was all speckly with little bits of milk powder that were small enough to fit through the sieve, but quite easily large enough to make eating it like biting off a bit of chocolate that someone had left in the sandpit yesterday… the first one tasted better… much much better.

Some chocolatiers use added butter fats and most use a bit of extra cocoa butter in their chocolate so next up was trying to make the milk powder into a dough using melted butter (due to lack of cocoa butter). Still no luck eliminating the grainyness and the chocolate ended up way too soft and tasting of butter. Promisingly though this was the least grainy out of all of them so I think it’s got some potential. Maybe a mix of powdered milk, evaporated milk and cocoa butter might do the trick. Now I’ve just got to find somewhere that sells lecithin to stiffen it up and I’ll give it another go.

I spent about an hour trying to make evaporated milk after realising that all the supermarkets were closed… do not ask me how that went. Also don’t remark on how much my kitchen smells like Jabba the Hutt’s foreskin.

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