Valentine's Day is just around the corner and whether you're in love or so far out of it you can hardly stand the sight of another heart-shaped anything, the holiday does bring all people together around one thing. No, we're nothing talking about those warm, fuzzy feelings. We're talking about chocolate.
So before you jump head first into that box of sweet brown goodness we thought we'd give you a behind the scenes peek in just how those confections got made. Here to explain it all is the star of this week's Chef Chat, Christine Boerner, chocolatier, pastry chef, and owner of The Baker's Daughter.
From the small "chocolate room" in her shop, Christine turns out hundreds of truffles every, single one of which she makes herself. The shop, located next-door to her parents' bakery Karl's Quality Bakery, wasn't something she dreamed about while she worked as a pastry apprentice in Europe. But upon returning home to the states and beginning to work in the chocolate business, she realized the potential and with her parents' help, opened up her own store in 2010.
How has it been going since you opened?
It's been hard. It's been the shortest and longest two years of my life if that makes sense. It seems like its everything is dragging on because you have a lot of work and you have a lot to do but because you have a lot to do, time is passing too quickly and you never have enough [of it.] So it's hard, but really good. Really rewarding.
How do you handle a big holiday like Valentine's Day?
Every year I don't know what to expect. I just make as much as I can and I try to be as prepared as possible. What I learned last year is that everybody comes in the day of, especially the guys, so I was actually surprised last year. I had pre-made boxes last year but all the sudden I had a line of guys going, "My wife likes this, this, this and this. She can't have this, and she can't have this." So that's something I did learn. I'm making less premade boxes and I'm going to have more help.
What does the preparation entail?
To make a truffle from beginning to end probably takes you anywhere from three days to a week, so you cant just say, "Alright, today I'm going to make truffles." Its literally a long, drawn out, thought out process. Once you start something you have to keep with the steps its kind of like a program. You really have to coordinate if you're doing multiple truffles; for example, you want to temper all your dark chocolate on the same day and dip them all on the same day.
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For my parents, [who are bakers,] its more like they buy all the products and they get as much ready as they can but that day, its show time. And for chefs, their show time is between like 7 and 10 in the evening when the couples are there. They got to go. They probably thought for days about the menu, spent one day shopping and then they have three hours where they just go. We have weeks of premeditated work going into this.
So in a way is that better for you?
Well, they have short bursts of stress whereas we just have a long momentous, drawn out process. For us it's more of a drama than a little sitcom.