Is making hand-made, gourmet chocolates your idea of a dream job? Guess what – it IS fun to work in a chocolate factory!
On the first day, a new employee will stop at the door and just breathe deeply. The factory smells so wonderful! Chocolate smells ooze from every corner of the kitchen. However, by the end of the week, the new employee will not stop at the door and take a deep breath. Why? Because they can no longer smell the chocolate! That’s right. Even a wonderful smell like warm gourmet chocolate is unnoticed by the brain when a person works in a chocolate factory every day. It is a good thing we don’t depend upon smell alone to keep us coming back to the factory.
No, the real fun is in the hand-making of the confectionary. For example, here is what a cook at a Gilbert Chocolates factory might do:
If it is a day when we are making the cream centers for our Gilbert Chocolates, her day will start out measuring ingredients and putting them in a large kettle to cook on the stove. The ingredients must rise to a specified temperature and then the contents of the kettle are poured onto a marble slab where more ingredients are added and mixed in with bench scrapers while the mixture slowly cools.
After the mixture has cooled enough to work with it by hand, the cook flours the surface of the marble table and divides the mixture into different balls of dough that she kneads for a couple of reasons, first to help the dough cool faster and also to reach a smooth consistency.
After the cream centers are sufficiently kneaded and cooled, the dough is then placed in what we call a “center press”. We also call it “The Friend” because the center press that we use at Gilbert Chocolates is probably close to 100 years old and was manufactured by a company named Friend. It still does a great job of making evenly-sized centers for our chocolates. Essentially, our “Friend” pushes the candy centers through a mold that makes the centers.
The candy centers then rest on the rack until we are ready to enrobe them. This resting time gives them the stiffness they need to handle the enrobing process.
The enrobing machine covers the centers in warm tempered chocolate – it looks like a chocolate waterfall covering the candy.
After being enrobed, the chocolatier hand marks each piece of chocolate with a letter or symbol so that everyone knows what flavor of center is inside the chocolate. The conveyor belt then moves the candy immediately into the air conditioned portion of the enrobing machine.
This portion of the enrober is actually the largest part of the enrobing line. The temperature at the beginning of the tunnel is cooler than the temperature at the end and the candy moves at a sedate speed. This ensures that the candy cools slowly enough to prevent the chocolate from “blooming” later on.
Finally, it all results in delicious, beautiful, gourmet chocolate that you can purchase from our store at the Jackson Crossings Mall or at the Meridian Mall or even from our factory or website! As you can now appreciate, hand-making gourmet chocolates is a rather exacting process that requires skill and craftsmanship that we have mastered here at Gilbert Chocolates.