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The Chocolate Man

Man Mickael Besse has created magic with chocolates for over a decade. He tells you a few tricks from his armoury.

Rahul Sachitanand        Print Edition: August 10, 2008

Mickael Besse
Mickael Besse has created magic with chocolates for over a decade. He tells you a few tricks from his armoury.

He has chocolate flowing in his veins. Over the last decade and more, Mickael Besse has served his delicacies in several Michelin star restaurants across Europe, including La Pyramide in Vienne, Auberge et Clos des Cimes, Scholteshof in Hasselt, Belgium and La Touraine in Germany, refining his craft. Besse has now relocated to Chennai to run Ecstasy, a luxury chocolatier at Satyam Cinemas

Why Chocolate?: The passion stems from the raw material itself; I love this product. It is intense and delicate, mouldable and breakable. My favourite is dark chocolate. I love eating it. Chocolate is like life—it lives, breathes and then dies.

Zen And the Art of Making Chocolates: I have learnt chocolatemaking over time and I’ve refined my craft in close collaboration with masters certified by the prestigious M.O.F. (Meilleur Ouvriers de France) as well as masters from chocolate factories in France. Making the best chocolates involves oodles of patience. Expect to make mistakes with ingredients and preparations. You need to spend time and be patient to get it right.

Raw Materials Are Critical:
It is critical to respect the chocolate itself and it is important to select the right base chocolate because this has a direct impact on the finished product. The most important thing is to have the right quality of base chocolate—i.e., chocolate that comes from 100 per cent cocoa beans, not roasted too much. Combine the chocolate with liquid cream that has 32-35 per cent fat and unsalted butter. The right percentages of each of these raw materials will give you the perfect ganache (filling inside a chocolate Bon Bon). The final product will be “melting in your mouth”.

There Are Chocolates And There Are Chocolates: There are two kinds of chocolates: one that is bought from supermarkets like Lindt and Godiva. The second kind is the raw chocolate, which professionals use (like Cocoa Berry and Valrhona). Nowadays, there is a lot more emphasis on technique and not just taste. People want to know where the chocolate comes from; they want to be able to trace its origin.

Something Special: I’ve made chocolate Bon Bons with truffles—some with tomato fruit paste, some with popcorn and others with black candied olives. In all these innovations, the most important thing is to let the taste of chocolate shine by itself and not be overshadowed by the other flavours.

 The DIY chocolate

You can make some quick and simple chocolates at home. But to make chocolates, you need to have a sound knowledge of the materials that go into it and a lot of time and patience. Besides the raw materials, you will need a double boiler or a microwave.

To make a quick chocolate delicacy at home, mix melted raw chocolate in a microwave at 35ºC (not more) with some roasted nuts of your choice.

Then spread the mixture on top of a tray that is lined with butter paper. Keep the tray in an airconditioned room (16ºC will be ideal). Wait for about six hours before cutting the slab into pieces—and your very own home-made slab of ‘choco-nut’ is ready.

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