The first thing you need to understand about chocolate is that it tends to be brown. So before you get started, remodel your kitchen in various shades of brown. That will help a lot.
Once that’s done, dress in brown. Remember, cleanup includes You, and if you open up the door all splattered in brown, people are apt to get the wrong impression. Dress in brown or better yet, put on your chocolate costume. A chocolate costume can be anything brown, anything ready for goodwill, or more likely than not, your favorite silk shirt and wool crepe pants that you were wearing last time you got the bright idea to make spontaneous chocolates and ended up totally destroying it and now the only time you get to wear it is when you make more chocoaltes.
As for cleaning up, here are a few Do’s and Don’ts:
- Have everything ready beforehand; if you have to reach for things while you’re working with chocolate, the chances of coating all your cupboards, fridge and dishes with chocolate rises faster than the unemployment rate;
- Wear gloves, but skip the white cotton ones or cashmere-lined leather ones. Tight fitting latex gloves are great, preferably black which make you look more like you’re getting ready for a good time than preparing an enema. You can find good quality ones at beauty supply shops which cost about five dollars for a pack of two, and can be re-used fairly often. If you want to buy them in bulk, get online and order them from a porn shop. Black Dragon are good, and when they arrive your postal carrier and neighbors will think you’re having a better time than you really are.
- Another reason you want to wear gloves, aside from looking cool and keeping your hands clean, is that you will be using a lot of hot water to clean up as you go along, and hot water hurts, at least if it’s hot enough to melt chocolate. Wash your tools as you work, but don’t do it when chocolate is melting and do not do it when chocolate is nearby or the mist or splatter will ruin your chocolate.
- Use degreaser. As chocolate goes down the drain, be sure you are running very hot water for a long, long time, and add de-greaser so the chocolate doesn’t accumulate in your pipes and cost you hundreds of dollars in plumbers bills or thousands of dollars in eviction. If you don’t have degreaser, pour some liquid dishwashing soap down the drain and keep that hot water running.
- Wear an apron, one that can get messy and covered with chocolate.
- Keep a vacuum nearby. Chocolate will get on the floor, get stepped on, then trampled through the house. You could put a painter’s tarp down and pretend you’re Jackson Pollack, but if you’re like me you’d probably trip when you were carrying a big bowl of melted chocolate and that would not be pretty.
- Cover the stove with aluminum foil. Put foil all around the burner you are using and covering other nearby burners because you’ll be making a mess.
- Wait for the chocolate to cool before cleaning the counters and stove, and then use a plastic scraper to scrape it off and again, keep a vacuum nearby.
- Send me tips — you are probably smarter than I am and have better ideas on how to keep your kitchen (and yourself) clean in the midst of melted chocolate.
- Pet the dog or cat; they’ll end up covered in chocolate and you’ll end up with pet fur in your bonbons.
- Run the dishwasher. It will release steam and heat and ruin your chocolates.
- Let kids run wild. Never make chocolate when there is a small child in the house. Not even Nanny McPhee could supervise children and chocolate at the same time.
- Put chocolate covered dishes in the dishwasher without washing as much off as you can, or there will be a brown film over all your dishes.
- Use powdered dishwasher soap, steel wool or other abrasives on polycarbonate molds; it will cause imperceptible scratches that will ruin your chocolates.
- Assume this is all I have to say on the matter; I will keep adding to this list as things occur to me, which they do every time I screw up. Stay tuned . . . (and send tips!)