Tools and Things
On this page you’ll find some photos, comments and curses about things — including molds, spatulas, scrapers, thermometers and of course, things to smash other things.
But first, some basics. Chocolate making is like a crack addiction. It starts with a ten dollar mold and before you know it, you’re spending hundreds of dollars. A month. Sometimes a week. Eventually your loved ones will stage an intervention. But until they do, go for it. You’ll have fun shopping for molds and scrapers and thermometers and fancy packaging and won’t even notice that entire nations are collapsing, the air is radioactive, and Charlie Sheen is throwing another bipolar rampage that’s actually helping his career. Chocolate making is escapism at its most decadant.
That said, let’s get real. You probably can’t afford all these toys and gadgets and gizmos and if you can, you probably have sense enough not to “invest” in pricey and obscure chocolate accessories until you know whether or not you’ll actually use them. Good thinking.
So here’s the deal. If you are interested in making chocolates, all you really need to get started is a double boiler — which doesn’t even have to be a double boiler but could just be one pan and a Pyrex bowl. I didn’t even start with the Pyrex, but just stuck one cheap thin-bottom pan on top of a bigger and better pan until I wised up and got the Pyrex out of the cupboad. Whatever it is you can jerry-rig to make a double boiler will probably be just fine.
And you’ll need a spatula or two, maybe a rectangular Pyrex baking pan if you have it, and a thermometer. You’ll need the thermometer. I used a meat thermometer for the first few months, and it worked well. It wasn’t perfect, not nearly as quick and accurate and fun as a laser thermometer, but it worked. There are even some make-shift molds you can come up with, but there are so many “novelty” molds that go for a couple of dollars a piece that you may not even need to turn an ice cube tray into a chocolate mold. The idea is not to think big, but to think strange. That’s where creation begins. As long as you don’t get too strange and law enforcement must be summoned.
The point is, you don’t need to rush out and buy a lot of stuff. You can use some basic things you have around the house and make do until you know whether or not you want to keep making chocolates. And if you do, then you can add on a little bit here and a little bit there, shop in thrift stores, on Craigslist and eBay, drop hints with all your monied friends about all the toys you’d love to have and how generous you’ll be with chocolates once you have them. You can even break into your children’s college savings, they’ll probably never notice. Just ask any kid, “Which would you like, sweetie, chocolates or an educational IRA?” Trust me, the kids will be on your side.
So now, for the tools and things you will need. . . . But first, bear with me. It’s getting late, I need some rest. But I’ll be back in a heartbeat, posting the pics, captions, explanations, the whole shebang. Just as soon as I explain to my daughter why Cambridge may have to wait . . .
No! Wait! There’s More! Here’s where you can buy all this stuff!
Amazon Need I say more? Duh. Just google it, whether it’s a laser thermometer, a polycarbonate mold or a rope to hang yourself with after you realize what a mess you’ve made of your kitchen and life by following in my footsteps, Amazon has it all!
Chocolat Chocolat My favorite source for chocolate supplies and packaging, although their shipping is high if you live in the U.S. (they are based in Montreal). Fantastic service and they deliver faster than Dominoes.
J. B. Prince I haven’t yet used J. B. Prince, but many of the top chocolatiers do, and they have a great selection. Maybe one day they will send me a great selection of chocolate making supplies and I will have a very popular giveaway and write lots of wonderful stuff about their products, but until then, Mira says I can’t buy anymore chocolate supplies until I get a job, so J. B. Prince will have to remain a distant dream.
Chef Rubber Another source I haven’t yet tried, but a decent selection. The prices seem a bit high, but that may make no difference once shipping is factored in. See for yourself, you can probably calculate numbers better than I can.
Bake Deco An excellent selection of molds and supplies, and compared to Chocolat Chocolat, much lower shipping if you are in the U.S. That said, I have been very disappointed with the service and the delivery is glacially slow. I’ll try them again in the future though, as I like to believe in redemption.
And Sue Siegal, a reader, recommends these sources: