EDIT: Thanks a million, Redditors! This was a fun experience for me outside of my kitchen. I love my job, I love my work and it never feels like work dealing with chocolate. If you ever need to change careers, you might want to consider chocolate in any form. I hope you try our chocolates one day and you might have a little more insight now on how I create the flavors. Maybe we will do this again. :)

Greetings, Reddit! I am chef and master chocolatier Julian Rose of Moonstruck Chocolate, an artisan chocolate company based in Portland, Oregon. I have been making pastries, chocolates, confections and other sweets for more than three decades. I was director of the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Quebec for 8 years, a professional training center specialized in chocolate and one of only 15 such schools in the world. More than anything, I have a passion for incorporating many of the unique, gourmet flavors I discover locally and abroad – such as beer, champagne, basil or curry – into my recipes.

I’ve just returned from an international culinary festival and would love to answer any questions you have about making confections, or what it takes to become a master chocolatier. I am French Canadian and willing to answer any questions you may have in French as well! Let’s see what you’ve got, Reddit – AMA!

Proof: https://twitter.com/MoonstruckChoc/status/726120947380531200

Comments: 493 • Responses: 34  • Date: 

sexrockandroll338 karma

Experimenting with flavors, have you ever created something that was unexpectedly disgusting? What was it?

Have you created something you expected to be disgusting but it turned out delicious?

master_of_chocolate481 karma

Yes in both cases. Years ago, I mixed foi gras in a truffle, expecting to be horrible but it was actually very nice. On the bad side, at a dinner party at my house I received a dare of "How spicy can you make a chocolate?" ...I added about a tablespoon of ghost pepper to dark chocolate and no one could eat it.

tdkrss007220 karma

Is "I am a master chocolatier" the greatest pick up line ever?

master_of_chocolate268 karma

Well yes it is. :) I've heard guys want to be me, and girls want to be with me. Try it, it works. :)

ManOfLaBook199 karma

How do you become a master chocolatier?

Can being a chocolatier be a hobby from home? If so what's involved?

Most importantly, are you hiring any tasters?

master_of_chocolate279 karma

I was trained in Canada and Europe in pastries and chocolate. Then I specialized in chocolate, and in Canada and Europe there is such a thing as having a certificate as a master chocolatier. In the US, it hasn't been as defined, so pretty much anybody could call themselves a master chocolatier.

So yes, you can do it from home, but you could not commercially sell from your home.

We are not hiring tasters, we just take volunteers for that. :)

evilclown209056 karma

My great uncle was an amatuer chocolatier in germany. Just a retirement free time hobby but his pralines were amazing.

master_of_chocolate78 karma

Germany, France and Belgium have such history in chocolate making, and each country has its own specialties. My dad was German, so I understand completely. :)

Lanceaway178 karma

What is the best way to integrate coffee and chocolate? As grounds, as liquid, or some mysterious third way?

master_of_chocolate279 karma

My feeling is that the best way to incorporate coffee in chocolate is by using a coffee paste. Chocolate is fat based (cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa powder, etc.) and there is no easy way to mix liquid coffee to pure chocolate. That would create an irreversible mixture. Think of water and oil. A coffee paste has no water, thus making it very compatible with chocolate without the grit of simply ground coffee. This "third way" is my favorite coffee flavoring ingredient.

Lanceaway90 karma

Well today I learned about coffee paste. Thanks very much for your reply!!

master_of_chocolate93 karma

Thanks for the question, you can probably find some on the web through a quick search. Make sure it has no water.

two_off125 karma

What's the best super-fast & super-easy recipe for sweets?

What's your favourite unusual flavour of ice cream to make?

master_of_chocolate288 karma

Unwrap your favorite chocolate bar and eat it. That's the easiest recipe. :)

I've made slightly savory ice cream, with a mix of fresh herbs and tomato. Try to paint in your head a slightly sweet tomato soup, but frozen. I serve that as a trou Normand. What that is, is between heavy meals you have a little break to cleanse the palate. So just have a small scoop with a splash of your favorite liquor. One I enjoy with this is a pepper vodka.

MoronLessOff116 karma

Unwrap your favorite chocolate bar and eat it. That's the easiest recipe. :)

You're in a grocery store and you get a hankering for some chocolate. Which bar do you reach for?

master_of_chocolate193 karma

I definitely like a chocolate bar to have nuts or crispys or some kind of inclusion. I want to have fun eating chocolate and the experience of texture is part of my enjoyment.

Misdirected_Colors124 karma

What would you say is the best chocolate brand you can buy in grocery stores nationwide? Not some obscure brand that's only sold at specialty stores, but something that is easy to find at all/most major grocers across the U.S.

master_of_chocolate201 karma

This is a question I get asked all the time. It is going to sound generic, but the best chocolate to buy is the one you love. Because the assortment on the market is so wide, if I say "I love Cluizel or Valhrona" that is only my flavor preference. But it doesn't mean that they are the best. It is very subjective... But you can always try Moonstruck Chocolates ;)

amykhar87 karma

Now that you work with chocolate so much, do you still enjoy eating it? Or, are you utterly sick of the taste and smell of it by now?

master_of_chocolate179 karma

No, I still love eating chocolate every day. I would compare it to saying to an office worker, are you sick of your computer and never touch a computer outside of work? I eat chocolate every day. :)

TotallyKnackered81 karma

I make candy for Christmas. Whenever I try to cover something with chocolate it goes cloudy when it cools and/or doesn't set properly. I've triple checked the temperature, melt the chocolate in a water bath.

Why am I failing?!?

master_of_chocolate192 karma

It's all about the cocoa butter fat not being stable. So you might have read or heard about "tempering" chocolate, this is not simply melting to a specific temperature. It's actually a process to first melt, then cool down while stirring, preferably on a marble or granite surface to create the correct crystal form. That is true tempering. You can YouTube "how to temper chocolate" and find a lot of examples. The cloudiness you are getting on your candy is directly linked to the cocoa butter not being stable. It's a great learning curve to make chocolate at home, but it's doable.

TotallyKnackered60 karma

Thanks! That is the best description of tempering I've heard.

I won't give up then! I do love all the magic one can do with chocolate. Last time I filled it with marzipan drenched with Southern Comfort. Looked horrible but tasted delicious!

master_of_chocolate53 karma

I'm happy I could help you with your future confections. :) Practice makes perfect!

Whizzzel76 karma

What creates the different flavors of chocolate among brands? From what I understand (which isn't much), a chocolate bar is just a few basic ingredients mixed a certain way. So why does Ghirardelli chocolate have such a different flavor than say Lindt for example?

master_of_chocolate161 karma

Most of the flavor differences in chocolate are because of the origin of cocoa beans used in making the chocolate. Think of wine from different regions having different flavors. Chocolatiers like Ghirardelli blend different origins of beans and process their chocolate differently from Lindt (although they are the same company now). Chocolate recipes can be quite distinct in flavor even if it's just a handful of flavors. Roasting cocoa beans also will influence the flavor. Think of coffee beans - deep roast, light roast, medium roast - all different flavors with the same bean. It is virtually the same in chocolate. Origin, blend, roast and process will all influence the flavor.

omyohane49 karma

What has been the most interesting shape or figure created from chocolate that you have made or seen?

master_of_chocolate79 karma

When I was younger, I competed in several of those events you see on the Food Network (but this was the 1980's so there was no Food Network yet). We had to create chocolate sculptures on a theme and there were many innovative shapes and figures. However, I must say what we see today in competitions far exceeds what we used to. The difference today is that a whole team of experts like architects and engineers are involved in pushing the limits. You see now balancing acts challenging structural integrity of chocolate, and some of those sculptures blow my mind.

we_came_as_lemons45 karma

Have you ever made chocolate using savory ingredients? If so, what and what did it taste like?

master_of_chocolate78 karma

Yes, great question. We just released about 6 months ago our Savory Truffle Collection - check out the website: http://www.moonstruckchocolate.com/category/savory-collection

Here I used ingredients such as porchini mushroom, hot curry, figs, tomato and basil. These savory truffles look like little mushrooms to prepare your palate for an umami experience. So it's not sweet and it's not salty, but it's savory. And the blend of these ingredients with chocolate is a new experience for your taste buds. I also experimented with black olives and dark chocolate, and that's amazing! So I made a bar with black olives and almonds.

KookieMouse42 karma

I have been touting honey as the new salted caramel in terms of dessert trends, and on the front page of your site I see some (very cute) honey truffles. How did you decide on that flavor?

master_of_chocolate70 karma

Honey has its place in confectionery, and as the market is demanding more natural ingredients we can actually use honey in place of corn syrup, for instance. Honey does not react the same way in a recipe as corn syrup, but we can manage to substitute a sweetener with honey to bring that distinct flavor. Of course, honey is much more expensive than other sweeteners. I personally love honey with milk chocolate. This is how our honeybees you saw came to bee. (Pun intended) :)


What is the weirdest use of chocolate where you thought to yourself "Nope, this isn't going to work at all" but turned out amazing?

As an add-on, if you don't feel like answering don't worry about it, BUT; what is it about Portland that makes it a new hot spot for new foods, experiences, that kind of thing? I often see travel shows talk about the new tastes and experiences, but I'd like to hear it from someone other than my TV.

Thanks for taking the time for this AMA!

master_of_chocolate92 karma

The weirdest use of chocolate was at a Cirque du Soleil special event in Montreal (their home base), where they had me fill a kiddy pool with chocolate and there was a body building couple drenched in chocolate and the guests were invited to take strawberries and scoop the chocolate off their bodies... You can imagine the rest.

But Portland has a bunch of original people, that try things and the environment makes it conducive to being bold and different. Between the beer scene and restaurant scene, there is a desire to just have fun and enjoy life.

allthefoxes30 karma

I like white chocolate. What are some interesting things I can do with it at home?

master_of_chocolate160 karma

White chocolate is sweet and neutral. It has a vanilla and milk flavor, so it works great with pancakes, cookies, fruits, even ice cream. Something fun you can try is to spread some melted white chocolate on a piece of bread and put it in a toaster oven, chocolate side up, and toast until golden brown. It will give you a caramel flavor that's quite incredible. Of course, be careful not to burn your tongue. :)

rbevans30 karma

If you had to eat 100 duck-sized horses chocolate bars or 1 horse-sized duck chocolate bar which would you choose?

master_of_chocolate39 karma

I'd probably go with the 1 horse-sized duck chocolate bar. 1 horse size seems smaller than 100 duck-sized to me. :)

man_mayo28 karma

What's the most expensive chocolate you've ever had? Did it live up to the price tag?

master_of_chocolate64 karma

The most expensive chocolate bar I've had was $35.00 for 4 oz. It did not live up to the price tag. :) As I said earlier, preference does not have a price.

TheFattie19 karma

Have you used liquid nitrogen before?

master_of_chocolate57 karma

Yes! The value of having an extremely cold medium to play with chocolate allows the chocolatier to create decorations simply by drizzling a stream of chocolate in the liquid nitrogen to create the most amazing, delicate coral lace structure that you cannot do any other way. Again, this would be used in competition, but not commercially repeatable.

JustAnAverageAsian19 karma

What is the most elaborate thing you have made out of chocolate? Also, what is your favorite part of the process? Besides eating the stuff.

master_of_chocolate42 karma

I actually made a replica of the St. John's Bridge here in Portland for a special event in downtown Portland. I had to build it on-site as a I could not carry it that far. :) It was about 4 feet high, and 3 feet across. Unfortunately, it did crumble before the end of the evening, when the temperature of the room got hotter. Here is a picture of the real bridge. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/e9/f7/f6/e9f7f64659537d85bdea61211e0cde78.jpg

My favorite part of the process is imagining what I am going to create, and like a lot of artists, you have a defined image in your head and it never comes out quite like you wanted it to come out. But the process of creating it is really fun.

AttilaTheMuun19 karma

Have you seen the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

master_of_chocolate50 karma

Hell ya! But that's not quite how it all happens in a chocolate factory.

GhostCheese19 karma

You mean you don't mix it via waterfall?

master_of_chocolate43 karma

No waterfalls, more like a lake of chocolate. :)

MollDoll18217 karma

Can you make me a Reddit chocolate bar similar to the one on your Instagram? :)

Do you frequently give chocolate as a gift?

master_of_chocolate53 karma

Do you live in Portland? If you do, come over to our location on N Baltimore and pick it up on Monday.

I do, every time I get invited to a party. And I think that's why people invite me to their parties. Seriously. :)

MollDoll18210 karma

Damn. I live in Charleston (but thanks!!! Very awesome of you to offer! I hope you're not flooded with Portland Redditors wanting a Reddit chocolate bar now lol)

I'm sure that definitely gets you a lot of invites!

What's your favorite seasonal chocolates?

master_of_chocolate20 karma

I'm going to go with the fall seasonal assortment we make here at Moonstruck. It has flavors such as pumpkin spice, pfeffernusse, ginger bread and all those comforting flavors of fall. It is definitely a great collection of chocolates. Try it starting in September. :)

Frajer16 karma

What's your favorite candy both that you made or that you've ever had?

master_of_chocolate50 karma

One of my favorite childhood candies was molasses taffy. It's actually an old fashioned, poor man's candy that is quite popular in Quebec.

My favorite candy to make always involves roasted hazelnuts and a blend of dark and milk chocolate. A little sweet, a little deep and a little nutty - the perfect combo. :)

Toddspickle11 karma

Boxeurs ou des mémoires?

master_of_chocolate34 karma

La tire St-Catherine au Quebec , c'est probablement le bonbon populaire pour L'halloween et la saison froide...mais c'est un souvenir d'enfance qui m'est cher.

EDIT: For those who don't speak French: The question was about childhood memories with candy... St Catherine's taffy in Quebec is probably the most popular candy for Halloween and the cold season. Enjoying this is just a great childhood memory of being a kid.

Sacamato11 karma

Do you ever make fudge? What do you think of using marshmallows or marshmallow crème to stabilize a fudge? Is that cheating?

master_of_chocolate38 karma

Yes it is cheating, but if it works for you that is OK. I cheat all the time. :) Fudge is actually a fondant with more fat, most often butter. The key to a smooth fudge is churning the fudge at the correct temperature after cooking. If you churn too early, it's gonna be very gooey and sticky. And if you churn too late, it will be grainy. So there is an art in the perfect fudge.

Sacamato22 karma

Yeah I avoid that by adding marshmallow crème ;)

I made up a cool recipe a few years ago: dark chocolate, extra vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, cayenne, and orange blossom honey. Even though cinnamon and cardamom weren't available to them, I call it Aztec fudge.

master_of_chocolate16 karma

That sounds like a good blend of flavors!

furiosva10 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! Now, on to my question: What would be the most important things when I'd want to start making my own chocolate creations at home? Good chocolate, of course, and what else?

master_of_chocolate28 karma

I would say getting into chocolate making has a certain draw to chocolate lovers, but with chocolate being one of many expensive ingredients (including butter, cream, nuts, etc.) to make truffles, make sure you start small, with a plan and good recipes. Once you have experienced a couple of failures, you will learn the limits of chocolate. This is part of learning to be a chocolatier. If you fail, don't toss everything in the trash. In case of emergency, add more cream and make a chocolate sauce. And most of all, have fun. :)

dimplejuice10 karma

What are your favorite blends of dark chocolate (% cacao mix, etc)?

master_of_chocolate26 karma

My favorite dark blend varies depending on the brand of chocolate. I tend to find comfortable flavor profile between 65 and 75% cacao. The origin of beans also has a huge influence on flavor. For instance, I love cacao from Sao Thome. It is fruity, slightly acidic and very bold in flavor. If I had a choice, that would be my go to chocolate... at 72%. :)

courtiebabe4209 karma

Where did your desire to become a chef come from, and how did you get focused in pastries and desserts?

master_of_chocolate29 karma

My parents owned a bakery/pastry shop. So I was born into the business. :) I did my classic French pastry training in Montreal, this was a 2 year program and then I added an extra year to specialize in chocolate. Then I took 50 different seminars in Canada, the US and Europe to specialize more specifically in chocolate.

Adamj19 karma

How well do beer and champagne actually work? Those feel more like novelty ingredients than things which would improve the flavor.

master_of_chocolate35 karma

Beer and chocolate, in my opinion, is a better pairing than wine and chocolate, which is a common pairing. Simply because the ingredients in beer are quite compatible with milk or dark chocolate. Think of how a dark stout is often described as chocolate-y. The flavors come forward better than with wine, where the strong flavors of the wine and chocolate tend to clash. On the other hand, with champagne being a sweet white wine, it does work very well with white chocolate, and that is how my champagne truffle is made.