Wednesday 15 August, 2012

Jacques & Hasty Torres: I Smell Sex And Candy…

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Oh, sometimes I really ask for trouble when I root around for blog post titles. You remember the old 90s song right?? Anyway, there's some kind of logic here (I promise) because I'm posting about The Magic & Seduction of Chocolate with Jacques and Hasty Torres. 

The final event of 2012's Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival, it proved a nice, relaxingly sweet finish to the weekend.

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For those who don't know them, Jacques and Hasty Torres are the bi-costal, bi-cultural couple with respected chocolate stores and factories in New York City and Los Angeles (Hasty recently closed her Madame Chocolate in Beverly Hills, to build out a downtown operation). And as poetic as the title sounds, the Torres' actually fulfilled it, showing many simple but perhaps semi-secret 'tricks' to creating great chocolate treats, while never letting its seductive powers be far from our thoughts (at least, certainly Jacques' thoughts. One has to admire the man's liberal libido).

Jacques jokingly wondered aloud if he should be giving away secrets, then divulged plenty of good tips about working with chocolate:

• "The good thing about chocolate, you do something, it doesn't work, you just melt it down and do it again."

• "Chocolate is like wine and coffee, the one that you like best, is the best."

• Hasty advised the best way to find your favorite is to simply go to Whole Foods or some other retailer with a good quality selection of pure chocolate, and try the different brands.

• In terms of different chocolate sources, Jacques observed that South American cacao tended toward the more fruity and floral notes, while African beans have more "pure chocolate flavor."

• Jacques informed that he has his own proprietary chocolate blend made by Belgium's Belcolade company, however he also makes his own chocolate (the first artisinal chocolatiers in the US to do so, in recent times, apparently).

• Hasty revealed that they now source cacao from their own plants grown in Kona, Hawaii.

• They do not recommend using the double-boiler method of tempering chocolate, but rather using a laser thermometer to get the temperature precise (Jacques apparently also likes to use the laser thermometer in the bedroom... don't ask).

Then they quickly demonstrated a variety of chocolate treats, from the simple to complex. Hasty began with a s'mores on a stick, taking a lightly toasted marshmallow, dipping it in chocolate and graham cracker crumbs. Jacques followed with a story about his fascination in seeing a mother silence her toddler in a grocery store with simple cheerios, so he took cheerios and made chocolate clusters with them.

Things got a little more complex when the topic turned to molding. For Hasty's Beverly Hills shop, they created an original mold in the shape of a Chanel purse, painting it with edible glitter (the trick to hollow molding: coat in stages and let dry, and coat again). Then Jacques showed a multi-part "Gingerbread" style house (silicon) mold, in which he used dark, milk and white chocolate for various parts (he digressed into a discussion of getting his vibrator table repaired), gluing them with more melted chocolate and then decorating with edible paint or candies.

Finally, after telling us about a trip to Brugges, Belgium, in which they visited 52 chocolate shops within 2 square miles ("We are big nerds about chocolate" said Hasty), they began the most complex project of the afternoon. Oddly enough, it was inspired by going to see a LMFAO show, after which Jacques decided to pay tribute by doing a portrait of RedFoo in chocolate. He showed how to cut out an outline in a sheet of chocolate, paint chocolate over a photo to get a face, and build up layers of chocolate to add clothes and accessories.

Then, of course, they danced to "I'm Sexy and I Know It."

The entire LAFW event is a fundraiser for St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. Please consider making a donation.

Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival official site

Jacques Torres' Mr. Chocolate website

Hasty Torres' Madame Chocolate website

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