Remco Brigou might just have the best job in the world. He gets to make and taste chocolate every day, and he’s good at it too. You might recognise his work if you’ve ever tried the highly popular Australian brand, Koko Black.
Hailing from Belgium, Remco is a trained chocolatier and pâtissier, although he built his career around chocolate. He’s been living in Melbourne for the past eight years, which inspired him to experiment with native Australian ingredients. Today, you can see his imagination come to life in the chocolates he makes for Koko Black, including macadamia and spotted gum block, and Davidson plum dark chocolate and let’s not forget the adorable easter collection. We can’t get enough of those little praline bunnies. Considering Easter is just around the corner, and homemade easter eggs are about to happen, we thought we’d ask Remco how to perfect chocolate before we put a bowl of chocolate in the microwave.
What’s the most common thing we get wrong about chocolate?
If you think chocolate comes down to the three categories, white, milk, and dark, you’d be wrong. According to Remco, the most common thing people get wrong about chocolate is the percentage, and thinking that every chocolate is the same.
“People rely too much on percentages. Some will only have 70% and think if they go higher it’s too bitter, but it really depends on the type of cocoa bean, the roast of the bean, its origin, and its quality,” says Remco.
“There is no best cocoa bean either because each has its own characteristics and flavour. I like beans from South America, because, for me, they have a lovely smokey flavour and more interesting notes, but African cocoa has more earthy notes, so it’s a different taste in the end.”
“If you ask someone what their favourite chocolate is, it’s similar to asking someone to pick a favourite wine. It depends, you can have good quality shiraz, but you can also get bad shiraz— it comes down to the ingredients.”
Which chocolate should I choose for cooking?
There’s a difference between compound chocolate and couverture chocolate. Compound chocolate replaces cocoa butter with some kind of oil, so the end product is not as smooth and silky as couverture chocolate, which is high-quality chocolate, made with 100% cocoa butter.
“Chefs say quality ingredients in the most important step to perfecting any recipe and producing a good product,” says Remco.
“I always tell people to make sure their chocolate is 100% cocoa butter for the best result.”
How do I temper chocolate?
Those who fill a bowl with chocolate and whack it on a stove on high heat or in the microwave, are compromising the chocolate. According to Remco, you have to take care when melting chocolate as it’s easy to burn, and chocolate is stubborn, so you need to keep it at the right temperature.
“If you’re melting chocolate in the microwave, make sure it’s on low heat and you stir occasionally so it doesn’t burn,” says Remco.
“Using a bowl over a pot of water is the best way to melt chocolate, but the bowl shouldn’t touch the water, and the water shouldn’t be boiling. It’s a slow process, but goes along way in achieving smooth, silky chocolate.”
Remco suggests not to skip the tempering either. It’s a vital step in getting chocolate to be perfect in the end.
“You always need to temper chocolate to the right temperature depending on which chocolate you’re working with. You also need to take into account the room temperature.”
Here’s a rough guide on the temperatures for each chocolate type.
Dark Chocolate: (30-31)
Milk Chocolate: (28-29)
White Chocolate: (27-28)
What’s the proper way to store chocolate?
It’s a general rule that you shouldn’t store chocolate in the fridge, but for those thinking, because it affects the texture, you’re right, but it’s also much more than that. Remco says, chocolate is a sponge and it absorbs other smells and flavours. So if you whack your chocolate in the fridge, it’s essentially soaking up the other ingredients in the fridge, affecting its taste. Gross!
“The best place to store chocolate is in a wine cellar or fridge. Similar to wine, chocolate needs to sit in a cool dry place, and the less humidity the better as chocolate tends to turn sticky, like glue in humidity, and once it dries, it turns white, also called chocolate bloom,” says Remco.
“Most people don’t have wine cellars, so I suggest storing in a cool dry place, with a humidity between 50-60% and around 18 degrees. Don’t keep chocolate in a cupboard near the oven or microwave, it will affect your chocolate.”
What’s the best chocolate?
Remco’s favourite chocolate is dark chocolate with orange or another citrus. According to him, dark chocolate is nutritious, as it’s high in antioxidants and low in sugar, so go ahead, have some more.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.