In honor of Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fun to write a post with a slightly different twist. What is that twist you ask? Well, the more I thought about Mother’s Day, the more I realized there are many ways that working with chocolate is similar to being a parent. Even as I attempt to write this, my 3 boys are shouting in the background. Someone is asking for a snack, someone is asking to play a game, and someone is asking where his shoes are. Where was I? Oh right, chocolate…mothers…and so I give you:
How chocolate making is a lot like motherhood
You need to have patience….like A LOT of patience…and you are going to lose your temper
Chocolate can very difficult to work with – it can lose its temper easily if it’s not treated just so. Then your bars or bonbons just won’t look the way you want them to. Ever been around a toddler? Temper is a mild way of putting it. Did you know it’s possible to completely ruin someone’s life by giving them their water in the blue cup instead of the green cup? Or, I don’t know, asking them to put on PANTS? Oh you can. Just like chocolate gets totally fussy and unstable if its fatty acid crystals are anything less than Form V. This relates to a process called tempering, which uses heat and motion to help the fatty acid crystals line up into one stable mass.
And as much as we would like to have infinite patience with our kids, when you’ve asked someone nicely to put their shoes on ten times, by the eleventh time your temper is probably going to rear its ugly head. Speaking of temper, this is probably one of the most frustrating skills for chocolatiers and chocolate makers to learn. Yes, you can buy a tempering machine that keeps things running smoothly for you, which you will probably do if you are planning to scale your business. But you also have to understand the basics to know what you are looking for, and that starts with learning to temper by hand. And in those times where you practice, practice, and practice some more, you will have many experiences where your chocolate looks dull, or develops white splotches called bloom. Or it just won’t have the snap we are looking for. You will need to have patience and keep working at it. Eventually, those fatty acid crystals will fall in line. Too bad we can’t always say the same about our kids!
If the process wasn’t fueled by love, you’d have thrown in the towel a long time ago
Chocolate making is a passion. If you get any chocolatier or chocolate maker talking about chocolate, get comfy because you will probably be there awhile. And you will also learn a lot. We love to “geek out” about chocolate, everything from flavor profile of beans, to chocolate making equipment, to trends in decorating techniques, we just love it all. And it’s this love and passion that sustains us through the tough times – the days when business slows, or your latest batch didn’t work and you have to start all over again, or getting the permits to open your factory is taking FOREVER.
As a parent, it’s our love for our children that gets us through those tough days when you’re insanely sleep deprived, or it’s been one tantrum after another, or you just want some peace and quiet. When our twins were babies, we used to joke that if they weren’t cute, we would have left them in the backyard a long time ago to be raised by wild animals. But we love them like crazy, and you need that love in your life to get through the challenging times.
If you happen to be one of those people who is both a mother AND a chocolate maker or chocolatier, remember how lucky you are to be surrounded by a steady supply of chocolate to help you get through those tough days.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the women in our lives – mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends and mentors. You have shaped us and helped us become who we are today. For that we will be forever grateful. And today we will shower you with fine chocolate!