I've got this thing going on in my head that makes me want to lash out and do something original.
I know it bucks the trend and upsets people in a "one size fits all" world, but I've always been against the 'easy solutions' of buying things in, dumbing it down, or using what "everybody else is using".
We had 15 VIPs flying in to Da Nang and we wanted to impress them with something edible, fun, and local.
Something that wasn't in a plastic box, flown from Europe, or slammed together lazy style with a generic mold.
Easy? Yes, until the last criteria. It also had to be easy.
Chocolate is fun to work with, and pretty simple, until you start getting all picky and intricate. Something scalable was required, so it had to be simple enough that all of our local pastry team could do it, and within a reasonable time frame. But interesting enough to cause a smile, a "wow" or the snapping of a photo to send friends.
Enter: The Map of Vietnam.
We had a couple of hits and misses with other ideas and the team tried a couple of trial runs – I wasn't feeling it. Then our pastry team came up with this map concept, and we tweaked it to what I think is pretty original, and perfectly fitted to the brief.
Tempered chocolate stays hard and glossy, so a thick edible choc base was a no brainer. Melted chocolate acts as glue, so warming a piece of choc and holding it against another makes a solid weld – the more pressure it has to bear, the more patient you have to be in bracing it until it's set.
Cutting chocolate is fairly easy – for nice clean cuts, just use a warm/hot knife. Not too hot though. You don't want to burn it.
Lastly – how boring!
So a bit of white chocolate to highlight the borders and write in some locations on the map.
Oh – and they were made on Valentines day, so a couple of hearts to hold the chocolate truffles.
Well done team!
And a great idea for anyone with a country whose shape would look and taste great on a chocolate base.
PS. The guests loved it!