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Valley times
By Reed Hellman

Sharing Supplies and Techniques
Making the bonbons, truffles, cherry cordials, Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter bunnies, and Mars Bars begins with the refined chocolate. Some of the same bulk chocolate used by professional chocolatiers is available to recreational cooks, and many of the techniques are the same, just on a reduced scale. Albert Kirchmayr owns one of more than two-dozen regional companies making an expanding array of tempting chocolate confections. Looking over their shoulders is a good way to learn something of the art and craft of making chocolates.

For more than 15 years, Albert Kirchmayr has been making chocolate truffles so delicious that they should carry a warning label. Born and educated in Germany, he began his career as a chef but wanted to open his own business. He returned to Munich and Switzerland to study chocolate making and purchased the equipment needed to bring European-style chocolates to the Mid-Atlantic. His goal was to compete with Godiva and other fine imports.

A. Kirchmayr chocolatier regularly produces more than 20 different chocolates and array of novelty and seasonal items. His filled truffles are a singular delight along with his chocolate boxes filled with fancies and milk chocolate-covered, dried cherries. “I think that people are going into quality products,” he says.  “People are getting away from just buying a big box. They want something that they can’t get on every street corner.”

Quality Begins with the Chocolate
When watching Albert Kirchmayr work, it’s easy to see that his insistence on quality starts with the chocolate itself. Annually, hi uses about 25,000 pounds of chocolate from Lubeca, a small European producer. “Do not compromise the quality with price,” he advises. He also recommends creating contrasts with the flavors, using acidy fruits or liqueurs as fillings to offset the sweet chocolate. Crunchy outer shells over creamy or liquid fillings also create contrast.

Albert Kirchmayr builds his candies in a workshop that resembles a domestic kitchen ---a very large domestic kitchen. He has numerous pieces of candy-making technology including tempering machines, an enrobing line with a continuous curtain of molten chocolate to coat candies at one end of a moving belt, various cookers, an extended granite-topped cooling table, even a machine to coat the molds with chocolate by keeping them in constant motion. The equipment automates or makes certain portions of his work easier, but is generally not essential for home candy makers.

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