Recipe courtesy of Jacques Torres
Mexican Totem
Total:
8 hr
Active:
8 hr
Yield:
1 centerpiece
Level:
Advanced
Total:
8 hr
Active:
8 hr
Yield:
1 centerpiece
Level:
Advanced

Ingredients

Directions

Special equipment: Elastack molding material

Make the molds: Place the Elastack molding material in a saucepan over medium heat until melted. Use metal rulers to outline the mold that you would like to make. For my centerpiece, I used some ceramic art souvenirs I bought in Mexico. Place the rulers on a parchment paper lined sheet pan, and place the item to be molded in the center of that space. Pour the melted Elastack over the item to be molded until it is completely covered. Let this set for about 30 minutes until the Elastack hardens. When set, remove the original piece. Now the mold is ready to use. Make the cocoa pods: Use a ladle to fill the cocoa pod mold with white chocolate. When it is full, empty it into the bowl of chocolate. The inside of the mold should be evenly coated with chocolate. Wipe the edge of the mold clean on the side of the bowl and place it upside down on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Once the chocolate starts to harden, about 5 minutes, scrape the edge clean with a paring knife. When the chocolate sets, it shrinks or retracts from the sides of the mold. A clean edge will keep it from sticking and cracking as it shrinks. You can place the mold in the refrigerator for several minutes to help the chocolate to harden. Unmold. Repeat with as many cocoa pods as you would like. If you are using the cocoa pod as a container to hold something, do not glue the 2 halves together. Otherwise, use tempered chocolate to glue the 2 halves together. If you want to paint the cocoa pods, there are 2 methods. The first is to mix together a few tablespoons of the cocoa butter with a small amount of powdered food color. It will be easier if you use a yogurt machine to store and warm your paints. Use a paintbrush to paint the inside of the mold, applying color where you are inspired to do so. Then, follow the instructions that follow to make a mold. The second method is to use an airbrush. If you use an airbrush, simply place a few drops of color in the receptacle of the airbrush and decorate as you are inspired.

Make the mask: Use a ladle to fill the cocoa pod mold with chocolate. When it is full, empty it into the bowl of chocolate. The inside of the mold should be evenly coated with chocolate. Wipe the edge of the mold clean on the side of the bowl and place it upside down on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet. Once the chocolate starts to harden, about 5 minutes, scrape the edge clean with a paring knife. Give the mold another coat so it will be especially strong. Follow the same procedures. When the chocolate sets, it shrinks or retracts from the sides of the mold. A clean edge will keep it from sticking and cracking as it shrinks. You can place the mold in the refrigerator for several minutes to help the chocolate to harden. Unmold. Repeat with as many masks as you would like. Use the paintbrush techniques described above to paint the mask. Then use the airbrush to spray color over the face. If the airbrush splatters paint onto the chocolate surface, blend it with a paintbrush. Make the base: Use flexible aluminum strips or large cake ring to form a base. The base I made was 10-inches in diameter. Place the ring on a parchment paper lined surface. Pour tempered chocolate inside the ring to form a 1-inch-thick layer. When the chocolate has set, remove the ring and peel off the parchment paper. 

Make a support pole: Roll a piece of acetate into a tube that is 22-inches long and 3-inches in diameter and tape it closed. Set the tube on end and fill with chocolate. When it is full, invert the tube over the bowl of chocolate allowing the excess chocolate to flow back into the bowl. Let set. When the chocolate has set, repeat this step a few more times. You want the tube to be quite sturdy, as the rest of the centerpiece will depend on it. Allow the chocolate tube to set until hard. Remove the acetate. Use a hot knife to trim the base of the tube so it is flat. Then use the knife to scar the bottom. You want to make it somewhat textured so it will form a better seal to the base. Use tempered chocolate to glue the pole onto the base. Position it well so you can rest the molded chocolate against it. Repeat this procedure making another tube. Use a hot sharp chef's knife to cut the second tube into 2 equal pieces. A diagonal cut will be more pleasing to the eye in the finished presentation. To do this, heat the knife under very hot water and wipe it dry. Hold the knife blade against the side of the chocolate where you want to make the cut. Do not press on the knife or the chocolate will break. Allow the heat of the knife to "cut" through the chocolate by melting it. Use tempered chocolate to glue the shorter pieces to the center pole. Then, glue the center pole onto the base. Position it well so you can rest the molded chocolate against it.

Use a paintbrush to paint the support poles with tempered chocolate. This will give the support pole the illusion that is made from wood. Use the newly made Elastack molds. Use a ladle to fill the mold cavity with chocolate. Wipe the edge of the mold clean with a sharp knife. Once the chocolate starts to harden, about 5 minutes, scrape the edge clean with a paring knife. When the chocolate sets, it shrinks or retracts from the sides of the mold. A clean edge will keep it from sticking and cracking as it shrinks. You can place the mold in the refrigerator for several minutes to help the chocolate to harden. To unmold, invert the mold and peel the mold from the chocolate. Repeat to make more chocolate molds of the pieces in your design. I painted 1 of the ceramic pieces with a mixture of vegetable oil and powdered food colors. Then I used a towel to wipe a bit of the color off to make the painting look antique. Use tempered chocolate to adhere the chocolate pieces to the support pole. If you are using the cocoa pod as a container to hold the cookies, place cookies inside the bottom and rest the other 1/2 of the pod on top. You can also tie a pod closed with a ribbon to make a unique gift.

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