23 Oct 2018

Chocolate Peep Show

Today I’ll take you into the world of competitive chocolate making (yes, it’s a thing). In fact, it’s the Cacao Barry World Chocolate Masters competition, which in layman’s terms is the world cup for chocolatiers. Kicking off next week in Paris from October 31 to November 2. Here’s a peek behind the scenes with the Danish contestant Tor Stubbe and his awesome crew in Kødbyen, Copenhagen.

Tor stubbe WCM_1

Tor’s assistants Sara Joensen and Aasta Tufto testing one of their homemade moulds.

 

This year, Denmark’s competing in the shape of pastry chef Tor Stubbe, backed up during the preparation period by his team from Bojesen Catering in Copenhagen – although once on stage, he will be completing all of the tasks alone. Back in June, I had the pleasure of covering an earlier stage of their preparations for Munchies, so hit it up, if you want to get up to speed (in Danish). This time I’m going back in there in the hopes of experiencing Tor doing a timed test of some of the tasks in the competition.

As usual, I arrive at the two closed graffiti-covered doors facing Ingerslevsgade in Copenhagen. By now, I know to just push one of them open, as none of the pastry people inside will hear me knocking. From there on it’s a dark descent into the basement from which the gang operates.

First thing I hear is the Australian guy talking from the speakers: “When Beth was murdered, she was wearing a pink night shirt….”. “It’s an Aussie true crime podcast”, sous-chef Freja Krarup explains. “Keeps us from going mad.” The group today is made up of three chicks and one guy, all of whom are fiddling with what looks like hobby stuff: clay, scissors, drawing materials. However, the man of the hour is nowhere to be seen.

Tor stubbe WCM_2

A moulded version of the caterpillar I saw Sara shape in clay back in June. Things are coming together nicely!

Since I was last here the crew has submitted the final recipes and so the seven challenges of the competition are pretty much set in stone. Here’s what Tor will have to create over the course of three days:

1) A huge chocolate showpiece 

2) A travel cake

3) A 100g chocolate bar 

4) A snack to go/street food 

5) Moulded bonbons

6) Fresh patisserie

7) A small chocolate design 

For obvious reasons I can’t disclose their concepts at this point, but I can reveal that kombucha, beetles and pigtails are involved. 

A while later, Tor returns from Fab Lab in Nordvest, his usual beaming self. “Never felt better”, he claims, and maybe it’s true, though it’s hard to believe considering their current training routine (5 hours after work three days a week – one of them a Saturday, so only one day off, phew!). But on the other hand, Tor is made of a different material than the rest of us. A more chipper and focused professional is hard to come by. 

After a while I realise that there’ll be no run-through of Tor’s routine today so I decide to just stick around for a bit longer. Later, Tor and Freja test their chocolate showpiece to see how many kilos the construction will hold. Using bottles of detergent and boxes upon boxes of their delicious pralines (you know, whatever’s on hand when you’re a chocolatier) they stack ‘em up until they’ve established that it’ll carry at least 10 kilos. What a relief! “You know, if I had put one bottle up there on the top shelf only to see it collapsing under the weight, I’d be a little sad. But thankfully that’s not the case,” Tor says, seriously downplaying the importance of the test. Can’t wait to see the full showpiece once in Paris.

For my Danish speaking readers, I’ll be covering the event for Copenhagen Food and hopefully I’ll have some juice left for an English word or two right here on the blog. (That’s the first time I’ve used that word as well as this place for years!)

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2 Aug 2016

Sorry for my absence – I’ve been multiplying…


Yes, you read it. I had a baby last year. She’s called Sonja, is 11 months old and sparkly as hell. I’m absolutely certain some fairy sneezed on her at some point. But lord is she a time stealer! I keep being surprised about the year that someone snatched away from me whenever I try to do the old “how long ago was this and that”. I always need to add an extra year, which I spent in the alternate dimension called parenthood. Or should I say babyhood, since I hope that it’s more of a passing thing, connected to maternity leave and the uncertainty of baby routines. But don’t expect anymore baby pics on Velbekomme anytime soon. For all my own online presence and hardcore pushing of my personal brand, somehow I cannot bring myself to enter our radiant little one into the mix. It’s like that stereotype about indigenous people who think that a camera flash will steal their soul. But you will probably notice some changes in the future. A lot less time for writing and elaborate baking projects and more fighting to get just a little kitchen fix in-between Sonja’s naps, doing the laundry, cleaning etc. If you’re up for it, I’m game, so let’s get started on the new Velbekomme, post-partem!

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7 Jan 2015

Chocolate Covered Vanilla Marshmallows

Chokolade&vanillemarshmallow

Look at this beauty. Soft vanilla marshmallow and a crackling chocolate surface. Can you tell I was satisfied with the result? And that I have decided to praise myself more on this blog? Anyhoot, I’ve raved about marshy things before here, so I won’t bore you with the details. I’ll just let you know that I used this recipe from the blog, which is a slightly adapted version of this original recipe from Foodbeam. The special touch here is the vanilla, which you can just make out amidst the white softness of the interior. As far as I am concerned, it was the main ingredient that I wanted to showcase here. Here’s the story behind it…

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22 Jun 2014

Danish Delights: Hindbærsnitter

HindbærsnitteThe above is a “hindbærsnitte” or “raspberry slice” directly translated. But oh – the amount of fun you miss out on with a simple translation like that! It’s not so much the raspberry part, because a raspberry is a raspberry (is a raspberry). It’s the “snitte”, which incidentally is my favourite word these days. First of all it can mean anything sliced, be it a slice of “smørrebrød” – the open-faced sandwich for which Danes are so famous. Or something sweet, such as a “makronsnitte” (a very sweet, baked, sliced goodie with macaroon and apple) or “walessnitte” (a slice of choux pastry, sometimes with white icing and red currant jelly). My favourite though is when it’s used with reference to fingers. Hence, “keep your fingers off the hindbærsnitter!” would be “hold snitterne fra hindbærsnitterne!”. Wonderful, right? Finally, there’s the snitte-twice-removed, which is when it means a foxy lady: “Now that’s one delicious little cupcake!” = “Se det er en lækker lille snitte!”. Also: A little bird just reminded me that a snitte can also refer to a line of coke. So there you have it. Not even Meryl Streep is that versatile. But I guess it doesn’t make you any the wiser as to the actual concept of the “hindbærsnitte”.

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10 Sep 2013

Bitches Brew (a flu-be-gone drinkable miracle)

Bitches BrewI’m in fairly good shape health wise (touch wood), but I am just as susceptible to a cold or the flu as the next guy. And let’s admit it, when do we ever have the time to just lie down and blow our brains into paper tissues for a few days? Never! Especially not while finishing your Ph.D.-thesis, ahem… While I sometimes kind of enjoy yielding to my body’s need for the foetal position, I have recently discovered the joys of fighting it. Now that I’ve also developed the Bitches Brew, it has become just a little bit easier. It’s a seriously strong ready-to-drink-lemonade containing the sweetness and punch of honey, vanilla, lemon, and ginger. Cheers!

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14 May 2013

Mini-Pavlovas

Mini-pavlova copyBeing half-Australian, I have a lot of fond and hazy memories of pavlovas, though most of them are from Denmark. They were these festive and monstrous meringue disks with piles of whipped cream, passion fruit and kiwi-slices on top. (Growing up in the 80s will do that to you either way, though possibly with more mini-umbrellas.) Anyway, they were also one of the things that made my Australian mother exotic back in the days when the cream of Danish youth had yet to go backpacking up and down the East coast of Australia. And when phenomena like Vegemite and smoko were still reserved to our family home and our trips Down Under. I still remember how we huddled around the phone for the Christmas call to my grand parents, each of us trying to strike up meaningful conversation with the minute price of 5 Danish kroner (about 65 cent €) looming over our heads.

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