by Aaron Davidson
One of the distinct and tasty advantages to working in a gourmet chocolate factory is the opportunity to give tours to great people who love great chocolate. I wasn't raised making chocolate confections, so almost everything I've learned is new to me. I came on board at Lula's as the business end of things but have found that I have a great interest in the production process. I learned the basics in order to conduct tours when nobody else was available but have taken it upon myself to learn the details of chocolate making. One of the questions I always get asked is why we cook our lush centers in huge, copper pots. This is one of those savory details I have loved investigating.
In my search for the answer, I first went to the source--"the master chocolatier", Scott Lund. He explained that copper pots transfer the heat better so that the centers cook more evenly and the chances of their burning is reduced. That was a perfectly accurate answer, and one that would probably suffice for the average person coming through the factory for a tour, but the answer only fueled my curiosity. I wanted to know more.
These days it's easy to find out anything if you're willing to Google a topic and do some reading, so that is exactly what I did. I am now convinced that cooking in copper is the only way to go. Two of the most informative and easy-to-read articles are "Cooking with Copper" at www.rameria.com and "Understanding Pan Structure" at www.cookswares.com. Naturally these two websites are interested in selling copper pots, and they would like everybody to cook in copper so that their copper pots will sell. Yet sometimes the goal of selling becomes a great motivation for producing useful and even fascinating information.
So that you don't have to read all of the information given on these two sites, I will give you the lowdown on copper pot cooking in laymen's terms. Other than silver, copper is the best metal you can use if you want to conduct heat. For example, you can use a lower heat than you would with a stainless steel pot, and you can get a more consistent result. In addition, the copper disperses the heat better across the entire pot instead of just concentrating it where the heat is applied to the pot. This gives you more control over the cooking process. Finally, when you remove the pot from the heat, the heat disperses faster, allowing you to exercise more control over how long your items cook in the pot.
According to some websites, one of the down sides of using copper is what happens when you cook acidic foods. Acidic foods can actually leech some of the copper out of the pot, which is obviously poisonous. Fortunately for Lula's, the only substances being cooked are the candy centers--which means perfectly created cremes, caramels, and ganaches. Every single time.