Have you ever started a chocolate recipe only to realise midway that you’re missing an ingredient? It’s a really frustrating experience, but it can be avoided if you plan your mise en place – a French culinary expression which means “putting in place”. Begin every chocolate making session by going through the recipe in its entirety, setting up your tools, and measuring the required ingredients.
Being properly prepared with everything set right in front of you doesn’t only save time but also helps you utilise your counter space in the most efficient way. Mise en place forces you to think through all the steps of the recipe from the outset, so you’re not easily stressed and can take on even high pressure tasks. Because you’re cooking more effortlessly, you have spare moments to revisit your checklist and improvise through the cooking steps. Another advantage of this organised way of preparation is that it prevents you from being completely frazzled, leaving you with time to wash and wind up as you move along, rather than having to do all the cleaning chores after the cook.
Mise en place is particularly important when you’re executing a new chocolate recipe for the first time. Chocolate projects often require multitasking with steps that are time critical and temperature sensitive. A few minutes here and there in the refrigerator can make the difference between a beautifully glossy and a discoloured bar of chocolate. Just one degree off on your thermometer could untemper your chocolate. Now try whisking your ganache with an eye on the temperature reading of your chocolate in the melter, while keeping track of the time elapsed between the last time you put those moulds in the refrigerator! A good mise en place is both an art and a science. A formal training in chocolate will help you become a more efficient and a more creative chocolatier.