Fame-wise, superstar pastry chefs inhabit the same region of the national consciousness as skeet-shooting champions. Joe-Bob who? Somwhere below Latoya Jackson, but above, say, a Supreme Court justice. Yet for what it’s worth, Claudia Fleming of the Grammercy Tavern in New York is one. Her book The Last Course was received to great fanfare a few years ago. In it, Ms. Fleming offers some interesting tempering advice that flies in the face of that of knicker-twisting thermometer worshippers like me:
First, chop the chocolate. Then place approximately two thirds of it in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl, and suspend it over a pot of water that is hot enough to steam yet not simmer. Let the chocolate slowly melt. Remove the double boiler top or bowl from over the water and add the remaining third of the chocolate. Stir continuously so that the chocolate melts smoothly and cools evenly. The chocolate should be stirred until it feels neither hot nor cold when you touch a little to your lip. Use the tempered chocolate immediately.
Get that? When you touch a little to your lip. Interesting. Call it the “Fleming lip test”. I’m going to try it today.