Getting chocolate right the first time is a bit like getting out of bed in the morning. It’s easy to do, but it’s still one of the most simple things you can do to make your life happier, more practical and ultimately, more tasty. That’s exactly what I tried to tell Matt Lauer on the set of “Today” last week when he was perplexed how he had to haul four large boxes of the stuff home from his hotel in Verona, Italy, after visiting his favorite chocolatier, Raffaello.
He wasn’t amused. “So it was four cases of chocolate?” Matt asked me afterward. I had four big bags packed for him, but I was nervous about concealing it in my suitcase. “How many pounds of chocolate did you bring, that’s a question,” he continued.
There is a way to tell how much he wanted to take — oh, 4.7 pounds at least. But only if I believe all the items in my bag are things worth sharing.
If I believed that my arrival at Chocolatetto on Sunday in Verona revealed him to be the same kind of maniac who flew to Tuscany to steal valuable pâté roques, then those bags would be filled with a broken cardamom samovar, some smashed cognac coupes, and a handful of shattered wine saucers.
“Alright Matt,” I said. “They’re not worth stealing, they are just a nice bag of junk.”
Raffaello’s chocolate doesn’t look like a nice bag of junk. It’s still creamy, moist and safe — the signature smell and smooth texture of these kinds of foods is the result of using an old-fashioned melted milk chocolate base. It’s the confectionery equivalent of using vintage paper tablecloths in a modern apartment.
But the process of making it is such a terrific and easy lesson in cheese making. For the first nine ounces or so, it’s like preparing an entire milk cheese. It was easier for me to pull out than it was for Matt.