We report all too often on the people and skills shortages in our great industry, so how refreshing to meet a young man that seems determined to carve his mark, in sugar, chocolate and all things pastry.
Please meet Dominic in his own words…
My name is Dominic Hutchings, I’m twenty years old and am currently working at Pennyhill Park in the Pastry section. From a young age, I’ve always had an interest in baking and wanted to learn more while at school. I took a decision at the age of sixteen to not do A levels and instead I went on to do a Chef’s Scholarship at Bournemouth College run by The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts.
From there, my passion grew for cooking both sweet and savoury. We were taught modern techniques along with French classical cooking. My placement during my course was at Coworth Park in Ascot and worked there a total of three and a half years.
During my time at Coworth Park, I learnt about fine dining, afternoon tea, chocolate skills and lots more around the hotel. It was an amazing experience and I learned much over the course of my time there. I was given the opportunity to cook for some VIP’s and put a couple of my own dishes on the menu.
I also decided to do work placements at both The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston.
At seventeen, I looked to enter my first competition and it was The Junior Chocolate Masters. In the competition, you had to produce thirty moulded bon bons, a plated dessert and build a chocolate sculpture from scratch in six hours. I learnt so much and met such amazing and supportive people along the way.
After I graduated, I decided I wanted to become a pastry chef and started to specialise in pastry and chocolate. I started to attend courses in Chocolate sculpting and developed my skills more.
I decided last year to push myself and create my own brand of chocolates and came out with two awards through The Academy of Chocolate. Towards the end of the year I participated in The UK pastry Open and that really tested my skills. It was a great learning experience and would look to enter again in the future.
This year I am looking to expand my brand of chocolates even further by entering The Academy of Chocolate Awards again. Along with the Chocolate awards, I am entering the Annual Awards of Excellence which is a competition run by The Royal Academy of Culinary Arts for ages 20-26.
I will look to expand my knowledge and skills even further this year by attending more courses in all aspects of pastry and look to develop my skills in sugar sculpting. I’ve always thought that sugar work is a lost art and would love to expand my knowledge on it.
In the next couple of years, I am looking to progress through the ranks and hoping to work abroad for a few months to learn about different cuisines, ingredients and techniques. I find it amazing on how every country have their own take on dishes and ingredients, each turning them into something spectacular.
I want to discover something unique and bring it to life using my inspiration and skill.
Here’s one of Dominic’s recipes
Malt Caramel Filled Chocolates
This is one of my favourite chocolate recipes. It has silky smooth texture to it while having a rich taste to the caramel. This filling always reminds me of the drink Horlicks.
A few tips on getting a smooth caramel, firstly, have the pan on a low/medium heat and add your sugar gradually. If added all at once, you run the risk of burning the caramel and creating a bitter aftertaste to it.
When cooking a caramel, the temperature you cook it to is vital depending on how you want to use it.
If you are looking to produce a thick caramel, you need to cook it to a temperature of between 107-109 degrees.
If you wanted a thinner consistency, then you would look to cook it between 103-106 degrees.
This caramel recipe can be adjusted quite easily. If you were thinking to flavour the caramel using herbs or fruit such as orange or mint, then you would look to make an infusion using the cream.
- Double Cream 160g
- Light Brown Sugar 90g
- Salt 3g
- Malt Extract 45g
- Caster Sugar 180g
- Unsalted Butter, diced 50g
- Place the cream, light brown sugar, salt and malt extract into a pan and bring to the boil. Keep on the side until later.
- Place a pan on medium heat and make a direct caramel using the caster sugar. Melt until a golden caramel colour then whisk in the butter until fully emulsified.
- Once incorporated, slowly pour in the cream mixture while whisking and cook the caramel to 107 degrees.
- Pass the caramel through a sieve into a container.
- Place a layer of clingfilm over the surface to stop a skin forming and cool to 30 degrees.
- Once it has cooled to 30 degrees, use accordingly either for bon bons or truffles.
Making the shells for the bon bons
You will need:
- Cacao Barry Alunga 40% 500g
- Coloured cocoa butter
- Polycarbonate chocolate bon bon mould
- Chocolate scraper
- Palette knife
- Piping bag
- Using some cotton balls, polish the chocolate mould until clean and shiny.
- Melt the coloured cocoa butter to 45 degrees and using a paint brush, flick the cocoa butter onto the mould to create the design.
- Place the chocolate in a clean plastic bowl and melt in the microwave to a temperature between 45-48 degrees.
- Pour ¾ of the chocolate onto the table or a marble slab and using the palette knife and chocolate scraper, move the chocolate around to cool it down and scrap back into the middle of the table.
- Continue this until the chocolate reaches a temperature of between 28-29 degrees.
- Once at the correct temperature, scrap the chocolate back into the bowl with the rest of it and mix until combined.
- The chocolate should now be at a temperature of between 29-30 degrees.
- To check that the chocolate is tempered, take a teaspoon and dip it in the chocolate. If the chocolate starts to set and create a matt finish within 2 minutes, it is tempered. If it is not setting the tempering process must be repeated from the start as it won’t set properly.
- Take your piping bag and place the tempered chocolate in and pipe into the cavities of the chocolate mould to the top.
- Tap the chocolate mould to get rid of any air bubbles then flip upside down onto a table and using the chocolate scraper, tap against the side to remove any excess chocolate.
- Place flat down onto a piece of baking parchment for 5 minutes until completely set.
- Once set, pipe in the filling into the mould and leave for 3-4 hours to set.
- Re-temper the chocolate then pour some of it over the mould.
- Use the palette knife to smooth over the chocolate and then take the scraper and scrap away any excess on the top so that the mould is clean. Place into the fridge for 30 minutes so that the chocolate can set fully.
- Carefully turn the mould upside down and tap out the chocolates.
Our thanks to Dominic for his time and his recipe, we suspect we will be reporting on his progress through our industry in future.
If there is a young person in your business that we should be reporting on similarly, please let Denis Sheehan know – full contact details here.