Portraits

MEET THE CHEF CHRIS ELBOW

In the Meet The Chef series, discover a Cercle V chef, learning their background, inspirations, and ideas. Enjoy the in-depth Q&A with each chef along with an exclusive recipe.

After pursuing a career as a savory chef, Christopher Elbow discovered all things sweet when he went to work in the Las Vegas restaurant industry. While in Vegas, Christopher had the opportunity to work in pastry kitchens of hotels and restaurants....and never looked back. Upon returning to his hometown of Kansas City, Christopher began experimenting with making chocolate bonbons while working as a pastry chef in a local restaurant. A passion was ignited, and in 2003, Christopher Elbow Chocolates was born. Immediate accolades and press fueled the rapid growth of Christopher Elbow Chocolates, leading to the opening of retail stores in Kansas City and San Francisco.

SIGN UP FOR CHEF CHRIS ELBOW & CHEF DEREK POIRIER'S CLASS, THE BUSINESS OF BONBONS

Q&A

Valrhona: What inspired you to enter the world of pastry?
I always had an interest in pastry so I knew someday I would eventually find myself somewhere in the pastry world.

Valrhona: From where do your inspirations for new creations come?
Traveling, eating in restaurants, staff, peers and watching what is happening in the industry.

Valrhona: Who in your life has been the biggest mentor/inspiration in your career?
Andrew Shotts. I took a bonbon class taught by Andrew very early on in my career and it was an invaluable experience in helping me refine my chocolate making skills.

Valrhona: What is your most famous dish?
Our Chocolate Pecan Caramels. It is our take on the classic “turtle” but with some modern updates. Ours includes a soft buttery caramel, toasted pecans and our signature chocolate topped with a bit of Fleur de Sel.

Valrhona: What is your earliest dessert memory?
Warm chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk.

Valrhona: What is your favorite type of pastry to make? To eat?
I love eating and making ice creams. It doesn’t get any better than fresh homemade ice cream!

Valrhona: If you could pass one bit of insight down to another chef, what would it be?
Surround yourself with talented and passionate employees. They are just as instrumental to the success of your business as you are.

Valrhona: What is your favorite Valrhona Chocolate?
This changes often but I find myself eating a LOT of CARAMELIA 36% lately.

Valrhona: When pairing with chocolate, what is your favorite flavor combination?
Milk chocolate paired with citrus fruits (lime, yuzu, kalamansi) has always been one of my favorite combinations.

Valrhona: What is the Corporate Social Responsibility initiative you’ve implemented and are the proudest of?
We are in the process of creating the Christopher Elbow Chocolates Foundation. The mission of this is to help the farmers, their families and the workers of the farms where we purchase cacao.

Valrhona: When & how did you hear about Valrhona for the first time?
I first heard of Valrhona over 20 years ago very early on in my career but didn’t have a chance to work with it for several years. I started using Valrhona chocolate in my company around 2007/2008.

Valrhona: Who do you follow on social media?
valrhonausa (of course); krissharv3y, pierrehermeofficial

Valrhona: What is your favorite perk of the CercleV program?
Access to Valrhona’s top-level pastry chefs and technical team and being among the first to see what innovative products they are working on.

QuickFire

Nickname?
In the factory it’s El Jefe.

Celsius or Fahrenheit?
Celsius.

Cake or Tart?
Tart.

Favorite restaurant?
Too many to name.

Go-to snack?
I’m a sucker for salty chips.

Wine or Cheese?
Do I have to choose between the two?

Coffee or Tea?
Coffee.

Favorite kitchen tool?
Small offset spatula….you can do a lot of heavy lifting with one of these!

Craziest delicious flavor combination?
Apricot, olive oil and yuzu.

EXCLUSIVE RECIPE
KALAMANSI AND VANILLA BEAN BONBON

INGREDIENTS
WHITE CHOCOLATE SHELLS
AN IVOIRE 35%


KALAMANSI PÂTE DE FRUIT 
255g kalamansi purée 
105g pear purée
297g granulated sugar
50g glucose
7g pâte de fruit pectin
4g citric acid


WHITE CHOCOLATE-VANILLA BEAN GANACHE 
200g heavy whipping cream
35g invert sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
40g butter
445g IVOIRE 35% (partially melted)

 STEPS

KALAMANSI PÂTE DE FRUIT 
1. Combine 50g of the granulated sugar with the pectin in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.
2. In a pan, heat the kalamansi and pear purée to 50°C (122°F).
3.  Slowly whisk in the pectin and sugar mixture, making sure to not allow any lumps to form. Don’t allow the mixture to go below 50°C (122°F).
4. Increase the heat and add the glucose.
5. Once the glucose is incorporated and the mixture is boiling, add the remaining granulated sugar in 2-3 additions.
6. Cook the mixture to 103°C (217°F) and immediately pour out onto a Silpat.
7. Once cool, blend the pâte de fruit in a food processor until smooth. 


WHITE CHOCOLATE-VANILLA BEAN GANACHE 
1. Bring the cream, invert sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.
2. Cover with plastic and let steep for 10 minutes.
3. Bring cream mixture back to a boil and pour about 1/3 of the cream through a fine strainer on to the partially melted white chocolate.
4. Using a rubber spatula, stir from the center to begin obtaining an emulsion.
5. Gradually continue to add the remaining cream while keeping the temperature above 35°C (95°F).
6. After all the cream is incorporated, use an immersion blender to blend in the butter when the temperature is between 35-40°C (95-104°F).
7. Transfer to a pastry bag. Cool to about 31°C (88°F)
 

ASSEMBLY AND FINISHING​​​​​​​
Paint desired molds with yellow and green cocoa butter. Cast shells with Valrhona IVOIRE 35% chocolate and set aside to set. Transfer KALAMANSI PÂTE DE FRUIT to a pastry bag and fill the molds 1/3 of the way. Use the piping bag to fill the shells with KALAMANSI PÂTE DE FRUIT. Make sure that the temperature of the Ganache is 31°C (88°F) then fill the remainder of the shells to the top by piping in WHITE CHOCOLATE-VANILLA BEAN GANACHE. Allow to crystallize overnight. Then use tempered Valrhona IVOIRE 35% to seal up the bottoms.

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