Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips
There are a few things you can do in advance to make this centerpiece easier to make. Draw the butler design on a piece of paper. Take the original to a copy shop and have it enlarged to the size you would like to make. This will be a template for the butler base and the butler's body. Jacques Torres' butler was 10 inches wide and 26 inches tall. You may wish to transfer the design onto foam board. Cut around the silhouette of the butler.
Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of tempered dark chocolate over a large sheet of acetate or several pieces of parchment paper. When the chocolate begins to set, use a sharp paring knife to trace around the silhouette. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate or paper. Repeat this process using white chocolate. Tip: Making the base and body thicker than 1/4-inch will make it easier to handle and less likely to break. Pour tempered chocolate onto the dark chocolate butler. Place the white chocolate butler on top. Press gently. Use an X-Acto knife to cut the template into the pieces. My template was cut into 6 pieces: a head, the hand, a bowtie,a body with arm, a shirt and lapels. These pieces are used to "dress" the butler and to give him chocolate accents.
Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of tempered dark chocolate over a large sheet of acetate or several pieces of parchment paper. When the chocolate begins to set, use a sharp paring knife to trace around the coat and the lapels. The side of the chocolate that touches the acetate will be the finished side, so remember to use the reverse side of the template. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate or paper.
Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch thick layer of tempered white chocolate onto a piece of acetate. When the chocolate begins to set, use a sharp paring knife to trace around the bow tie and the shirt. The side of the chocolate that touches the acetate will be the finished side, so remember to use the reverse side of the template. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate or paper. Use a paintbrush to apply red dots onto the bow tie.
Use a cornet filled with tempered milk chocolate and pipe rounds of chocolate onto a piece of acetate. Let the chocolate set. Torres' butler had 1 large button and 3 smaller buttons. Use the tip of a sharp knife to mark the holes in each button. Use tempered chocolate to glue the buttons into place.
Use molding chocolate to form the lips and mustache. Add a drop of red food coloring to a small piece of white molding chocolate and work in the color until it is pink. Form the lips. Use dark molding chocolate to form the mustache.
Use flexible aluminum strips or a very large cake ring to form a base. The base Torres made was 13-inches in diameter. Place it on a parchment paper—lined surface. Pour tempered chocolate inside the ring to form a 1/2-inch-thick layer. When the chocolate has set, remove the ring and peel off the parchment paper.
Roll a piece of acetate into a tube that is 11 1/2-inches long and 3-inches in diameter and tape it closed. Set the tube on end and fill with chocolate. When it is full, invert the tube over the bowl of chocolate, allowing the excess chocolate to flow back into the bowl. Let set. When the chocolate has set, repeat this step a few more times. You want the tube to be sturdy because the butler will rest against it. Allow the chocolate tube to set until hard. Remove the acetate. Use a hot knife to trim the base of the tube so it is flat. Then use the knife to score the bottom. You want to make it somewhat textured so it will form a better seal to the base. Use tempered chocolate to glue the pole onto the base. Position it well so you can rest the molded chocolate against it.
Use an offset spatula to spread a 1/4-inch-thick layer of tempered chocolate over a sheet of parchment paper. Let the chocolate set slightly. Use a paring knife to trace an 8-inch circle. When the chocolate is set, peel off the acetate.
Paint the eyes, eyebrows, chin and nose outline onto the butler's face. You can also add some lines on his hand to give it a sense of action. Fill a cornet with milk chocolate and use it to paint hair on the butler's head. Use tempered chocolate to glue all of the pieces into place. Start with the coat. Place some tempered chocolate directly onto the butler under the coat piece. Add the shirt. Then add the lapels. Use tempered chocolate to glue the bow tie into place. Add the lips and mustache. Use a pastry brush to gloss the butler's coat with some vegetable oil. This will make his coat shiny. Stand the butler on end and attach him to the base with tempered chocolate by resting the butler against the support pole. Use a hot knife to make a 90°F indentation in the butler's hand and on the tray. Use these notches as a guide and attach the tray place with more tempered chocolate.
Place hors d'oeuvres on the tray, and the butler is ready to serve you!