Becoming a Master Chocolatier
You settle in first for a talk about the history of chocolate and the process by which chocolate is made, accompanied by tasting of all of the various stages from the chocolate making process. This then progresses on to looking at where in the world chocolate is produced – the so-called Cocoa Belt around the Equator, which you can see on the lovely map on the ground floor of Cocoa Amore. This is accompanied by a delicious tasting of the chocolates that are being described to you, giving an excellent insight into not just the range of different flavours that can come from cocoa, but also what the different percentages on chocolate mean and how they all taste.
After the talking and the tasting, it is on to the fun, messy part, where you first learn how to line the shells for your filled chocolates. Everything about making chocolate is tactical and sensory – and makes absolutely awesome slow motion clips!
With very clear instructions about what to do, we took it in turns to fill, and shake, and slice, and tip, at least we did all of those things to the very best of our abilities! The great thing about chocolate is that so long as you aren’t developing the recipe, and if someone melts the chocolate for you, there isn’t really anything you can do wrong! Your end result may not look perfect, it may have some air bubbles in or something, but it’s going to taste great so who cares! Anyway, once those were in the fridge to set we moved on to our truffles.
This was next level messy compared to filling the shells, and therefore even more fun. The process of turning your block of ganache into beautiful coated and dusted truffles is again a simple one, but incredibly satisfying. We bagged those beauties up and returned to our chocolate shells.
Now chilled and ready for filling, we all experimented with a milk chocolate filling and a whole rainbow of flavouring options. I went for tonka bean, which tastes quite like vanilla-almond and added just the merest hint of cherry, which I thought was incredibly delicious but I realise may be an acquired taste!
After this process was complete, we weren’t trusted to put the thin layer of chocolate on ourselves, as this is the part which seals the chocolates and keeps the filling from going off – so fair enough really, which meant it was time for us to take a little break.
As part of the workshop, a hot drink is included. Naturally most people chose one of the wide range of hot chocolates on offer, but I had eaten more than my fill of chocolate for the day so opted for a coffee instead which was very pleasant. Along with our drinks we were offered our choice of chocolate from the counter – so it turned out I hadn’t quite eaten my fill of chocolate for the day as I wolfed down an amaretto truffle!
When we were all done, we returned upstairs to the workshop to find our chocolates complete. We whacked them out of the mould (satisfying) and arranged them in a little box (also satisfying) and then sat back to contemplate the afternoon’s achievements.
As well as having a lot of fun and trying something new, you therefore leave a Cocoa Amore workshop with quite a haul of chocolate! You make enough filled chocolates to fill your box and more besides, which means you can look really generous in giving someone the pretty boxed one when in reality you actually have a lot more left over anyway!
I was very pleased with my achievement and I think that buying someone a voucher to enjoy this workshop for themselves would make a lovely Christmas gift. Tis the season after all! Thank you to Cocoa Amore for inviting me along to have a go at their workshop. I don’t think I’m quite a Master Chocolatier yet, but it has encouraged me to want to practice, practice, practice!