Last Saturday, in the company of 7 other chocolate lovers, I took a chocolate making workshop with Chocolat Chocolat, a beautiful chocolate shop on St. Andrew Street in Cambridge, that I’ve been a fan of for a long time. I can tell you now, there aren’t many finer ways of spending a Saturday.
The workshop was run at a nearby hotel by Isabelle Chappell owner, founder and chocolatier, and Lila who is the second chocolatier. We were given a brief introduction to their business and then whilst nibbling on white, milk and dark chocolate buttons, we were taught more about the ins and outs of good chocolate, tasting chocolate and tempering.
We first were taught about how to recognise good chocolate – the percentages of cocoa solids that good dark, milk and white chocolate should contain first of all. Then what else to look for – smell, chocolate that ‘snaps’ when broken and has a silky finish when it melts.
Tasting chocolate is something I didn’t know much about – we were taught how it should melt, the texture to look for (smooth, gently dissolves) and how good chocolate should be bittersweet when dark, instead of harsh and bitter. A good quality dark chocolate flavour can linger in your mouth for up to 45 minutes! This part of the course was in depth but not too long.
Next, some tasting! We were tasting single origin chocolate (from one area or country) – starting with a white chocolate made from Dominican Republic cocoa beans – I was really surprised by this one, it smelt like milk chocolate and tasted like white chocolate should be – not so cloyingly sweet, gorgeous.
We slowly made our way up the cocoa scale, next with a silky Venezuelan milk chocolate (43% cocoa), a fruity Peruvian 64% dark which tasted a bit like bananas. Next was a very dry and bitter Ugandan 80% – we were told in the earlier part that African chocolate can be drier, harsher and bitter, most artisan chocolatiers use South American chocolate as it has a mellower quality. The last on the list was 96% dark, completely savoury and very interesting to taste – it is a hit in the shop with those who can’t eat sugar.
After the tasting we gathered around and watched Lila make the ganache from our truffles – made from melted dark chocolate and whipping cream, both at the same temperature. You slowly mix the cream in to the chocolate til it combines, and starts to thicken. Then you leave the mixture to cool and refrigerate – then it is truffle making time!
We were given a pre-refrigerated bowl of ganache between two and rolled out truffles on to a tray – then we were given more chocolate! This time it was tempered chocolate, so we could dip our rolled truffles – which then were coated in chopped nuts, chocolate vermicelli or flaked chocolate. Some were also kept simple with a roll of cocoa or raspberry sugar. Chocolate is so much fun to work with, and I may have eaten a few mistakes…
What was really nice, and a lovely way to finish up, was being able to box and bag our truffles to take home, tying them with ribbon and popping a label on them. I do like to prettify things.
Once our truffles, we made about 30 each, were carefully boxed up we were given a little pack including a 10% discount voucher to use in the shop (for a whole year!), notes from the talk earlier, recipes for truffles, soft caramels and a guide to tempering.
I really enjoyed the 3 hour course – it was a great mixture of theory and practical and Isabelle and Lila were so knowledgeable, really enthusiastic and always on hand to help. If nothing else, leaving with 30 handmade truffles and being told they must be consumed within 5 days is excellent.
Find out more about the Chocolat Chocolat workshops here.
If you’re in Cambridge I’d highly recommend popping into the shop for a bag of freshly made chocolates and a cup of thick hot chocolate.
I was invited to review the Chocolat Chocolat making workshop, thank you for inviting me!