Let’s Make Christmas Chocolate Style
Chocolate! Who does not like chocolate? Not me that is for sure, I love it. In fact I would go as far as to say that I can’t go a day without some. I would even admit that I’m becoming a bit of a chocolate snob given that I seem to be be fast developing a taste for the most luxurious chocolate on the market. Not good when a single bar of 150g can cost over £6. Still when I making something special at least I now know what to use, and those words from Paul A Young certainly ring true, ‘you can’t make a cheap chocolate taste good no matter how hard you try.’
So imagine my excitement when I heard that fellow Blogger Vanessa Kimbell’s Christmas Gift Swap 2012 event was going to be all about chocolate and taking place in the Rococo Chocolates factory. Ummm, I actually let out a little squeal which is proof that I was properly excited. Rococo Chocolates have won ‘Chocolatier of the Year’ both in 2011 and 2012 so there was absolutely no way I could miss this.
On the day having been busy all morning I raced into London, then caught another train which took me 20 mins out of London in a different direction to end up at the unfamiliar West Norwood. After a 10 min walk I came to a normal looking industrial estate, but as I climbed four flights of stairs up to the Rococo Chocolate factory the smell of melted chocolate hit me and I knew this innocent looking building was far from normal. I started to feel like Charlie from the Ronald Dahl book and wondered if my family would ever see me again. But in all honesty if Chantal Coady the founder of Rococo chocolates was looking for a new owner I would have tried my absolute hardest to be the ‘choosen one’! I greatly admire Chantal for building her business and becoming one of the pionerring chocolate companies bringing ‘real’ chocolate to Britain which only a couple of decades ago had a very limited choice. She is a fabulous role model demonstrating how a woman can run an extremely successful business.
Getting back to the day itself, Rococo’s master chocolatier Barry Johnson (above) gave myself and the other bloggers a masterclass on all things chocolate and here are a few tips/facts that I picked up on the day that I thought might be worth sharing:
- When making things out of chocolate, think about the sort of chocolate you are using and what the base flavours are. I know this sounds a bit like wine tasting but there are hints of flavours within different chocolates and these need to compliment any flavours or additional ingredients you might add
- When adding seasoning to a chocolate recipe to serve cold, add more than you might ordinarly might as it s harder to taste when it is cold. You may think it is strange talking about chocolate and seasoning but this was all whilst we were learning to make goats cheese ganache, a savory canape. Which I kid you not looked and tasted sublime
- When making ganche and adding the liquid (could be cream water or other) to the melted chocolate it is advisable not to do it all at once. Adding it in thirds can help prevent the mixture from splitting
- Mixing the liquid into the melted chocolate in one place can also help with the process as this is keeping the core of the emulsion in one spot
- To make a fairly firm ganache add 2 parts chocolate to one part liquid. For a softer ganache add more liquid
- When flavouring a ganache add the flavours after the liquid has been added to the melted chocolate or you could try adding the flavour to the cream (if it is cream you are using) the night before to infuse in the fridge. Take out flouring before adding to chocolate
- When melting chocolate over a bowl on a pan of heated water, it is worth remembering that once the water has boiled you can take it away from the flame as there will be enough heat n the pan to melt the rest of the chocolate without risk of it being overheated
- All over Rococo Chocolate packaging are little blue drawings of what seem like unrelated items but these are actually all chocolate moulds from the 1900′s. I am amazed now whenever I look at these now
It was a fabulous day, and my highlights include meeting Chantal Coady whilst she signed a copy of her new Rococo Mastering the Art of Chocolate book for me which is stunningly beautiful, seeing all my blogger friends, winning Turquoise Lemon’s Christmas spice truffles in the gift swap (delicious) and eating my Valrhona chocolate samples on the way home.
Huge thanks to Vanessa Kimbell and Rococo Chocolates for organising and hosting such a lovely event