This week I received an invitation from Nicola at My Chocolate to attend a blogger event in London, and what did this event consist of? Why, only a chocolate making workshop! Of course I had to say yes, so on Wednesday my colleague Renata and I jumped on the train and sped on up to the capital, where we met Nicola and chocolatier Jordan in their kitchen, a short distance from the Chancery Lane tube station.
The kitchen was so pretty and the table was set beautifully, from the marshmallows artistically scattered around to the ice cold jugs of water, all your needs were catered for. There was classic French music playing in the background and the smell of melted chocolate floating in the air, it was a real treat for the senses! After being introduced to the other bloggers attending the class, we took our seats in anticipation of the start.
Our first task was to introduce ourselves and say our favourite chocolate (I said Cadbury's Creme Eggs because I'm a massive child). This got us chatting about different types of chocolate and the history of the cacao plant. While we were discussing the geography and interesting facts of chocolate (my knowledge was TERRIBLE - but I now know chocolate originated in Venezuela), Jordan had us decorating martini glasses by swirling melted chocolate over them, a really easy way to make the glasses look pretty! Renata had bar experience, so she was the designated mixologist for the group. As it was an evening class, the chocolate martinis were a really nice touch, and delicious too, a combination of melted chocolate, vodka and Creme de Cacao, something I definitely want to try for parties in the future.
While Jordan was describing the history of chocolate, we all got to taste different types of varying intensity and flavour, even the extremely bitter 100% pure chocolate! After we'd drained our martinis it was time to get our hands dirty with some chocolate making. Starting easy, we dolloped a big blob of melted chocolate on our parchment paper, and spread it around to make a giant chocolate button. Jordan set us a competition of who could decorate the button best, using patterned transfer paper, strawberry chocolate swirls, coconut, caramelised nuts, white chocolate flakes and marshmallows (I'll let you know who won later...). We also learnt a marbling technique, which involved dribbling melted chocolate from a fork over the button, then using the fork to drag a marble pattern across the surface. While the buttons were setting, we were taught how to make delicious truffles. I couldn't believe how easy the recipe was! A combination of melted chocolate and double cream, or coconut milk for those with lactose intolerance. With the mixture we learnt piping techniques like swirls, logs and kisses, then left them to dry - so much easier than I thought it would be, but it looks great!
To mix it up a bit, Jordan handed round chocolate flavoured fudge (it looks like brownies, but don't be fooled). With these, we had the opportunity to get really creative, there were cutters to make the fudge into nice shapes, melted chocolate to dip them in, and plenty of decorations - if they hadn't all been used on the chocolate buttons! Once the truffles had set, we rolled them into balls and coated them in cocoa powder for a professional-looking finish. We also did a taste test, with our challenge being to determine the flavours of different chocolates by tasting them (obviously I was useless so I HAD to eat all of it). Et voila! The workshop culminated with the packaging of all our beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates and fudge in ribbon-tied bags and gold boxes with tissue paper, which was a really nice touch.
It was obvious that these workshops are very well thought-out and organised, as there was the perfect combination of learning and hands-on making. The kitchen was decorated with a cute sweet-shop theme, and the French music helped create a pleasant atmosphere. Jordan and Nicola were so friendly and funny, making the class extra interesting and enjoyable, though how anyone couldn't find chocolate-making enjoyable is beyond me... The booking process was simple, the venue was very easy to find, and the treats you get to take home at the end are better than anything you can buy in a shop - because you made them yourself! All-in-all it was a fantastic experience that I would do again in a heartbeat, and guess who won the chocolate button decorating competition...
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