When an offer of a chocolate masterclass pops into my inbox I am rarely going to say no, even when the PR is all mysterious and does not initially reveal the client.
The address was an anonymous one in south London, a number and a street name, the venue was accessed through a garage door. Nothing could prepare me for the stunning space inside.
The place was literally a Grand Design (the programme can be found here – enough went wrong to satisfy Kevin McCloud’s inevitable pessimism) annoyingly I have managed to delete all my photos, but I was blown away by the building. Converted from an old and crumbling violin factory it had been transformed into a massive, bright and airy space. Central to the property was the most amazing professional kitchen, complete with a £34 thousand gas cooker! Ed is a Grand Designs fanatic and harbours a dream of his own Grand Design, I am resigned to the fact that at some point in the future I shall live on a building site, probably without heating, hot water or a functioning kitchen for months on end.
Had I known where the event was to be held I possibly would have sent Ed in my place.
With the obligatory architectural gawking over it was time to settle down to the serious business of making some chocolate.
ChokaBlok already have a range of ice creams and have recently launched a range of chocolate, slab and individual and Easter eggs. There are currently 4 different slabs, in a mix of milk, plain and white – all generously scattered with a wide range of sprinkles. All good fun chocolate, good for presents and a night in for nibbling on.
The ChokaBlok chocolatier talked us about chocolate explaining the whole bean to bar process and then about the importance of tempering chocolate so it sets properly, has a good snap and shine and does not bloom – allow your molten chocolate to cool to around 31 – 32C and then add small pieces of solid chocolate and stir well. The solid chocolate acts as a seed allowing the chocolate to set in a crystalline structure.
We started making individual chocolates, let loose with all manner of flavours, colours and sprinkles. I filled my prepared milk chocolate moulds with white chocolate mixed with raspberry concentrate, topped with plain chocolate, them sprinkled with hearts and flowers which I had mixed with some pearlised lustre dust, my thoughts being that sometimes with decoration less was more. For a first attempt and creating and making a chocolate I am delighted and we have scoffed them pretty quickly.
On to the exuberent chocolate bars … My first bar was Strawberry Swirl Seduction – dark chocolate swirled with a little white (tinted pink) and sprinkled with pink flowers, hearts, crunchies and strawberry fondant hearts.
Then all restraint went out of the window with my Disco Like It’s 1970 Inferno!
Milk chocolate with a vast amount of popping candy added – it is deafening to eat it – swirled with white and covered with honeycomb, chocolate stars, more popping candy and the obligatory glitter.
All great fun!
What would your ideal chocolate bar embellishments be?
Many thanks to ChokaBlok for a fantastic afternoon.
ChokaBlok chocolate bloks, gift boxes and ice cream are now available at Tesco stores.