Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to a chocolate making class at The Cheshire Cookery School in Altrincham near Manchester. When I told my husband he said I should be going round singing that song from Charlie and the Chocolate factory “I’ve got a golden ticket” and ever since I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.
I love chocolate – probably more than cake or biscuits but I’ve always been a bit nervous of working with it. The idea of tempering seemed a bit to precise for me, although lately I have been having a go at temperature sensitive recipes like cinder toffee. The offer of being taught to make chocolates by a real chocolatier was just too good to pass up so I skipped my dance class and headed off for a fabulously calorific evening instead.
The class was taught by Oliver from Oliver’s chocolate parties, this was his first time working with the Cheshire Cookery School but he’s been around chocolate all his life, his dad is Simon Dunn, a well known chocolatier and he hosts chocolate parties for children, grown-ups, even hen parties! It really is what chocolate flavoured dreams are made of, and – lets be honest ladies – which of us wouldn’t be happy to spend an evening being taught by Oliver and playing with melted chocolate
After a quick lesson in the different types of chocolate and why it needs tempering (it’s all about getting the crystals in it to align) we had a go at tempering first white chocolate, and then milk chocolate to make some moulded chocolates. I’m never very good at things first time and need lots of practice so my details are a little wobbly, but I thoroughly enjoyed having a go and the tempering method was so much easier than I expected. Just heat the chocolate until it’s really runny, then put into a heatproof bowl and add unmelted chocolate stirring continuously until a little bit of the chocolate on your lip feels cold. (a perfect excuse to have a taste ;)) There was a great range of moulds to choose from including, flowers, animals and dinosaurs as well as a larger mobile phone mould. I made a chocolate phone for my husband and I even managed to get all my back to front letters right! Go me! He did say that the battery consumption was shocking though.
While our chocolates set we got to have a go at freehand chocolate shapes and truffles (flavoured dark chocolate ganache dipped in milk chocolate). Oliver made some to demonstrate before we had a go ourselves – needless to say his looked a bit better than mine. The freehand chocolate shapes were piped onto greaseproof paper and I cheated a little by drawing mine out on the back, mainly because I knew otherwise it would never be recognisable. I chose a cat for my daughter – after failing to get it perfectly smooth before the chocolate started to set I embraced the situation and had a go at a fur effect. White chocolate details were added and it was all done. You can see the end results of my hard work, on the right. I was quite proud of myself and have hidden the cat and dinosaurs away to give to my kiddies for Christmas, the truffles don’t look (quite) as good as Oliver’s but they still taste pretty good, in fact they taste too good because I keep eating them!
If you’re looking for an unusual Christmas present for someone and they are within travelling distance of Manchester I’d highly recommend surprising them with this class. The next one is a half day class on January 18th and can be booked here, alternatively The Cheshire Cookery School have a range of gift vouchers available here.