Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Chocolate Binge Continues

Despite my less-than-stellar experience with my Groupon chocolate-making/cupcake decorating class, I couldn't resist when I saw a Living Social offer for a chocolate-truffle-making class.  This one was hosted by an organization called Chocolate Delight and held at the Piccadilly Institute, so it sounded much more legit.  I even persuaded a couple of my AWC friends, Kaila and Gerry, to sign up with me.  At the time, I didn't know I would be taking this class while still riding on a chocolate high from a trip to Paris and a homemade birthday cake, but I was still looking forward to it, since I was genuinely interested in learning how to make truffles.

My heart sank when I showed up at the Piccadilly Institute on Monday evening and discovered that it was a bar.  Uh oh.  At least it was a large bar, with several different rooms on different levels, and the class was held in a private room up three flights of stairs.  On the other hand, the room was lit by colored, moving disco lights and had nude mannequins suspended from the ceiling and faces staring at us from the walls.  Not quite the type of atmosphere I was expecting, or at least hoping for...
Nude mannequins and disco lights
But at least our instructor, Chris, wasn't drowned out by loud music or noisy bar patrons, and he did a nice job of explaining the different types of chocolate and its health benefits before demonstrating how to melt chocolate in a microwave.  We enjoyed samples of 64% dark chocolate while he showed us how to mix 2 parts melted chocolate with one part cream to make ganache.
Chris demonstrates melting chocolate as the walls look on
We worked in teams of two to spoon our ganache into a large pastry bag and pipe it out onto the table.  I'm afraid I laughed out loud when Chris said, "If it gets too stiff, just massage it and it will soften up."
Ganache logs
The next step: cut the logs into small pieces and roll them into balls.  This was messy work, so we were grateful that they supplied us with plastic aprons and gloves.
Truffle centers
Then Chris demonstrated how to temper melted chocolate by heating it up to 32 degrees (Celsius) and then cooling it down to 28 degrees by spreading it on a marble slab.  He didn't go into the science behind it, but apparently tempered chocolate becomes harder and shinier when it sets.   It will also keep longer at room temperature, although I'm not sure why that's important... ;-)
Tempering chocolate
Since we didn't have enough space (or adequate lighting) to temper our own chocolate, he gave each team a bowl of tempered chocolate to coat our truffles with.  We were also given pans of cocoa powder and powdered sugar (or icing sugar, as they call it here), to roll them in, and nice bags and ribbon to package them in when we were done.  We each ended up with about 15 handmade truffles.
Kaila and I assemble our truffles
After we had finished making our truffles, we were treated to a small shot of champagne and a tasting of four different kinds of artisanal chocolate while Chris explained their origins and answered questions.  Despite the venue it was a great class.  In fact, we approached Chris afterwards about holding a private class as an activity for the AWC -- which means I'll probably get to do this again!  Good thing I'm on the car-free diet...

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