At the end of October, I left my first job from university. A company I had been with for the past four years and where I had learnt many work-related lessons and lifelong friends. It was a tough choice to make to leave but I knew I needed to move on to a new exciting land to learn more of the wonderful world of the food industry. They kindly gave me the gift of money to take myself off to a cookery course which they knew I would be ridiculously excited about.
Over the past year, I have before fascinated about the process and the shift towards bean to bar chocolate making and the varied complex flavours that can be found in these beautiful bars than the over sugary and vegetable oil ridden bars that are the norm on our shelves. I and my cousin took ourselves off to Hotel Chocolat’s shop off Covent Garden to their School of Chocolate for their Bean to Bar Course.
We had the lovely Bethany talking us through the process from the start to finish making our very own bars of dark treasure. We nibbled on whole roasted beans between sips of pink sparkling rosé. Hey, it’s a hard life but someone has to do it! We also had a chocolate tasting of their chocolate blend bars and then the difference between the single estate bars, which were remarkably different.
Then we got to work. In a warmed pestle and mortar, we ground the roasted and willowed cocoa nibs until the fat was released from the nibs. There was a fair bit of grind to get to an oily fragrant paste.
White sugar was then added and the arms back to work to grind the sugar and cocoa to a smooth paste. I loved getting stuck into this part and working up a sweat all the whilst still snipping bubbles. This process (conching) would normally take up over 100 hours in a stone grinder to get the wonderfully smooth bars we know and love. We tried bars that hadn’t been conched, one for 30 hours then 72 hours, the flavour development was amazing.
A splash of cocoa butter to help the chocolate come together. At this stage, it was nearly impossible not to face plant into this divine mixture.
More melted chocolate was added to our mixtures to temper the chocolate through the seeding method, rather than tempering on a marble slab.
After a relatively short amount of time, our handcrafted chocolate was ready to be poured into the prepared moulds. Which only left for us to clean out the pestle and mortars may be with our faces….
Can I get this piece of kit in my kitchen, please??
A quick tempering demo, with more bubbles, to be sipped on.
Ta-Da!!!! My finished bars! I was chuffed how they’ve turned out and loved the whole experience to bits and now want to track down my own beans to get making. I would highly recommend the course as a fun afternoon to learn more about the wonderful world of bean to bar chocolate making. Thanks to my lovely colleagues and friends for letting me go on such a great course.