When I started Grown Gals I anticipated a few invitations but when TENA Lady asked if I wanted to attend a chocolate masterclass at The Savoy I couldn’t contain my excitement. You will be very pleased to know there is no link between eating chocolate and issues with bladder control. One was just the hook to get a few midlife bloggers to hear about our host’s latest product which is covered in another post HERE. This post is JUST about fine chocolate.
The class was led by Ludwig Hely, executive pastry chef at The Savoy. He is one of the team of chocolatiers that conjure the confectionaries that grace the hotel’s famous afternoon tea service. We started by tasting various nuggets of high quality chocolate – ranging from 70% cocoa down to a premium white chocolate (made with cocoa butter not cocoa solids). The most interesting was a dark chocolate that had been flavoured with passion fruit, but instead of adding fruit the flavour had been absorbed through proximity. The taste was a subtle and sensual passion fruit hit. The process is new technology so expect to see more on this in the future. Our chocolate craving temporarily satiated and our mouths refreshed with a sip of chilled champagne – we sat back to learn a few tricks.
How to temper chocolate
When you are working with melted chocolate for dipping or to make decorative shapes you need to temper it. The science of chocolate requires the molecules of fat in cocoa butter to align in an orderly fashion. Once they’ve been marched into shape the chocolate becomes glossy, silky and has that smooth ‘melt in the mouth’ quality that we love. Badly tempered chocolate can be greasy, gritty and dull – like a cheap easter egg. So Ludwig showed us how they do it. Basically the process is all about temperature, hot melted chocolate is cooled to a specific temperature and then slightly reheated. He poured 1/3rd of a bowl of melted dark chocolate onto a cooled steel surface and using a spatula and a paddle he kept the chocolate moving so that it did not start to set. Once it had been folded and cooled it was returned to the bowl and the process continued until all the chocolate had cooled to the correct temperature before being reheated. This was a professional demonstration but at home we can use the following method to achieve the same results.
- You will need a thermometer. It might sound fiddly but if you are using expensive chocolate it will be worth it.
- Melt 2/3rds of your chocolate in a microwave or bain-marie and make sure it reaches the correct temperature (58ºC dark chocolate, 48ºC milk and white). This melts all the fat crystals.
- Chop the remaining 1/3rd of the chocolate and add this gradually to the bowl, off the heat, stirring well. You want to keep stirring until it cools down to (28/29ºC dark chocolate, 27/28ºC milk, 27/28ºC white).
- Now gently rewarm the chocolate to the working temperature (31ºC dark chocolate, 30ºC milk, 29ºC white).
- Dip the tip of spoon or knife and allow to set (it should take no more than a few minutes) – if it is tempered it will harden smooth, shiny and even.
The pictures above show Ludwig demonstrating and some of the treats I made during the two hour chocolate masterclass. We learned:
- To make curled chocolate petals, dip them in melted chocolate and attach them to create a flower using a blast of cold air.
- How to make an earl grey tea flavoured ganache.
- How to carefully dip ganache filled chocolate shells and coat them with chocolate.
- The recipe for a dairy free chocolate mousse using coconut oil and water instead of cream.
- To pipe chocolate dragoons and decorate them with fruit and nuts.
- And finally how to eat far too much chocolate for a Monday afternoon – but when its this good I’m convinced the calories don’t count!