Last weekend as a break from the house I travelled up to the Welbeck Estate near Worksop. This trip has been long-awaited. Ever since I heard about the School of Artisan Food way back in 2009, I’ve wanted to visit. Hubs gave me a voucher towards a course there and after spending a great deal of time deliberating as which course to do I settled on Introduction to Artisan Chocolate. It was certainly worth the wait.
When I arrived I was greeted by Joe Pilliero, SOAF’s Marketing Officer, then taken up to the canteen to meet the 14 other students on the course. Waiting for us was possibly the biggest pot of tea I’ve seen and a pile of freshly made pastries. It was interesting to see the age range on the course. I would guess I was one of the youngest with the oldest being mid to late 60s and around half of us were female. Everyone also had different culinary experience. One thing that bound us all was a love of chocolate.
Ross Sneddon led the workshop and was assisted by one of the students who is on the year-long Diploma offered by SOAF. We learnt about different types of chocolate and tasted some amazing Venezuelan white chocolate that was unlike any I had tasted before. It was unique in that it didn’t leave a greasy film in my mouth. After being talked through the theory and how to temper in the microwave we moved on to making our moulded chocolates. It was interesting to learn that tempered chocolate will set after 2 minutes at room temperature.
First job was to polish the moulds, then paint the inside of the moulds with chocolate friendly food dye (must be oil based). After that we set about creating the chocolate shells by filling the moulds with white chocolate, then pouring the excess chocolate out. While the shells were setting we made a lime milk chocolate ganache that was piped into the set moulds.
After superb lunch of roast lamb, potato dauphinoise, carrots along with a glorious cheeseboard, including Lincolnshire Poacher and Stichelton, we returned to the kitchen to cap the lime truffles along with making chilli chocolate bars (the other flavour you could make was tonka bean & thyme) along with some chocolate orange truffles. Towards the end of the day we rolled the truffles in our chocolate coated hands then tossed them in cocoa. This gives them a very subtle crunch when you bit into them. Delicious. Spot the past tense. These chocolate didn’t last long because they were so good!
During the course Helen Grace Ventura Thompson was around taking photographs of the day. She’s an incredibly talented photographer, currently studying BA (Hons) Photography; Editorial and Advertising, and it is her photos that illustrate this blogpost. It wasn’t practical for me to take my camera in the class so I was very pleased she was there! Make sure you check out her blog her work is fantastic.
At the end of the course Ross commented at how good my chocolate moulding skills were. Maybe there is a hidden chocolatier inside me waiting to get out! I really enjoyed the course and would like to return to SOAF soon. It’s unique place in that is teaching the dying art of artisan produce and it’s fantastic to have a place like this in the Midlands. Well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.