Like most girls I am partial to some nice chocolate especially if it is of reasonable quality. So when I received a redletterday.co.uk gift voucher for my Christmas for a nice day out or experience I ignored the pampering treats such as a massage or a facial and selected the chocolate making workshop using Green and Blacks chocolate. It seemed a fun and novel opportunity to play around and create my own chocolates I could have a beauty treatment as nice as they are any time. Being the good friend I am I took my friend along as shies emigrating to another part of the world shortly and it seemed an ideal going away present. Its not the type of thing to do on your own, as its good to have a friend to partner up and laugh with hen you get all gunky from the chocolate.
Mychocolate, the brain child of Hannah Saxon, is the company that runs these novel and fun workshops. They do a number of workshops from cupcake making to treasure hunts, hen does and team bonding exercises in three different locations (London, Brighton and Manchester) plus they have a mobile unit. I opted for a a original chocolate making workshop in their London headquarters. These run on Sundays and I had a choice of three times morning, afternoon and early evening, so chose the early evening slot. Each workshop last around about 2 and half hours of chocoheaven, which seemed to be about the right length of time. I booked my place via the redletterdays website. However if you want to book directly with Mychcolate they have n easy on line booking system. They also do their own gift vouchers which also can be redeemed on line. The workshops have a limit of around about 22 so they never get too crowded. I think we had 18 in ours, as we had 8 people round our table.
MY WILLY WONKA EXPERIENCE
The workshop was due to start at 6.30 so my friend and I arrived about 6. 15 after a light meal so w had plenty of room for the treats in store. The venue is located in a business centre down a back street just off the Holborn end of Grey's Inn Road. The easiest way to get there is to take the Central Line to Chancry Lane Station and it is a five minute walk from there. Our first impressions were not that good, as the street was not the most pleasant and I suppose we had our own little fantasies of a Willy Wonka style factory so when we found the business Centre we were a little disappointed. Luckily once we got down to the basement and go a faint whiff of chocolate are spirits rose and our opinions drastically changed for the better. We were greeted by a gentleman in a Mychcolate apron who took our voucher then it was down to business.
The Mychoclate workshop is held in a 50 styles kitchen with jars of hundreds and thousands, and marshmallows lining the walls. In the middle were two large tables with trays of chocolate decorations and marshmallows sprinkled about. I was impressed with the standard of hygiene. We were all given plastic aprons to wear and the first task was to wash our hands. Lara was our hostess and teacher for the evening and what a great hostess she was. I really can not fault her at all . She was very knowledgeable and passionate on all aspects of chocolate and was a real people person with a wonderful friendly bubbly personality. We were all pretty enthusiastic but she just cheered us along and did not bat an eye lid at the mess and muddle we created especially when we were doing our chocolate truffles. She was always on hand if you needed a little extra help or guidance and was also there to take photos for people. At the end when finishing up we did not feel rushed to get our chocolate looking perfect or not so perfect.
We started off going round the room saying what our favourite chocolate was (mine is dark with nuts and anything else interesting). This was followed by the intellectual bit, a short history of chocolate and how it is made. This could have been very dry but there were a number of chocolate samples and visual aids to illustrate the points being made, to demonstrate how to identify good chocolate plus unusual flavoured chocolates. We also got to handless a coca pod and give our hands a massage with cocoa butter.
The educational part over and done with it was time for the fun and practical part. We first found ourselves back in a science lab, as we added chocolate nuggets to molten chocolate to cool it down from 50 degrees to 34 degrees stirring it until it looked like the chocolate river Augustus Gloop drank from in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" . Again health, safety and hygiene was paramount, as we were strictly instructed not to dip our fingers in the mixture or lick a spoon and put it back in the pot however tempting it would be to do so. From chemistry to art class (or play school for some of us), as we got creative by designing a giant chocolate button using all the bits and pieces on the table . There were prizes or the best one. Sadly my creation did not make the grade. I opted for a clock design using white chocolate for the hands and bit of marshmallows or the spots where the n umbers would be.
After this we made a start on truffles using a recipe of two shot glasses of cream to four shot glasses of dark chocolate. In our pairs we had to stir the mixture then pipe the truffles out using a piping bag and then rolled them in coca powder. After this we were free to decorate them and also cut out praline shapes and coat marshmallows in chocolate. I was pleased to hear the marshmallows used were vegetarian ones without gelatin The final touch was to use little cellophane bags, ribbons and stickers to package our goodies up to make them look professional!
The chocolate making workshop sounds like it may be a fantastic thing for families but in my welcome pack it was stated participants had to be 14 and over. I assume this is because of the use of hot molten chocolate. They do children's parties but I assume it would be a different format. Those with nut allergies are also cautioned due to the use of praline, coconut and traces of other nuts. It t would make an ideal present for a special birthday or anniversary (there were two wedding anniversary couples in my workshop). Its a bit late to book for this years Valentine's Day but gentlemen take note this would be the ideal present for your chocolate loving girlfriend!
ALL CHOCOLATED OUT
I really enjoyed the experience. It's not cheap at £49.00 per person (although I got 10% off my friend's place through redletterdays) but I think its good value for money, as I took away with me the giant button and truffles I made (roughly 10 plus pralines and chocolate marshmallows) plus we got to finish off anything that was left on the table. I could see myself pouring the remaining liquid chocolate down my throat but restrained myself! We both agreed that it was nice there was no selling of extra products such as chocolate making equipment or recipe books,. They could have easily done this and given us the hard sell but they did not.
It was certainly something different. I would advise you to wear oldish clothes (certainly not a pristine white shirt) , as I can guarantee you are going to get very mucky. Oh and elasticated waistbands might be good to you can enjoy all that lovely chocolate! I would also advise comfortable shoes, as you are on your feet for over 2 hours.
Chocoholics what are you waiting for!!
PS I can confirm the chocolate truffles taste divine with an intense ch velvety dark chocolate centre but I really don't want to eat my lovingly designed chocolate clock