Photography: Celeste Vlok
We were positively privileged, and just a tad excited, to visit Coco Chocolate’s Sydney Chocolate School. Especially with Easter just around the corner, there is no better time than now to indulge in all things chocolate. Nestled on an idyllic heritage site in Mosman, Coco Chocolate is the perfect place for the restrained to have a cup of tea and a polite nibble on a few delectable organic chocolates while gazing at a peaceful view. For the chocoholics and choco-curious, however, Coco Chocolate’s Sydney Chocolate School offers chocolate admirers and even budding chocolatiers a hands-on experience at tempering chocolate.
When we arrived, we were introduced to our chocolate connoisseur, Phillipa, who began the Level One course with a brief outline of the basics of tempering chocolate along with the techniques and formulas used by Coco Chocolate. Coco Chocolate use primarily organic chocolate with high cocoa content (37% in their milk chocolate) and all of which has been ethically produced and harvested from a single origin.
The Creative Director of Coco Chocolate and Coco Chocolate’s Sydney Chocolate School, Rebecca, studied chocolatiering in Europe and brought back to Sydney the technique practiced at the famed Ecole de Grand Chocolat Valrhona in France (admission by invitation only) of hand tempering chocolate on marble. Phillipa demonstrated the importance of heating and cooling the chocolate to precise temperatures.
Four kilograms of chocolate was tempered using the dry and controllable heat of a microwave and the accurate readings of an infrared thermometer. The chocolate was then put onto a marble slab and constantly moved before it cooled completely. Here the class hesitantly made our first tempered piece - a dark chocolate and raspberry slab.
Next up were hazelnut and sea salt milk chocolate bars! Once the milk chocolate was tempered by a few volunteers (the constant stirring requires a lot of elbow grease) we carefully, and with great ladle etiquette, poured the liquid gold into polycarbonate moulds (the preferred option to the cheaper silicon moulds) and sprinkled on finely chopped hazelnuts.
While we waited for our chocolates to set, Phillipa delved into the truths about the chocolate regularly consumed in Australia (mass produced chocolate squeezes out the expensive cocoa and cocoa butter in favour of cheaper elements such as sugar, vegetable fat and powdered milk) along with the history of the cocoa bean and the processes involved in fermentation, which was both interesting and informative (and tasty).
At the end of our course, we left feeling not only happy (so much chocolate, so many endorphins) but incredibly knowledgeable on the art of tempering and the history of the cocoa bean. Most importantly, we got to take home a bag full of the finished products!
Coco Chocolate is open to the public from Wednesday - Sunday and courses at The Sydney Chocolate School range from $150 - $290. Also on offer are School Holiday Programs, Connoisseur Evenings and Chocolate High Tea! So if you are a budding chocolatier or simply a chocoholic, Coco Chocolate’s Sydney Chocolate School is the perfect way to get your choco-fill.
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