A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Chocolate Class: Definitely a worthy indulgence!

on December 22, 2014

This weekend, Darrell & I went to a chocolate production glass offered by one of the best restaurants in Omaha, The Grey Plume. I signed up for the class a couple of months ago, with the plan to give it to Darrell as an early Christmas present but I was so excited about it that I told him as soon as I got home that day! Despite the surprise being ruined, I think it’s still a great gift because we had a fantastic time.

We arrived in the class space, to pick up our aprons and the recipes we’d be making for the day: fudge and truffles.

Doesn't he look cute? Bonus: We got to keep the aprons.

Doesn’t he look cute? Bonus: We got to keep the aprons.

We each had our own work space, with pre-measured ingredients, supplies and an individual burner. There were two instructors and 10 people in the class, which was a really great ratio for asking questions and getting lots of hands on help.

The very front of the space is a shop for buying professionally made versions of the things we made in class.

The very front of the space is a shop for buying professionally made versions of the things we made in class.

They explained tempering chocolate, but the instructor did the hands on work for that one since it takes forever. I appreciated all of the science of it all, Alton Brown fan that I am. We made the ganache (filling) for truffles first, which I’d done before (heating cream, honey and a vanilla bean until simmering, then pouring over chocolate to melt). This whole class was a good exercise in patience for me, because you really have to pay attention to little details in candy making like texture and temperature. Darrell, who is definitely the more patient of us, was a much better student in chocolate class naturally. After the ganache was melted, it went off to the fridge to cool and solidify to make truffles later. Then it was on to fudge:

Notice that Darrell's is much lighter than my caramel version.

Notice that Darrell’s is much lighter than my caramel version.

I’ve never seen fudge made this way. We cooked the sugar mix over the heat to 240 degrees, which was a minor problem in that my temperature probe was screwed up and I overcooked my sugar. That’s why it’s so much more caramel colored than Darrell’s. Then, we sprinkled chocolate and fondant on top of the sugar:

That looks good enough as it is, right?

That looks good enough to eat as it is, right?

And mixed it all together. The instructor and Darrell mixed theirs with a bench scraper until it had cooled and reached the texture they wanted:

That required lots of forearm muscles!

That required lots of forearm muscles!

Because mine had cooked longer and was almost caramel, I ended up mixing mine by hand like kneading bread dough. It was fun but slippery and I almost dropped it when I was rolling it up at the end!

That's a very slippery little log!

That’s a very slippery little log!

The fudge was really awesome. The texture of Darrell’s is much better than the cheater fudge I made Saturday morning with sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips. 🙂 I confess that we haven’t tested out my fudge yet to see how the overcooking affected the texture.

We then got a small snack break, with awesome homemade salami, bread and local honey. Delish! Then it was back to work on truffles. They brought out our cooled ganache and we rolled our truffles. This is where being the family meatball maker served me in good stead, as my truffles turned out much more round than Darrell’s (finally part of this I was better at!). They popped back in the fridge to firm up again before we got them out again to enrobe in the chocolate the instructor had been tempering all day and cover with extra goodies, like sea salt, roasted white chocolate, smoked cocoa nibs, lemon/lime zest and chilis:

I did one with each topping and two with sea salt (because I LOVE salted chocolate).  I can't wait to try them all!

I did one with each topping and two with sea salt (because I LOVE salted chocolate). I can’t wait to try them all!

I’ve tested out one of the sea salt topped options and OMG it’s great! It is such rich, decadent chocolate. I can’t believe I made that. More importantly, we had a great time learning something together and it was a really great exercise in patience for me. Candy requires time and attention to detail, both things I have a hard time giving to tasks in my life.

We’re going to try out the bread making class next and who knows how many of the offerings we’ll work our way around to. We’re debating sausage making because a) sausage = yum but b) do you really spend much time thinking about how it’s made? We both grew up in the rural South and are a little scarred by the pig slaughtering/sausage making of our youths apparently. I am grateful we did this class because a) loads of fun and now we have really fantastic chocolate to show for it and b) it motivated me to get out and run my 5 miles on Saturday so I could earn that truffle.

I just want to point out how much cleaner Darrell's towel was than mine - not because he was neater, but because he'd just lick the chocolate from his fingers. :) Thank goodness they always kept the chocolate labeled for each person.

I just want to point out how much cleaner Darrell’s towel was than mine – not because he was neater, but because he’d just lick the chocolate from his fingers. 🙂 Thank goodness they always kept the chocolate labeled for each person.

All in all, a totally worthy use of those activity points! Have you ever taken a cooking class?

 

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