Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Chocolate Alchemist: an inspired lesson on choccy c/o The Indytute

The Indytute offers "brilliantly inspired" classes on really cool stuff. From ping pong to poker, swing dancing to making neon light art, you're sure to find something that would tickle your fancy. Check out their classes here.

When Sarah at The Prosecco Diaries asked if I wanted to attend The Indytute's chocolate masterclass at The Power of Summer pop-up park (Battersea Power Station), I could NOT say no (she had me at chocolate, after all).

I was inspired alright, especially when I learned about a SHOCKING revelation about the cacao industry. Unfortunately, most of the five million small-scale cacao farmers (who supply 90% of the world's cacao) have traded their beans for a more economical route (ie rubber) due to the disregard of their welfare. This means there may not be sufficient supply of cacao to meet the forecast of increasing demand. CAN YOU IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT CHOCOLATE? Everyone would be PMSing like crazy! We need to support these farmers more. Help them help us make the world a better place by means of chocolate!

The Chocolate Alchemist class was conducted by Paul A. Young's awesome team, Phil & Cesar, it was a refreshing take on the bean-to-bar story of chocolate.

Paul is a British chocolatier who is ranked as one of the world's best and finest. He's well known for his award-winning, experimental, original, daring artisanal creations that are truly fantastic. Some of his innovative truffle flavours include beer, stilton, seasonal fruit, marmite (!!!), and - for the life of me - pizza.

Presenting - the cacao pod! 
A pod may contain between 25-60 cacao beans and it takes about two of these to make a single bar of chocolate on average.

A semi-dissected cacao bean. 
The cacao bean is quite incredible. Cracked open, you get the absolutely gorgeous scent of chocolate (which I honestly believe is one of the most divine in the world) but once you chew, you get an entirely bitter taste. It's like nature's very own Heston!

Back in the day, this was how chocolate was eaten: pure and unadulterated. It was only until the Spaniards discovered chocolate that sugar and milk were added to make it sweet.

Notable names: Daniel Peter is an ex-candle maker turned chocolatier who was one of the first to make milk chocolate by using some sort of powdered milk by Henri NestleRudolf Lindt is the mastermind of the conching machine which improves the texture and quality of chocolate. These days, revolutionary chocolatiers (other than Paul) include The Mast Brothers and UK's own Duffy Sheardown.

Now, it wouldn't have been a proper chocolate masterclass if it didn't involve any tasting, would it?
All hail the scone, jam and cream truffle! Clotted cream ganache and some sort of berry jam encased in milk chocolate truffle covered in a dusting of scone crumbs. I don't usually like fruit with my chocolate (I'm the bitter type of girl, har) but this knocked me off my feet. It's seasonal, so best get them before Autumn comes around!

And then you get this super shiny truffle that's won praises from critics and hearts all over. It's Paul's award-winning sea salt caramel truffle. I'm not even a caramel fan but it was a flavour party in my mouth.

I wanted to nick a few more truffles, but that would be greedy. Oh, but they gave us discounted tabs to use at their stores so all is well! =) If you yourself fancied learning more about and tasting super good chocolate, feel free to check out the classes/events at the Paul A. Young shops in London.

And if chocolate's not your thing (are you serious?????) I'm sure you'll find something from The Indytute's classes that would definitely inspire you.

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