chocolate course with Slattery’s

Whew!.what a week, but a good one.

I’ve just come back from the Slattery’s 5 day chocolate experience course. http://www.slattery.co.uk/irshop.aspx?section=content&page=162 will lead you to view the courses they have on offer. I thoroughly recommend them to anyone with an interest in chocolate. They also offer pattisserie and cake decorating courses if you’re interested in that.

In fact day 4 of the course I was on was the day for cake decorating using chocolate. I’d fully expected to not really be involved emotionally with this as I’ve no real interest in that sphere of things but I loved it and felt so pleased with what I achieved. Being me, of course, I find it hard not to compare my offerings with everyone else (and find myself lacking :-() but I had a real ego boost with the cake. I’m friends with one of the owners daughters through a completely different connection (http://www.a-finlay-primitive-crafts.co.uk/contact_us.html) and we (Kate, HH and I) went out for a meal with some other friends. As the other couple had thankfully and thoughtfully traveled some distance to meet up with us I felt the least I could do was to give them the cake I’d made that day as a ‘thank you’.  The restaurant staff seemed bowled over by the cake which was lovely and flattering. By the way the meal was really tasty so if you’re ever in Manchester near Prestwich area try the Istanbul grill – beautiful meal.

ImageThe finished piece minus wrappings.

As you can see we made decorated slabs, pouring ganache on the cake, decorated with chocolate ruffles and fans and cigarillos (which are a real pain in the ass to make I have to say, they seem so simple but there are so many ways it can all go hideously wrong – and I think I worked my way through them all! Argh!), decorated and coloured mini baubles and the use of silvering and attaching the baubles.

Some of the others cakes were fabulous. Here are a few

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Hugo’s cake

ImagePaul’s cake

ImageThere are lots of photos – there were 12 of us in the class and all the finished cakes looked wonderful, thanks to Mike’s, our tutor, guidance and perseverance.

I’ll post more of these and how we got to the final stage and our other days work on another post.

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Strawberry syrup and Rose tincture truffles

I made quite a lot with this amount of ganache but as I cheated and added a drop or rose oil as well, I feel that there has to be a substantial amount to add even one drop of essential oil to, as it can be overpowering.ImageEarlier in the year I bought a lot of over ripe strawberries out of season. I thought well, I can probably do something with them. I did, there was strawberry jam, strawberry syrup, strawberry sugar, and dehydrated strawberries. As I had a surplus of strawberry stock I wanted to use my raw syrup in a chocolate.

The raw syrup was made by alternately layering sliced strawberries with an equal amount of sugar in a large jar and sealed; a bit like making rumtopf. This was left for a day. When I came back to it the bright red, strawberry syrup had dissolved out and separated. I strained this off and bottled in sterilised jars. It is a really strong, fresh flavour with lots of vitamins and nutrients as it’s not been heat treated in the usual way to make the syrup.

Ingredients

200g / 7 oz. double cream

60g / 2 oz. strawberry syrup

410g / 15 oz. dark chocolate, best if its grated or chopped

10g / 1/2 oz.  butter

1.5 ounces of rose petal tincture (in vodka)

1 drop rose essential oil

Melted dark chocolate for dipping and coating

Dehydrated strawberry slices for decoration

Method

  • Combine the cream and syrup in a saucepan and bring to the boil.
  • Pour this over the chopped chocolate to let it melt. I found I had to put the bowl with everything in it over a just warm water bath to let the chocolate melt properly as the cream didn’t melt all the chocolate.
  • Once all the chocolate has melted, stir thoroughly to incorporate all the fats in together. Add the butter, stirring well to blend it in.
  • Add the rose tincture. Stir continuously while doing this as it changes the texture of the chocolate blend.
  • Taste. The rose may be strong enough for you that you don’t feel you need the rose oil. In which case that’s great as rose oil is prohibitively expensive. A little goes a long way, so if you do want to add that little bit more punch to it- be warned, just one drop of rose is fine, it’s very easy to overdo it.
  • Let the ganache cool, stirring if possible. It keeps the blend smooth. Let it cool down
  • Whilst the ganache is cooling, melt more chocolate for the outer coating of the truffles.
  • Shape the ganache into small balls. A centimeter in diameter is plenty.These are very rich. I take a small amount out of the mix at a time and work it between my hands into a small ball. Wearing vinyl gloves is a good idea. Very messy otherwise. Put the shaped truffles onto parchment or greaseproof paper.
  • Once all the truffles are shaped dip them into the melted chocolate. Forks, skewers etc. can be helpful here. Let the excess drip off and place on the parchment again.
  • While these are firming up, lay out the dehydrated slices of strawberry. It’s easier to do this before the final coating as going backwards and forwards with chocolatey hands is fun at first but then deeply messy and frustrating! Been there, done that…
  • For the second coat of chocolate, I like to dip the truffle in the chocolate and roll it like a small, messy hamster  between my fingers- letting it roll from one hand to the next, to get an even coating. Gently place, or let it roll, onto a slice of strawberry. The chocolate will adhere to the fruit and hold the truffle in place.

You may not want to do a second coating, that’s fine. It just evens up the outside. You can always finish it with a dusting of cocoa powder. Alternatives are finishing with a fresh or dried rose petal on top. Use the melted chocolate like a glue , a wee dab will hold the petal in place.

Image

ImageI’ve used a different camera so it will interesting to see how these photos look on the finished page. I promise to take more photos as I work so you can see the stages in future. It’s hard when I’m covered in chocolate though!

Let me know how you get on with this if you try it out. You could try with different syrups or tinctures; I think more herbal flavours like fennel or mint could be really nice with this…