For Valentine's Day this year I took my boyfriend on a surprise chocolate making weekend! We went to the Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth and took part in a chocolate truffle making workshop.
Gerry, who runs the hotel and the workshops, does corporate events as well as chocolate making sessions that are open to both people staying at the hotel and those who just want to come for the class. When we began the workshop, he had already tempered the chocolate - which was a bit of a shame as I would have liked to learn how to do that. However he did explain the process and also gave us a lot of interesting information on chocolate - everything to the origins of the cocoa bean to the different types of chocolate bar on the market.
If you read my previous post on making chocolate truffles, or you've made them yourself, you'll know it's a relatively straightforward process. You temper your chocolate and mix it with cream and it thickens right away. But while the actual recipe is quite easy, I still learnt several tricks and techniques I didn't know about. As you can see in the picture above, Gerry then put the chocolate truffle mixture into a disposable piping bag, and piped long thick chocolate logs (no jokes please!).
Below: a selection of coatings for the chocolate
Here are my chocolate logs
It's a pretty messy process!
Another trick I learnt was how to give the truffles a crisp chocolate outer shell. When I made truffles at home, I dipped them in melted chocolate, and left them to set. But they set with the excess chocolate that ran around the bottom, and I also had a lot of trouble getting them off the plate afterwards! Obviously I should have put them onto greaseproof paper to set, which we did this time. But the other trick I learnt was that rather than dip the truffles in chocolate, put on some disposable rubber gloves and dip your hands in melted chocolate. Pick up each truffle and roll it gently in your hands to coat with chocolate. You can leave them to set and repeat the process up to three times, although we only did it once as we didn't have enough time to wait for three coats to dry.
We coated some of them in chopped nuts, some in icing sugar and drizzled melted white chocolate over some of the others.
Here are our finished truffles
We then packaged them nicely, and each had four bags to take home. I managed to give three of them away and not eat them all myself!
I really liked the Chocolate Hotel. It wasn't cheap - even a night there without the truffle workshop costs more than a lot of other hotels in the area, but the hotel has a unique selling point. Every room is chocolate themed, there is a chocolate fountain on reception, chocolate cocktails in the bar and it's generally a chocaholic's paradise! We really enjoyed our stay there and our truffle making workshop. And I thought I'd share a few of the other little things we had in our room as part of the Valentine's package:
chocolate heart on the bed (about a foot big)
chocolate fountain in our room
and a chocolate pancake for breakfast! Happy Valentine's Day.
I am entering my chocolate truffles in Tea Time Treats, hosted this month by Kate from What Kate Baked, as the theme for February is "romance". And what's more romantic than chocolate truffles handmade on a romantic Valentine's weekend away?