Squires Kitchen 5 Day School – Day 1: Chocolate

Some of the treats I made in the chocolate class

Some of the treats I made in the chocolate class

I started the 5 Day School with Guest Tutors today at Squires Kitchen in Surrey, England. The school consists of 5 full days of classes with a different teacher each day, each famous for a different specialty. I will be blogging about each day of the course, starting with Day 1 – Chocolate with Mark Tilling. Mark is the British Chocolate Master (which basically means he is THE best chocolatier in the UK) and has been every year since 2006.

My course consisted of 10 people, all of us novices to chocolate. There were also 3 large vats of melted chocolate (one dark, one milk and one white) in the room, and the gorgeous scent of melted chocolate made our mouths water!

Mark started off  by telling us how chocolate is made and showing us samples of cocoa at it’s various stages to becoming chocolate. Then he explained to us why tempering chocolate is so important (to keep the “good crystals” that give it a high gloss and that snap when it’s broken and which allow it to set properly and give it a uniform, shiny appearance) and showed us how to temper chocolate in the microwave.

Next he demonstrated how to use moulds for properly melted, tempered chocolate by piping the chocolate into the moulds, and we then created several chocolate bars using moulds and tempered chocolate and different fillings like sultanas, nuts, and coconut. I made milk chocolate with shredded coconut (DELISH!), milk chocolate with almonds, and a special white chocolate bar with lots of dried fruit and nuts for my husband. Here are my chocolate bars after they were set in the fridge:

My handmade chocolate bars

My handmade chocolate bars

We then were shown how to use transfer sheets and had a go at thinly spreading chocolate over a transfer sheet then slicing it and wrapping it around a rolling pin to create beautiful spiral decorations. These were then refrigerated along with the bars, then the rolling pins removed and the acetate transfer sheets peeled off. Mine worked perfectly, but sadly most of the other people in the class had trouble with theirs. Happily, all mistakes were very tasty mistakes as everyone was able to eat any bad bits! Here is a piece of my spiral decorations:

Chocolate spiral decoration with transfer

Chocolate spiral decoration with transfer

After lunch, we were shown how to use cold granite slabs to create thin bands of chocolate that we could use to create fans and other decorations. This had to be done extremely quickly before the chocolate set, and I managed to only create one! It was pretty hard, but I think I also just wasn’t very good at it!

We then did some piping of chocolate onto cocoa powder and coloured sugar crystals to make more decorations, then we were shown how to pipe chocolate onto an acetate sheet over a stencil to create chocolate butterflies. That was pretty easy, it’s not so different to piping with royal icing or buttercream. Here is one of my butterflies, still on the acetate:

Piped chocolate butterfly

Piped chocolate butterfly

Lastly, we were shown how to create modelled roses from cocoform (a kind of modelling chocolate). This was the part I found the easiest as I’ve used the same technique before with sugar flower paste and marzipan. Here are my dark chocolate roses:

Dark chocolate roses

Dark chocolate roses

It was a very enjoyable class and Mark is so very talented, and a patient teacher! I did find working with so much melted chocolate to be VERY messy though, and to be honest, I don’t think I’m uber keen to take up chocolatier-ing. Oddly, I was actually kind of sick of chocolate by the end of the day!

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One Response to “Squires Kitchen 5 Day School – Day 1: Chocolate”

  1. Rhian says:

    It all looks fab – well done! 🙂

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