Sunday, 18 March 2012

Cocoa Black

{snazzy apron}

This past weekend was spent mainly in the company of two of my favourite people - my Mum and Sister. My Dad had pulled an absolute blinder at Christmas and managed to buy all 3 of us a morning's 'Introduction to Chocolate Making' at Cocoa Black in Peebles, Scotland. Based in the Border's town of Peebles we decided to make a bit of a weekend of it and ended up staying overnight before taking Mum out for lunch on Mother's Day.

The course itself was incredible. For just under 3 hours, we learnt absolutely loads and taste tested equally as much. The kitchen itself is currently tucked away in a little industrial estate and the outside doesn't much prepare you for what lays behind closed doors. The smell of chocolate hits you as you step over the threshold and well and truly wraps you up. Delish.

The morning started off with an introduction to the history of chocolate making - we learnt all about the different types of cocoa bean, how it is manufactured {they're all picked by hand!!} and what cocoa beans and raw cocoa look and taste like. It's not pleasant, I'll tell you that for free. We must've taste tested about 10 different types of chocolate all with varying cocoa contents - nom nom nom - before being talked through the process of tempering chocolate, something that is absolutely crucial when making your own handmade chocolates. Ruth, who owns and runs the courses, is a culinary whizz - I'm sure I read something about competing in culinary olympics! - and she was more than willing to answer all our questions. It was so lovely to see someone be so forthcoming with sharing their knowledge, rather than being precious about the tips she has obviously picked up and developed along the way.

{quite proud of ourselves. This is right before we nearly dropped all of these on the floor...}

We made 3 types of chocolate - though the bulk of the chocolates themselves were prepared for us beforehand and we were simply talked through the method {this was necessary to ensure we could all take our chocolates home on the day}: orange and dark chocolate truffles, pralines and coffee chocolates. All of them were delicious! Then of course, came the fun stuff....decorating. Armed with molten vats of dark, milk and white chocolate, as well as numerous different finishing touches we set to work decorating dozens of chocolates each.

You needed to trim down any excess chocolate. Cue medical grade scalpels and lots of shavings that needed eating. Stat.

There were sneaky taste tests {I got caught with chocolate on my face on more than one occasion}

And the finished product? Well, some of them made it back to Edinburgh at least!

I'd thoroughly recommend this course to anyone, especially if they were the sort that loves to bake or cook. We had so much fun decorating and rolling chocolates and I really do feel like we've walked away having learnt something in the process.

The rest of our stay? Well it was spent wandering around Peebles, drinking fizz, investigating little deli's, delighting in gorgeous Spring weather and polka dot PJs...

And mainly enjoying the company of these two. They make me laugh so unbelievably much - I spent a good deal of this weekend with aching sides. We are so undeniably similar and it makes me so incredibly happy to share things like this with them. The last three photos of some of my favourites from the weekend {though I wish I could make the last one rotate!!}

Love B x

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