Disclaimer: I was invited to join in a blogger event at Cacao
Happy Easter everyone! Although I may personally be toning back on the chocolate (need to keep weight in check for trip to America in June!), I hope your weekend is filled with the delicious stuff, fluffy bunnies and time with family and friends.
Or if nothing else that you're all enjoying a good sleep in!
I thought in celebration of the chocolate-filled holiday (although yes, it has it's roots in religion, but that bit is not as fun), I would share some photos from a fun little night we had in Cacao Fine Chocolates and Patisserie's kitchen in St Kilda, with Tim Clark, one of the co-owners and master chefs and a gaggle of 8 bloggers or so. Not that you need to look at more chocolate, but maybe after the weekend you might still need a little more. Maybe?
It was a seriously sugar-induced night. Although we started with some savoury nibbles in the cafe area, brightly and vividly decorated (pop in to check out the adorable humpty dumpy chocolate display, made with one tonne of chocolate!), it wasn't long before the hot chocolate came out (super delicious yo) and soon after, we moved into the kitchen to…well…have more chocolate.
This particular night, Tim explained he would be helping us make our own easter egg, with a salted caramel chocolate ball on the inside. Excite?
Tim, who was friendly and chatty, busily explained the properties of chocolate as we snapped away like crazy. Tim was the perfect host and teacher. He had all the credentials after all, having worked in a Michelin star restaurant in Germany, working on cruise ships and at Crown Casino. He was also Australia's first Callebaut Chocolate Master (as the competition only opened internationally in 2004)…even beating Zumbo to the title and getting to represent Australia in France!
The first step to making our eggs, was to temper the chocolate. Foe to all Masterchef contestant, but when in a relaxed and non-pressured situation such as this, was actually incredibly relaxing to watch.
It's hard to explain in the short exactly why you temper chocolate, but it's to basically control the consistency of the crystals (chocolate is composed of lots of different ones), to ensure chocolate maintains a glossy, shiny appearance and doesn't get that 'bloom' where it turns lighter in colour and looks a bit funky. I'm sure there are a few other reasons, but I suppose that's the main one.
Tempering is quite a fine art, you need to heat up the chocolate to a certain temperature first, and then spread most of the chocolate over a stone table (preferably) to bring the temperature back down, before combining it back with the remaining and still warm chocolate. It was a lot easier for us as Tim knew just by touch when the chocolate was at an appropriate temperature, but beginner chefs on their own would need to use thermometers, at least in the beginning!
It's incredibly relaxing to slide the chocolate around, I found it very therapeutic. It's an incredibly beautiful ingredient, especially when it's of this quality, just so fluid, smooth and creamy.
Moulds are filled, air bubbles tapped out, tops smoothed out and then quickly emptied. Tim had us sprinkle some hard salted caramel flakes on the first layer, popped them in the freezer for a bit, and then did another layer over it. This made it quite thick.
I just love how shiny the chocolate looks in the moulds!
While we waited for our egg shells to be ready, Tim took us through making a salted caramel spread.
Which we all couldn't resist getting our fingers into.
This is what the final product looks like after it's been completed and cooled. Like fluffy caramel clouds in Candyland. Light in texture, but still so sinful!
In some prepared chocolate ball shells, Tim showed us how to pipe in the caramel, before letting us all take turns to do it. We only had to fill it up two thirds of the way, as after that we had to seal the caramel with a layer of chocolate (makes the caramel last longer). Then it was simply a matter of popping the halves together, and letting them sit in the freezer again to solidify a bit.
The final step was to take our shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny egg shells, gently rub them on a heated piece of metal (to melt it a little), put the chocolate ball in one half and then close up the easter egg.
Throughout the night, we also got to sample Cacao's other goodies, such as their gorgeous and beautifully handcrafted chocolates and truffles and macarons (vividly coloured with great texture) and had a sneak peek at some of the pastries hanging out in the fridge, waiting to be baked in the morning. All in all, an absolutely fun night, although we all absolutely in need of a strong herbal tea by the time we got home! Sugar crash anyone?
And what about those eggs we made?
Well they're delicious. Just ask dad and I.
52 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda 3182
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