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Wonka Chocolate-Vision

November 2006

In November I took a break from baking for a purer form of sugar worship- Chocolate Making. A few of my coworkers and I headed to Artisan Confections for the ultimate team builder.

After a brief education on the cacao plant and chocolate process, we were able to taste chocolates from different regions and with different percentages of chocolate. Like coffee beans, the different regions had flavors that varied in intensity and fruitiness. With a few new facts under our belt, it was time to get crafty.

Using colored cocoa butter (yeah, like in suntan lotion) we painted sheets of acetate with modern designs.

Jason, owner and creative guru behind the shop sliced up the ganache (filling) and showed us how to load up the conveyor belt to coat it in chocolate. Although we helped layer some chocolate ganache onto a mandarin orange batch he was working on the shop, it has to sit for several days before use. We were just as happy to use a batch that was ready for eating.

The tasty squares are lined up on the conveyor belt for a trip under a fountain of melted chocolate. Just for variety we used a mix of flavors that included: 76% chocolate ganache, vanilla bean enhanced chocolate, and a salted caramel and hazelnut layered treat. Though we were hoping to pick up a machine like this at Costco for our office kitchen, it turns out that they have to be specially ordered from France and take several months to customize and ship. It holds about 75 lbs of chocolate at carefully controlled temperatures.

Once doused, the squares are shaken (not stirred) so an even coating forms over the top. Then we applied our designs by hand by laying the cocoa butter paintings over the top of the coated chocolates as they set.

To keep us from causing trouble in the store while out designs set up, we were allowed to make our own chocolate bark using all kinds of nuts, fruits and crunchy candies. We also tasted many of the company’s regular varieties like truffles flavored with Cinnamon Honey, Ancho Chiles and Mint Tea. My favorite was the peanut butter and jelly, with a layer of peanut butter filling, crunchy cookie flake, and raspberry filling, wrapped in chocolate. Yummy.

Finally it was time to reveal our handiwork. We peeled back the transfer sheets, and viola!

The bright colors and sparkled sugar were impressive, even though we had seen all of the steps going into it.

Though ours were hand-painted, the design sheets used for the chocolates that they sell in the store are designed by local Arlington artists and silk screened onto transfer sheets. Companies and restaurants custom order logos and designs (min = about 1,000 pieces) which I think would be awesome.

Here is my finished box:

I wasn’t as hyped up about the chocolates as I get for some of our baking/cooking outings, but it was definitely my favorite class not attended by Dave Lieberman (haha). I definitely have a better appreciation for the chocolate making process and the art that goes into mixing the different flavors and textures. If you are reading this article from Arlington, you need to head over to the shop and taste all of these goodies for yourself. (I think that they also ship to lucky friends and relatives.) Classes will start again in the new year and I highly recommend getting some friends together and going. Good friends, a bottle of wine (because friends, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”), chocolate tastings, handmade confections to take home and support of a local business serving our community… What could be better?

View the clip from Fox News by clicking here to see it in action.

And click here for even more chocolatey fun. Because in life there are “little surprises around every corner, but nothing dangerous.”

Posted in Chocolates.

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