Having always been a chocoholic, I was very excited when I was given a gift to attend a 1 day chocolate class at Mark Tilling’s Squires Kitchen International School, in Farnham. Naturally I thought Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory here we come! The day began with a quick meet and greet with a few of my fellow students over some tea and biscuits, shortly after Mark introduced himself and gave us a quick overview of his work and what we could expect from the day.

On walking into the kitchen my eyes were quickly drawn to the three large trays of melted chocolate and how inviting they looked – I knew then it was going to be a good day! I found myself a table with all the supplies I would need throughout the day and it really did feel like being back school. The lesson began with a short video on the story of Barry Callebaut’s chocolate (coincidentally a Jellybean client)! We were taken through the chocolate making process ‘From Bean to Bar’ including the painstaking hand pollination where the flowers of the cocoa plants are pollinated with tweezers! It was truly fascinating to hear how the chocolate sitting in front of us had been produced and certainly gave me a greater appreciation of one of my favourite foods.

Task 1: Down to the real business of the day: the method of chocolate tempering. This is an essential process for making smooth, glossy and evenly coloured chocolate. After much melting and cooling I poured my tempered chocolate into trays and popped them into the fridge to harden over lunch. Making gold, silver and red chocolate bars, it really felt like I was in a magical chocolate factory.

Task 2: Whisky Truffles. After lunch, we began the delicate task of making the chocolaty alcoholic mixture and carefully piping it onto trays. Once shaped and hardened, we decorated and dusted the truffles – the most challenging part being not to eat them as we went!

Task 3: The final part of the day. We were given the chance to be artistic and learn different techniques for chocolate decoration. We made chocolate spirals using transfer sheets, skilfully crafting the delicate and tasty garnishes. Next we cleverly created chocolate fans and nests. Unfortunately, mine looked more like a nursery arts and crafts project (full marks for effort though).

As the day came to a close, it was safe to say I looked like I’d been swimming in the chocolate as opposed to making yummy masterpieces, but I had thoroughly enjoyed myself! I loved learning about where the chocolate comes from and all of Mark’s tips and tricks. I have come to the conclusion I’m a lot better at eating chocolate than I am being a chocolatier, although my chocolate school certificate claims otherwise!

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