There is lots of heavy snow outside my window again. One trip cancelled in a week is annoying, but a second would be horrendous. I am off to Amsterdam in the morning – I hope – please pray readers that London transport will be a little less wimpy.
As I look out the window I am thinking wistfully back to chocolate marshmallows, sea salted caramel and chocolate tarts, early grey chocolate truffles, perfect hot chocolate and a mouse shaped Easter egg crafted from iconic Valrhona chocolate. I still have some chocolate leftover from a recent Valrhona masterclass, and I must rush to my room and make something with it. It will help to defeat this bitter weather.
Valrhona have started running their covetted cooking classes in London, and I was one of the privileged few allowed to attend a preview. Valrhona is highly respected in the world of chocolate and graces the menus of the finest restaurants. Their courses for chefs have been running for years in France, and they have recently developed a one day course for consumers. This is the one I attended recently in London.
The course was led by Andrew Gravett of Valrhona and ran for a full day. We started at 10am and were introduced to the different types of Valrhona chocolate before moving to a very welcome perfect Valrhona hot chocolate.
Andrew had a wealth of information and tips to share. We learned lots, had lots of fun, and at the end of it left with a copy of the book, and the chocolate treats that we had made plus some chocolate to work with at home.
The class costs £230, and includes a welcome breakfast, lunch and tea as well as a goodie bag of all of your treats and the wonderful Valrhona cookbook with DVD with instructions on techniques and recipes – Cooking with Chocolate. The next class is in March and is already fully booked but it will be running again on Thursday 14th June. Full details are on the Cookery School website.
I will leave you with the recipe for the sensational Valrhona Chocolate & Salt Caramel Tarts.
180 g butter
3 g salt
135 g icing sugar
45 g ground almonds
75 g eggs
90 g t’45 flour
265 g t’45 flour
Mix the cold soft butter, salt, icing sugar, almonds, eggs and the 90g of flour. Do not beat the mix.
When the dough is smooth add very quickly the 265g of flour, refrigerate for a few hours before rolling.
Mould the tarts and leave again to rest 30mins in the fridge.
Cook at 150/160C until the pastry is golden.
SALT CARAMEL LAYER
60 g 40% milk chocolate
100 g whipping cream
70 g caster sugar
30 g butter
2 g maldon salt
Part melt the chocolate.
Warm the cream and cover.
Place 1/3 of the sugar in a heavy based pan and slowly melt until it forms a light caramel, add the next 1/3 and do the same. Finally add the remaining sugar and cook all to a light caramel.
Slowly add the butter and the cream so as not to form a block of hard caramel and boil.
Pour the liquid onto the chocolate and emulsify.
Smooth with the hand blender and pour a thin layer into the tart cases.
Leave to set.
350 g Guanaja 70%
250 g whipping cream
15 g honey
50 g butter
Part melt the chocolate.
Boil the cream and honey and pour slowly onto the chocolate, emulsify and smooth.
Add the butter and blend.
Pour into the pastry cases and leave to set.
I attended the class as a guest. Many thanks to MsMarmiteLover for the photographs – I took mine on my phone, which was subsequently stolen :(