This post might be better around Easter time rather than three days before everyone swears off chocolate for the rest of the year after over indulging over Christmas. As many of you know, 2013 I fell in love. Unfortunately it isn’t a type of love that means my mum needs to buy a big hat for an event. No, this year I discovered and fell in love with Paul.A.Young Chocolate .
Me and my cousin are total fan girls when it comes to these delightful treats, especially the award winning Sea Salted Carmels. We even went to Paul’s brownie making course at Fortnum and Mason after Easter. Then I made said brownies with Nutella and Peanut Butter here. We even went on a Chocolate walking tour of London which one of the shops were included in (write up is coming up!) We love the shop and the chocolates that we decided we would treat ourselves to take part on one of their Chocolate Making and Tasting Course.
Located under their Soho shop, is the kitchen where dreams come true – ok actually they make all their chocolates by hand there, but chocolate equals dreams right. Donning a very sexy hair net and apron we got to work. With head Chocolatier Michael guiding through the bean to bar process along side some nibbling on coca nibs we started making our own truffles using a dairy free water ganache truffles. I’ve been always taught never to get water in your chocolate or it will seize but surprisingly, this method gave a super smooth rich ganache which worked as a great carrier for big flavours. I went to flavour my ganache with smoked chipotle chilli and sea salt, whilst my cousin went for lime and grapefruit.
Whilst our ganache chilled to be ready to be rolled and coated, we carried out a chocolate tasting with ten different chocolates. Similar to wine tasting, different origins of the beans and blends can create complex flavour profiles of the chocolate. Working through a spectrum of cocoa solid percentages, the task proved that the percentage of the chocolate doesn’t necessarily mean they are are going to taste bitter or sweet. Many people say they only like milk chocolate not dark because they think they are too harsh or bitter. After taking part in the tasting I would recommend buying a random single bar chocolate that might be a higher percentage than you are normally used to, just to give it a go. You might not like it, then you try another or it might open up to a whole world of great chocolatey fun!
The chocolates we tired were –
1. 55% Duffy’s Ocumare Venezuela – This chocolate was one of the most popular chocolates in the group due to the creamy milk flavour, would work well with caramels.
2. 63% Menako Madasagan Superior, single origin – Slight caramel note to this chocolate, ultra smooth in flavour and mouthfeel
3. 64% Michel Cluziel Papua New Guinea – I wasn’t a huge fan of this chocolate as found it had a slight goat milk flavour to the chocolate
4. 65% Valrhona Gran Cru Single Origin Grenada – I really loved this chocolate, there was high vanilla and spice flavours like the island the cocoa beans where grown on.
5. 70% Pacari Raw Ecuador – This chocolate had a slight woody note whilst being as creamy as some of the lower cocoa solid percentage chocolates
6. 70% Mast Brothers Venezuela – One of my favourite chocolates and can’t wait to try more from The Mast Brothers from Brooklyn , a beautiful chocolate with a citrus flavour.
7. 70% Pacari Piura – Similar to the other Pacari but from Peru, again a surprisingly smooth chocolate at a high cooca solid percentage.
8. 83% Duffy’s Ecuador – I found this had an interesting roasted oat flavour to this chocolate which would be interesting to pair with rich dried fruit.
9.100% – I forgot where this chocolate was from (bad blogger) but it had an amazing depth of flavour which tasted to me exactly like Marmite! ( check out the bottom of this post to see Paul’s Marmite Brownie)
After the class, I might of bought a bar or two of The Mast Brothers chocolate, just for a treat to myself – shhh don’t tell anyone!
Michael showed us how to roll our ganaches and temper the chocolate to make sure our truffles had the right shine and crisp exterior to protect our flavoursome centres. It’s fair to say me and my cousin got covered in melted chocolate, in fact I may of had some on my shoes and on my elbow when I left. Not a 100% sure how that happened but it was great fun! My friends who have been on a holiday with me in cold wintery countries can tell you that I never wear gloves as I always have radiator hands, great to warm everyone up with but terrible to work with chocolate. I had to roll quickly before I even up with a fondue literally on my hands.
We used various sprinkles to finish our truffles. I just love the contrast of the snowy sea salt flakes against the rich dark chocolate.
While the truffles set, we were busy bees and made some chocolate bars with the rest of the tempered chocolate. Being a greedy pig I went for one different flavour for each bar. So I had; crystallised mint leaves, crushed walnuts, sea salt, cocoa nibs and one plain.
Based on my wrapping and coating of my truffles, I don’t think I will be getting a job offer any time soon! But had a fabulous time and Michael and the rest of the team was so welcoming and knowledgeable. Would highly recommend you treating yourself to the course or if you don’t want to put in the hard work you can always pop into one of Paul’s shops to stock up on some of the gorgeous chocolates, which is exactly what I did after making a truffle mountain.
I had tried Paul’s brownies numerous times but up until the course I hadn’t tried any of his truffles so what better of a time to try them. Some of the pictures are a tad dodge, I just was so excited to trying them out. There was also a Sea Salted Caramel Truffle that is award winning and out of this world but like the lovely caring housemate, I ended up giving it to my friend before I could take a picture.
First, was a collaboration with Pizza Pilgrim . ‘A blend of tomato, basil leaves and olive oil with 63% Menakao Madagascan dark chocolate, rolled in Pizza Pilgrim’s famous stonebaked pizza base crumb’ Savoury truffle I hear to cry! Actually the sweet fruity note of the tomato and basil with the rich grassy note from the olive oil works to well with the chocolate that makes it a really enjoyable truffle. The fear was it would taste like Violet Beauregarde Three Course Chewing Gum from Willy Wonka – but fear not and buy a box!
Guavarita – ‘Created from Cleo Roco’s ‘The Power of Positive Drinking’ book recipe The Guavarita Cocktail. Fragrant, citrusy and smooth, with 100% Agave Aqua Riva Tequila and 70% Raw Ecuadorian Chocolate.’ I love tequila, so there was no question whether this little beauty would even up in my chocolate box. Forget the fiery burn of tequila shooter of bad nights out. This classy tequila paired with a powerful chocolate will have you reaching for the box rather than the drinks cabinet.
Sacred Negroni – ‘Highgate’s only craft distillers’ Rosehip Cup, Spiced English Vermouth and Gin, muddled with Duffy’s 70% Star of Peru dark chocolate for a bittersweet tangy taste, finished with crumbled mandarin peel.’ Wow, there is some big flavours going on in this small morsel yet all are beautifully balanced, a true masterpiece.
Jamaican Ginger Cake and Vanilla Custard – ‘ Everyone’s favourite nostalgic ginger cake blended with a smooth rich milk chocolate and a layer of intense vanilla custard ganache.’ I kept think throughout trying the truffles, how can the next one better the one before but they just seem to do in their own unique way. Genius to pair the fiery ginger with the fragrant creamy custard – just beautiful.
We were in the hight of Autumn when we went to the course so it seemed only appropriate to try the Spiced Pumpkin Pie Truffle ‘ Pumpkin puree infused with cinnamon, nutmeg and mace blended with whole milk, white chocolate and a touch of condensed milk.’ Warming and comforting in a tiny truffle, next year save on the Thanksgiving pudding just get these bad boys in.
A stand out of the crowd, Passionfruit Curd ‘70% Ecuadorian Chocolate with fragrant passion fruit curd’ International Chocolate Awards 2013 Gold Award Winner and quite rightly. This is one little flavour bomb that you will just fall in love with and crave again and again.
Another American classic combination – Peanut Butter and Raspberry Jelly ‘ Whole nut peanut butter ganache with a vibrant raspberry reduction layer coated in 40% milk chocolate’ I adore peanut butter and this just combines everything I love. The richness of the peanut butter is just cut through with the sharpness of the raspberries. My brother new favourite too.
Lastly, a truffle that will divide people. A Marmite truffle ‘Marmite blended with 64% Madagascan dark chocolate , tangy, slightly salty, delicious and unique’ The Marmite adds a deep rich note to compliment the dark chocolate. Maybe not my first go to truffle but still highly enjoyable.
An Ode to Paul.A.Young wouldn’t be complete without mentioning his brownies. Recently, launching a Marmite brownie. Yep you hear me right, Marmite brownie. His classic brownies are rich, fudgey, dense and not for the faint hearted but the addition of the Marmite to the brownie takes it to the next level. The richness is intense and you’ll want to enjoy this bad boy in stages. Damn.
Get yourself of to Paul’s and treat yourself and promise you you won’t be looking at your normal chocolate bar quite the same.
(I paid for all the products mentioned, I just like sharing great food)
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