Chocolate bark is one of easiest chocolates to prepare; simply take your favourite mixes and add into tempered chocolate.

Mmmm, chocolate!

Mmmmm chocolate. The one word alone excites me! I mean “real” chocolate! The kind that feels smooth and luxurious on your tongue and literally melts in your mouth. The kind that doesn’t feel waxy or greasy but lovingly enrobes all your taste buds with a rich velvety blanket! This kind of chocolate is not found in the candy aisle or in any bulk bin but in stores which specializes in chocolate like Bernard Callebaut!

“There is more to life than chocolate but not right now.”

— Bernard Callebaut

Mmmmm chocolate. The one word alone excites me!

I mean “real” chocolate! The kind that feels smooth and luxurious on your tongue and literally melts in your mouth. The kind that doesn’t feel waxy or greasy but lovingly enrobes all your taste buds with a rich velvety blanket! This kind of chocolate is not found in the candy aisle or in any bulk bin but in stores which specializes in chocolate like Bernard Callebaut!

I had an amazing opportunity of attending a chocolate making class led by the BJ Tumanut, owner of Bernard Callebaut located at the village mall in Red Deer. Tumanut, also known as the Cocolady, took over the chocolate shop last year.

Moving from Edmonton, Tumanut quickly learned one thing about the people of Red Deer; we are an active community ! “To connect with the people , I knew I had to offer something unique, something different, and something engaging, “ explains Tumanut. By offering a variety of chocolate making and eating classes at here chocolate shop, she is doing just that!

In her 3 1/2 hour chocolate making class, Tumanut takes you on a journey from the cacao beans to the decadent delight.

“Chocolate comes from the seeds of the cacao tree which only thrives in climates twenty degrees north and south of the equator. It was also the monkeys who were the first to find the cacao plant edible and delectable, not man, “explains Tumanut. The brightly coloured, rugby ball-shaped cacao pods hang off trees, begging to be picked. Monkeys learned of the sweet, refreshing pulp concealed within the thick pod. But the beans—or seeds—in the core of the pulp were bitter and inedible. The monkeys would eat the pulp and spit out the beans.

Ancient people followed the monkeys’ example, and only ate the delicious pulp. The seeds were inadvertently dispersed throughout the forest, making cacao trees plentiful in South and Central America and guaranteeing cacao’s evolution.

Tumanut then explains how the bean is converted to an edible confection. “You need to understand the fundamental elements of chocolate before you can work with it,” she explains.

The pods containing the beans are opened and the beans are removed and fermented under banana leaves for about a week. After this the beans are roasted to further bring out the cocoa flavour. The shells are removed and the nibs are ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor. The liquor is then pressed to release the cocoa butter. The leftover, called a press cake or cocoa cake, can then be ground down into fine powder.

Cocoa butter is a fat that gives chocolate its stable properties. “Real chocolate refers to chocolate that must have both cocoa powder and cocoa butter,” clarifies Tumanut. Because this butter is very expensive most chocolate bar producer use different fats like kernel oil which categorizes them as a “candy bar” instead of a true “chocolate bar”.

“The cocoa butter gives chocolate an excellent taste and mouth feel, but also makes it trickier to work with because it must be tempered,” explains Tumanut.

Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate for coating, dipping and molding. Proper tempering results in chocolate that has a smooth and glossy finish. The tempered chocolate will have a crisp snap and is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish.

So what happens to chocolate that is improperly tempered? “The cocoa fat rises to the surface and blooms, making it unappealing and unattractive,” explains Tumanut. If the cocoa butter rises to the surface, it may appear mouldy but it is still good chocolate, it has only lost its temper.

“There are only two irreplaceable things you can do to chocolate,” says Tumanut, “seizing the chocolate with addition of water or completely burning it; otherwise, it can be reused over and over again.”

In her chocolate making class, Tumanut demonstrates how to properly temper chocolate, and then participants make molded chocolate, chocolate bark, ganache and dipped Kahlua truffles. While this is being done, wine is supplied with continuous supply of chocolate being tasted. To sweeten the deal, you get to take home the fruits of your labour—- of course, in this case, it’s chocolate!

If you are interested in learning more about chocolate and educating your palate on the pleasures of fine chocolate, you can check out classes on her website http://cocolady.ca. If not, just stop by and sample on your own at her shop at the village mall. If you can keep up, you can also follow the cocolady on facebook cocolady.ca or on twitter, @cocolady_ca.

Kahlua Truffle

makes 60 truffles

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 tablespoon butter, unsalted and soft

1 1/3 cup Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut semi-sweet drops

1/4 cup Kahlua

2 cups Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut semi-sweet drops, for dipping

Toaster Shredded coconut, for garnish

Line a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside! Combine the cream and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat. Add the butter and the semi-sweet chocolate drops to the cream and stir until smooth and homogenous. Stir in the liqueur. Pour the finished ganache into the baking pan to make a thin layer and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool overnight; ganache should be firm. Line sheet pan with parchment paper. Using a melon baller or a teaspoon, scoop out 8 gram ball of ganache and place on the sheet pan at room temperature. When all of the ganache has been scooped, roll each portion by hand into a round ball. Melt and temper the chocolate for dipping. Dip the ganache centers in the tempered chocolate; shake off excess chocolate. After dipping but before the chocolate sets fully, garnish with toasted shredded coconut.

Chocolate Bark

Dried fruits such as apricots, raisins, candied 1Lbs Bernard Callebaut Chocolate, dark or milk chocolate, melted and tempered

1 1/2 cup of your favourite mixes

Suggestions: marshmallow and graham crackers, orange peel, cranberries, and raisins. Toasted nuts including hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, and pistachios. andied ginger, and dried fruits such as pineapple, blueberries, mango, or papaya. Toasted pumpkin seeds and pine nuts.

Add mix combination to melted tempered chocolate and pour onto parchment paper. When solid break into pieces.

Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at madhubadoni@gmail.com or on Twitter @madhubadoni. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on bprda.wpengine.com.

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