“Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination”
Ok, so it wasn’t quite like entering Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but The Baking Academy of Ireland is probably as close as you’ll get on a cold night in Dublin. I’d been given a voucher for a Baking Academy course for my birthday back in November and after browsing through the list of courses they had I settled on Hand Made Chocolates. I LOVE chocolate but haven’t really done much with it beyond the normal melting required for baking.
Derek O’Brien was our enthusiastic and very knowledgable guide to the world of chocolate. Derek has trained and worked as a Master Baker and at one point as one half of a hand-made chocolate production line. During my six-hour, two night course at the Academy Derek mixes the course content with stories from his own experiences and helpful tips and hints on suppliers and practical applications for our newly learned craft. Microwaves were the main tool used on the course but we were shown a chocolate tempering machine in action and other methods for tempering were covered. Chocolate mould choices and maintenance was well covered by the course as well and it’s a lot more important then I realised and probably the part of the course I took the most away from.
Here’s some pics of Derek at work and some of the moulds demonstrated.
It was very much a hands on course and we had plenty of opportunities to have a go ourselves. Below are some pics of my work station and my attempts at making chocolates. I was easily bottom of the class on our first night; my first attempt at pouring out my tempered chocolate had to be scrapped and I was the only one who had to use the back up chocolate!
Chocolate making is an unusual combination of patience and precision. My fellow class-mates and I spent a large amount of time staring into microwaves chanting “45…27…33” `to remind ourselves of the temperatures we were supposed to be achieving. Often the bowl would be removed from the microwave, the temperature checked and then popped back in as the chocolate just needed another two seconds, not three seconds though, three seconds will ruin everything.
Most of our first night’s work needed to sit overnight and was turned out and finished on the second night.
In the end I went home with over 1kg of chocolate, lots of knowledge and tips and a 13 page instruction book covering the course content. I was very happy with the course and with the Baking Academy in general and would recommend them to anyone. You can check out all the courses on offer here: http://www.bakingacademyireland.ie/courses and you can give them a like on Facebook too http://www.facebook.com/bakingacademyireland.
I know I need more practise and I definitely need to buy some moulds and a good thermostat but I want to try my hand at making chocolates again soon and with Easter around the corner I’m sure I’ll get the chance soon!