Chocolate and Sunday are the perfect combination for a relaxing day, especially at Easter, writes Gay Bolton.
For apart from Christmas, Easter Sunday is the one day of the year where there’s no guilt factor attached to stuffing yourself with silky smooth sweet treats and putting your feet up.
This weekend I’m looking forward to cracking open a uniquely designed psychedelic chocolate egg.
Dusted with pink, gold and bronze powder and adorned with swirls of chocolate, the piece de resistance is my name piped on it by leading artisan confectioner, Barry Colenso.
Master chocolatier Barry helped to design Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding cake this time last year, creating flowers, leaves and fronds of white chocolate for the prince’s favourite tiffin cake, which was made by McVities.
The six-week top-secret project saw chocolate guru Barry shed over a stone in weight as he worked long days to prepare a cake fit for a prince. He said: “Afterwards the enormity of it hit me, that the royal wedding cake had started in a little village in the middle of Derbyshire.”
But could Barry turn a group of 14 eager students into novice chocolatiers in just one day? That was the challenge facing him on a very warm Sunday in the new state-of-the art Hartingtons School of Food in Bakewell.
Equipped with knowledge from the expert about the processes involved in making everyone’s favourite confectionary, we armed ourselves with saucepans, mixing bowls and whisks ready to make truffles and decorate an Easter egg.
Having measured out and boiled up cream, butter and sorbitol, then beaten chocolate into the mixture, we were spoilt for choice by the vast array of natural essences with which to flavour our ganache. I opted for a safe combination of lemon and lime, partner Jo chose amaretto while a more adventurous student chose caramel and salt.
Then came the tricky part, transferring the molten chocolate into plastic piping bags to fill truffle shells. I ended up with trickles of chocolate everywhere, on the work surface, floor and even down my trouser leg.
Things got even messier when it came to decorating the truffles. Smearing liquid chocolate over glove-covered hands made me feel like a kid caught with her fingers in mum’s mixing bowl. But the heavenly scented palms of our hands were vital to coat the truffles with a sticky base to which we added chocolate shavings or powder.
The proof of the pudding was in the tasting - and that evening they got the thumbs-up from my fiancé as the best he’d even eaten.
I’d had my fill for one day, after an appetiser of chocolate buttons at 9.30am, five tastings of flavoured chocolates for a quiz at elevenses and then countless dips into the ganache that afternoon.
The chocaholic’s dream day was perfectly balanced by an artisan ploughman’s lunch of pork pie, cheeses, chutneys and healthy salad, which was served on the premises.
The Intro to Artisan Chocolate Making course costs £95 and is part of an expanding range of courses provided by Hartingtons at their base in Rutland Mill, off Coombs Road, Bakewell. For details, contact www.hartingtons.com or (01629) 888 586.