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Living experiences : CHOCS AWAY

Living experiences : CHOCS AWAY

If you’re a chocaholic (or happen to be attached to someone who is) then here’s something unashamedly indulgent to chase away even the bluest of winter blues...

 

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“Here are some lovely chocolates I made myself, specially for you.” Sounds generous and thoughtful, don’t you think? Just don’t let on that you had a whole lot of fun doing it. We certainly did at Trois-Palis, home of Chocolaterie Letuffe, one of the region’s best-known traditional chocolatiers. Here’s a taste of our initiation...

After a warm welcome we pass displays of colourfully wrapped confectionery to reach the engine room of the operation, where the aromas are simply intoxicating. After diligent hand-washing we don white plastic aprons, amble past a miniature assembly line producing a tantalising assortment of delicacies and cluster around a polished granite worktop with small baths of molten chocolate. We begin by creating chocolate shells which will eventually be filled with individual chocs. Milk or dark? I opt for dark and dunk just over half of what looks like a foam rubber toffee-apple into molten chocolate, employing careful drip control for an even coating. Dark chocolate, being thinner than milk, requires multiple dips (between trips to harden-off in the chiller) but once it’s set solid we can release our choco-cups. Now for the chocs themselves.

We start by dribbling experimental patterns of contrasting chocolate (milk for dark and vice-versa) into the 21 compartments of the mould in which the chocs will soon be formed. After another quick trip to the chiller, the moulds emerge for the next stage: dipping a wide spatula into molten chocolate and filling the mould to form the individual chocolates. After removing the excess and tapping the mould on the worktop to dislodge air bubbles, it returns to the chiller, while we apply more creatively piped decoration, this time on the chocolate shells we made earlier.

When I’m done the shells return to the chiller, while I release my now-hardened chocolates from the moulds, tapping them out face-down onto the work-surface. Looking at the results of our respective decorative efforts, while popping them into the completed shells, I’m pleased, and so are my
fellow choco-stagiaires on the workshop initiation. Best of all, we each get to go home with 250g of high-quality chocolates – made by our own fair hands.

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Feel like getting hands-on?

Les Stages Gourmands are held at:

Chocolaterie Letuffe, 22 rue du Bourg, 16730 Trois-Palis. T: 05 45 91 05 21. Boutique opening and workshop times vary, so for details: www.chocolaterie-letuffe16.com. Cost: 8.50€ for 5-15 years, 10.50€ for adults

Published Living Poitou-Charentes in 2013 © All rights reserved