We launched into a Cordon Bleu class. Yes, I am talking about THE Cordon Bleu. The world renowned educational institution dedicated to providing the highest level of culinary and hospitality instruction through world class programs. WE choose THE class of all classes on February 14th:
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SAINT VALENTINE’S CHOCOLATES
The school does promise to apply its distinctive teaching methodology where students gain experience through hands-on learning, however, I must be believe that this involves the full time students.
Let me explain. We started off with a rather serious introduction in French by a typical complaining French individual. Do you blame him? He's wondering why a bunch of foreign housewives will spend Euro 100.- on a chocolate course? After the intial shock, we warmed to LE CHEF and I actually enjoyed his dry sense of humour. His assistant was a charming British lad who had to translate all the French mumblings into a form that the Americans (North &South), the Asians and the Swiss could understand! A great deal of smiling and puns at this point. OK, we were set to go!
Lots of bowls infront of us and 3 helpers who constantly provided us with all the ingredients ready measured in little glasses. They also cleaned up after us, continually! (Can I take one of those home with me please?)
We heated chocolate, we mixed ingredients, we blended chocolate until it was tempered, OOPS, too tempered, start again! We poured chocolate into and we squeezed chocolate out of the pastry bag. We were on a roll...when LE CHEF decided to take over and show us how to mould chocolate hearts. We stood there watching him for 45 minutes wandering when WE would get to do the hands-on work? The British lad kept on translating bravely while we were watching the same gesture being repeated over and over again.
Finally it was our turn! Admitteldy pouring chocolate into a mould is not quite as easy as it looks, but then again, it's not rocket science either! Another 30 minutes of moulding chocolate! Where is this leading us to?
Back into our starting blocks and charged to go the CHEF's helpers set us up with liquid chocolate tempered to perfection (easy). We had to make little blobs of choc which in French have the fancy name of MENDIANT if you sprinkle some dry fruit and nuts on top. Got it!
The snakes we had squeezed onto the baking sheet and had cooled in the fridge at the beginning of the course, were dipped in liquid chocolate and rolled in icing sugar. Pretty straight forward stuff but because of the great stirring effort we had produced earlier on (and the Cointreau I might add) the final product of MUSCADINES tasted sublime.... and I know my chocolate, trust me!
At last, we demoulded the chocolate hearts. Worked to perfection. Out of 28 hearts not one of them broke in the process. I guess this is where the secret of a great chef lies?
We assembled our chocolate hearts with more liquid chocolate and arranged them on a base of chocolate. A sprinkle of gold dust, three Mendiant to decorate it .... et voilà! LE COEUR CHOCOLAT MOULE was ready.
Although the course was fun, it was not as hands-on as I expected. I did however, learn a few trick of the trade and .... THE END RESULT IS SPECTACULAR!
Comme quoi, the French really know how to show off their stuff! When they put their heads to something, they do it with a certain "Je ne sais quoi" that nobody beats! C'est simplement magnifique!
My personal Certificate of Attendance signed by the Chef upon completion of the course.