FINDING an excuse to enjoy chocolate is always welcome. And – as with all the naughtiest things in life – if it is of the highest quality then it is probably a bit less bad for you.
Well, still another way to mitigate the dangers of greedy chocolate consumption is to learn more about how the stuff is made. Because knowledge makes it more like an art than a scoff-fest, naturally. So by the time I’d gone through a truffle-making masterclass at Scottish chocolatier William Curley’s Belgravia shop, I felt pretty righteous as I tucked into the rich ganache and caramel I had created.
First, the passionate Curley delivers a kind of seminar on the origins of the chocolate he uses which, of course, begins life as cacao beans, picked from plants and peeled by workers mostly in Africa and South America. Curley exclusively uses Tuscan chocolate makers Amadei, who source beans from plantations in Venezuala, Madagascar, Ecuador, Trinidad, Jamaica and Grenada. We tried a bit of raw cacao bean and it’s like chocolate without any of the fun: bitter, flinty and rock-hard.
Next, Curley showed us how to melt the butter, chocolate and cream so that it formed the rich substance that would make the shell of the truffle. Into ice-cube style trays we loaded molten chocolate from a churning tub (a different batch) then bashed the life out of them so that only a layer clung to the cavities. We then spooned caramel in and smoothed them with vigorous swipes of a spatula. It was like a children’s art project, only with the aroma of fine salted caramel and even finer chocolate wafting upwards. We also got to dunk chocolate into cocoa powder and form them into truffle shapes; and better yet, to squeeze Hershey-kiss shaped blobs with a pipette onto trays. The best part? Eating it all at the end.
If you want divine treats without the work, Curley has just opened a dessert bar featuring a menu with the likes of chocolate mousse in kirsch cream, and foret noire. Truffle course is 2.5 hours and costs £150 for two people. www.williamcurley.co.uk