Saturday, October 24, 2009

A (Cocoa) Class of Its Own

A Frenchman and a class of twenty five apprentices who included a few mother-daughter pairings, friends, colleagues and classmates. All had gathered at the Fine Palate Cooking Studio at Newton for a delectable chocolate feast of mind and mouth. Playing teacher and cocoa maestro at the Chocolate Discovery Experience was Chocolatier Laurent Bernard, owner of the Laurent Bernard Cafe & Chocolate Bars.

Did you know that chocolates never quite expire even though you've had them in the fridge for half a year to twelve months. The quality will change, but Laurent says you won't get sick consuming it. More facts ahead...
Most of the participants gasped when told that white chocolate contains only cocoa butter (read: fats!) without cocoa! The gasps grew louder when Laurent lifted a bottle of cooking oil when telling the secrets of the chocolate fountain - a regular feature at buffet spreads. Real chocolate, he said, wouldn't be flowing so easily, its texture would be too viscous. That's right, a lot of oil is mixed into lower grade moulten chocolate to enable it to flow. The next time you see a chocolate fountain, don't blame us if you're less excited about plunging that strawberry or mushmallow on a stick into the brown cascade.

Everyone had a go at squirting the plastic tubes of ganache into empty chocolate shells. Once filled and left to settle, you get truffles. Hands got dirtier when the truffle balls were dunked and rolled into cocoa powder to give it the come-hither 'dusted' look. Next thing you know, participants were helping to pack the beauties for takeaway - the fruits of their labour!

Thirsts were quenched about a third through the workshop with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, prepared right before our eyes by Laurent. We learnt that the method of mixing (with a whisk), the order of which they're introduced to be mixed, the portions of milk and cocoa, and the temperature have to be precise in order to produce a rich beverage that sweeps you off your feet.

I believe this is what they call 'Heavenly'!

(above: Pam with some cocoa-high participants!)
(below: Laurent and the chocolate robbers!)

Laurent Bernard Cafe & Chocolate Bars are located at:
- 80, Mohammad Sultan Road, #01-11
- 5B, Portsdown Road

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