Self-confessed chocolate sceptic Prudence Wade went headfirst into the world of cocoa by trying Hotel Chocolat’s Bean to Bar Experience.
I’m not, and I whisper this, the biggest chocolate lover. I’m not saying that I dislike the stuff, I’m not an animal. But I’m a savoury rather than a sweet type of person – give me cheese over chocolate any day of the week.
But that being said, I obviously jumped at the chance to go to a chocolate tasting and making held by Hotel Chocolat. I might normally go for brie over a Bounty, but I’m still human.
So I turned up to Hotel Chocolat’s From Bean To Bar experience at their cafe Rabot 1745 expecting to have a pretty pleasant Saturday morning, but I don’t think I was quite prepared to enjoy it as much as I did. Maybe I’m still on a sugar high or maybe it was the prosecco we were given, but I think I’m now a chocolate convert.
First we were given a bit of history of Hotel Chocolat, its plantation in St Lucia and the all-important info on how chocolate is made. I love this kind of stuff, because now I can interrupt my friends whenever they’re tucking in to a Snickers with fun facts on the temperatures needed to successfully grow cocoa beans. Lucky them.
Next was the chocolate tasting, which was undoubtedly the best bit. Like wine, there is a long checklist of things you need to do when tasting chocolate (which includes the slightly dubious “listen to your chocolate.” I guess you can now call me the chocolate whisperer).
I’m not going to lie, when you’ve tried the third piece of chocolate, it all begins to taste pretty much the same. We sat there saying words like “earthy” or “bitter” or “sour”, but in all honesty I couldn’t tell the difference. Maybe my palate just isn’t refined enough – I’m similarly useless at wine tasting. It’s okay, I can live with having a plebeian sense of taste.
Next up was the chocolate making. We were given a mortar and pestle and were tasked with grinding some roasted cocoa beans. Maybe it’s the fact that I was simultaneously engaged in a gossip session with my friend or maybe it’s my puny upper arm strength, but I don’t think I ground the cocoa as well as I should have. Unfortunately, this lead to some pretty lumpy chocolate when it was eventually poured into the mould.
After the chocolate was tempered it was quickly chilled and voila! Our very own chocolate. Disclaimer: mine tasted a bit like dirt, but that’s very much my bad. The other chocolate made by people who actually know what they’re doing was excellent.
So now yes, I guess I am a chocolate convert, and I’ve learned the valuable life lesson to always properly grind your cocoa beans. Pretty good going for a Saturday morning.
Bean to Bar experiences cost £65 and are held at various locations that you can check out here.