Have you ever wondered how chocolate was made?
Yesterday, Crevette and I had a ‘Mummy and Little Man day’ in Central London. The highlight of our day out was a chocolate experience Crevette took part in.
As soon as we walked into the Cocoa Vault in the Covent Garden branch of Hotel Chocolat, the wonderful aromas hit us immediately. The smell of chocolate made me feel happy and all fuzzy inside. It is funny, isn’t it, how you can associate some smells with emotions? To me, melted chocolate smells like a lovely afternoon spent baking and eating.
A dozen children were taking part in the experience and they started by trying slightly bitter roasted cocoa beans.
How Is Chocolate Made?
The chocolate-making process is fascinating and Crevette learnt lots:
- Cocoa is a fruit and its flesh tastes a bit like lychee.
- Cocoa beans (the seeds) get dried, and then roasted so that chocolate can be made.
- There are a few reasons why cocoa beans are roasted: the beans have a dusty, vinegary smell. Roasting also kills the bacteria, sterilises the beans and enhances the flavours.
- The beans then get crushed in the bean breaker so that chocolate nibs can be extracted and separated from the husks in a third machine called Winnower.
- Cocoa nibs then go in the conche, a machine not dissimilar to a large mixer, for 45 hours (sugar is added after 10 hours).
So that is how chocolate is made. After learning all about chocolate, the children decorated their own bar of chocolate with melted chocolate, marshmallows and puffed rice. Crevette went for a ‘chocolate volcano’ on top of his chocolate bar. I hope I get to try it!
A Detour Via the Café
We spent an hour or so in the café afterwards.
We both loved the salted caramel hot chocolate. The salted caramel brownies (gluten-free) were also delicious!
Needless to say, we left the shop with quite a few bags full of chocolates for family and friends!
I am now quite desperate to go back to the School of Chocolate and try the Bean to Bar experience, which is aimed at adults. I want to know more about chocolate and make my own bar of chocolate!
Disclosure: Crevette was invited to the workshop by Hotel Chocolat and we were given a gift card to try the café. I was not asked to write about the experience. We just had a magical time and I wanted to share what we had learnt.