Expert Tips From A Master Chocolatier
Delighting with their scrumptious fares since 1875, when it comes to chocolate, Charbonnel et Walker are a cut above. We spoke to Master Chocolatier Meredith Wickham on her tips for working with chocolate at home…
What are the essential kitchen tools for working with chocolate?
Exceptionally clean utensils, do ensure you have clean bowls, moulds and utensils as any film, oil and water residue will affect the properties of the finished product. For the home kitchen, a really good spatula and spoon and two solid bowls for tempering, greaseproof paper, a dipping fork and piping bag. You can make a good variety of items with these and your classic baking utensils which can be found in most household cupboards.
What are your top tips for tempering chocolate?
Be aware of are time and temperature. Consideration of environmental humidity and temperature must be taken into account every time you work with chocolate. Consult your recipe for these factors as if either is wrong, your chocolate simply won't temper properly.
Which chocolate would complement alcoholic beverages?
I would recommend dark chocolate – the bitterness cuts through the alcohol and follows with the velvety taste in the mouth. It helps to prolong the warmth with alcohols such as whisky and brandy etc.
What's your easiest recipe for a chocolatey treat?
I daren’t give away any of Madame Charbonnel’s secrets… we’ve kept them secret too long, but one of my favourites is with our Charbonnel Drinking Chocolate. For a decadent taste, try making it with full fat milk and a sprinkling of freeze dried raspberry powder. Sensational!
Why do chocolates make such a special gift?
Chocolate has such a rich history. The Latin name for Cocoa (Theobrama) literally means ‘food of the gods’. In some of its earliest forms, the Mayans used Cocoa to create a ritual drink that was shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. Still today there are evident ties between chocolate, romance and special occasions. In 1881, passionate horseman and head of the banking house, Leopold de Rothschild married Marie Perugia on London. Each guest was presented with a white satin bag, embroidered with ‘Leopold et Marie’, containing Charbonnel et Walker’s choicest bon bons. We are always incredibly busy during Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Easter and Christmas whereby gourmet chocolates really are seen as a treat. Chocolate also stimulates the release of endorphins that generate feelings of happiness and wellbeing, another reason they make such a special gift.
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