We were invited to enjoy an evening of Chocolate Tales, the week of Valentine's day. It was a cold February evening, but The Mad Bean cafe had a life and warmth of its own, standing out on the dark street.
We were greeted by a smiling lady - Coco Janelle. Warm lights, wood and bricks, this charming cafe surrounded us with hanging local art and chalkboards. We were just under 20 people and so everyone at our table felt the need to introduce themselves to break any awkwardness. The long tables were nicely broken up into irregular patters, so it felt fun and informal.
We spent an evening learning about secrets, myths and occasional science lessons told by cheeky Coco Janelle. It felt rather magical as we sat listening to stories from an Aztec King to a Spanish explorer and his daughter's wedding. It all revolved around chocolate, the fruit of the gods. We also discussed common myths and basic chemical processes for us to really wrap our heads around chocolate - from the tree it come from, to the process is undergoes and ways to enjoy it. These stories all took place while Coco Janelle showed us how to make ganache (chocolate & cream mix). She handed out plastic aprons and I got excited, as I would've loved to volunteer and get closer to the demonstration. However, Coco Janelle was quick and handy. She did a great job of keeping us up to date with the process, even went around a few times to show us the texture of the chocolate. While she kept quite busy, she handed us to try a mix a ganache with different spices. It was a guessing game to figure out what she had mixed in. The three flavours turned out to be nutmeg, ginger and chill pepper. Tasting and guessing we all got rather thirsty. Conveniently, Coco Janelle encouraged us to pour ourselves some water and clean our palates. It was nice to move around a bit as we did that, but having something on the table could've been even more convenient.
Next she showed us how to temper chocolate - making it snapper and shinier, as well as extending its shelf-life. Coco Janelle demonstrated how to temper chocolate and she soon poured the tempered ganache in shapes to make marble chocolates. She put them away in the fridge to set. Our first exercise was to cover our two marshmallows in ganache and using our spatulas to try and make sure no puddle (legs) form once placed on our cookie sheet. In the meantime, Coco Janelle handed us blocks of chocolate to shape with cookie cutters-like forms or our hands. We had plenty of ganache at our disposal to create truffles. We had liquid white chocolate, coconut, chocolate powder and marshmallows within reach, as we took on the challenge to create and decorate away.
Entertained by our activity, at times I felt that light music would've been rather appropriate. But overall, it was quite relaxing, as cheri and I created numerous chocolates for our tray. Finally, Coco Janele went around to take our trays and put them in the fridge to set. As we got closer to finishing, we were also each handed a cupcake of chocolate lava cake batter. We decorated them and then Coco Janelle took them to bake.
After the trays were handed back to us and the lava cake was cooked, we picked up charming Chocolate Tales branded boxes, with small plastic bags to take our truffles home. We packaged our tray full of chocolates, the formed truffles Coco Janelle made for us, as well as a few chocolate medallions in their raw form. These medallions were two types - they were both from the Belgium brand Belcolade that Chocolate Tales offers on their website for sale. They are great of cooking but also quite yummy as is.
We got submerged in the world of chocolates and soon enough our time had passed. We both realized how much we love chocolate, especially when it tastes so flavourful. What a difference it makes to work with high quality ingredients!