Ahappy spin-off from the burgeoning craft chocolate revolution that continues to sweep the nation is an ever-growing number of chocolatemaking courses. It is very hard not to enjoy a chocolate-making course, no matter the quality, since all involve melting the stuff, playing with it and – inevitably – eating quite a lot of it. But the higher the skill-level of the chocolatier doing the teaching, and the better the quality of the ingredients, the more the pupil will learn and enjoy.
At the top of the teaching tree are chocolatiers with an international reputation, great facilities and impeccably sourced ingredients: Paul A Young in London, for example, and Duffy Sheardown in glamorous Cleethorpes fit the bill – and so does Sophie Jewett in the beautiful city of York, birthplace of that Christmas classic the Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
Seven years ago Jewett founded York Cocoa House, a charming low-beamed emporium close to the minster where she and her colleagues make and sell lovely chocolates using responsibly sourced cocoa. The new York Cocoa Works, a five-minute walk away, teaches the craft as well.
Here in a bright teaching kitchen, pupils are given charge of their own marble slabs to learn the fine art of tempering, smoothing and scraping chocolate it as it cools to change its chemical structure and make it more glossy, smooth and delectable.
Here, too, they can learn to make a gorgeous ganache, the combination of chocolate with cream and choice flavourings that is at the heart of a grand filled chocolate, and they can compare – as I did – chocolate made in the factory with beans from all over the world, to learn more about the importance of a cocoa’s origin to its flavour and texture.
It’s impossible to leave without enhanced enthusiasm – as well as leftovers! Chocolate lessons are the gift that keeps on giving.
Workshops at all levels, from chocolate lollipops to master chocolatier; lollipop making, from £3.75; Christmas Chocolate Workshops, from £22.50; yorkcocoahouse.co.uk; 3 Blake Street, York, YO1 8QJ
TWO MORE TO TRY: CHOCOCO, ACROSS THE UK
Tasting events and workshops in Winchester, Swanage, Exeter and Horsham; chococo.co.uk.
HOTEL CHOCOLAT, ACROSS THE UK
Chocolate Experiences include tasting adventures and chocolate lock-ins in Cambridge, Canterbury, Leeds and London; hotelchocolat. com.