We’ve had a huge but exciting upheaval recently that has unfortunately kept me from updating the blog. Finally though, I’ve managed it. There’ll be more details of this disruption later, but for now, on to some tastiness…
Last year, I was very lucky to have become acquainted with the chocolatier Paul A Young. Since then, as well as being able to enjoy his wonderful company, I have also tasted many of his delicious and inventive creations (why I hadn’t discovered Paul’s chocolates earlier who knows). It’s hard to pick favourites, but if pushed I’d go for the passion fruit curd and of course the multi award-winning salted caramel. Yum! I’d thoroughly recommend making your way to one of Paul’s shops if you also want a little taste of heaven.
For early January Paul had arranged an informal chocolate making class for a small group of friends of which I was one! I spent weeks excited in anticipation of the making and eating of gorgeous chocolate that was to come.
We made our way to the Camden Passage shop in Angel early on the first Sunday of the year. On our arrival we were treated to the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. Paul makes his without any milk – just good quality dark chocolate, cocoa powder, sugar and water. It’s perfect for cold wintry days. Or at any other time really!
Next, Paul gave us a talk about cocoa beans, different sorts of chocolate and let us taste lots of different types as well as some of his own! He explained dark chocolate is not meant to taste bitter, and that this is generally a sign of an inferior product. The couple of dark Valrhona chocolates he gave us to try were unlike any other I’d had in the past – they were super smooth and melted in my mouth. The Valrhona 40% milk with its caramel like taste was also to die for. Going back to any other chocolate after these will definitely be difficult!
For the chocolate making aspect of the morning, Paul showed us how to make a simple water based ganache and to temper chocolate without a thermometer – something that had always eluded me.
We used most of the tempered chocolate to fill moulds to make chocolate bars on which we sprinkled some hazelnuts or natural flavourings. My favourite was fennel seed, but you can use almost anything – dried rosemary, salt, crystallized rose petal, whatever you want!
The rest was used to create a crisp, shiny outer shell for the truffles we had rolled out from the ganache. We also made some simpler, but equally delicious cocoa dusted truffles.
We left with five chocolate bars each and multiple bagfuls of the truffles we made. As much as we would have loved to have consumed all the chocolates ourselves, they are best eaten within a week so we ended up gifting most of them to various friends, family and colleagues. The rest contributed to a very decadent week!
Paul has generously allowed me to publish a truffle recipe of his so you can try making some yourself at home. But make sure you also visit one of Paul’s shops to try some of his other wonderful creations. Or book a chocolate making class yourself if you fancy having a go. Reserve your place early though as the classes are very popular!
Hand Rolled Ganache Truffles (makes approx. 40 truffles) by Paul A Young
200ml double cream
75g light muscovado sugar
200g dark chocolate (70%)
Additional ingredients I like to use:
Basil, rosemary, thyme
Orange, lemon or lime zest
Salt and pepper
Mustard, Wasabi, Worcestershire sauce
First, make the ganache. Put the double cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. If you’ve chosen an additional ingredient, add it to the cream and sugar and mix well. Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour on the warm cream and sugar mix. Whisk until smooth.
Pour the mixture onto a baking tray or plastic container and refrigerate for at least one hour until set.
Once set, roll in to balls with cocoa powder on your fingers to avoid sticking. They can then be rolled in melted chocolate followed by chopped nuts, coconut, chocolate flakes or even sugar to create a crunchy coating.
Eat immediately, or refrigerate until needed and eat within 7 days.