Much as I love filled chocolates, truffles and pralines, my real passion at the moment is bean-to-bar. Those makers who produce chocolate from the bean, dealing directly with cocoa farmers to produce something amazing from the most basic of ingredients; cocoa beans and sugar.
There’s still only around ten bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the UK who make chocolate from the bean commercially. We’re well behind the US, where there’s well over a hundred, but there are new makers starting up here every month, so it looks like we’re on the verge of a chocolate making boom this side of the atlantic as well.
One of those up and coming makers is Brighton’s* Chocoholly. Chocolatier and artist Holly Caulfield has been producing chocolate in very small batches for a while now. But rather than keep the process to herself, Holly has started giving bean-to-bar chocolate making classes to the public.
These fun events last an hour and a half and are designed to show all the basic principals of chocolate making. The location is great too. Holly’s Chocolate Workshop is just a stone’s throw from Brighton beach and really easy to get to from London by train.
Each part of the process is explained, with lots of hands-on time. You can taste the freshly roasted beans, straight from the oven and watch as the beans are ground – initially in a juicer, then in a small melanger.
It’s a process I know well, but one that I always love to see in action. But it was almost as much fun watching the reactions of the group as the solid beans slowly began to become liquid as they released their cocoa butter. If you’ve never seen chocolate being made, it’s very exciting to see first hand how the chocolate you love comes from something as simple as a cocoa bean.
Later in the process, Holly demonstrates table top tempering; another process that can be difficult to get your head around unless you see it first hand. Finally, you’ll get to mould and decorate your own bars to take home with you.
I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the fun, but I really enjoyed this little workshop. Although the process is simplified, it’s got enough factual information to help you understand the process in full, and I’m sure it will encourage people to have a go at home. More importantly though, it’s also a lot of fun for anyone who loves chocolate.