Would you be tempted by goats cheese smothered in dark chocolate, or perhaps white berries with Bailey’s liqueur served in a dark chocolate tapas cup? Well I was and so found myself at Temper Temper, a delightful cookery school tucked away in Southborough, just north of Tunbridge Wells. The school has chocolate at its heart and its cocao fan and its chef/owner wants us to discover delicious possibilities of chocolate from nib to bean plate – and in this case, cocktail glass.
Sixteen of us spent an evening with Alison Hazel of Temper Temper chocolate school and chef and food blogger Jo Banks of alivewithfavour.com. Jo loves sharing her knowledge through supper clubs, cooking demos at food festivals and farmers’ markets and understands that chocolate requires a little bit of shill and patience to food to cook with. Add too much heat, and you’ll scorch the mixture and if temperatures are too low can cause it to harden unevenly. It must be watched over carefully, very carefully, says Jo.
But first, a talk from amateur wine maker Cathy Brown of Downsview Vineyard, in East Sussex. Planted in 2010, the grapes are now selling wines made with single varieties and blends, for example, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Cathy’s love of the grape and the enthusiasm for her vineyard showed through the wine tasted and prepared us for the main event … uncovering new chocolate flavour combinations
So, to the main event was using chocolate to melt, shape and ultimately enjoy – don’t we love eating chocolate and love experimenting with new flavours … who knew that salted caramel would be such a contemporary favourite! And just like children, we adults love the decadence of chocolate parties, making cookies, decorating cakes or dribbling chips of sparkly sugary nibs across still warm rounds of chocolate creating delicate Florentines to take home and share.
At the back of the kitchen, where we gathered around a large, shiny aluminium table, three large discs spun in baths of milk, dark and white chocolate. Spoons full of this melted chocolate were carefully poured in velvety smooth roundels for us to decorate with chopped nuts, sliced and diced cherries and apricots and candied lemon and orange.
Too often cookery classes are all about watching the tutor sitting behind a stove and chopping board doing all the hands-on work, but with Jo and Alison, we all got choccy and messy and learnt about how to prepare, temper cook, and create with chocolate.
Making truffles with mature cheese, the evening saw us making and tasting five canapes savoury and sweet chocolate canapés … and the most surprisingly delicious parmesan truffles? More such fun and informative evenings are planned, Here are some great pairings for choc and cheese, from Jo! Check out alivewithflavour.com for more great recipes and where to catch Jo cooking …
- Milk chocolate is wonderful with sweet fresh cheeses such as ricotta and sweet buttery cheeses like brie
- Darker more complex chocolates pair well with aged, more complex cheeses
- Some of the new, intense spicy chocolates (such as chocolate with chilli flavours) pair well with sharp cheeses
- Higher butterfat cheeses pair best with chocolates with nuts
- Washed rind cheeses complement fruity chocolates.
Check out alivewithflavour.com for more great recipes and where to catch Jo cooking …
Here are the choctail recipes created by Blackleaf and Jo from alivewithflavour.com!
Vodka shaken with white chocolate liqueur and a splash of Cointreau served in a coupe with a milk chocolate rim:
25ml quality vodka
25ml Monin creme de cacao blanc (white chocolate liqueur)
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice and shake very hard. Strain the cocktail into a martini/coupe glass and garnish with an orange peel twist.
Homemade chocolate vodka shaken hard with fresh espresso and coffee liqueur garnished with coffee beans
35ml raw cacao nib infused vodka
25ml Kahlua (coffee liqueur)
25ml Chilled espresso
To make chocolate vodka at home Combine the cacao nibs and vodka in a 750ml bottle of vodka, two thirds full. Use a funnel to drop 2oz of cocoa nibs into the bottle. Screw top back on and turn over a couple of times. Set the bottle aside for around three days, turning it upside down a couple of times. Taste the vodka and when it’s to your liking, strain out the nibs and bits. Add the remaining vodka (if you haven’t drunk it already!).
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with cubed ice and shake very hard. Strain the cocktail into a martini/coupe glass and garnish with 3 coffee beans.