Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bak17 - Decadent Chocolates & Truffles at NAIT

After taking a three evening pastry class at NAIT this past November, I decided to sign up for the next step: chocolate. Although I spend Saturdays at Kerstin's, my knowledge of chocolate work is pretty limited, and this course provided a great intro to the medium.

Brandy-caramels and truffle-truffles

As with the earlier pastry class, the instructor was Curtis, who works at Duchess Bake Shop full time (you can catch him filling up their display case with beautiful pastries on weekday mornings). As with my last class, I enjoyed having an instructor who actually works with the medium regularly - not only did he show us some of the 'classic' chocolate making techniques, but he passed on the more modern stuff too (like acetate work, and unexpected ganache flavours). Best of all, he saved my ganache from the refrigerator on Thursday (after I mistakenly placed it in there), so it wouldn't absorb the funky flavours lurking in the fridge (Thanks again, Curtis!!!).

Shelled truffles

Hand-rolled Kalhua truffles

Day 1 was all about learning how to temper. Chocolate is finicky, so managing the tempering process is key to getting that glowing, matte finish on your truffles.

On Day 2, we graduated to ganache and shell making. Fillings ranged from PB&J, to lavender, and to mine, truffle-truffles (with truffle oil).

And finally, on Day 3, we concentrated on making chocolate boxes (I didn't totally finish mine... the truffle dipping process took over) and dipping our framed and hand rolled truffles.

PB&J truffles

With thirteen of us in the class, there were quite a few truffles to tote home. Everyone was able to take home a few of each flavour, and Charles and I now have a nice assortment sitting on our counter (we are determined to make them last for at least a couple weeks). While this course was just an intro to chocolate work, it was certainly enough to inspire me to continue practicing at home (I'm hoping this is the key to improvement).

Truffle-truffle with gold leaf (thanks to Jonn and Liz for helping with dipping!)

While I didn't completely get the hang of chocolate work over the three classes (I'm a little uncoordinated with the hands on work, which I'm blaming on four years of writing papers and sitting in lectures), I'm certainly glad I went - I met some really great people, broke down some of the mystique around working with the medium, and came home with some fantastic truffles. Well done everyone!

There are still spots for quite a few of NAIT's evening and weekend culinary courses scheduled over the next couple months, and enrolment for courses scheduled for next fall/winter opens June 1st.


Mariel said...

This is so interesting! The truffle-truffle sounds absolutely divine... I am impressed!

Isabelle said...

I would love to do this someday ... sounds like lots of fun. I am so intrigued by the truffle truffle!

A Canadian Foodie said...

I make my own all of the time, but can't wait to take a course like this... have to retire first. I am just too tired after work!

Marianne and Charles said...

It definitely makes for a long evening... you're right Valerie! I think the biggest thing I got out of it was the tempering part. If you're interested, we should get together one day and try the tempering thing (that way we can make a larger batch of truffles!). Plus, I get a bit of a discount on the chocolate from work, which means some beautiful Valrhona to work with!