Monday, January 23, 2012
Chocolate Dipping with Oh! Chocolate
My weekend involved chocolate, lots of it. My fellow chocolate lover, Debbie, and I attended a much anticipated chocolate dipping class at Oh! Chocolate in Seattle and it was divine.
Our evening began with sipping little cups of French inspired hot chocolate. The drink was thick and intensely chocolate, with a dollop of whipped cream to enhance the richness. I would return to Oh! Chocolate for this bit of bliss alone, but there’s more.
Our gracious hosts, brothers Chris and Nick, were entertaining and informative as they shared their family’s chocolate history, spanning three generations and resulting in the creation of Oh! Chocolate. They learned to make their hand-crafted chocolates from their grandmother and their display cases are filled with an enticing selection of truffles and chocolate confections.
They also taught us the origin and process of chocolate making, from harvesting the cacao pods (which grow from the trunks of trees) to its arrival on our market shelves. We were all given a generous plate of different varieties of chocolate and tasted the spectrum of unsweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet, milk and white chocolates. The unsweetened was so good – bitter, creamy, flavorful – I kept eating it and brought some home. I can’t wait to bake with it.
Chris made an interesting point – just because chocolate contains a certain percentage of cacao (i.e. 80%) doesn’t guarantee it will be good chocolate. There are many factors involved such as the quality of the beans, the roasting, etc. which influence the flavor and texture of the chocolate. I prefer dark chocolate, the darker the better, and tend to buy based upon the percentage of cacao. I have to say, though, I will be more particular now and not rule out chocolates with lower cacao contents, even milk chocolate. The milk chocolate I sampled is the best I’ve ever had ... the texture was creamy and almost cheese-like with a smooth caramel finish. I appreciate being exposed to more chocolate options.
The class then moved to the hands-on portion of the evening. Platters of biscotti, potato chips, pretzels, marshmallows, strawberries, raspberries, graham crackers and Oreos were set out, along with pitchers (!) of dark and milk chocolate to pour on the tables. Nick showed us how to mix and swirl the chocolate with our hand to temper it, bringing it to the ideal temperature and viscosity to dip in. And then the fun really began.
Dipping and chatting, dipping and tasting ... My favorite morsel to dip? The potato chips. The crunchy, salty, sweet combination is sublime. While we dipped, Chris and Nick shared funny anecdotes and tips and were delightful to hang out with. They clearly love what they do and they do it well.
I came home in a state of chocolate-coma happiness and shared my big box of dipped treats with Bob, Sam and Isaac. I look forward to popping in to Oh! Chocolate again soon for a cup of hot chocolate and to indulge in some tiger butter, or perhaps a habanero mango truffle.