Recently I had the opportunity to attend Chocolate School at Gânache Chocolate. The class was run by master chocolatier, Arno Backes, and I have not had so much fun in a long time. It was a Chocolate Mousse and Garnishes class held in the actual kitchen of his South Yarra store.
Arno starts the class by giving us all a glass of classic hot chocolate. I’m a big chocolate fan, but have never been as impressed by a hot chocolate than I was that day. It wasn’t like any hot chocolate I’d had before, and could best be described as pure liquid chocolate. To be honest, he could have finished the class then and I would have been happy. The bad news is now know where I can buy this drink, and it’s a little too close to my house for me to be completely trusted to to have one every day. Arno tells us that as a child, this drink along with a croissant and butter, was his usual breakfast. He also claims to eat between one and two kilos of chocolate a week, which makes me think this guy has some amazing diet secret that could be sold for millions.
The class does not end with the introductory hot chocolate, and my chocoholic heart beats a little faster when I notice a never-ending stream of chocolate in the corner.
Arno gets to making the mousse, putting eggs in what can only be described as a Kitchen Aid on steroids. After the commercial kitchen handles the whisking and mixing, we’re entrusted with piping bags to fill our mousse tins.
With the tins safely setting in the fridge, the real fun begins. We’re shown how to make chocolate piping bags and get to squiggle and write streams of chocolate onto plastic. We have chocolate tipped on our bench to spread out and cut shapes from, then get shown how to make chocolate curls… Easier than it looks to make average looking ones, harder than you’d think to actually get them perfect.
As we get lost in the chocolate world, Arno tells us stories from his apprenticeship and cooking experiences. I’m pretty sure he knows everything there is to know about pastries and chocolate (including the secret of how it doesn’t make you fat). We get to decorate our desserts with the chocolate garnishes we’ve created, and while it’s not café style, I’m pretty impressed with how it turned out. Credit where credit’s due, Arno did most of the mousse (and by “most” I mean everything that made it delicious, smooth and perfect). It did give me an idea: If you’re trying to impress a date for a special occasion, do this class the afternoon before and you’ll take home two little desserts guaranteed to be a hit.
This was one of the greatest Melbourne weekend activities I’ve done in a while. My diet is not impressed that there are a whole heap of other classes I’ve now got my eye on, but I’m pretty sure that chocolate is always worth it. All in moderation, right?