Last Sunday, thanks to Irish Food Bloggers Association and the Howth, Dublin based cookery school Kitchen In The Castle I had the pleasure to participate in several hour long workshop devoted to chocolate.
Spending a few hours in a restored castle kitchen is really an amazing experience. Despite all modern appliances you can still feel the atmosphere like from famous TV series – Downton Abbey. The school is located in more than 700 years old Howth castle, still inhabited by the same family, located on Howth peninsula.
Workshops were held in a very cosy and friendly atmosphere. Out tutor – Eleanor Martin led them with great passion, she told us all about chocolate and helped with all steps in the preparation of chocolate delights. Lightly flavored with mint straight from the castle garden or full of warming spices truffles started our adventure with chocolate. We quickly started to have fun and share a culinary tips and memories from the trips.
Perfect preparation did not allow us to waste a moment of our valuable time. In front of each of the participants lay menu and the trays with carefully measured ingredients.
Our hero of the day was the white chocolate and raspberry mousse. As it turned out devil is not so black as he is painted and you can easily prepare this wonderful dessert at home in no time!
But the part I waited the most for was tempering chocolate. So far for me this term always sounded as something terrible was going to happend. Upon hearing this phrase and closing my eyes I saw the picture full of upright chefs, tempering chocolate with long knives on a marble countertop . Eleanor has shown us that it really can be a simple task. Although it requires a purchase food thermometer so you will be able to measure the exact temperature of the chocolate, but forget about the marble! Tempering chocolate is easy but it is an activity that requires a hefty dose of accuracy. But before you will go for it, better arm yourself with a lot of patience and pain-proof arms – the whole process requires a lot of mixing!
We discoverd real chemistry in cooking during the preparation of the honeycomb. Sugar-honey syrup on contact with the bicarbonate soda turns into a fluffy, frothy mass that hardens when cooled down and is a great addition to desserts, or even a dessert itself.
While we decorated our soaked in tempered chocolate pralines and chocolates, Eleanor has prepared us a simple, but delicious lunch. After a long time spent in the kitchen this simple pasta with homemade basil pesto and roasted pumpkin salad was like a royal feast.