So, I got invited to attend a chocolate truffle-making workshop with other London-based bloggers (and a Facebook contest winner) by Great British Chefs at Homemade London. We’d be making a modified version of a recipe featured on the Great British Chefs app that I reviewed not so long ago.
I made the jaunt out to barely-West London’s Marylebone area and, after a quick stop at Comptoir on Wigmore Street for some Lebanese yums, I arrived at Homemade London and was instantly greeted with a glass of champagne and a plateful of Turkish delight. The lovely hostesses of our evening really know how to greet a girl, especially one as fond of drink and sweets as I.
If only more places would greet me with champagne and Turkish delight.
There were other bloggers on the scene, ready to get down with some truffle-making led by Homemade London hostesses Nicola, Farah and Kate. Raxraxrax has a blogroll-call going on in his post on the evening, so have a peek to see who was lucky enough to be there to make a mess with chocolate and paper. Everyone was very nice and sociable, proving that just because they sit in front of a computer a lot of the time doesn’t mean that bloggers aren’t social folk.
After the reception of champagne and fizzy juice, Dorito crisps/chips and Turkish delight in the ground-level floor, we were led downstairs to start some work.
Nicola, the founder of Homemade London, gave us instructions while Farah walked around to make sure we were doing things properly and that we weren’t tucking into the armagnac too liberally. Although the truffles really only had a few ingredients–predominantly double cream, chocolate and butter–they were surprisingly tricky to make because of the vigorous whisking involved to keep the chocolate pre-truffle concoction from separating. There were remedies for this, though, including adding armagnac to the mixture, or, for a non-alcoholic version, adding a smidge of hot water to make the texture smooth and ideal for truffle-making.
There were some flavours available for us to augment our chocolate, including armagnac, which is what Martin Whishart’s recipe originally calls for, but also rosewater, orange blossom water, bergamot essential oil and something else that escapes me. I opted to add a bit of bergamot along with armagnac, which later resulted in a very strongly-tasting set of truffles.
The fact that I was a bit heavy-handed with the armagnac should come as no surprise to anyone.
Once the flavours were stirred in and we were all given little plastic containers to dump our chocolately concoctions in, the containers were put in the fridge to cool while we all went back upstairs to make the handmade boxes for our truffles. Yes, it’s not enough to make homemade truffles for Homemade London. It’s a good way to really drive the DIY aspect home, and a chance for those of us who may have been dismayed at the sight of our breaking chocolate experience to try and redeem ourselves through the medium of paper and card stock.
Or it could provide us with profound embarrassment when we realise how awkward we are with scissors, glue and paper.
Either way, hilarity ensued, especially among the men in our little group.
After a good amount of effort, along with some snafus and mistakes along the way, we all somehow managed to produce boxes sturdy enough to house our chocolate truffles, thanks to the patient guidance of Farah and an array of impressive implements used to construct our containers. And we all had a good time chatting with each other as we worked on the boxes as well.
Once our boxes were constructed, we went back downstairs, where Nicola and Kate had set everything up wonderfully for the final stage of truffle-making. Cocoa powder was set out, along with dried raspberry pieces, for the truffles we were going to scoop out and either roll up into wee balls or use two little teaspoons to approximate a round. Plastic gloves were on hand (ha!) for those who opted to use them, but I chose to go the teaspoon route because the gloves were quite large and awkward for my tiny hands. My chocolate truffles weren’t very round, but I wasn’t fussed as much about it, knowing that the eaters of my truffles would be good friends and bar hands who like me enough not to judge me by my inexpert truffle skills.
However, other participants were turning out wonderful examples of what a truffle should be. Jamillah was making lovely spheres delicately dotted with the dried raspberry pieces, resembling something(s) one would see encased in a brassiere or blithely on display in a film attempting to be arty. Which was kind of amazing. Others were getting a little bit of help from across the table. References to making meatballs were thrown about. People may have been nibbling at the dried raspberry pieces. And by people I mean me. Be glad the armagnac wasn’t in reach.
All in all, it was a great night, and I was able to take away a box of nibbles to share with my friends, and remarkably had some left over to sit in my fridge. It was loads of fun, and I’m very thankful to have been invited by Great British Chefs to this event, as well as to Homemade London for hosting it and cleaning up after our mess. And finally, thanks to everyone who attended the event for being such nice folks: Melanie, Christiano, Rax, Mark, Jamillah, Laura, Miriam, Rosana, Farhan, Helen and Melinda, with a big-up to Mex for inviting us all.
If you’re interested in doing a similar event, Homemade London has bookings for truffle-making here. Rosana’s blog also has excellent step-by-step pictorial instructions of what we did to make truffles, and there’s also the Great British Chefs app where the recipe came from. Now that I’m armed with these skills, I’m quite keen at making these at home, but using rum or bourbon instead of armagnac and seeing how that’ll go. And sea salt.