I don’t know about you, but for me nothing feels more decadent than receiving a box of artisan chocolates (or indeed treating yourself to some). They can be rather pricey though, so knowing how to make them yourself seems like a rather handy skill to have. Sarah and I jumped at the chance then, to make luxury chocolates with The Hampshire Confectioner at the Foodworks Cookery School in the Cotswolds.
The Foodworks Cookery School specialises in luxury cooking courses, delivered by expert chefs in a stunning Cotswolds barn. Recent courses have included Italian cuisine, and learning to prepare and cook delicious local game.
We had high expectations then upon arriving at Foodworks beautiful open plan barn on the Colesbourne Estate near Cirencester. We got off to a good start as Foodworks greeted us with our first mulled wines of the year; especially welcome as it was a rather chilly November evening! We joined the other 10 attendees gathered around a long kitchen bench for the beginning of our course.
Working with chocolate
Tyrone Hull, The Hampshire Confectioner, began by talking us through the basics of working with chocolate. He is clearly passionate about what he does and that came across when explaining the various processes involved in chocolate making. This included tempering; to get the perfect chocolate, you need to heat it, cool it, then reheat it again, all to different temperatures. Who knew that melting chocolate could be so complicated?!
The provided instructions were largely just a list of ingredients so we made plenty of notes as we went along. There’s nothing worse than having an ambiguous recipe written by someone else; for this particular course, writing our own personal interpretations should be really helpful when we try to recreate them at home.
To demonstrate various techniques, Tyrone made three different chocolates during the class; crisp dark chocolate shells filled with an Irish cream and peppermint ganâche, rich milk chocolate truffles rolled in cocoa powder, and my favorite, a white chocolate dome filled with orange and raspberry ganâche, and freeze dried raspberries. Tyrone sprayed the moulds first with coloured cocoa butter which gave them a stunning two tone finish; they looked so professional. The ingredients were all top notch too; the orange and peppermint oils smelled incredible!
As we don’t all have loads of kit at home, Tyrone handily gave us simple tips for doing things by hand to create the same effects. Most of us got to go up and “help” Tyrone (though Sarah and I were probably more of a hinderance) which was fun and useful for picking up the techniques. In the future, they should perhaps consider running this as a two part course so that you can watch Tyrone, before going on to make your own chocolates from scratch. It would be a great way to reinforce what you’ve learnt, and make the course more practical.
Who is The Hampshire Confectioner?
Tyrone is a highly experienced pâtissier, with stints including 2 years at the 3 Michelin starred restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. Having left the restaurant trade, he is now using his skills to produce high quality chocolates using amazing local produce. He’s also a really decent guy too.
We left the course with a little box full of the chocolates that Tyrone had whipped up. They were easily on a par with other fine chocolates we’ve tried (unsurprisingly there have been a lot) despite us having “helped” make them.
Where can I find out more about Foodworks Cookery School?
Head on over to their website for details of upcoming cookery courses, private venue hire or gift vouchers. If you give them a call or email, I’m sure they’ll chat through your requirements and make some recommendations.
With Christmas coming up, I’m rather hoping Father Christmas will bring me a Foodworks gift voucher to go back and try another of Foodworks’ courses. I never really want any things, but I’d definitely be up for learning to cook beautiful food; it’s fun and a great way to impress friends and family when you whip up some newly learnt culinary delights. They’ll even gift wrap your culinary present for you. Now that’s my kind of Christmas shopping service!