Snippets from my day at a Valrhona Chocolate Workshop, where I got to taste and create with l’Ecole Valrhona Pastry Chef, Sarah Tibbetts!
If you’re a regular or longtime reader of my blog, then you are fully aware of my love affair with all things Valrhona. I’ve introduced a number of other bloggers and readers to the brand, in particular, their first blond, Dulcey.
So, imagine my excitement when I was invited to a one-day workshop with one of their talented pastry chefs, Sarah Tibbetts! It was a small group of eight professional chefs – I felt like the oddball. But that didn’t stop me from jumping right in, after a few moments of sheer trepidation and seeing a familiar face.
We tackled nine recipes in the eight hours we had, but not before a little tasting…
If you follow my Instagram feed, you may remember this teaser post from the workshop. I also shared some behind-the-scenes snippets on my IG stories. Let’s just say that I was hopped up on chocolate before 9:00am on a Monday and don’t regret it one bit.
Some of the usual suspects (Guanaja, Jivara, Dulcey, Oriado, Illanka) and a couple less familiar bags (Itakuja, Orelys) lined a counter, with sample bowls set in front. If you follow my Instagram feed, you may remember this teaser post from the workshop, where I profess my love for Itakuja 55% dark.
Given my life-long love of passionfruit, it’s no surprise that this became an instant favourite. I purchased two bags as soon as I returned home. It’s a bold, Single Origin Brazil and is double fermented, with the passion fruit added in the second fermentation stage. Heaven in a feve!
Ya’ll know how much I love Dulcey, but there is a new blond in my life, Orelys 35%. Unlike Dulcey, which is more of a caramelized white chocolate, Orelys is a white chocolate with Muscavado sugar. This imparts an earthy flavour and colour, with hints of liquorice. It reminds me of my childhood.
We quickly got down to the business of preparing, plating and devouring nine exquisite recipes.
The opening shot is the Oriado 60% Chocolate Financier. Oriado is a Grand Cru blend from Peru and Dominican Republic and is a part of Valrhona’s Organic & Fair Trade Certified range. Made with almond flour, brown sugar, brown butter and Valrhona cocoa powder, these little cakes were perfectly acceptable on their own. Topped with a cocoa nib glaze and ganache, they rose to all that and a bag of nibs status.
Next up, Mojito Illanka 63% Truffles. Illanka is made from a rare white cocoa bean and is the ‘face’ of Valrhona’s Clean Water Project. A charity aimed at improving living conditions and public health of the cocoa producing community of Los Ranchos, Peru.
With a layer each of mint ganache and boozy gel that explode in your mouth, these truffles easily meet cocktail status!
Illanka makes another appearance in this plated dessert called Japanese Maple. This chocolate goes extremely well with black fruit and is paired here with maple-poached black fruits, piped dollops of Illanka Namelaka all anchored by mini financiers.
Top right is a simple Itakuja 55% ganache sandwiched between slivers of chocolate shards, that delivers a passion fruit flavour punch that is on point! The secret, we made a water ganache. Using water instead of cream allows the flavours in the chocolate to shine and produces a light, silky texture.
Below that is the plated Barbados Brûlée – an Orelys 32% brûlée, anchored by a gluten-free sable, topped with an orange sauce. The photo does it no justice. Fantastic!
These gluten-free Chai Cupcakes were a hit! They are a chocolate dough base topped with a surprise inside cashew butter filling cupcake and an Oriado 60% chai whipped ganache, finished with spiced cashews. Superb!
Another take on the Barbados Brûlée, but in a cup and garnished with sable round, crystallized orange peel and Orelys Rocher (another of the recipes we made).
Another fave, this Azelia-Licious is a base layer of Azelia 35% ‘panna cotta’ topped with hazelnut streusel, praline lemon sauce and microwave sponge.
In addition to a broadened knowledge base and new techniques, we all had lots of goodies to take away. And that’s what I call a win-win-win! Thank you, Valrhona!
Hope you are having a wonderful summer (or other applicable season). I’ll be back soon with a recipe full of citrus love!