Do you have a friend who’s a chocolate lover? Look no further, I have the perfect gift idea… I recently went to a chocolate tasting masterclass at the Richard Hughes Cookery school at the Assembly House in Norwich. It was my Christmas present from my husband and absolutely brilliant, and so of course, I’m writing about it. I will warn you now though – I intended to take lots of pretty photos of the food, and I started as I meant to go on, but then, it was all so delicious I quickly forgot about the photo taking part and focused more on the chowing down part. Sorry about that…
I’m a big fan of the Assembly House and we’ve been a fair few times. It does, hands down, the best afternoon tea in Norwich. It’s where we took our parents to tell them I was pregnant, and I’ve not had a bad experience there. I’m also a big fan of Richard and have done one of his cookery days before. That was a present from my parents a few years ago too… I’m all about the food related gift ideas! I learned how to make different types of pastry and came home with a mountain of baked goods. Happy days!
The Tuesday night masterclass is different because you’re not cooking, you’re watching, and of course, tasting. Yum. It’s a leisurely evening. You get to sit back with a glass of wine and watch the cookery demo, have some tasting, THEN you get a three course delicious meal.
First up we all tasted what we thought was chocolate. I coin myself as quite the chocolate connoisseur so as I munched on it I thought “this is the cheap stuff”. It was in fact not really chocolate – just fat, sugar and vanilla. Then we tried something at the other end of the spectrum, a 90% cocoa solids chocolate. Wow that was bitter. I joked with someone sat near me that a bowl of what looked suspiciously like either Dairy Milk or Galaxy had my name on it. When it came round even before I clocked the pattern and the small G for Galaxy on the piece, I knew it was Galaxy, my favourite. I can get that from a waft of chocolate you see. Told you I knew my chocolate.
The chocolate tasting masterclass included a demonstration. First up was a truffle with equal measures of whipped double cream and melted 54% milk chocolate. Easy peasy, just combine and set in a tin over either crushed up sponge or biscuits and chill. I can do that some time I’m sure.
Then my favourite – a peanut butter chocolate cheesecake. Obvisouly this had to be baked so we all got to sample one he’d made earlier. I have made a fab Nigella Lawson peanut butter chocolate cheesecake before and the method and ingredients were very similar so I will definitely be making that again.
Then he did an enriched dough with chocolate chips in. The bread was then rolled into balls and placed in a loaf tin with a generous spoonful of salted caramel dabbed about. That was baked and we got to try it after our meal. It was gooooood.
Then the other epic one of the night – and what was to be our dessert – a salted caramel and hazelnut dark chocolate torte. Oh my, this was brilliant. He’d already made the pastry which had hazelnuts ground up in too, but the filling looked so easy to make. I have made caramel once before and it was actually not a disaster, so I think I could try this on a special occasion. There was a layer of salted caramel with chopped up hazelnuts in, then the chocolate filling put on top. Rich, would be the word you’re looking for.
After this we then got a slice of a Brooklyn chocolate cake. Basically three layers of chocolate sponge with a chocolate custard filling, covered with custard on the outside and then covered in the crumb of the sponge itself! This was impressive but my least favourite of the tastings.
Then at 8 o’clock feeling kind of full already, we went off for our dinner! First up was a pear and parsnip soup. Luckily it was a small portion in a small coffee cup so it wasn’t too filling. The main was a roasted chicken breast with giant cous cous and a Mexican spicy sauce that had dark chocolate in. I couldn’t taste the chocolate but it was delicious and had a bit of a kick to it. Then dessert was the chocolate torte I described earlier.
We left extremely full!! So full we forgot to bring home our taster of the chocolate truffle which had been chilled. But I think I would have burst had I had anything else. I sat next to two women who had forgotten dinner was included and had already eaten with their children in a hurry before they left! It was hilarious! I am amazed they managed to eat it all!
At the end of the night you get to take home a pack of the recipes of what you’ve seen cooked, plus some others, so you can have a go at trying them at home. I already know I’m going to try and make the salted caramel chocolate bread for Matt.
Have you ever done a cookery class or chocolate tasting? Let me know in the comments box below, I’d love to hear from you and find out some other great places to go!
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