We were invited to attend the Hotel Chocolat “School of Chocolate”, which is a children’s workshop to show them all about how chocolate is made, why it tastes and looks a certain way, as well as have a lot of fun at the same time!
Hosted by the fabulously child-friendly Dan and Sam, we were guided upstairs and after a hand-wash (good start!) the children were sat around a table and the adults had their drink orders taken and let Dan and Sam take over!!
The children were asked about how chocolate was made and I think it’s safe to say that the adults learnt just as much as the children! Then the taste testing began, with buttons of various kinds of chocolate being passed around. With children being children, and Hotel Chocolat being Hotel Chocolat, all of the chocolate was amazing (adults were jealously looking on at this point!)
After half an hour, the sugar was really kicking in and the children were led downstairs to look at the conch (who knew!) and how the beans were cooked and then the chocolate made. Then, they were up close watching how the tempering process took place, although the children were genuinely scared that the mix was about to be thrown onto a marble table top!!
The tempering process can be seen below.
It is best if you follow your child down for this bit because, well, would you leave a child in a sweet shop?!?! Seriously, they are looked after well but the adults get as much out of it as the children!
Going back upstairs, the really hands-on part came, with decorating a slab of chocolate and a chocolate lolly. This is the part where adults get involved a bit, depending on the age of the child, but remember the chocolate is for the children and not the adults!!
After that, the decorations are put in the fridge and the children get to have a warm drink of salted caramel (not to my taste, but it went down well with the children!) and they got to decorate a box for their chocolate slab.
After that, it was time to go with our goody bag and into the shop – you get an in-store discount and so it would be rude if you didn’t buy a little something extra!!
As of October 2017, it costs £20 for a place at each workshop and whilst that might seem a little steep, you probably get £5 of chocolate to take home, plus a drink, plus a discount in store. As a result, the course might pay for itself if you are buying Christmas/Easter presents there in bulk!! In terms of age range, they suggest ages 5-12 and that feels about right – the child has to be confident enough in conversation on their own as it is effectively a learning experience. The class size is limited, so it is a special occasion for all concerned.
Talking to Dan and Sam afterwards, they do suggest that it is better to come as a group, as it gets a better atmosphere in the session, but if you have a confident child, they will be fine on their own. It did make me think that it could be an ideal birthday party venue – especially if you don’t want to invite too many kids!!
We are extremely lucky to have this in Leeds, as the only other location where Hotel Chocolat is doing this workshop is in London and fingers crossed it will be a success, and it deserves to be because it is a wonderful one-off experience.
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