Why Is Chocolate An Aphrodisiac?

Why is Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?

There’s nothing that gets us more in the mood for romance than a chocolate experience. But is there a reason why heart shaped chocolates get our actual hearts pumping?

The science

In the 1980’s scientists in New York discovered a chemical in chocolate called Phenylethylamine (or PEA), which triggers the release of dopamine. This same chemical is released in our brains when we’re in love, and so scientists theorised that chocolate also gives us that heart-pounding, sweaty palmed feeling of true love. Although the amount of PEA in chocolate is incredibly small by the time it gets to our brains, it does make sense that we feel happy when we’re having a chocolate experience – it is chocolate after all. And what’s a better aphrodisiac than feeling happy?

The history

Long before chocolate was served in bar form it was a drink mixed with honey and spices that was greatly enjoyed by Aztec emperor Montezuma. It is said that he would drink it from golden goblets, before throwing them away, never using the same one twice for his beloved ‘chocolatl’ drink. When Montezuma needed something to fuel his long romantic nights he would drink a goblet of chocolatl before entering his harem, claiming it made his tongue dance, and pulse quicken. It’s certainly the same feeling we get when we’re sneaking leftover chocolate after one of our chocolate experience workshops.

The culture

Our go to chocolate related film is of course the creamy delight that is Chocolat. Based on the book by Joanne Harris, Chocolat follows Vianne as she moves to the small french village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes and sets up a chocolaterie, upsetting the repressed locals. One person she doesn’t upset, however, is the woman who is gifted some very special chocolate, to spice up her marriage and help her husband fall back in love with her. If Vianne believes it, then we think we do too. And if you’re single, proud, and having a you-en-tines day, why not follow in Bridget Jones’s footsteps and enjoy a relationship with two men simultaneously – “one named Ben, the other Jerry.”

Whilst it may not be scientifically proven that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, it will certainly improve your life and your libido. Chocolate makes you feel good, gives you a handy sugar rush, a kick of caffeine, and the added bonus of knowing that someone loves you enough to buy you some chocolatey goodness. And if that’s not enough, you can treat yourself to a visit to our luxury chocolate making class and really spice up your valentine’s day.

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The Chocolate Show 2017

The Chocolate Show 2017

What is The Chocolate Show?

The Chocolate Show is an annual showcasing of some of the finest of the UK’s chocolate experts and professionals – the perfect event for the sworn chocoholic.

Professional Chocolate Making

The show is one of our favourite places to go to get inspiration on the latest in chocolate making tips, trends, tools and techniques. Last year we were blown away by some of the ‘Desert of the Year’ entries, which got our Chocolatiers’ heads in a bit of a spin!

Mini Chocolatiers

Designed as a family day out, The Chocolate Show has lots of entertainment for the littlies including a demos, a children’s area, chocolate sculptures and workshops. If they get the chocolate making bug, you can bribe them away at the end of the day with the promise of one of our Mini Chocolatiers children’s parties!

Our Hot Tip

Tickets are discounted if you book in advance (even the day before), so it’s worth getting online before you visit.

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Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies With White Chocolate Flakes

Recipe: Red Velvet Brownies with White Chocolate Flakes

Spring doesn’t only mean fruity flavours. Try chocolate making at home by having a go at this brownie recipe. Made with delicious organic milk melting chocolate and white chocolate flakes it’s nearly (but not quite!) as good as our Chocolate Making Party Kit.

INGREDIENTS

For the brownies:
110g organic milk melting chocolate
170g butter
400g sugar
4 large eggs
190g all-purpose flour
Few drops of red food colouring
1½ tsps baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt

For the cream cheese frosting:
300g full fat cream cheese
150g unsalted butter
45g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
White chocolate flakes

 

DIRECTIONS

For the brownies:
1) Preheat oven to 150°C. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminium foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches of foil to extend over the sides; lightly grease the foil
2) Microwave the chocolate and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl for 1-2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals
3) Whisk in the sugar
4) Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition
5) Gently stir in the flour and next 4 ingredients
6) Pour mixture into prepared pan
7) Bake at 150°C for 44 to 48 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (takes about 2 hours)
8)Lift the brownies from the pan using the foil sides as handles; gently remove foil

For the cream cheese frosting:
1) Place the butter in a large bowl with the caster sugar
2) Beat the butter and sugar together for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy
3) Then beat in the cream cheese until smooth
4) Stir in the vanilla extract
5) Spread the cream cheese frosting on top of the brownies, and cut into 16 squares
6) Garnish with white chocolate flakes

 

[Images provided by Red Velvet Cake, prepared by Waldorf Astoria New York ]
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No-bake Triple Chocolate Brownies

No-bake Triple Chocolate Brownies

Let’s be honest, these easy to make brownies look like heaven!

With organic milk melting chocolate and crumbled caramelised hazelnuts, what’s not to love!? Whip up a batch of these so you have something to nibble on whilst you hop over to The Chocolate Hedgehog  to order your own chocolate making kit. Then your next chocolate making adventure will be just as easy and even more delicious!

Makes 16 small brownies.

brownies

Ingredients

90g graham cracker crumbs

80g crumbled caramelised hazelnuts

30g cocoa powder

½ teaspoon salt

180g sweetened condensed milk

110g organic milk melting chocolate, melted

Directions

1. Line an 8-inch (20cm) square baking dish with two crossed strips of parchment paper, letting the long ends hang over the sides of the dish. Grease lightly with butter or baking spray

2. In a large bowl, mix together the crackers, hazelnuts, cocoa and salt. Pour in the milk. Add the melted chocolate and stir firmly to thoroughly combine

3. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap and press firmly into the pan

4. Chill for at least 1 hour, until firm enough to cut. Lift the parchment paper to remove the brownies from the pan. Cut the brownies into small squares. They will be fudgy but quite firm 5. Store leftover brownies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days

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Orange & Pistachio Chocolate Truffles

Orange & Pistachio Chocolate Truffles

As we hope (!) you’re aware, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. If you’re anything like us, we are already wondering what to do doing on the day itself. Unsurprisingly chocolate features at the forefront of most of our plans.

In fact, if we are being really honest, most of us are helping out with our Valentine’s chocolate making class as Valentine’s is one of the business times of the year for us!

Having helped out at many, many Valentine’s chocolate making workshops over the years, we can honestly say that making personalised chocolates for your other half is always going to be a perfect Valentine’s gift.

If you’re looking for a little inspiration, we do offer chocolate making party kits, which contain all the ingredients and equipment you need to make your own truffles, fudge and flavoured chocolate bites.

praline-182861_640

We are also big fans of our sumptuous orange & pistachio truffle recipe and what says I love you more than a homemade selection of indulgent, melt-in-your mouth truffles?

The recipe is quick and easy to make. All you need are a few simple ingredients and half an hour spare.

You will need:

  • 260g of premium quality dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa, broken into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons of double cream
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1 knob of butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups of pistachios, finely chopped
  • 1 orange, zested
  • Heart-shaped cookie/pastry cutter, preferably 1 inch in diameter

Instructions:

Simmer the honey in a frying pan for a few minutes, or until it turns a medium brown colour and gives off a sweet caramel scent. Remove the pan from the heat.

Melt the chocolate au ban marie, making sure to stir frequently. In a separate thick-bottomed pan, gently heat the cream.

When the chocolate has melted into a smooth and glossy mixture, remove ¼ of the chocolate and keep in a separate bowl.

Pour the warm cream and caramelised honey into the larger quantity of chocolate and whisk the mixture until it has blended together.

Mix in 1 cup of the pistachios and half of the orange zest.

Set the mixture aside to cool for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, combine the rest of the pistachios and orange zest in a large bowl.

Once the chocolate mixture has set, use your hands to roll it into bite sized pieces, roughly 2 inches in diameter. Place the pieces on a chopping board and flatten with a rolling pin. Use the cookie-cutter to cut the pieces into lovable heart shapes.

Once you have your chocolate love hearts, carefully dip them into the smaller bowl of melted chocolate and then coat them with the pistachio/orange zest mixture.

Place the finished truffles on a serving tray lined with parchment paper and devour at will!

Variations

What’s great about this recipe is you can easily vary the ingredients if you want to make them again. For example, you can replace the pistachios with hazelnuts or almonds for a subtle twist or if you’d prefer to spice things up, add five cardamom pods and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon or nutmeg.

If you enjoyed these truffles, and you’d like to read more from MyChocolate, please browse the rest of our blog.

 

[Images provided by Pixabay ]
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Host Your Own Chocolate Making Party!

Host your own Chocolate Making Party!

We have exciting news!

We’ve launched a partner company, The Chocolate Hedgehog, which offers chocolate making party kits!

The kits contain everything you need for two hours of chocolate making fun, including organic chocolate and specialised chocolate making equipment.

Kit

We have even included easy to follow recipes so you can host your own chocolate making party from your home.

 

 

The Chocolate Hedgehog offers two types of chocolate making party kits; a Gift Kit for up to 4 people and a Group Kit, for up 12 people and ideal for hen parties and group get-togethers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the Kit in Action

You can see a Chocolate Hedgehog kit in action in the below video. You’ll see the sheer quantity of chocolate contained in each kit – there’s a lot!

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Around The World In Chocolatey Ways : Part 2

Around the World in Chocolatey Ways : Part 2

We hoped you enjoyed our first installment of Around the World in Chocolatey Ways. We are now thrilled to be continuing our journey with you on the second leg of our adventure, so let’s get going!

If you want to know how we think chocolate should be done, come along to one of our chocolate courses or even go all out with one of our chocolate parties. However, if you’re interested  in knowing how others do it elsewhere in the world, carry on reading…

Last month we took you through Mexico, Spain and England, this time let us transport you to the exquisite locations of Peru, France and Italy.

Peru

Home of the Inca tribe, the indigenous people of Peru have been using the Cocoa plant for centuries, long before the days of chocolate parties and workshops. These people chewed the Cocoa plant for essential strength to go about their daily treks and work in the mountains. Nowadays, the country is famous for its use of the plant to make yummy chocolate treats.

Chocolate made from real Peruvian cocoa is some of the most intense in the world, much like the rest of the country it is bold, impressive and totally unforgettable!

France

Perhaps more similar to the delicious chocolate you might learn to make at one of our chocolate making courses is that originating from France. Despite the fact you might perhaps hear more about chocolate from France’s neighbours, Switzerland and Belgium (to which we will pay a visit at a later date), the French chocolatier’s expertise is a very well-kept secret that needs sharing! Chocolate first arrived in France from Spain in 1615, when Anne of Austria, introduced the chocolate drink to her new husband, Louis XIII of France. The sweet treat was first popular among the court (who we’re sure loved chocolate parties), before it quickly took the rest of the country by storm and earned the love it enjoys today. The country favours very fine, very dark chocolate, perfect dipped in a delicious café au lait. The country even have their own chocolate academy –  we wonder what they’d make of our own chocolate classes.

Italy

You could in fact argue that it is thanks to the Italians that we can enjoy chocolate at all, for it was the Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, who first set eyes on a cocoa plant and introduced it to the continent. Now, all sorts of chocolatey treats can be found there, including many varieties of gelato al cioccolato (or chocolate ice cream to us and you.) The homes of Italian chocolate are said to be Turin and Piedmont, where, like with many other foods in Italy, chocolate is an art form.

Ok that’s all for week’s trip around the globe, thanks for joining us and see you next time!

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Chocolate From Childhood

Chocolate From Childhood

“And everyday, as he came near to it, he would lift his small pointed nose in the air and sniff the wonderful sweet smell of melting chocolate. Sometimes he would stand motionless outside the gate for several minutes on end, taking deep swallowing breaths as though he were trying to eat the smell itself.”

Perhaps your earliest chocolate memory is not one of actually eating chocolate, but of having it described to you by Roald Dahl?

His world of ‘Chocolate waterfalls’,  ‘lickable wallpaper’ and ‘cows that give chocolate milk’ creates an irresistible allure around the silky brown substance that sets children’s mouths salivating.

In fact- we’re introduced to Wonka’s chocolate kingdom at such a formative age,  the book cements any juvenille choccy- intrigue into a life-long obsession.

If you weren’t introduced to chocolate via Roald Dahl, then perhaps jolly old Father Christmas made the introduction?

Solid chocolate coins at the bottom of Christmas stockings, bumper tins of Quality Streets and Roses, and boxes of thick chocolate biscuits laid out for the scoffing. Perhaps you remember standing beneath a towering tree and giving it a little shake to dislodge one of the chocolate fondant treats?

No doubt you remember plunging your little arm deep into a tin of Roses, and finding all the purple ‘hazelnut-caramels’ gobbled already by a greddy parent? The shiny, coloured wrappers gleaming, with the empties rolled into balls and a surplus of pale green, praline triangles at the bottom.

There’s a distinct ‘chocolate progression’ which takes place throughout life.

Playgroup is usually a time of chocolate buttons, popped into mouths and sucked until they disappeared. The kiddie sized bags just about the right size to make sure nobody was sick.

A humble ‘Cadbury’s fudge’ at the bottom of a party bag never goes amiss, or even a ‘Curly Whirly’.

Next is junior school- the Twix and KitKat lunchbox years.  And do you remember the pleasingly chunky Caramel Rocky? There’s a funny time of life, between the ages of 5 and 9 when children delight in biting the chocolate off the sides of the biscuit, methodically, if not ritualistically, and leaving the best bit til last.

In high school, one graduates into the world of Toffee Crisps and Lion Bars; (a preference for each makes and divided friends) gnawing through the chewy, crackly layers made exams that bit more bearable. (If only we’d had chocolate classes back then!) And of course, Yorkies were a favourite among many, for who could resist such a jaw-stoppingly chunky bar?

Indeed chocolate follows us like a sweet and melty guardian. It’s the friend who doesn’t ask any questions, bringing comfort at times of need from earliest youth til death do us part.

Now if this trip down memory lane hasn’t got you in the mood for one of our chocolate classes then we suggest you go back and read some more Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!

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Ethical, Fair Trade & Organic Chocolate Guide

Ethical, Fair Trade & Organic Chocolate Guide

As cacao beans grow in tropical and usually extremely remote and poor parts of the world, the working conditions of the workers doing the hard work – the harvesting – are often fragile to say the least. Wages can be compressed and slavery and child labour have been known to exist in some parts of Western Africa, where the majority of the world’s chocolate bars originate from. It’s a very serious and distressing part of an industry most people gain huge amounts of pleasure from numerous times on a daily basis.

Luckily, over the course of the last two decades, intrepid human rights activists have opened the worlds eyes to many of these issues and consumers have responded accordingly. Nowadays, chocolate in shops is no longer referred to as being merely ‘chocolate’; rather it is prefixed with words like ‘fairtrade’, ‘organic’ and ‘ethical’. This has been done by companies in direct response to the growing body of consumers who are not willing to simply sit back and consciously eat and enjoy cheap chocolate whilst knowing all too well about common industry injustices. The MyChocolate team are thrilled that this is the case as we strongly believe that the big players in the industry have a corporate duty to make sure people benefit on every level from the globes insatiable appetite for all things chocolate. The money pot is plenty big enough for them to be able to do this.

At MyChocolate teambuilding and corporate events, we always go out of our way to source only the finest organic chocolate to use in our chocolate workshops. On a day to day basis in your local shops, we recommend keeping an eye out for the following things to ensure that chocolate doesn’t compromise your conscience:

  • Fairtrade: If chocolate is marked as being fair trade, then you can eat it in the knowledge that those involved at its origin are making a fair amount of money from their commodity. Fairtrade see that farmers receive at least a certain amount of money and this is usually driven back in to the local communities. It’s quite brilliant to think that when you’re next in the supermarket in somewhere like London, Brighton or Manchester that you can help people out in a profound way by simply spending pennies extra on your chocolate bar. Lazy philanthropy at it’s very finest!
  • Organic: If chocolate is labelled in this way then you know that it has been grown in an area which has been free of often toxic pesticides for a prolonged period of time. This can improve the health of the workers who harvest and monitor the cacao beans, as well as the immediate local ecology. There is usually a premium charged for these products but it’s minimal and absolutely worth it in our humble opinion.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out on individual brand websites because they will more often than not indicate that part of their money is spent on various admirable projects in the country where the chocolate originates from. This strengthens their relationships with their suppliers and it also helps them with branding, so do take a look.

If you fancy having some chocolate fun then please do get in contact with MyChocolate and we’ll get back to you asap. Hopefully you can come along to one of our chocolate party’s or corporate events and enjoy the sweet taste of some organic chocolate!

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Chilli And Orange Dark Chocolate Recipe

Chilli and Orange Dark Chocolate Recipe

Did you miss our Chocolate Buttercream recipe from last week? If so, not to worry, you can catch up right here.

Chillies and oranges are commonly used in chocolate recipes but not always together. We find the tangy and fiery flavours to be a winning combination, so, for your eyes only, let us present our Chili and Orange Dark Chocolate recipe. As we have tried to accomplish with all of our recipes, the steps involved are very straightforward and can be replicated by chocolatiers of all levels and shouldn’t take any longer than half an hour to make. Right, without further ado, let’s head into the kitchen…

cake-486874_640Ingredients

220g dark chocolate
2 drops of orange essential oil
A quarter of a tea spoon of ground up chilli flakes (not chilli powder)

Method

The first thing you want to do is set up a bain marie, which although sounds complicated, is actually a simple case of placing a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

With the pan heated at 30°C, place the dark chocolate inside and wait for it to melt. Once it has, set the pan to one side, letting it cool until you begin to see little crystals form on the surface of the chocolate.

When you can begin to see crystals, return the pan to the bain marie. We know this heating, cooling and reheating may seem a bit baffling at first, but this ensures the chocolate is tempered, which ultimately gives the finished product its shiny finish and satisfying snap.

Okay so with the chocolate reheated to 30°C, pour in a couple of drops of the orange essential oil and the chilli flakes, stirring them thoroughly into the mixture as you do so.

Finally, pour the dark mixture onto a tray covered with parchment paper, allowing to cool into an even slab. Snap or cut the finished bar into whatever shapes you like, feel free to get creative (in one of our corporate team building events in London we had a team cut the chocolate into shapes into Sir Alan Sugar’s face!)

 

[Images provided by  pixabay]
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