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!

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!

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!

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!

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]

Around the World in Chocolatey Ways: Part 1

Chocolate doesn’t make the world go round…but it certainly makes the ride worthwhile. From it’s humble Mayan beginnings to the meteoric rise of the chocolate bar in the 20th century, chocolate has certainly found a special place in hearts (and tummies) the world over. It’s been consumed on all occasions, as the focal ingredient of ancient religious ceremonies to modern day birthday’s, Valentine’s, even our hen parties (we wonder what the Mayans would think about chocolate being used in our corporate team building events in London today?!)

In recognition of the world’s love affair with chocolate, we’ll be spinning our globe in this, the first part of this series,  and have a look at how chocolate is significant to different cultures…

Mexico

Mexico…chocolate’s Garden of Eden. Central America can claim to be the birthplace of chocolate, where the sticky, tropical rainforests provide the ideal conditions for the Cacao Tree (Theobroma Cacao) to grow. Ever since the dawn of the Mayan civilisation 4,000 years  ago, the tree and the cocoa beans have been coveted as a gift from the gods. The beans, traditionally mixed with spices, were fermented to make a bittersweet drink used in religious ceremonies.

The later-ruling Aztecs even used the beans as a currency, also believing them to be sacred – a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the God of Wisdom.

Today, Mexicans still prefer to start their day with a drink of chocolate, flavoured with traditional spices – cinnamon, cardamom and chilies.  Although no longer used as a money, it is commonly sold in the markets in the shape of discs, a contemporary trademark for chocolate in this part of the world.

Spain

Our next country on the map is Spain, whose conquistadors brought cocoa beans back to Europe in the early 16th century. They were unable to pronounce the name of the Aztec cocoa drink, Xocolatl, so changed it to ‘Chocolat’, from which its modern name derives. Chocolat was found to be too bitter for European palettes however, so Spain became the first country to sweeten the beans with sugar cane. The country can also claim to be the first to open a chocolate factory and they remain a proud chocolate-producing nation today (it’s famous modern brands are Valor, Trufas and Torras).

England

Chocolate arrived in England in 1520, delivered by none other than Christopher Columbus, and mass production of the food became big business for the Quakers at the time. In fact, some of the greatest chocolate companies there have ever been have derived from the Quakers, including Fry’s, Cadbury’s, and Rowntree (who later merged with Nestle). Fry’s is famous for producing the world’s first ever chocolate bar, in their factory in Bristol in 1847. Today the UK is still a prolific producer of chocolate, the fourth argest in the world no less, and was also the first country to produce organic chocolates.

That’s it for part 1 in our ‘Around the World in Chocolatey Ways’ series. We’ve still got a lot of miles to travel, so make sure to tune in next time for a look at chocolate in Peru, France and Italy.

If you can’t wait until the next installment, and want to learn more about the wonderful world of chocolate, why not try out one of our delcicious workshops

 

Chocolate Buttercream Recipe

Now that you’ve learnt how to make Gianduja, we’ve decided to venture back to the world of cakes.  So, today on the blog we’ve decided to share our Chocolate Buttercream recipe, which we hope you’ll find to be a sumptuous spread for cupcakes and cakes. While this has been a real hit with our hen parties and team building events, we feel now is the time to share it with the rest of you, so enjoy!

vanilla-cake-with-chocolate-buttercream-3407f303e00c809305c722d86253cefe9372

 

Ingredients

250g dark organic chocolate

500g unsalted butter, softened at room temp

1kg icing sugar

Milk to loosen

Method

The first step is to melt the chocolate in a bain marie – a pan suspended over simmering water – all the while making sure you do not mix it with the water. Once it has melted into a thick, chocolatey liquid, take the pan off the heat and leave to one side.

Whilst your chocolate is cooling beat together the softened butter with the icing sugar. The icing sugar will expand within the bowl so make sure to beat carefully otherwise you may end up with a very messy kitchen! You can either use a hand held whisk or an electric one, which ever suits you best.

When they have combined, it is time to stir in the melted chocolate. Try to get them mixed as evenly as possible, you don’t want to have a marbled buttercream because although it might look unusual the ingredients will not mix together and it won’t be so pleasing to taste. Once mixed, add a few glugs of milk to loosen the butter cream.

Finally, pipe the buttercream onto your cakes or cupcakes. If you’re feeling a bit creative you can dollop them on into specific shapes…icing smilies anyone?

While this is a great treat to have at kids parties on cupcakes, you’ll also find it can bring sophistication to traditional sponges; the rich taste of the dark chocolate complementing almost any cake. For more delicious MyChocolate recipes simply visit our chocolate recipe page and learn about making a cake to go with your new buttercream recipe. For a winning combination, use this buttercream on our decadent Vanilla Cupcakes

[Images provided by Padufoto | Dreamstime.com ]

How to Plan a Corporate Team Building Event

The amount of pleasure people experience when doing team building activities on a corporate away day is often directly related to the amount of effort that has gone into creating the event. A poorly thought out team building day will be horrendous for those attending it and comical to anyone observing it. Attendees will be left unsure of what they are meant to be doing as no structure will be present. This will lead to many losing any focus they initially had and people will retreat once more into their separate groups as opposed to coming together and getting to know one another.

This is why MyChocolate place such an emphasis on planning – to make sure that everyone present knows what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Not only does this make people know that they are in skilled hands, but it ensures that their time is being used constructively so that they can do what they came here to do – have fun and get to know their work colleagues better. That’s why we’ve worked with some of the biggest companies on the planet and been put in charge of making sure that their team building day out is both tasty and useful. [Please note that we also take great pleasure in working for small businesses as well!]

To give you a better idea of how the MyChocolate team go about hosting the ultimate corporate events, we’ve decided to tell you how one must be planned in order to please all parties:

  1. Have a clear objective in mind. Make sure you know what your employees or staff want to gain from a team building event. Do they all want to get to better know a new MD? Do they want to get find out more about other people in other divisions? Do they simply want to speak to those they work alongside daily in an informal and friendly setting? Once you know the answers to these sorts of questions you’re well placed to decide on how to split or rotate teams during the actual event. This means that everyone comes away from it with a better understanding of someone they actually felt the need to bond with.
  1. Make sure everyone actually wants to do what you plan to do during the team building event. If people are not committed to getting into the spirit of things then it will be an uphill struggle to get people to really make an effort and become involved. In short, ask what people would like to do or at least present them with some options. We must say, though, that with our chocolate workshops a reluctance to get involved has never been an issue!
  1. Make sure you have everything you need. It sounds basic, but you’d be shocked at how often some team building events companies don’t bother thinking about the relationships between the number of people attending and the resources needed to cater for them. For chocolate workshops the equation between the amount of necessary ingredients and the number of people is a relatively simple equation to make. A good rule of thumb is to always order a bit more of whatever it is that you need.
  1. Make sure you also have people! Think about when you want to have a team day out – if half the office is away on holiday then clearly only half the office will get to properly know each other.
  1. Make sure everyone can do what you plan to do. Just be careful to take into account the physical health of everyone. Allergies are often overlooked so be careful to check if anyone’s effected by something like this. Otherwise some may feel excluded and not thought of – not what you want from a teambuilding day!
  1. Let people think for themselves. Micro managing every part of the event will leave people feeling suffocated and under pressure. So if we take our chocolate workshops as being a good example of how to do things right, then you’ll see that we often let people decorate their sweet creations however they want. It makes it more fun and varied for everyone.

So there you have it – the definitive checklist for planning any team building event. Adhere to these points and your team will certainly reap the benefits. Don’t, and your day will be about as useful as a chocolate teapot!

Lemon and Poppy Seed White Chocolate

Were you a fan of our Lemon and Poppy Seed Cupcakes? Well, if so then it’s your lucky day as we’ve decided to convert it into a chocolate recipe. Don’t say we don’t spoil you!

The real beauty of these flavours comes from the zestiness of the lemon, which cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate, providing a refreshing aftertaste. The poppy seeds are once again not just a treat for the eyes, but add texture and provide a satisfying crack when you bite into them. Who said seeds are just for bread?

Double-Chocolate-Lemon-Surprise-Cupcakes-1408059971Ingredients

375g white chocolate
13 drops of lemon cooking essential oil
Small handful of poppy seeds

Method

The first trick is to temper the white chocolate. Tempering is the way you treat chocolate to ensure it has a glossy finish and breaks when you snap it. To do so, you’ll need to add the chocolate to a pan and heat it to 29 degrees until all of the chocolate has melted down. Set it to one side and let it cool until crystals begin to appear. Once they have began to form, return the chocolate to the pan and reheat it to 29 degrees.

Next add the 13 drops of lemon oil and stir them thoroughly into the liquid chocolate. When you think the lemon oil is fully mixed in, cover a tray with parchment paper and pour the melted chocolate onto this, creating a slab. Spread evenly with a spatula in order to cover most of the tray.

Finally, sprinkle the poppy seeds as quick as you can before the chocolate starts setting up and then leave it to dry a room temperature for a couple hours before breaking into small pieces and serving.

This is a chocolate treat for all occasions, from corporate events to hen parties. We think you’ll find the wacky flavour combination a surprisingly tasty spin on white chocolate, making it very difficult not to reach for one more piece!

 

[Images provided by Puces Pop Cupcakes: Spring 2014 Edition]

Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar Recipe

Last week we looked at a classic Italian chocolate dish – Milk Chocolate Gianduja – made famous by the popular hazelnut spread Nutella. As you can probably deduce from the title, this week we’ve decided to get a little more adventurous. Now before you think we’ve gone stark raving mad, chocolate has been a staple of South American savoury dishes for thousands of years; it’s only now that it’s finally creeping into Western savoury palates. This sweet, tangy and slightly bitter balsamic vinegar is perfect as a salad dressing, “mole” sauce or can be used for bread dipping with a little olive oil. It can also be drizzled over fruits and deserts or as an interesting accompaniment to cheese platters. Talk about versatility!

Ingredients

100g caster sugar
100ml balsamic vinegar
30g dark chocolate, broken into pieces

Method

The best thing about this recipe is its simplicity; it’s really a two step process. First of all you need to reduce the vinegar, so you’ll need to gently heat a pan, into which add all of the sugar and vinegar. Allow them to mix together until all of the sugar has dissolved.

Let the mixture gently bubble for 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t stick to the pan.

Next take the pan off the heat and make sure to whisk in the dark chocolate. Once they have mixed in together in the pan, set it aside and leave it to cool for 2-3 minutes. After the mixture has cooled, stir the mixture together again thoroughly.

Voila! Whatever the occasion, whether it’s dinner, a hen party or a team building event you now have yourself a quirky treat that’s sure to impress! If you thought this recipe was great, why not check out our back catalogue? You can do so by clicking here.