I just posted a review of Centho Chocolates, the place where Origin chocolate (i.e. chocolate from a single geographic source) is king.
Last week Jessie Lewis and I had the honor of taking a private master class with Belgian Chocolate Master Ryan Stevenson. The theme of the class was how to use one primary ingredient to make several different kinds of chocolates. The primary ingredient we used for this lesson in creating recipes was peanuts. We made peanut ganache, peanut praliné, peanut caramel, and peanut marzipan. To round out the flavors we also made several raspberry fillings from raspberry pâte de fruit to a raspberry caramel.
Ryan Stevenson and Jessie Lewis going through the recipes
We made five different kinds of chocolates with peanuts as the featured ingredient. Here is a look at the peanut marzipan–one of my favorites.
Making peanut marzipan. And to think that most people just associate marzipan with almonds.
Cutting the marzipan on a guitar
The finished peanut marzipan chocolates with a pearl accent. I love accessorizing my chocolates
My favorite store in Belgium, maybe even my favorite store in all of Europe, is none other than Chocolate World: A cash and carry warehouse of chocolate moulds and chocolate making equipment. Click here for full review
I may be a chocolate person at heart, but I love expanding my repertoire of skills even when it doesn’t include chocolate. I recently took a cake icing seminar “The Basics of Buttercream” from Brussel’s resident American-style cake decorating expert Cindy Alvarez. Cindy is a great instructor: patient and incredibly knowledgable on all things cake related. This was the second in a 3-part series of classes on cake decorating. The first class was on making the perfect cake. The second (the one I just took) was on how to ice the cake. And the third installment will be on cake decorating.
I’ve always wondered how professional cake decorators get their cakes to be flat on top, perfectly straight on the side and still be tasty and moist. Now I know. Though I must admit that throughout the experience I kept thinking how a little chocolate ganache here and a few chocolate sprinkles there would make the cake oh so much better.
I took my cake home for Gene as part of his birthday season celebration. In my family a birthday is not just one day, but an entire month. January is my husband Gene’s birthday month, so we’re in full birthday season celebration mode at our house. The cake went well with his collection of birthday cards (one for every day of the month). Gene enjoyed every bite of the cake.
The finished product...better known as "Gene's B-day Cake"
It all starts with making the perfect icing
Cindy demonstrates how to form a dam between layers so the cake will be level.
Look at how nicely the 2-layers fit together.
Cindy demonstrates how to get your cake sides perfectly smooth
Another view of the finished cake: smooth sides and a flat top. All that is missing is some chocolate decorations
I couldn't resist including a photo of Gene's Birthday Season 2012 B-Day Card collection. Look at all those great cards in English, French, and Flemish. The cards will keep coming because his official birthday isn't until next week.