Sydney Chocolate School – Coco Chocolate

When introducing myself at parties and events, it’s most likely I’ll then be asked, And what do you do?’  And I’ve always wanted to say, ‘I’m a Chocolatier’, because it just sounds so interesting and fabulous and I’m sure I would receive a very animated response compared with saying something like, ‘I’m an Auditor for the tax department’.

IMG_0374Last week I met the very fabulous Rebecca Kerswell who is a Chocolatier and the director of Coco Chocolate in Sydney.  She has stores in Kirribilli, Willoughby and Mosman and in 2011 she opened the Sydney Chocolate School which is in a separate location in Mosman.

The beautiful setting for the chocolate school

The beautiful setting for the chocolate school

Rebecca trained as a designer but with a love of chocolate in her heart she left Australia to study at the famous Valrhona Chocolate School in France where she graduated as a Chocolatier.  Realising her French wasn’t quite good enough to open a store in France, she moved to Scotland and established a business in Edinburgh, then returned to Sydney and opened her first store in Kirribilli.

An abundance of goodies

An abundance of goodies

The Sydney Chocolate School is located in an enviable position as it is in a very peaceful and tranquil setting looking out over Sydney Harbour.   You couldn’t possibly have a more pleasant working environment.  The Sydney Chocolate School is open to the public and you can attend high teas.  I have previously enjoyed a high tea in this beautiful setting and it has to be the most wonderful high tea I have ever enjoyed.

'Swellegant' chocolate boxes for dinner parties

‘Swellegant’ chocolate boxes for dinner parties

As the name suggests, The Sydney Chocolate School is where any budding chocolatier can attend a chocolate course that uses the traditional French method of tempering chocolate on marble.  During the course you’ll make a chocolate slab from milk chocolate, a chocolate bar from white chocolate and flaked chocolate from dark chocolate.  On completion of the three-hour course you’ll receive a certificate and a goody bag.

The chocolate about to be melted

The chocolate about to be melted

More advanced courses are available in a variety of specialties including caramels, marshmallows, truffles, creams, crystalised flowers and artwork.

During the school holidays there are also courses for children.

What we'll be making in the course

What we’ll be making in the course

When I booked into the course I was told to bring an apron and some sturdy closed shoes for safety and it was also recommended that they be flat-soled because I’d be on my feet for the entire course.

Pouring the milk chocolate onto the marble

Pouring the milk chocolate onto the marble

The course started at 10am on a beautiful winter’s day.  When I arrived Rebecca was already in full-swing, bustling around answering phones and ordering products and greeting the attendees as well as tempering chocolate on the marble in readiness to make some salted caramel-centred chocolates.  It was a joy and a privilege to watch someone working so passionately, enthusiastically and effortlessly at their craft.

Rebecca making hollow molds for salted caramel chocolates

Rebecca making hollow molds for salted caramel chocolates

Our course was run by pastry chef, Tahra Camidge.  Tahra explained that all the chocolate used at Coco Chocolate is couveture chocolate that is also organic and ethically produced.  Because of the quality, it is $70/kg and therefore, because it’s so precious,  we wouldn’t be taking everything we made home with us.  Some of the chocolates we’d be making were going to be sold in their stores!  (I was quite chuffed to hear that).

Rebecca squeezing the caramel into the chocolate molds

Rebecca squeezing the caramel into the chocolate molds

There were 14 of us in our class and it was a very relaxed and friendly bunch of people who were there for a variety of reasons with the common thread being a love of chocolate.  They included three sisters who had bought their mother a gift voucher for Mother’s Day, a university professor from Canberra who had driven for four hours to attend the course, and a husband who had been woken that morning by his wife giving him the course for this birthday.  And then there was me!

The tempered milk chocolate and the freeze-dried berries

The tempered milk chocolate and the freeze-dried berries

Tahra gave us a lot of information about the origins of chocolate and how it has been around in a drinkable form for thousands of years but how it’s only been in the past few hundred years that people have been able to enjoy chocolate in any other way.  We then got down to the tempering business.

The finished chocolate slab after being sprinkled with freeze-dried berries

The finished chocolate slab after being sprinkled with freeze-dried berries

As I understand it, tempering chocolate is all to do with melting the chocolate to a certain temperature, then cooling it by a couple of degrees on a marble slab, then returning the chocolate to the bowl and increasing the temperature by several more degrees.  It is then ‘tempered’ and will give that ‘snap’ we all know is most desired.

Real cocoa beans

Real cacao beans

Realising the emphasis of this course is on marble I did ask if I would be able to temper chocolate on my nasty laminex bench.  Tahra explained that marble is used because of its ability to stay very cool and that I could use my laminex but that it would work best in cool conditions and that because tempering the chocolate would warm up the bench, I would only be able to do one temper per day.  She said that others who have attended the course and not had a marble bench have gone out and bought a marble slab.  She said these can be cooled down in the fridge ahead of tempering however you need to make sure there is no condensation on them ahead of tempering the chocolate – chocolate and water do not mix!

Tempered white chocolate with spices being mixed

Tempered white chocolate with spices being mixed

The course is very hands-on and we all had plenty of opportunities to show off our skills or lack there of.  Everyone found it absorbing and fascinating and so much fun.  We all gained a lot of knowledge and some new skills.

Pouring the spiced white chocolate into the molds

Pouring the spiced white chocolate into the molds

For those of you who do temper chocolate (like Celia), I’d be interested to hear how you work out the temperature of the chocolate.  At the chocolate school they use an infra-red gun that you point at the chocolate and it will tell you the temperature.  I’m thinking one of these gadgets has to be at the top of my ‘must have’ list.  How handy!

Flaked dark chocolate

Flaked dark chocolate

We first made a milk chocolate slab.  Milk chocolate is made with chocolate, powdered milk, sugar and vanilla.  After it was tempered it was mixed with freeze-dried berries then poured onto trays that we spread out into a thin layer, then more freeze-dried berries were scattered to decorate the top of the slab.  The berries gave a wonderful sourness to the sweetness of the chocolate.

Organic lavender oil for the dark chocolate - don't use aromatherapy oils - they aren't edible!

Organic lavender oil for the dark chocolate – don’t use aromatherapy oils – they aren’t edible!

Next we made blocks of white chocolate.  The chocolate was flavoured with spices including cinnamon, ground cloves and star anise and just before the chocolate set, we decorated the bars with scattered cranberries.  I thought this chocolate would make excellent Christmas gifts because it definitely had that Yuletide scent and look.

The dark chocolate being mixed with very good quality cocoa

The dark chocolate being mixed with very good quality cocoa

Lastly we made flaked dark chocolate and dark chocolate is the most difficult chocolate to temper.  When it was tempered a few drops of organic lavender oil were added then it was poured out onto the marble then spread in a thin layer.  Once it had set we scraped it into curls where it was then used to make hot chocolate that we enjoyed at the end of the course.

I graduated!

I graduated!

As the course was now complete we were presented with our certificates and goody bags.  I enjoyed the course immensely and found it extremely enjoyable especially as we were encouraged to eat as much chocolate as we liked.  How does Rebecca stay so thin!

The magic formula for tempering chocolate

The magic formula for tempering chocolate

Courses are available at the Sydney Chocolate School all through the year as are the high teas and the chocolates are there for you to sample and purchase at all four of their stores.  If you’d like to attend a course at the Sydney Chocolate School you can apply on-line on their website.

IMG_0395

Hotly Spiced attended the tempering course as a guest of The Sydney Chocolate School.

The Sydney Chocolate School
& Coco Chocolate Studio
Building 21
1110 Middle Head Road
Mosman 2088

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Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I would love to learn from them

  2. Yes, being a chocolatier would be QUITE desirable! But I’d probably also have to exercise nonstop if I were one!

  3. All you can eat chocolate while you cook delicious chocolate treats? How fabulous! Love the look of the slab with the freeze-dried berries – how beautiful! You’ll have to do that pinata cake again with properly tempered chocolate now that you’ve learned how to do it (but only after you acquire an infra red thermometer ;-))

  4. What a fun day and to be able to eat as much chocolate as you like, I would most likely gain pounds from that one session.

  5. I had a great time at the Coco Chocolate school and learned so much about hand tempering! It’s a great day out too!

  6. seems so delicious and so enjoyable to learn… Thank you, love, nia

  7. I’ve reviewed a few Coco Chocolate bars on my blog (given to me by the wonderful Lorraine, of course), and thought they were magnificent. Little bit envious over here!

  8. What a great day, such a shame that they wouldn’t let you take your hand made product home. Wish I lived close enough to attend one of these classes; I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with chocolate, mainly because I’ve had it seize once too often!

  9. That class looks like so much fun. I love taking baking or cooking classes. I bet I could find a chocolate class somewhere in NYC. I think its ok if you call yourself a chocolatier when introducing yourself now ;)

  10. Sounds like my kinda school! ;) Too bad I don’t live in Australia… :( Ahahaha… Looks like you had a good time, though!! :) Blessings… xo

  11. My brother is a professional chocolatier but other than eating his ice wine truffles (he does primarily molded truffles), cranberry fudge and freshly made turtles, I know very little about the process of working with chocolate. And have never had much of an interest in learning to be honest. :) I actually prefer the candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate or pretzels dipped in white chocolate for casual snacking as I’m not a huge chocolate fan preferring salty treats.

    Sounds like you had a good time. :)

  12. Sounds like fun! I’ve never attempted tempering on a slab – I reckon I’d end up with chocolate all over the floor (I’m quite clumsy, as you know). I use a combination of an infra-red thermometer and a digital one to take the temps, but that’s only been in the last year or so since I indulged in the infra-red one with my tax return cheque – prior to that I’d always just used the digital probe one. And I only ever do half a kilo at most at the one time – you guys were working with huge quantities there! :)

  13. What an awesome days adventure indeed Charlie! Those chocolate curls look perfect, and lavender is one of my favourite floral flavours too- yummo. X

  14. Being a chocolatier sounds so fancy schmancy.. the name has a nice ring to it! I don’t know if my hips would be appreciative of the abundance of chocolate I’d be surrounded by though. Too many temptations!

  15. What a lovely idea. This is on my list when next in Sydney. There are a few places down here in Melbourne for chocolate courses but this School looks so cute and personal. These types of activities are my favourite types of gifts.

  16. OMG I would feel like I was in heaven the smell of real chocolate is so yummy, have a lovely day and so far the Gold Coast has given us awesome weather for our holiday :)

  17. Oh my goodness you’d have to roll me out the door after this class. How wonderful!

  18. Wow, that’s an intimate situation for learning chocolate tempering. I’d love to go to something like this up here.

    I might have to consider this as I’d really love to make chocolates like Celia does!

  19. “Charlie and the chocolate factory”……… what a lucky girl!!!!! P.S. love the t-shirt with appropriately placed vinyl records :-)

  20. Wow! That’s a lot of chocolate to temper. Looks like such fun. I envy all the options of cool foodie things you Aussies have access to–it’s rather amazing. And it gives me a vicarious thrill.

  21. Oh good golly. Does she have plans to open a Perth branch?! What an amazing experience…and yes, chocolatier is definitely a more inspiring job title than auditor for the tax department!

  22. Sounds like a fun class, Charlie, true!
    Love learning about new things food wise every day and tempering chocolate is on my list to do!
    Cheers! Joanne

  23. my neighbour used to work for this lovely chocolate company… good neighbour to have! :-)

  24. This is a terrific lesson: delightedly another facet of the Down Under foodie scene . . . love some dark chocolate when watching TV late at night, have actually managed to ‘do the deed’ a few times, but the whole deal is wonderful to read . . .

  25. I had no idea couveture chocolate was that expensive – makes licking the bowl out a bit of a treat!

  26. Ooo, what a fun day! Hmm, this tempering business sounds a bit to intense for me, although I would thoroughly enjoy a class like the one you attended.
    :-) Mandy xo

  27. How fun! I loved looking through all of the photos and hearing about the tempering. I think the milk chocolate with the freeze dried berries would have been my favorite. But because of the dairy issue, I would have had to stick with the dark. But no complaints there!

    What an interesting and enjoyable day! I’ll have to look for similar courses near my home. :) ~ April

  28. That’s a lot of chocolate! I would love to take a class like that. How fun to learn how to make chocolates!!! I’ve attempted it once in my own kitchen, but I definitely had some issues…mostly relating to tempering the chocolate. I hope you got to do a lot of tasting ;)

  29. I want to go to chocolate school!!! Such a treat!
    PS…I think you’re catching on to Bill’s food idiosyncrasies! He would like chocolate school, though, as long as no freeze-dried berries touched his stash ;)

  30. What a wonderful experience … and last Sunday was National Milk Chocolate Day!

  31. Charlie, I almost dropped by coffee cup when I saw that BIG bowl of chocolates ready to be tempered. Thank you for posting a truly satisfying experience — visually and descriptively!

  32. Thanks so much for coming to The Sydney Chocolate School! Your support is greatly appreciated and was a pleasure to have you here. Rebecca Kerswell

  33. Ooh, I was drooling as I watched this. Chocolatier has a certain ring to it; you are right on that.

  34. I’ll be very happy to refer to you now as a chocolatier! I think you’ve qualified as at least an apprentice level, don’t you? This must have been a wonderful participatory class. I would really like to take a class to help me visualize the tempering. That one step alone would make me very uncertain! I hope you’ll keep this up and show us your progress. :-)

  35. Oh my God – I’m be so jealous… all that chocolate everywhere… I wouldn’t know where to turn – I bet the smell was just incredible, wasn’t it?

    I’ve heard of this mystical tempering… it sounds very complex… isn’t it amazing that someone actually worked this out, all those years ago?

  36. The chocolate with the berries was my fave :) I bought some freeze dried fruits for that reason, but have been to lazy to do it at home lol.

  37. What an incredible job to have! Mixing those big bowls of chocolate would be such a joy.

  38. oh I’d so love to go. Not sure I’d be the best student and concentrate though, the chocolate smell would just make my mind wonder! I’d have Charlie and the Chocolate factory images playing in my head! It’s a risk I’m willing to take ;)

  39. What a lovely chocolate course you went on! Everything that was made there, looked so appetizing too! MMMMMMM!

  40. How I wish there is one chocolate school in Singapore as well! It looks so interesting!

  41. I’ve been lusting after one of those infra-red guns! I’ll probably break down and get one someday. ;-) Sounds like a fun course! We have a marble slab, and it’s pretty handy. Usually no need to put it in the refrigerator, although we don’t usually temper chocolate (microwaving it works pretty well, too). Really entertaining read – thanks.

  42. Absolutely fabulous. I wonder if working with it you’d get sick if it. I doubt it. It is such a beautiful product and as they use only the best I can only imagine how beautiful it must be.
    Carolyn

  43. TEMPERING CHOCOLATE! .I honestly think you need to just have a knack or feel for it, if you can eyeball it, so to speak.It is impossible to do it by constantly taking its temperature.I used to do it a lot, but it wasn’t cost efficient when I had my bakery/restaurant,(although I have indulged my husband and friends here sometimes.) Frankly, as good as great , homemade chocolate is, it is so terribly time-consuming.I would love to spring for an automatic temperer and would have, had I gone back into business.
    There are small, personal sized ones, but they are still cost hundred of U.S. dollars. I keep looking for funds and an excuse to get one!

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  1. […] If you have been reading along with me for a while now, you might remember that I participated in a course at Coco Chocolate that taught me how to temper chocolate. […]

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