Advanced Raw Chocolate Masterclass with Amy Levin

On Saturday 3rd November, Irene Arango, founder of Bliss Bites and myself, Rich Havardi were fortunate enough to host a raw chocolate masterclass taken by the highly talented raw chocolatier and all round raw food expert Amy Levin.

Amy is a professionally trained chef who has worked at some of the UK’s top raw food and chocolate companies and also worked at Saf Restaurants in both London and Munich as a Senior Sous and pastry chef with the world renowned Chad Sarno. She has taken the skills and experience of her earlier career to develop her own business, which incorporates teaching raw food classes from her home and throughout the UK and North America. From her website, she also sells a variety of raw chocolates, has a blog and a recipe journal as well as many other resources. For more information please visit Amy’s website – www.ooosha.co.uk.

At the start of the class, Amy presented all students with a detailed and comprehensive booklet, a chocolate bible if you will, outlining all the information, techniques and recipes covered on the day. An invaluable guide, created by a master of her craft, this would give the students everything they needed, once the class was finished to go away and start creating their own amazing raw chocolate creations for themselves and if they so wishes as a viable business.

After a brief introduction about herself and the course, Amy gave an in depth explanation about tempering, a fundamental process that gives chocolate its characteristic sheen and snappy texture. It involves heating and cooling chocolate in the correct way so that it hardens into a uniform crystal structure. She also gave a low down of the various chocolate moulds, how to use them and also how to store chocolate for best results.

Another aspect of making exciting and unique chocolates involves creating filled, dipped, coloured, flavoured and textured chocolates. Amy outlined what foods can be used to make textures, for example nuts and dried fruits and what aromas can be used to flavour chocolates, e.g. fruit extracts and essential oils. In terms of coloured chocolates, Amy made up a number of different colours of chocolate on the day. From the basic white chocolate recipe, which she demonstrated, she then added natural colours to create red, yellow and green coloured chocolate.

A detailed explanation of different natural sweeteners was also given. One of the fundamental advantages of raw over cooked chocolate is that natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, xylitol and a number of others are used, instead of refined sugar to sweeten the chocolate. Refined sugar has been linked to health problems and natural sweeteners are far more nutritious and don’t have the same health detriments that refined sugar can cause.

During the break, the students were treated to a raw food lunch made by myself and Irene, which included nut cheese, crackers and salads.

After this brief interlude, it was on to the magic of raw chocolate making! Amy demonstrated how to make white, milk and dark chocolate. She used both the Vitamix, a super high powered blender to quickly and easily melt raw chocolate and also melted chocolate in a pan, a more time consuming process than the Vitamix, but still a common and straightforward way of making raw chocolate if the Vitamix is not owned.

Another exciting variety of raw chocolate made on the day was filled chocolate, the filling being a delicious mango and raspberry jam. Other beautiful confections made included coconut bonbons and pralines, which contained a hazelnut paste.

There was plenty of interactivity in the class as well, with students helping to temper the chocolate, dip the chocolate and bonbons and create flavoured and multi-coloured chocolates. All the chocolates made by the students were very gratefully taken home by them, although for some that may have not ended up being too many, as a number of the students were unable to resist and ate them before they left!

It was a fantastic day and a wonderful learning experience, not just for the students, but also for Irene Arango and myself who were hosting the class for Amy. Even though we have attended the class before, it was a real bonus for us both to learn from Amy again and for myself, it has given me a renewed confidence to continue creating new and even more exciting raw chocolates.

We look forward very much to collaborating with Amy again in the future, if the opportunity presents itself. She is truly a master when it comes to chocolate making and an inspiration for budding raw chocolate enthusiasts!

Don’t forget Irene and I are running the next of our World Raw Food Series Workshops tomorrow. Come join us for an educational and delicious journey into raw Japanese cuisine. Still time to book your place here.

You can keep in touch with me on Twitter and Facebook where I share lots of great tips and recipes (and lovely photos of all the raw food goodies I’ve been making at Down To Earth Café.)

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