Cooking lessons in Abu Dhabi

Get creative with chocolate at Choco-La’s chocolate making class Discuss this article

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The Shangri-La were on to a good thing when they decided to run a chocolate making class for kids and their parent at Choco-La. We signed up for the class, buzzing with excitement over the prospect of dabbling in such a delicious culinary art-form. What really happened was that the class, called Chocolate Factory, brought out the kid in us. And what a happy little chocolate smothered fat kid it was. Now if you yourself are in possession of a child (fat or thin) that likes chocolate, we guarantee that this class will leave said child very happy as well.

Let’s begin with our teacher, the Shangri-La’s executive pastry chef, Muhamad Jejen. He is a soft-spoken man, whose meticulous attention to detail and indulgent devotion to each process is proof of a deep passion for his work. Encouraging and enthusiastic, he’s very good at giving his pupils a fully interactive, hands-on experience. Before we entered this man’s lair though, we were welcomed in the Lobby Lounge with warm smiles, and equally warm cups of Choco-La’s special frothy hot chocolate. This, in our opinion is a delicious and effective safety measure to prevent our temporarily chocolate-satiated selves from salivating all over the work counters during the class. Mind you, you’ll still need to exert some effort into preventing yourself, and your little companion, from finger licking. Imagine a workspace with vats of chocolate in all its forms, and trays of edible decorations and chocolate pieces in various shapes and sizes. Things are either gooey to begin with, or they melt. Now you just try to resist that kind of temptation.

The class itself doesn’t involve cooking so much as it does assembling. By this we mean all the necessary pieces of what will become your final masterpiece have been pre-prepared. You and your child’s job is to prepare and assemble them as you please, and have a great deal of fun doing so. On the menu we have chocolate truffles, chocolate lollipops and a chocolate road scene, complete with chocolate car and passengers. The ingredients are chocolate, chocolate and more melted chocolate to use as chocolate mortar with which to stick the chocolate pieces together.

Of course, there is an educational side to all this fun. To begin with chef Jejen will show you the cocoa pod and all its little beans, while explaining what chocolate is made of. We were also taught how to make chocolate eggs (or half an eggshell to be more precise). We didn’t actually use the one we were working on in the end because it would have taken too long to be ready, but we did get the general idea, and then chef Jejen pulled the ‘here’s some I made earlier’ line. Now on with the assembly: we used these pre-made half-eggshells to build a little car. We mortared on the wheels, the badge and licence plate, stuck in our little driver, dressed him and named him ‘Fred’. We then took a giant chocolate slab, put our car on it and called it a road. We decked this road out with a few traffic cones and flowerpots, and violà: landscape with chocolate. Then we made choco-lollies, and knocked ourselves out decorating them with smarties, liquorice and jelly-beans galore. You’ve got to work fast before the chocolate cools, and it cools surprisingly fast. And then finally the chocolate truffles, which involved filling white chocolate shells with pistachio ganache, and then getting very messy with green chocolate. Now, do you know what really tops this metaphorical sundae of happiness with a glacé cherry? You get to take it all home with you, to devour at your leisure.

The Chocolate Factory class takes place on March 17 from 2-4pm and is priced at Dhs125 for one adult and one child (an additional Dhs80 for a second child). Children must be between four and ten years of age. To book or for more information, call Choco-La (02 509 8527).

By Elest Ali
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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