That time I went to Chocolate school with my mom

In my never ending quest to be my mothers favourite child for once (that's right older brother I'm coming for you) I arranged the best birthday present for my mom that my cunning self could think of. A truffle making class.

"Oh but Tatiana how is that special? My city offers those classes in their leisure guide."

Sure it might...but does it take place in a a chocolate factory? In Switzerland? Yup, I got my mom a truffle making course at a Swiss chocolate factory.

Boom goes the dynamite...I'm the favourite child for a day.

As of this morning though all is right with the world again and my brother is back to being the favourite child. Or is it my husband? (yeah I know he's not even her kid) I can't remember either way it's not me.

Before I get into the awesomeness that was a truffle making course in a town that smells like cocoa powder I will run down some specifics for you.

We were at the Cailler Factory in Broc-Fabrique Switzerland and we were taking this class specifically. We arrived by train. The class was at 10:30 and you are asked to arrive about 15 minutes before the class starts. The doors open at 10am. The price tag on this experience for my mom and I was 116 Swiss francs (94ish euros depending on the exchange and 128ish Canadian dollars.) Before you balk at the price let me give you a run down on what you get for your money.

  • A 2.5 hour class on truffle making
  • an apron to keep (which I think are 25 francs in the gift shop)
  • all your materials
  • truffles to take home (the ones you make obviously)
  • a certificate of completion (due to my never ending need for validation that's my favourite part)
  • Admission to the tour everyone does when they go to Cailler once you're finished
That's a lot of bang for your buck...or a lot of fantasticness for your franc!

Welcome to Broc-Fabrique
or as my friend Jaimee calls it, Chocolate Town
A chocolate factory and cows grazing on a hillside.
So cliche, cute and Swiss it hurts
Now a quick history lesson. Maison Cailler is one of the founders of milk chocolate. Straying from the commonly used powdered milk, Alexandre-Louis Cailler used fresh cows' milk to create that creamy texture. Yes my friends, that is why Swiss chocolate is superior and known the world over. They put actual milk in the chocolate, none of that powdered stuff. And it makes all the difference. Alexandre-Louis Cailler was also the first person to produce Swiss chocolate. Yup, he was the first and the oldest Swiss chocolate maker. Among the big wigs of Swiss chocolate I know a lot of people go ga-ga for Lindt (located in Olten) and Toblerone (located in Zurich.) Which is all well and good but here's the thing, that's what the Swiss like to sell to tourists because it's universally known. Most people don't realize there are other and dare I say better brands of Swiss Chocolate. Cailler being one of them. I'm a serious Cailler fan. They can do no wrong my books.

The class started promptly at 10:30. We began by washing our hands, finding a spot and our instructor Olivier Jungo introducing himself and his assistant. There was 11 students including my mother and I so a nice small group of people. The class was conducted in 4 languages. Yes, you read that correctly. French, high German, Swiss German and English. Awesome. My french knowledge is limited to asking, "where is the library?" and "Who cut the cheese?" so the fact that I could understand two of the other languages was awesome. Don't fret though, you will receive the recipe at the end of class so no need to commit everything to memory.

The class is set up in a such a way that makes learning easy. First we watched Olivier demonstrate and explain how to make the ganache aka truffle filling. I've made ganache before with mixed results. I've had it split and I've had it seize. Turns out it's because it's either been to warm or to cold. A matter of a half degree makes all the difference in the world. Using a thermometer will make all the difference in the world. Olivier had a super cool infrared hear that infrared thermometer...just sayin'. Once he completed his demo the class set about making our own ganache.

The fun part of any filling is the flavour. Now on the liquor cart there was several options. The minute I saw the Bailey's and the whisky my brain immediately though of Irish car bomb cupcakes. So rather than one full shot of booze I opted for two half shots of bailey's and whisky. Olivier saw me doing this and mentioned it was a really good idea. You read that right my dear readers my idea was validated by a chocolatier. And yes in that moment I considered giving up my writing career and taking up a whisk for the rest of my working life.

As you can see, my piping skills need work.
Once our ganache was in the fridge we were shown the next step. Or as I like to think of it, the moment where my time was blown. Once your ganache has cooled and become malleable you need to whisk it until it's died and gone to chocolate heaven and has the consistency of a soft butter cream. Now for the rocked my world part. Olivier showed how to pipe it into small blobs (totally the technical term I swear.) Now why are we piping the ganache rather than just digging in a rolling balls. After you've pipped the little blobs you put it in the fridge for a few minutes and then roll those into balls. WHOA! This way you don't get covered in chocolate AND you don't wreck them with handling them to much. Now I would imagine this would also with rum balls. My mom said she's going to give it a whirl with her rum balls this Christmas to see.

Between the steps it was nice to get to know your other classmates a little. There was a woman with her parents who were visiting from the US. Her father gave me a thumbs up on my whisky and bailey's idea as well. I got an even bigger thumbs up when I told him about the cupcakes that inspired my choice. There was also a nice group of German women. One of them asked me where I was from and I told her Canada but I live here now. She then proceeded to tell me about how living in Canada is one of her dreams. She had visited Canada for six weeks and from that trip decided she would like to one day live there. There was also a pair of French speaking girls who were about my age and a very nice pregnant lady.

And now for the surgical portion of this blog post
I had my socks rocked yet again when Olivier showed us how you coat your little balls of deliciousness in chocolate. Now, if you're like me your first thought would be to just drop them in melted chocolate and then first them out. That's how I have done truffles in the past. This my friends is a no-no. Who knew?!

Totally playing with my food
Basically put in some surgical gloves. Dip your hands in chocolate and roll the ganache balls in your hands so you get a thin layer of chocolate and your don't get that one flat side because your chocolate is thick.

Talk about an ah-ha moment.

We had the option to cover them in cocoa powder, chocolate powder (different than cocoa powder as it has sugar in it) some sparkly stuff or drizzle them with white chocolate.

The last step is pretty packaging once your truffles have sat in the fridge just one last time so they can harden.

I walked away with 4 little bags of truffles. About 23 in total. I ended up with more because I used milk chocolate and that goes further than doing them with dark chocolate. I also piped my little blobs smaller than some people. I also think my use of two kind of booze extended my ganache a little more. But that's just speculation on my part.

Overall, it was super fun. Olivier was awesome and really great at what he does. I've always been worried about learning to cook in a classroom. I've never been fond of the idea. Mostly because I'm self taught and I know what I know and can do what I do thanks to a lot of reading and practice so I wasn't sure how I would take to the classroom.  I took a scallop class years ago with my mom while I was visiting her in Newfoundland and it was just a demo class which was nice and now I know when searing scallops for the love of jebus don't touch them but that's all I really walked away with. Turns out I like it. Probably because it was hands-on rather than just a demo. I also felt like I got a lot of help to make sure I was doing it right at each stage of the creation of my truffles. The small class size helps with that.

With this class I actually walked away with a good skill set like how to temper chocolate with and without a marble slab. What to look for when making ganache and how to not have a thick coating of chocolate on stuff. Oh and that whole piping the ganache thing. Awesomeness.

I should mention my most favourite part though. Receiving a certificate. I'm not just a youngest child who
constantly seeks validation. This goes way deeper than that. Years ago, before John and I got hitched we were watching a TV show on the travel channel I think. It was about what can be best described as the Olympics for Chocolatiers and Candy makers. Like the Bocuse d'Or for confectionery. The main event was teams from several countries creating sculptures out of chocolate and Candy. It had to be a certain height, certain width, have elements of spun sugar. I remember one team blew everyone away with their hand blown glass candy sphere. The final part though was that they had to move their creation across the "finish line" without it coming apart and crashing to the floor. It was intense!

They were talking to one for the chocolatiers about his career and he mentioned he went to chocolate school. I turned to John in that moment and said, "There's such thing as Chocolate school?!" I was floored and a little hurt that my high school career counselor had never mentioned such a post secondary endeavor to me. No I had to go to University and study English literature and history. At least chocolate school would have gotten me a job in the real world!

Olivier handed me a diploma at the end of class.

I totally have a diploma from chocolate school!

Take that career counselor!

I'm a chocolate school graduate.

My mom seemed to think it might be weird if I framed it...especially considering my degree is still sitting in the folder it came in.

....I wonder if I can add this to the education section of my resume?


Jaim said…
I'm hungry now...
Laura said…
So many great tips! I make "truffles" (use the term loosely, it's basically melted chocolate chips) but this is all very helpful. I'm super jealous of your certificate - sorry - diploma.
Unknown said…
This looks like so much fun! It definitely goes on my Swiss to-do list!
3yearsandhome said…
You can definitely add this to your resume. Looks like it was an awesome course.
Macy said…
I think my comment disappeared. That's been happening a lot lately on blogger for me. :/

I love your story telling. I felt like I was along for an incredible adventure. Congrats on your chocolate school diploma. You should totally frame it. Next to a giant photo of you with your surgical gloved hand. ;)
Anonymous said…
I love, love, love this blog post. I really wish our high school counsellor would have mentioned chocolate school, I totally would have been there. I think if Chris and I ever get to visiting Switzerland that is definitely something I'd want to do. Every once-in-awhile my Aunt and Uncle will send some chocolate and I seem to remember my favourite always being Frey or Frigor something like that. Actually upon further research it's Frigor, made by Cailler! I think my heart just stopped, they make Frigor ice cream!?!?!? must-go-to-Switzerland.....
Anne Marie said…
I don't suppose they want to make an across the river trip to Canada?

Also, I can only imagine your diploma wall <3