Nowadays it seems giving somebody a normal gift is so boring.
And in my opinion with good reason too. It saves us from exchanging it on eBay for a start!
You see, in this day and age when most of us are working and have financial freedom, we indulge in instant gratification.
When we want something, we just go out and buy it.
So it makes sense to give someone a gift they can experience. Something that they can remember long after Christmas or a birthday has vanished into a distant memory.
With this in mind, I decided to experience a gift that I would love to receive myself - making chocolate truffles (named after the earthy, dirt-covered fungus that they resemble).
Carl Linnaeus has named chocolate as the "food of the gods" but rumour has it, the cocoa bean has numerous other uses.
Before I went along to the workshop, I thought chocolate was just for eating, but chocolatier Becky, came up with an array of things to do with it.
She said in some countries, people slathered it on their skin and their hair to make it soft and look good. Others put it in medicine.
Personally I had no intention of wasting my chocolate on anything other than my tongue.
The key to making truffles is using good quality dark chocolate, Becky told us.
We used Dezaan which has 64% cocoa and comes in the form of couvertures - button shaped pieces. The higher the percentage of chocolate, the better it is.
There was a time when chocolate was used in its 100% form but nowadays sugar and milk are added to give it a less bitter taste.
To make the inner part of the truffle called ganache, we used two parts of the melted chocolate with one part whipping cream.
I've always thought chocolate needs to be melted down in a bowl of hot water, but Becky said that we could cut through this phase by simply putting it in the microwave.
The important thing to do is check the chocolate every 15 seconds or so, stir it, and then pop it back into the microwave until it is melted.
Combining the two ingredients was a mind boggling experience.
I never thought that the consistency of the chocolate with the cream would thicken so much, that one would require extreme bicep strength to stir it.
Once thickened, we placed it in a cone shaped plastic bag before snipping off the end and squeezing out the contents into a log shape on to a tray.
As you can imagine, the long dark brown shapes on our trays hardly looked appetising, and had most of us giggling in true school children fashion as our minds turned to toilet humour.
But there is technique to this process. Becky said it was easier to roll the truffles into balls in this way.
The tip is to roll them around with the fingers and not with the palm of the hands which are too hot and would melt the chocolate.
This took some concentration as I am used to rolling dough's with my whole hand.
To give the truffles a hard, outer coating, you need to temper the chocolate.
As this requires scientific precision, Becky stepped in to do this bit for us.
Some two thirds of more melted chocolate was laid on a marble slab, rolled around until it cooled down, before being returned to the remainder of the chocolate to get the right temperature.
The next step was really messy as we covered our palms with generous helping of the chocolate and rolled the ganache balls around to coat it.View image
We then dipped them straight into a coating of our choice of desiccated coconut, nuts, icing sugar or cocoa powder.
I was surprised how elegant they actually looked on the tray even though I looked far from professional making them.
Becky was right, My hands indeed felt extremely soft when I washed them and could see them again.
But I think I'll stick to the hand cream. This chocolate is too good to be wasted.
The Chocolate Making Workshop is available all year round on selected Saturdays in 14 locations across the UK and lasts approximately 2 ½ hours. Tickets cost £61 per person. Visit http://www.goseedo.com/or call 0800 980 5551 for more information
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