When I heard (via social media, of course!) that a chocolate dipping session was going to be held at The Nature's Basket, Bandra, Mumbai, I was more than happy to register myself. I still have fond memories of my review trip of The Cocoa Trees at the store and I was excited about going back there. This time, though, chocolate promised to 'come alive' at the hands of chef Kevin Zhang and what more could a chocolate lover ask for!?
I arrived just in time with friend/ baker/ foodblogger, Reema (http://www.bakeyou.com/) to a full house and we just about got space to stand and watch the session. In his soft-spoken manner, Chef Zhang explained to the guests the types of chocolate, its history, the different manufacturing processes, etc.
Much to the audience's delight, Chef Zhang had samples passed around for pretty much everything he spoke of. Starting with very dark chocolate, he moved to regular milk chocolate, milk chocolate with no added sugar, white chocolate truffles and the pralines. He passed around samples from brands like Belgian, Frey, Geisha, Duc d'O, and Goldkenn among others - all of which are available at The Cocoa Tree outlet at The Nature's Basket.
As the participants tasted the different varieties of chocolate, Chef Zhang explained their characteristics and what the respective brands were famous for. As the session progressed, both he and the audience loosened up, and the place livened up with good cheer. Questions were asked, and with his boyish charm, the seasoned chef shed more light on the techniques of chocolate-making, storing and yes, eating! Some chocolate bars were also given away to some lucky participants, based on random numbers, which added to the excitement.
In the last part of the session, the technique of melting chocolates for the purpose of fondues, dipping or coating was explained by Chef Zhang. He also invited three volunteers to come up and try their hand at making chocolate. Cookies, marshmallows, candy and fruit were some of the things made available to the volunteers to dip in chocolate, garnish them and finally take them home.
The session ended with all participants being given some discount vouchers that could be availed at The Cocoa Trees. I don't know how many shopped for chocolates thereafter, but we left a palate-happy, chocolate-enlightened lot.