Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Perugina School of Chocolate: A Taste of Italy

On the outskirts of Perugia is the Perugina Scuola di Cioccolato, a unique place where those with a passion for chocolate can discover the secrets of chocolate making and learn the techniques to create impressive masterpieces, taught by the passion and creativity of the Perugina School of Chocolate Masters. A chocolate lovers dream, our course — Master Nero: Le Tecniche di Lavorazione del Cioccolato e dei Decori — is one of the great classics of the school. Lasting 4 hours, the course taught in Italian explores all the facets of chocolate making, processing and manual tempering, which is essential for achieving both shiny chocolate and making other chocolate confections. At the end of the day, everyone in the class receives an official Perugina Scuola di Cioccolato certificate and recipes, as well as an apron from the class and of course, all of the exquisite treats we prepared during the day! 

Bowl of melted chocolate set over a pan of barely simmering water

The chocolate chef's assistant helps stir the chocolate 

Chef tempers the chocolate by pouring it on his clean surface and moves it around with a knife and spatula making it cool to 31º-32º celsius which will ensure a shiny coating for the chocolates  

Pouring the melted chocolate all over my work surface

Once it's cooled it's scraped back into my bowl but what a mess

Ingredients for the chocolate ganache

Using a sharp knie, the block of chocolate is cut into smaller pieces to allow it to melt faster

Over a very low heat, the chocolate is melted with some cream

Silky smooth perfection

The chocolate ganache is then poured onto a square of parchment

The sheet of parchment is folded over the ganache and the chilled for about 30 minutes, 
so that it becomes firm

Dried red peppercorns for garnish on our chocolates

Our chocolate covered ganache chocolates garnished with red peppercorns 

Chef explaining about crema di pistachio from Sicily, a very precious and expensive product
we were going to use to flavour the dark chocolate ganache

Chocolate, cream and crema di pistacchio

Lavender is added to the cream and warmed through then is added to the chopped white chocolate, and melted all together

Melted white chocolate and lavender filling 

The chocolate mould

Chef showing how the mould is first filled with melted chocolate, then held upside down to allow any excess to cascade out like a waterfall

The mould is then chilled for about 30 minutes until it becomes firm

Our two fillings are placed in piping bags: white cheocolate and lavender,
and chocolate with cream di pistacchio

The melted chocolate ready for the final layer of the chocolates

The two fillings are piped into the chocolates mould then finished with a thin layer of melted chocolate and chilled for 10-15 minutes

The chocolates pop right out of the mould 

The final product — perfect white and milk chocolate ganache filled bonbons

The Perugina School of Chocolate provided the set for the award winning film 'Lessons in Chocolate' starring Neri Marcore, Luca Argentero and Violante Placido

Torta Glassata al Cioccolato
Serves 6
Recipe courtesy of Perugina

1 Perugina Extra Dark Bar of Chocolate 
1/2 cup milk
3 1/2 oz + 1 oz butter
7 tbsp sugar + 2 tbsp
2 large eggs
3 1/2 oz flour
1/2 cup of sweet yeast for cakes
8 oz mixed fresh fruit, for garnish: apricots, cherries and cape gooseberry

Melt half of the Perugia chocolate bar in a water bath or microwave, the set aside. to allow to cool down slightly. In a bowl, beat the eggs with 3 1/2 oz of sugar until soft and foamy. Sift the flour and yeast and add to the mixture, then add the melted chocolate, gently mixing with a spatula. Pour the mixture into greased and floured 8-inch round cake tin, and bake at 335°F for 25 minutes, checking with a toothpick at the end of the cooking. Meanwhile, sprinkle the remaining chocolate with milk, 2 tablespoons sugar and butter.

Once cooked, turn the cake out and place on a plate with a diameter larger than the cake. Place the glaze into a glass jar and pour on the cake surface without spreading it, dropping it all over the surface: pick up the excess and refill it until you get a smooth mirror-like surface. Transfer to a serving platter and refrigerate. Before serving, garnish with fresh fruit.

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