Wednesday night, Cookbook Cafe brought in master chocolatier Keith Hurdman from Notting Hill's Melt chocolate shop to teach a small group about different chocolate varieties while getting a taste test of a whole table full of sweet treats.
Aside from being absolutely stuffed by the end of the two hour event, we learned about different cocoa plants, tasted chocolates from around the world — including the most expensive variety on sale today — and learned the difference between Belgian-, Swiss- and French-style chocolates. We also gained insight into organic and fair trade chocolates: Chef Hurdman says the quality of organic chocolate is rarely up to par and prefers to buy fair trade instead, especially since 85% of the world's chocolate comes from Africa, where labor violations run rampant.
Though we had hoped to get some hands-on chocolate making experience, we were slightly disappointed that only people handling any chocolate were the two sous chefs Keith had in tow. We did, however, learn to make a knock-out chocolate martini from the Intercontinental Hotel's mixologist and bar manager Joel, who taught us how to make a rose petal martini last month. And of course, we want you to be able to make one, too.
Fill a tumbler three-quarters full of ice, then using pourers on your bottles — or being quite careful — pour in about a second's worth of vermouth, "the most important ingredient in any cocktail," says Joel. Add in 5 seconds' worth of vodka (we used Belvedere), then add 4 seconds' worth of dark or white creme de cacao liquor. We preferred the light variety because it's sweeter and it's clear, but if you're looking to make a stronger drink, try out the dark kind. Your glass should now be half full of liquid.
Take a moment to get your martini glass ready now — squeeze some orange around the rim, then roll it lightly in cocoa powder to add a professional-looking touch to your cocktail. Then firmly slam the shaker over your tumbler, making sure to create a vacuum, and shake 8-13 times — any more will dilute your drink too much — ending with your drink in the shaker. Tap around where the tumbler and shaker meet to loosen the connection, then pour your drink through a strainer into your glass.
Want to check out the event yourself? Keith and Joel will be making repeat appearances at Cookbook Cafe on April 23 and June 11. Classes start at 6:30 p.m. and cost £35, which includes a glass of champagne, your cocktail, enough chocolate to make you diabetic, plus a goody bag to take home even more chocolaty treats. Learn more here.