“The greatest tragedies were written by the Greeks and Shakespeare…neither knew chocolate.” ― Sandra Boynton
Here I am again again, at Matthew Kenney Santa Monica Culinary!
I recently completed their Weekend Intensive: Knife Skills and Sushi Workshop. While this was an incredible experience, this chocoholic was reeeeally looking forward to her next weekend intensive: The Art Of Raw Chocolate.
Our instructors were beautiful Rachel Harper and Casey Dolezal. We were four students in the class. Pascal and Sofie who were vacationing from Switzerland (of course, where there is chocolate there must be Swiss people) and Maddie who was also visiting but from Washington D.C.
We started the class by learning a little bit about the history of cacao and how the Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of the divine ( more specifically the gifts of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom). I truly believe this! These seeds had so much value they were eventually used as a form of currency. C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E = Liquid Gold!
We also covered some of the health benefits of raw cacao which includes:
-Promotes cardiovascular health
-Protects from environmental and metabolic toxins
-Increases the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains
-Raises the level of serotonin in the brain
-Stimulates the secretion of endorphins
We learned about the three main cultivar groups of cacao ( Criollo sometimes referred to as the “King of Cacao”, Forastero and Trinatario) and the many types of chocolates made from the cacao beans. Finally, they introduced us to the most commonly used sweeteners and super foods used in raw cuisine.
After this brief introduction, we were given our first assignment: To prepare Cinnamon Spiced Brigadeiro, using the following ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of soaked cashews
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3 teaspoons of cinnamon
3/4 cup of melted cacao butter
pinch of cayenne pepper and salt.
This was refrigerated for several hours to be used later for our chocolate truffles.
Our second task was to team up in groups of two and prepare one batch of Fudge Brownies. This was also placed in the freezer for a couple of hours.
Our third task was Spice Mole Lettuce Wraps. For this, we prepared a green and red slaw with fine julienne carrots and cilantro mixed with a dressing of lime juice, rice vinegar, grape seed oil, cumin seed and salt. The sunflower mole was done by combining sunflower cacao butter with a vegetable sauce that reminded me of spicy Spanish gazpacho but thicker in texture. This was made with raisins, chipotle pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, dates, shallots, garlic, carrot juice, lemon juice, chili, cumin, cardamon, salt and pepper.
We assembled the wraps by placing some butter lettuce leaves on a cutting board, adding a couple of spoons of sunflower mole sauce, the cole slaw and finishing it with small dices of tomatoes and avocados.
We then dressed up the plate with the extra mole using a spoon and pouring the extra mole in fast swirling motion. I love that I always learn something new about presentation when taking these classes at Matthew Kenney Culinary. I must admit that I am proud of the finished dish! It not only looks beautiful but it tasted equally delicious! I was happy to learn that this was also going to be our lunch as I was getting extremely hungry!
After a quick half an hour break, we prepared some hot chocolate with almond milk, cacao powder, coconut butter, vanilla extract, palm sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. This was the perfect drink at the moment as the room was getting a little cold and we all needed a little kick.
After preparing and drinking the hot chocolate, we removed the fudge from the freezer, cut it into 2 x 3 inches reactangles and placed in the dehydrator.
Next, we learned how to temper chocolate. In raw cuisine, this means bringing the chocolate to just 115 degrees Fahrenheit ( 46 degrees Celsius) , then cooling it down to 84 degrees Fahrenheit ( 29 degrees Celsius) and then heating it up to 88 degrees Fahrenheit ( 31 degrees Celsius).
We made 2 kinds of bonbons fillings, a cherry port and a hazelnut cream.
While we waited for the bonbons to harden, we prepared chocolate truffles which we covered in dark chocolate, hemp seeds, nuts and cacao powder.
As with my previous experience, the class came to an end before we knew it. To combat the chocolate comatose, we headed next door to M.A.K.E, Matthew Kenney’s restaurant, and ordered fresh squeezed green juices!
What can a “chocoholic” plant-based cook-in-training say about a class called “The Art Of Chocolate” at the world-renowned Matthew Kenney Santa Monica Culinary Institute? Thank you Rachael and Casey! This class surpassed all my expectations! Oh how I wish I could sign up for Level 1 and 2! Hope to take class from you again!