Making chocolate at Betty's School of Cookery
Updated 12:34pm Tuesday 25th March 2014 in Features
Hannah Bryan with course tutors Kirsty Mitchison and Lisa Bennison and some of the chocolates that Hannah made on the course
Reporter HANNAH BRYAN dons her apron and heads to Bettys School of Cookery on a chocolate-making adventure.
JUST tip it all out of the bowl and on to the counter top when you’re ready.
Watching the thick, shiny melted dark chocolate goo pour out of the tub and flow on to the marble counter top, I wasn’t sure if I was holding my breath or whether my heart had temporarily stopped beating at the unnatural thought of putting this amazing substance anywhere other than on top of a cake or on to a spoon and straight into my mouth.
But that’s how Bettys get their amazing hand-dipped chocolates, through tempering it. This painstaking method involves heating melted chocoate to the right temperature before cooling it down, spreading it on to the worktop and reworking it, proving that making chocolate is truely an art form.
With chocolate now a daily part of our lives, what Bettys offers goes beyond that of the standard chocolate bar.
Using the best ingredients, handled by the most experienced staff, Bettys bring customers taste sensations and new creations from their very own chocolate factory.
“This gives you a new appreciation of craft chocolates,” course tutor Lisa Bennison tells me as fellow tutor Kirsty Mitchison swirls the chocolate on the marble slab to cool it down.
“It helps you to understand all of those workings that give you a magical chocolate.”
From walking through the reception at Bettys Cookery School, which is just 10 minutes from Harrogate town centre, it was as though I’d entered into a real-life Charlie and the Chocolate Factory setting.
In the entrance sat an ornate display edible of otters, Easter bunnies and Easter eggs, all exquisitely decorated.
The kitchen, a huge room with state-of the art work stations the Masterchef set would be jealous of, boasted a dining area as well. But unlike usual kitchens, chocolate eggs, ganache and homemade biscuits lined the cabinets. instead of the usual kitchen staples.
I’d been given a golden ticket to create spiced orange ganache truffles and raspberry and framboise squares hand dipped in Bettys dark chocolate.
As we started by watching the experts at work, Lisa began to make comparisons between making good chocolate to that of fine wine and a rich, earthy coffee – I knew we were in for something special.
Both Kirsty and Lisa have an extensive background in baking and the art of chocolate-making so I knew I was in good hands.
“My mum was never a big fan of cake so I thought if I am going to eat cake then I am going to have to make it myself,” Kirsty tells me about her early beginnings of becoming a master chocolatier.
In a generation where many people are working longer hours and are being left with less time to cook, Kirsty and Lisa are hoping that the courses at the cookery school, which opened up in 2001, will help people fall in love with cooking.
Lisa tells me: “I hope that from some of the school courses we have done we have got our next generation of master bakers.”
Bettys wouldn’t settle for anything other than master bakers, chocolatiers and patisserie chefs either. Their reputation precedes them; well-known for the long lines of orderly queues forming outside of their tea rooms, customers desperate to sample the latest and most popular delights.
With courses ranging from 10 days, to an “experience weekend” as well as courses for children, it’s easy to see why the school was named the Best Large Recreational Cookery School at the 2013 British Cookery School Awards.
Aside from chocolate, the school also runs bread-making and patisserie courses.
After creating our own spiced orange ganache it was time for lunch, which was an expertly-crafted goat’s cheese and beetroot filo tart with a glass of crisp Swisswhite wine.
All of the courses at the school include a two-course lunch with a glass of wine. Dessert was a choice of three mini desserts; a meringue, macaroon and gateaux. I opted for the Gateaux Opera, and from the look of it I knew it would taste sensational. But just to confirm, I dug in my fork to sample the rich and flavoursome texture which confirmed once again, that it’s impossible to deny that Bettys are anything but experts in this field.
“Let me know if by the end of the day, you have truly fallen in love with chocolate,” says Lisa following our own attempt at tempering chocolate. after lunch.
After giving it a go and then hand dipping the ganache chocolates I was well and truly in love.
I’d always appreciated good chocolate but my experience at Bettys took my love for cocoa to another level. There’s something so satisfying about popping a raspberry ganache square in your mouth as the raspberry flavour oozes throughwhen you know it is something that you have created.
Not only did I leave with everything I had made during the day, and a chocolate related glow, I got to keep the apron and a recipe book as well.
To find out more about Bettys Cookery School and their coursesvisit bettyscookeryschool.co.uk or phone 01423 814016.
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