We made it to the Choco-Story New York at Jacques Torres chocolate shop this past weekend. A small museum was recently opened at this location, 350 Hudson Street, which allows you a glimpse into the history of chocolate making. The museum itself is very small. You can be through it, reading everything, watching the demonstrations and partaking in all the tastings in about a half hour, provided the crowds don't slow you down.
One of the first tasting samples provides an explanation of the differences between white, milk and dark chocolates. It was interesting to see that white chocolate is actually made from coco butter and no coco paste at all. The coco paste appears to be what makes the chocolate brown. Hence dark and milk chocolate, which both contain coco paste having a brown color.
The next sample allows you to taste chocolate from three different geographical locations. Followed by a demonstration of a hot coco making from raw coco. The first sip, without the added ingredients, is a bit of a shocker as the drink is incredibly bitter. Next you can to add your own mixture of the typical additives, pepper, anise, cinnamon, ground chilies and sugar. Don't hold back on the sugar, again, raw coco is very bitter. You will be surprised as to how much sugar it takes to make a familiar taste out of the raw drink. I was!
Lastly is a chocolate making demonstration, which lucky for us, was done by Jacques himself! A mold is used to create a chocolate ganache filled morsel. No matter how full you are try one of these little samples. It was delicious!!
We also opted to take the chocolate making class and again, we got lucky and Jacques taught the class. Loved it! Jacques gave a quick chemistry lesson on how chocolate making and using molds works. We were then each provided with molds in both chocolate bar shape and a unique shape on a stick. Little orange cups filled with sugar-coated hazelnuts, salt, almonds and raw chocolate line your workstation. You have a choice between dark and milk chocolate to pipe into your molds. It's up to you to make your own customized chocolate bars and mixtures. Sprinkles of salt, a bit of almonds, maybe some dark and milk chocolate all in one bar. It's all on you to make something delicious. The molds were then popped into the freezer and shortly after popped back out. We then broke our chocolate free of the molds and packaged them up to take home. The class was about $40 and I'd estimate you take home about $40 worth of chocolate. Delicious, amazing, fresh, chocolate.
If you are looking for an in-depth down to the core of how chocolate is made class, this is not that class. The tour does this, it goes over ingredients and process from beginning to end. The class does not get into the actual mixing of chocolate (it's only a 40-minute class). The chocolate (dark and milk) is pre-made and ready for inserting into your molds. It's a very basic class, which means it's great for little kids. The toughest part is holding the plastic bags to pipe in the chocolate, but that is manageable for even quite small children. Be prepared for chocolate everywhere, even as an adult! Aprons are provided, but your hands will be decorated as much as your molds. I enjoyed the class, and felt like I got my $40 worth, I would recommend the package: museum tour, demonstrations and class. It's a great mellow afternoon activity.