Praliné Workshop 1.0

Yesterday the day of the praliné workshop had finally arrived.  I attended together with three of the friends who gave me the voucher back in September, and we all had a fantastic time.  The workshop took place in a café called Bittersüß (Bittersweet), a beautiful shop with an incredible amount of little chocolates and pretty things.  If you’re not a chocoholic already, you will be after you’ve been to this shop.

The four hours that the workshop lasted where full of surprises, wonders, and fun.  Time actually flew by, as it tends to when you’re having a good time.  We learned all the basics from what the difference between chocolate and coating is, to how to temper chocolate, how to use different kinds of fillings, and different ways of coating.  We were encouraged to taste a lot of chocolate, play around with everything and try out tools and techniques.

What’s also great is that most of the ingredients we used are available for retailers only in large amounts, but you can buy them in the shop in small amounts, so there’s no excuse not to start experimenting at home with what we’ve learned, especially now that Christmas is close and we might need last minute gifts.

The first surprise was that you don’t actually make the outer shells of the pralinés – you buy them ready-made.   We learned that this is custom, because it would take much too long to make shells first and then prepare the filling.

The filling process held a surprise for me – I found out that decorating / piping bags are just not my kind of tool, and I was not as adept at filling the pralinés as I would have liked to be.  We learned how to make those little piping bags out of greaseproof paper, which was great;  I’ve seen that on TV many times but never tried it myself.  Handling those bags when filling the pralinés, however, was a different story.  Mine did not look very professional, but luckily, once they were coated they miraculously looked as good as everyone else’s.

Here’s an overview of what kind of pralinés we made.

These are a mix of dark and milk chocolate shells with a raspberry and balsamic vinegar milk chocolate filling.  Divine.  And as you can see, once they were coated, my botched piping job didn’t show at all.

Above are milk chocolate shells filled with raspberry purée in milk chocolate, with a milk chocolate and cocoa & red fruit sugar coating.

All of the pralinés we made tasted heavenly, but the fillings I personally liked best were raspberry purée and the raspberry balsamic vinegar one, because I like the delicate fruity note.

These are dark chocolate shells filled with Bailey’s in milk chocolate.

As we tried different coating techniques with our respective pralinés, we ended up with what looks like an enormous amount of chocolates in the end.  I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t discern one sort from the other in the pics after I downloaded them, because some of them just look too much alike.

What we have here is a mix of dark shells filled with Amaretto in dark chocolate, a mix of dark and milk chocolate shells filled with stollen-spiced chocolate, and dark chocolate filled with hazelnut nougat, all covered in different kinds of chocolate using different coating techniques.

Having worked with chocolate for a few hours and tasted a fair amount along the way will make you think you’ve had enough of chocolate for a while.

But trust me – that feeling doesn’t last.  I woke up this morning finding the little box with my treasures sitting next to the laptop on the kitchen counter, and all I could think of was how good they are.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to resist attending the advanced workshop 2.0 in spring.  Until then, I have quite a few pralinés left that need eating – after all they only keep for about a week, so I can’t let them go to waste…