Part of why I wanted to set up World Chocolate Guide was to talk more about the amazing chocolatiers that we can’t always visit on the regular Chocolate Ecstasy Tours. London, like the rest of the world, seems to be breeding chocolate shops. Which can only be a good thing for you and me that live here, who now can easily get to great chocolate from almost any place (for everyone else, most have online shops too!).
In January I learnt that a chocolate boutique had opened in Croydon. I headed down to check it out and ended up being there well over an hour, speaking with Tim Fisher, the owner and chief chocolatier of Indulgence Confectionery. Like many of the great chocolatiers, Tim’s been a patissier for years. He’s won tons of awards in cooking, including Dessert of the Year in 2004. We talked about chocolate and pastry and I learnt fascinating facts about what causes scones not to work and how to make fruit not sink to the bottom of the cake. Unsurprisingly, when Tim invited me to visit his chocolate kitchen, where he sometimes runs chocolate classes, I jumped at the chance. I arrived just after 12 on Sunday for a four hour session and left just after 6pm. Who cares about timekeeping when there’s good chocolate to be had?
I was delighted to find that Tim’s other guest was Morgaine Gaye, the speaker I was most disappointed to miss when I didn’t go to the Mixed Grill conference put on by Tim Hayward in February. [By the way, how cool is Morgaine's website? As cool as she is, I can positively say.]
On his whiteboard, Tim had written a plan of all that we were to cover: the award winning chocolate dessert he had told me about, salted caramel ganache truffles, single origin chocolate truffles, chocolate lollipops and… the Jennifer: a filled chocolate that was based on some of my favourite flavours, a white chocolate lemon ganache with a blackcurrant coulis. Tim’s not a fan of mixing flavours in his chocolates but, as a charming host will, he was giving me my way. Not to mention giving me my very own chocolate, named after me! My life complete. With all of these exciting tastes to get through, we got started immediately. Tim had premade the hazelnut meringue for the base of his chocolate dessert, and so went straight into the hazelnut feuillentine praline, insisting we taste each component individually and then with its next ingredient, as it was composed step by step. The praline on the meringue was divine. Morgaine and I found ourselves dipping into the bowl of off-cuts for the next few hours, like children. The best breakfast I’ve ever had.
As we moved through the next stages of the dessert, Tim educated us on tempering and enrobing and the secret ingredients used by chefs and chocolatiers. You can see a few of his tips in the video below. (Sorry about the dodgy editing and portrait view, I’ve not quite the hang of this filming business yet!) The final dessert was incredible. If we thought the meringue and praline was good together, the addition of the milk chocolate ganache and sprayed dark chocolate coating made it out of this world.
We went on to make the lemon white chocolate ganache with blackcurrant coulis (the Jennifer) and dipping premade dark ganache and milk chocolate salted caramel ganache. The lemon and blackcurrant chocolates are my new favourite chocolates and they are coming on to the menu this week in Tim’s new shop. It’s still in Croydon so a bit of a trek for anyone North of the river but, I promise, it’s worth it!