Window display of chocolates at Fauchon

I love chocolate. Who doesn’t? So when I saw a billboard advertising cooking classes at Sandrine’s French Pastry and Chocolate, I rushed inside to sign up. Sandrine’s shop is filled with exquisite cakes, pretty pastel macarons, flaky croissants, savoury Quiche, meat pies, and of course, fine handmade chocolates. French ~ Pastry ~  Chocolate. Three of my favourite things.

Chocolate dessert shaped like a flower, with two spoons

Chef and Owner Sandrine teaches classes in a professional kitchen in the back of the shop. The Fall 2011 Schedule includes workshops in puff pastry, fruit tarts, chocolate tarts, choux pastry and chocolate. Class sizes are small and students work in pairs.

In the chocolate class that I participated in Sandrine started off by giving a short talk about how chocolate is produced, the different types of chocolate and what to check for when you buy it. In the USA, for example, chocolate has to contain at least 15% cocoa before it can be labeled chocolate. In Europe, the standards are much higher with a required cocoa content of 25% for milk chocolate and 35% for dark chocolate. After the introduction, we learned about tempering; a process of heating, cooling and warming chocolate to very precise temperatures along a crystallization curve. This results in a more stable end product with an appearance and texture that won’t degrade over time. Tempering creates chocolate that is super shiny and bright.

bowl of melted dark chocolate and bowl of melted milk chocolate

Once we finished with the tempering process, we swirled plump red strawberries in light and dark chocolate. (This was my favourite part of the class.)

Chocolate dipped strawberries arranged in rows on a platter

We also learned how to make truffles. First we made the ganache by bringing whipping cream to a boil, pouring it over dark chocolate, letting it cool slightly and then whisking in room temperature chunks of butter. Once the ganache had cooled and the texture was firm, we piped it into glossy little kisses that then went into the freezer to cool completely.

ganache piped out on a tray

To be honest, I enjoyed eating these treats a lot more than I enjoyed making them. Tempering just wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s a very exact process that reminded me of a lab assignment in high school chemistry. It didn’t help that I had the misfortune of being partnered with an overeager (and annoying) young culinary student. Having said that, I would still recommend this class. It was well-organized, the kitchen was beautiful, and the instructor was very knowledgeable and experienced. Sandrine comes from a long line of French chocolatiers. She really knows her stuff. And there is the added incentive of being sent home with the fruits of your labour – more truffles and hand dipped strawberries than you can eat in a week.

chocolate truffle dusted with cocoa powder in a paper cup

Sandrine French Pastry & Chocolate
#102A - 1865 Dilworth Drive
Kelowna, Okanagan Valley
British Columbia, Canada

Chocolate - Spring 2011
Cost: $95.00 CDN
Style: Hands On
Duration: 3 Hours
Chef Instructor: Sandrine
Highlights: This class is a chocoholic's dream!
Improvement Opportunities: It was a little disappointing that the 
dark chocolate, fruit, and nut bark the class made didn't make it 
back out of the refrigerator for tasting.

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Cooking Classes at Sandrine’s

time to read: 2 min