Indulging Willy Wonka fantasies in an elegant fashion can be difficult, given that chocco scoffing is not often the height of chic. However, The Dorchester is presenting an opportunity to rectify the situation, with Alain Ducasse’s new chocolate masterclasses. In 2013 he opened his La Manufacture de Chocolat in Paris, where it is the only “bean-to-bar” factory in the city. Here, sweet treats are created using vintage machines and then served in his restaurants – including his establishments at the Plaza Athénée and The Dorchester.
For those who long to be able to temper chocolate perfectly or finesse an indulgent soufflé, the classes offer the chance to brush up on their skills under the watchful eye of master chocolatier Nicolas Berger, who has worked for Ducasse for much of his career. Two masterclasses (£150 each), on Saturday February 7 and Saturday March 7, will see La Manufacture de Chocolat workshop come to The Dorchester.
First, guests will be taught a little about the origins of the beans. Berger imports cocoa beans from 14 countries, including three types from Venezuela and others from Vietnam and Peru. The beans are then roasted in Paris before being turned into delicious creations such as pralines and 1kg bars of all cocoa strengths. Then it’s on to the optimum way to temper – bringing the chocolate up to the right temperature so that it sets perfectly. After it has been poured into a mould, guests are invited to decorate the mendiant with offerings such as sugared hazelnuts, candied orange, pistachios and apricots. Next up is Berger’s chocolate tart, which is made with a brioche base and topped with his own-recipe chocolate and hazelnut cream, butter and sugar, before being baked. The most chocolaty, decadent wheel of deliciousness emerges 20 minutes later. The class ends with the art of the perfect soufflé.
Three bars, the chocolate tart and the recipes make up the goody bag to take home – when old habits can reclaim their hold.