Caterina Giammarresi shares her experience with the Cooking with Chocolate cooking class held by the Fine Food & Dining Society on Wednesday, 12th February.
The Fine Food & Dining Society always releases a promising line-up of cooking classes at the start of each semester. To start off this term (and just in time for Valentine’s Day), the society organized a Cooking with Chocolate class. The prospect of attending an entire class dedicated to making and eating chocolate is literally what got me through my first coursework deadline.
I knew I was going to enjoy it as soon as I walked in and saw chocolate samples waiting for us on the table. The other students seemed equally as pleased by the fact that we got to start enjoying chocolate right away. I quickly snatched some chilli dark chocolate and started flipping through the class’ menu. I was pleased to see that it not only included delicious chocolate desserts (Green and Black’s Sea Salt Truffles, Marzipan Chocolates, Chocolate and Beetroot Cake, Chocolate and Hazelnut Tart), but that savoury chocolate dishes were also featured (Chocolate Chilli con Carne, Pasta with Dark Chocolate Marinara Sauce, Chicken with Mole Sauce). I was particularly excited to see Mole make an appearance on the menu, as it is a traditional dish from my Mexican hometown and state, Puebla.
As I’ve come to learn is customary of Fine Food & Dining classes, we quickly dove in to preparing many recipes at once, for time’s sake. Though this can easily make things chaotic and the recipes difficult to follow, Vice President Jacona Bresson and Treasurer Phoebe French worked notably hard to keep us engaged. This class was much more hands on than others I have been to in the past, which I definitely appreciated. We were able to roll and dip ingredients for the sea salt truffles and marzipan chocolates, both of them unique alternatives to plain truffles and chocolates. Though we didn’t get to actively participate in the making of the chocolate beetroot cake, Bresson and French interacted with us while preparing it, giving us useful tips along the way. I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t have time to make the chocolate hazelnut tart, but I came away determined to make it at home myself.
Whilst the cake was baking, and the truffles and chocolates setting, we moved on to preparing the savoury dishes. These dishes don’t quite lend themselves to group efforts, so we spent the remainder of the class talking amongst ourselves and finishing off what was the left of the chocolate. While some may have seen this “down-time” as a negative, I find that talking with other foodies and getting to know people in this setting is actually one of the main reasons I keep coming back to these classes (apart from the committee being lovely and the food being delicious, of course!).
Luckily, right around the same time we finished all the chocolate samples, the food was finally read to be eaten. Being a vegetarian, I didn’t try the Chocolate Chili con Carne, though I heard from others that it was a success. I wasn’t able to try the Mole either because it was added directly to the chicken. However, I quickly got over it because to make up for the lack of meat, I was served a heaping portion of the pasta with dark chocolate marinara sauce. The dark chocolate was subtle and surprisingly delicious when paired with the tomato sauce. Similarly, the beetroot cake surprised me as it tasted nothing like beetroot, yet somehow worked to improve the overall flavour and texture of the cake. I was so impressed that I brought it home to my flatmate, who couldn’t believe it had beetroot in it either.
For Valentine’s Day and otherwise, I came home very well-equipped, should I ever find a packet of dark chocolate lingering at the back of my cupboard, alongside some neglected tagliatelle.
The Fine Food & Dining Society hosts cooking classes on a variety of themes most every Wednesday in the St Andrews Episcopal Church. They also host a myriad of other food-related events. See what they’ve got going on via Facebook or their website.
Photo credits: Caterina Giammarresi