Home / Vegetarian Diet / Learning to roll, seed and temper in New York
24 November, 2017

Learning to roll, seed and temper in New York

Posted in : Vegetarian Diet on by : Sharmin Begum

Usually when I’m on vacation I do my best to avoid classrooms or anything that keeps me inside for too many consecutive hours. I just like to be outside, walking, exploring, playing. But if my visit to a particular city coincides with an opportunity to learn something new from a expert in the field then I’m willing to consider the option. In New York, taking a vegan chocolate truffle class with the incredible, Fran Costigan was an easy decision.

  1. Can I do this at home? No.
  2. Will I learn something useful? Yes – truffles make great gifts. Fran knows her ingredients and is extremely precise about technique. That’s what I look for in a teacher. Someone who has already done the trial and error and can save me the trouble.
  3. Is the instructor incredible? Yes! I have met Fran at a few other events and I simply love being in her presence. She has a passion for life, a commitment to her ethics and a generous spirit.

So, with that 30-second consideration out of the way I signed up with Natural Gourmet Institute and planned to spend an evening in an apron.

After a busy day of exploring and 2 1/2 hours of chocolate making I still look joyous. Being around Fran makes me happy but eating chocolate truffles also helps.

There were 14 students in the class and 5 assistants. We were given our recipes and a quick demo and then assigned our tasks. I’ve worked with chocolate in the past and love finicky food creation – dumplings, truffles, decorating, garnishing etc. Give me something to challenge my eye-hand coordination and I’m content for hours. So, I wasn’t worried at all. However, I think my confidence primed me to learn a lot.


I ended up making 3 different truffle recipes (I was only assigned 1 but I messed up a few times).
But in the end I learned:

  1. Make sure you strain any infusion through a very fine strainer or cheescloth so the spices do not affect your ganache texture.
  2. Very hot coconut milk can break (cause to separate) your cocoa powder and cocoa butter causing a big mess. You can try to save it with an immersion blender but…you may just have to walk away and admit defeat.
  3. Even chocolate mistakes taste like heaven.
Here are some of the decadent delights we created:

 

Chocolate Coconut Truffles (this was my final recipe attempt – the ganache turned out gloriously unctious. I was very happy!)
Spiced Chai Truffles (although the ganache was a little thicker then the other recipes it still created a satisfying, creamy texture once cooled). The flavour of these little bites is incredible. I know this recipe will become a favourite for hostess gifts.

Green Tea White Chocolate Truffles (very sweet – both in look and taste)

We all had fun playing with the garnishes -cacao nibs, cocoa powder, edible flours, shredded coconut.

I haven’t tasted any of the other options yet but they all looked beautiful, including:

Aztec (Chili-Cinnamon) Truffles and 
Espresso Truffles

Fran also showed us how to use the transfer paper that many specialty shops employ to create beautiful designs on top of their truffles. I see an internet order in my future. They will even print them with personalized notes and patterns. Such fun!

Extra-Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs
Chocolate Orange Truffles
Chocolate Cherry Truffles

The class was a fantastic experience. All of the students were enthusiastic, kind and friendly. I just wish we were going to spend a week doing vegan baking boot camp with Fran – I didn’t want to leave when the class was over. The assistants were very helpful and supportive. David came to my rescue many times! It was a good lesson that at home when I have dedicated space and time, the experience is quite different then in a busy kitchen with multiple players. I don’t think I’m cut-out for the restaurant scene.


I left with flavours and ideas swirling in my head and a huge container of truffles in my hand. 


Next time you’re in New York check to see if Fran’s offering a class, your friends and future taste testers will thank you. If you can’t make it to class check out baking book. I have a lot of cookbooks but her careful, precise instructions are unparalleled and of course, so are the results.

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