In Chocolate Heaven

I've always wondered how it feels like to be one of those kids invited to visit Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory.

Admittedly, I am not really a big chocoholic though I do appreciate a bite or two once in a while. However, growing up with a dad and a sister who are certified choco lovers and a boyfriend who makes it a point to have his regular dose of cocoa, it is then inevitable for me to be familiar with the different types of chocolates available in the market. From the smooth, sophisticated Lindt from Switzerland to the more upscale and precious Leonidas of Belgium, you name it, we've tried it.

However, I've always dreamt of being a chocolatier someday. I wish to be able to build cute, artistic structures made out of chocolates. Heaven must have heard my prayers when an invite was sent my way. A chance to know more about the world of Chocolates and to make one too! Why not?!

The event was set on a quiet Saturday afternoon, located along Roces Avenue just around the corner of Tomas Morato in Quezon City. Thus, the gates of Heavenly Chocolates opened to welcome all choco lovers in.

Paul and I arrived just in time for the Chocolate making workshop. Chocolatier Benjamin Pedro gave everyone a warm welcome and treated us to a piece of chocolate cluster. A cluster is actually chocolate mixed with either a nut, candy or whatever your heart desires. He made us guess what was mixed into this cluster. I took a bite and I immediately tasted something salty yet very familiar. I took another bite and closed my eyes to make it easier for my taste buds to recall. I think I got it but I'm not sure.

There's only one way to find out...

Talk about good timing, Chocolatier Benjie asked for a volunteer who can help him with his demo. I eagerly raised my hand. He called me to stay up front and the first thing I asked him was...

"Mr. Pedro, was that potato chips mixed into the chocolate cluster?"

His eyes widened and he gave me a big smile. He said I was right! Yipee! Good job my dear taste buds :)

top row: frannywanny at work (left), cluster fillings (right)
bottom row: my chocolate masterpieces!

We proceeded with the demo where Chocolatier Benjie taught us how to make mini chocolate clusters and almond brittle. I can't believe making chocolate treats can be so simple! I particularly enjoyed putting nuts and candy sprinkles into each drop of chocolate.

The workshop was short but it was truly a great experience! I can't wait to try making chocolate clusters at home for my family to enjoy.

We rested for a little while and Benjie came out again this time with three huge jars filled with what looks like a cocoa bean, blocks of chocolates and one that has a white, milky liquid below and a dark brown powder on top. Hmmm.. interesting. I wondered what they were.

Mr. Benjie greeted us again and opened the second portion of the afternoon's activity. It was time to learn about the sweet World of Chocolates. It was a short workshop but we learned so much! I can't imagine that a lot of time, effort and money are invested just to produce a perfect cup of thick, creamy chocolatey goodness. We were also given the chance to taste five different variants namely: Peru, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Madagascar.

Among the five origins, Paul and I liked Ghana the most. We love the smooth, nutty and creamy texture that isn't too strong nor was it too weak. For us, it's that perfect warm cup of chocolate that we imagine drinking this coming Yuletide season. Now, we just need a colder weather, a thicker jacket and a beautiful fireplace to complete the setting.

Through that session, we learned how the amount of cocoa butter can affect the overall taste of the chocolate, we also learned how to distinguish dark vs. milk chocolates. Best of all, we found out that chocolates has high levels of anti-oxidant which is very good for the heart!

Just like coffee, chocolate has been the world's favorite drink since time immemorial. While I normally take my coffee in the morning, I prefer having my warm cup of chocolate at night just before bed time. We're definitely looking forward to spending more after-dinner dates at Heavenly Chocolates with our own cup of Ghana.

Heavenly Chocolates is located at #1 Roces Center, 127 Roces Avenue, Quezon City. You may call them at 666-2208 for inquiries, orders or reservations.

BIG thanks to Becky for sharing this invite with me :)

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