For my birthday, back in April, Sam gifted me with a chocolate making class at Cacao, and I finally went over the weekend. I got up really early on Saturday morning and trekked through some of the scarier parts of Maryland to find their industrial kitchen (they have stores in Bethesda and Cleveland Park), and joined several other nervous-looking bleary-eyed folk for the three-and-a-half hour class. We were instructed by the owner/head chef, who immediately charmed me with his French accent. At first it was slightly reminiscent of days spent at Caputo's chocolate counter-- several chocolate samples from around the world (including a sample of straight cocoa butter, which tastes like chapstick). It was a great breakfast. (Thank you, dear pancreas, for taking it in stride.)
Then we got to the chocolate making. We crafted flower petals from tempered chocolate using offset spatulas on parchment paper. It all looked so easy until I was standing at the table with my huge bowl of molten chocolate. It was all I could do to not put myself in the corner wearing a dunce hat. I think everyone was about ten steps ahead of me, and I started to feel that old anxious shame akin to high school algebra, fearing I was the only one in the room to not get it. If a deep-seated fear of embarrassment doesn't get me moving, I don't know what will. When I realized I might be the only person not getting the hang of it, I picked up the pace and slammed out my two sheets of petals with precision. It was awesome . . .
until I learned the chocolate had been too hot, so it wouldn't harden. I had to start all over. Luckily, I wasn't the only one. In fact, I think everyone had to re-start at least once, so my initial fear of shame turned out to be unnecessary. Hooray!
(Also, I got to wear this super-flattering hairnet and apron.)
While the petals were hardening, we filled truffles with passion fruit carmel. Holy cow. Amazing. And, again, super flattering photo documentation.
And it all came together in this fancy flower, which, yes, I am super proud of (and already ate).
Officially the coolest birthday present ever.