Alex and the Chocolate Factory: how to make chocolate

By Alexandra Redisch in Perugia, Italy

Chocolate by Perugina

Recently, while visiting Umbria, I had several choices of things to see and do: there was wine and handicraft and medieval towns and nature and sports and history and art and food and chocolate and more wine and…

Wait a minute! Chocolate? Mmm…. chocolate! From then on, that was my only focus. In fact, I’ve forgotten everything else I did in Umbria. Nah, kidding! I remember… I think.

Perugina Chocolate Factory

Perugina Chocolate Factory

Ten blogger colleagues and I were given a tour of Perugina Chocolate Factory. You may be familiar with Baci – Perugina’s delectable chocolate kisses!

Baci by Perugina Baci by Perugina
“Say I love you the Italian way!”

We saw a very interesting video of the history of the factory and the history of chocolate, then we got down to business at the Scuola del Cioccolato. The words sound good enough to eat, don’t they? Say it with me: Scuola del Cioccolato. Nom nom!

We were each handed an apron, then two slightly intimidating chefs quickly showed us the ropes. It didn’t look too difficult. It really didn’t. But it was.

Alex at chocolate school, Perugina Chocolate Factory in Perugia, Umbria, Italy

See how clean my apron is? Well, not for long...

 

How to make chocolate

First we’re told to slice the chocolate. No problemo. Then we melt the chocolate. OK. Mix the filling: cream, butter, lemon peel, white chocolate and Limoncello… mmm… Limoncello…

chocolate fountain chocolate fountain

Enter difficult bit number one: It is very important that the chocolate has the right temperature when you pour it into the mould. A mere one degree off, and it won’t work, the chocolate will then get a white covering and taste bad. To cool off the chocolate, you pour it onto the table and spread it around using a machete/spatula-thingy, which looks awfully professional.

how to make chocolate

After a bit of spreading, me and my chocolate making partner-in-crime, Jai (see Jai’s fun and fabulous video of the whole process), are told our chocolate is too cold. Back into the pan and onto the stove. But we leave it too long and now it’s too warm. A “pah!” from the chef.

chocolate

Finally reaching optimal temperature, the chocolate goes into the mould. Then we pour it out again.

Wait,… what? Pour it out?

Since we’re making chocolates with a filling, we first need to create the outer shell. After filling the forty little holes in the mould, we simply tip the whole thing upside down. Extreme mess and chocolate everywhere – table, apron, shoes, floor, hands, face, you name it. The chef comes over to examine. I hear him tell another blogger hers are “very perfect”. Like a toddler showing off a drawing, I show him mine. He says “meh… is OK”. Sad Alex.

After leaving the chocolate to sit comfortably in the fridge for 15 minutes, it’s time for the filling. Mmm… filling! We squeeze it into the chocolate shell, and again the chef comes over for a look. “Very good” is the verdict this time, and I feel my heart swell. Then another feeling rears its head: competitiveness. I want “very perfect”. I need it!

We slap on more chocolate to cover the base and pop it back into the fridge for another 15 minutes. All that is left to do now, is get the finished chocolates out of the mould by quickly turning it upside down and banging it on the table, ice cube style.

I’m amazed. It’s even more beautiful than I had imagined. It’s perfect. It must be!

The guy next to us has messed up; there are air bubbles in his chocolate, they look termite-infested. He won’t get a “perfect”-verdict, I think to myself, with just a touch of schadenfreude. The chef inspects our work with the concentration of a jeweller examining a fine gem. He beams at us and says those longed for words: “Very perfect!” Insane sensation of pride!

Scuola del cioccolato

Is it completely ridiculous that I feel prouder of these chocolates than of my Masters degree?

What is that I hear? You want to make chocolate, too, you say? You can, my sweet, you can. Have a look at Perugina’s chocolate school for courses. Or try it at home – my friend Michael Turtle, choc full of it, wrote it all down for you. Let me know if yours come out very perfect!

Disclosure: I was a guest of Umbria Regional Tourism Board. As ever, all opinions and chocolaty mess are deliciously mine.

About Alexandra Redisch

One of the kids in ‘travel with kids’, avid traveller, mystery writer, chocoholic, currently working on a WWII biography.

33 Responses to “Alex and the Chocolate Factory: how to make chocolate”

  1. Charu 14 May 2012 2101 #

    What outstanding fun! Those Perugina chocolates look wonderful. NYC has a Chocolate Show every year and is one you may not want to miss–if you like chocolate :) Thank you for sharing.
    Charu recently posted..Celebrating my 10th Wedding Anniversary: A Weekend in New Paltz (Part One)

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 1316 #

      Been meaning to return to New York. This sounds like an excellent reason.

  2. Elin R 14 May 2012 2127 #

    Looked like the perfect place for a chocoholic Alexandra! Great post and photos!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 1317 #

      Yeah, I think that suited her just fine.

  3. Karina 14 May 2012 2139 #

    Yummy! That’s what I’d call delicious. It reminds me on the french movie ‘Chocolate’. I think I’m going to eat some dark chocolate for dinner:)
    Karina recently posted..Kanu-Wochenende

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 1322 #

      Lasse Hallström is such an excellent director. Love that film – everyone and every place in it.

  4. D.J. - The World of Deej 14 May 2012 2232 #

    Wow that looks like a blast…There was a chocolate seminar in Orlando and I’m kinda bummed now that I skipped it:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Typhoon Lagoon – Deej Does A Water Park

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 2 June 2012 1325 #

      Hope you get another opportunity.

  5. Monica 14 May 2012 2306 #

    Mmm, this makes me want to be back in Perugina and with all these chocolates. I can’t believe that after this day I said I was never eating chocolate again (I had a few too many samples) but seeing that melted chocolate brings back some yummy memories :)

  6. This does sound like fun! Did you like some chocolate off the spoon before pouring out the batch that was too hot? Sounds like a very dangerous adventure :)
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..5 Guiding Lights of Europe!

  7. ItalianNotes 15 May 2012 0901 #

    Just been to a chocolate school in Torino and failed miserably even though all we had to do was decorate a plate of chocolate mousse. You have to be a natural talent to achieve this level of success:)
    ItalianNotes recently posted..Carpi behind the facade

  8. Rita 15 May 2012 1141 #

    Oh my gosh! It’s so delicious! I am a big fan of real chocolate, and your shots are really, really… I just got hungry. Hungry for some black chocolate.
    Rita recently posted..Mein neues Liebling: Sophie!

  9. Jarmo 15 May 2012 1438 #

    All that sounds very delicious ;) but also very difficult! I think I’ll still buy mine ready made, by professionals ;) but I would like to try it making those, it sounds like fun; usually anything messy, is fun!
    Jarmo recently posted..The Hanoi Bia Hoi Corner

  10. Andrea 15 May 2012 1517 #

    This looks like so much fun! I’d love to learn how to make chocolate…I can just smell it reading your post =)
    Andrea recently posted..6 Questions People Ask Us – Answered!

  11. Leigh 15 May 2012 1547 #

    I’d heard that making chocolate was very difficult and I’m not sure I’d have the patience for it – perhaps once as you are doing in a cooking school and not at home where you’d be cleaning up the mess for hours.
    I lover your description of chocolates that look termite infested.
    Leigh recently posted..#FriFotos – My Idea of Paradise

  12. Cathy Sweeney 15 May 2012 1715 #

    Delicious! This makes me eager for my upcoming visit to a chocolate company here in the San Francisco area. I hope my chocolates will turn out so beautifully.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Culture Curious in Chicago

  13. Christy @ Technosyncratic 16 May 2012 0627 #

    Jeez, only ONE degree off and it’s ruined? How did you ever get it right?? No wonder you were so proud of it. :)

    Did you get to eat our creations at the end?
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..The Sheep of Sacoue – Adorable Baby Farm Animals in France

  14. InsideJourneys 16 May 2012 1308 #

    This looks like fun! How much did you get to eat?
    InsideJourneys recently posted..Weekly Photo Challenge: Blue

  15. This would be so much fun!

  16. Angela 16 May 2012 1528 #

    Mouthwatering, I am so addicted to chocolate and Baci Perugina are really some of my favourite!
    Angela recently posted..Bulls, horses and roses to celebrate Saint Catherine of Alexandria in Sardinia

  17. Turtle 16 May 2012 1548 #

    Some people actually want to eat chocolates with air bubbles, you know. Maybe “the guy next to you” did it on purpose! :)

  18. Heidi19 17 May 2012 1203 #

    It looks and sounds amazing and you made me crave for it! Thanks for sharing your chocolate adventure with us. Love it!

  19. Elena Anne 17 May 2012 1236 #

    Perugina chocolates are definitely one of my favorite chocolates! Your chocolate making experience seemed really fun! You’re so lucky! :)
    Elena Anne recently posted..Exercise and Arthritis: Prevention and tips

  20. Emme Rogers 18 May 2012 0844 #

    What fun and tasty I imagine.
    Emme Rogers recently posted..Egyptian Daily Diaries: Red Boot Roamancing on the Red Sea

  21. sully86 18 May 2012 2120 #

    wow..a good entry about chocolates…love chocolates a lot.

  22. Wanderplex 21 May 2012 1827 #

    Yum! This looks like such a fun, tasty experience – I want to do it!
    Wanderplex recently posted..Lost your camera? Here are some steps you can take to get it back

  23. Nothing is going to come between me and doing this next time I am in Europe….!!!!!
    Jade Johnston – OurOyster.com recently posted..The Best Way To Discover The Pinnacles

  24. Wandering Educators 2 June 2012 2155 #

    YUM!!!!!
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Artist of the Month: Cherie Dacko

  25. Reena @ Wanderplex 21 August 2012 0055 #

    Okay, I’m seriously drooling. This is going on the bucket list right now.
    Reena @ Wanderplex recently posted..18 tips for visiting a city during a major festival or event

  26. Michael Figueiredo 30 September 2012 0828 #

    You had me at “chocolate.” :)
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..Off the Beaten Path Europe: San Marino

  27. Jade - Chocolate lover 30 June 2013 2335 #

    MMMMM That looks delicious. Anything involving chocolate and you’ve got me, but perfect little chocolates with fillings. Yum!

  28. Atika Quraishi 13 July 2013 1136 #

    Alex and the Chocolate Factory.. i have enjoyed every picture of your article, delicious!

  29. Digital Nomads 24 August 2013 1938 #

    OMG, it’s so yummy delicious watermouthing post
    Digital Nomads recently posted..Madrid in One Day, Top 10 Attractions and Sites

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