I have to admit to having slightly mixed feelings about a chocolate decorating workshop. I know that truffle rolling is one of Rococo’s most popular workshops, but as a reasonably competent cook the idea of a class decorating chocolate Easter bunnies rather than making them has always baffled me slightly. I needn’t have worried though, because it was the most brilliant, fun hour I’ve spent in the kitchen in a long time.
On arrival, [email protected] (Rococo’s event manager) settled us in with intense shots of frothy, creamy hot chocolate before we headed down to the chocolate kitchen to be kitted out with aprons and meet our rabbits. Each workstation had a little line of Valrhona ganache blobs pre-piped onto teardrop-shaped shortbread biscuits [email protected] had baked earlier that day, alongside a pile of flaked almonds. The centre of the table was lined with bright bowls filled with chocolate buttons, mini eggs, pearlised balls, and pots of freeze-dried fruits. It looked like a children’s tea party in the best possible way, and, looking at the spread, I started to see the appeal of the class.
Now for the fun part: it was time to get messy. Pulling on rubber gloves, [email protected] showed us how to dip the bunnies-to-be in tempered chocolate, gently shaking off the excess and leaving them to set. We placed almond slivers and chocolate balls carefully into the wet chocolate to create ears and tails before piping eyes and noses with white chocolate and as soon as I started dipping things in chocolate and decorating I took back everything I’d thought before. It’s like being let loose with finger paints as a kid, but made a hundred times better because this paint is chocolate.
Happy with my newfound skills, I was gazing with satisfaction as my little collection of bunnies and had started to remove my gloves when [email protected] pulled out Easter egg shells in glossy dark chocolate and dishes of shimmering powder to paint them with before decorating.
I may have clapped my hands with glee at this point.
Decorating the eggs not only gave us something really impressive to take home, it allowed us to let our inner artist out to play. I painted one half of my shell a gorgeous burnished copper colour, then, somewhat lacking in design skills, I took inspiration from someone else’s egg and went for a freeze-dried raspberry on a gold background for the second half, dabbing tempered chocolate on the shell as glue and sprinkling with bright pink flecks of fruit. There was good-natured rivalry and teasing, a lot of intense concentration and delighted smiles, and by the end of the session we were nicely covered in pearlised powders (well, the messier among us were). The eggs we created ranged from sophisticated patterns made from pearlised chocolate balls to the ‘stick everything chocolate you can find to it’ approach, and we nestled our tissue-wrapped bunnies carefully in the shells with mini eggs and buttons before glueing the shells shut with more chocolate.
[email protected] wrapped the eggs in exuberant puffs of Rococo-print paper and tied them with ribbon for us to take home where, I’m slightly embarrassed to say, mine didn’t last until morning, never mind Easter (I had help, honest).
I’m happy to confirm though, that the bunnies were delicious and very well-received, and I’m a convert to the decorating classes. Somebody else does the hard work so that you can just turn up and play, and it would be perfect for a hen party, or just something different to do with friends instead of yet another evening at the pub. They’re less serious than Barry’s masterclasses, less focused on learning, but you know what? Sometimes you just want to get messy and have fun.
Take a look at our events calendar to find dates for truffle-rolling and other interactive workshops. Decorating chocolate animals or eggs is something you could try at home, either with the kids, as a creative activity with friends or even as a kind of make-your-own dessert at an informal dinner, and you can find the freeze-dried raspberry pieces we used and other ingredients like chocolate pearls and chocolate-coated popping candy here.