Chocolate Academy, Chicago

Have you ever thought of enrolling in a Chocolate Academy? Seriously, learning about chocolate and it’s many properties and uses?  Barry Callebaut USA LLC is the place for you. Located in Chicago they offer classes for any level of experience.

Of the many courses available there is one specific for the non-professional: This is what their website says “Due to an increasing demand from the general public Barry Callebaut has created a series of short courses designed for none professionals fascinated in the history and the application chocolate. An assortment of courses allow the participant to understand the origin of the cocoa bean and its conversion into chocolate, how to use chocolate in the kitchen and how to delight friends and relations with simple chocolate creations.”

Callabaut chocolate bonbons

Course topics you can enroll in are:

Custom Bonbons: August 23rd-25th. Coming up soon so get signed up! You will be taught how to use the proper tools, techniques, and methods to be able to create your own fun creations.

Advanced Chocolate Showpiece: August 29th -September 1st. Showcasing tips and tricks for creating your own master centerpiece.

Petit Gateaux, Tarts and Entremets: September 20th-22nd. Techniques, finishes and flavours to create your own small pastries.

Playful Chocolate Figurines: September 27th- 28th.  This course will cover everything from how to do molding and casting, to experimenting with colorful cocoa butter, and how to use these skills to build your own creations.

Snack Attack: October 17th – 19th. You’ll learn to make a wide variety of multi-layered bars and tablets using both basic and advanced panning with different textured and flavored centers such as nuts, caramel, praline, dried fruits, and cereals.

Discovering Chocolate: Oct 3-6, Nov 7-10, and Dec 12-15. This course is hands-on  and  will help any beginner master crystallization techniques, dipping and molding, as well as introduce you to ganache and emulsion.

So, if you were wondering what you were going to be doing on those cool fall weekends this is the place to be. Sign up at I am a huge fan of Barry Callaebaut chocolate and would recommend the courses to anyone who loves chocolate!



A Gift From Heaven

The ancient Mayans believe that chocolate is a gift from the Gods. I tend to agree that chocolate is a heavenly experience. This could be why, when the cocoa tree was discovered, it was named theobroma or “food of the Gods”. But how did this bitter bean make the mysterious jump to the chocolate we love?

The cocoa bean is a large, brightly colored football-shaped pod. Although when tasted in the raw, cocoa is bitter, the inner soft pulp is sweet and lemony. In pre-Columbian cooking, many foods were dried and ground on stone slabs. The same is true for the cocoa bean.

The grinding of the cocoa seeds is done after the pods have been sun-dried. This will release their natural oils and produce a fragrant paste. Over the centuries, with much experimentation, the range of culinary possibilities for the cocoa bean have been numerous. Beginning with Hernando Cortes, the Spanish were the first to add sugar to cocoa to make a more palatable beverage. With the marriage of Anna of Austria to Louis XIII in 1615, cocoa was introduced to the French.  From France to England (1657) , to Italy (1711), and finally America (1755).

The evolution of the process for manufacturing chocolate has been mostly located in Switzerland. The Swiss have a reputation for creating unique blends that reveal all the richness and strength of the cocoa bean. If you are to fully appreciate to flavor and texture of pure chocolate you have to develop your palate. The best experience is to taste a small piece and let it melt in your mouth. Can you tell the difference between a premium chocolate and a pedestrian chocolate?

The next time you make brownies or chocolate chip cookies revel in the fact that the chocolate is a gift from heaven. The best chocolates make the best desserts. My favorite is  an 8585percentcocoa% Excellence bar. Just saying!,

Is Cocoa The Same As Cacao?

Have you ever heard people speak of caco an wondered if it was the same thing as cocoa? What we call a cocoa bean actually comes from the tree Theobroma Cacao.

Cacao: from the Spanish word cacahuatl, first used in 1555. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cacao as “the dried partly fermented fatty seeds of the South American evergreen tree.”

Cocoa: a modification of the Spanish word cacao, first used in 1730. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cocoa as “powdered ground roasted cacao beans from which a portion of the fat has been removed.”,