‘All About Belgian Chocolate’ Workshop with Le Chocolatier, Laurent Bernard

Emilie was designated as the host for bloggers workshop held by Prisma PR on August 4, 2010. The show ran by the chocolate/pastry expert Chef Laurent Bernard and he’s to show his might in creating the original Belgian chocolate and tell the audience everything about it. Why at Emilie? Because Emilie proved to be the best place for the workshop since it owns a special kitchen designed solely for cooking class on the 2nd at Le Bar.

Before that upon arrival at the scene, the bloggers were served with French dejeuner menu consisting of Le Caesar Salade, Le Poulet, and Le Profiteroles. Lovely designed dishes created by the prodigy Chef de Cuisine Ivan Duchene seemed to be more than enough introduction of Emilie’s presence within the small population of French bistro in Jakarta. In a separate post, I took the liberty to do a bit restaurant review on Emilie.

I also encountered several media people such as Mr. Burhan Abe, an editor-at-large with many years of experience in several big Indonesian media and Ms. Rahmayanti, an Indonesian traveling journalist based in Japan. This chance meeting proved to be a fruitful experience where Mr. Abe turns out to be an ex editor-in-chief of a certain food magazine Appetite Journey and currently a contributor for The Jakarta Post. He now owns a creative syndication site called Vox Populi. While Ms. Rahmayanti accompanied by her Canon Rebel camera, travels here and there between Indonesia and Japan sharing her life as an Indonesian who lives in a foreign country.

About the guest star, Chef Laurent Bernard hailed from France and after many years of experience being a pastry chef and chocolatier all over the world, he anchored in Singapore to establish The Chocolate Factory which he renamed into Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. The very manifestation of his body and soul passion, in Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar he dedicates his two decades of immense expertise in chocolate to create delicious and delicate confectionaries.

The workshop started with the video presentation about the history of chocolate, how and who originally brought it to Europe, how nowadays chocolate brought from the plantations, and the basic processes before the final shipment to be created into the chocolate we know and consume nowadays. Afterwards, introductions made and now Indonesia ready to witness the skills of Mr. Bernard had inside his sleeves. He was at that time assisted by Karen Carlotta, an Indonesian rising star pastry chef stationed mainly in Singapore.

He began by explaining about tempering the chocolate. This is an exact procedure where a chocolatier should rise and lower the temperature of the melted chocolate in several phases. Mr. Bernard prefers to rise it first to 40 degrees Centigrade then lowers it to 28 degrees and finally to 31 degrees. Other chocolatiers may have their own preferences in temperature. That sounds simple but the procedure’s a bit complex than that and it is imperative to own a temperature measurer device in order to know exactly when to rise and to lower the melted chocolate. Rising the chocolate temperature would not be trivial but to lower it actually requires a certain low temperature room so that the chocolate will get cold ideally. Instead Mr. Bernard used the fridge to lower the temperature, but he didn’t recommend it at all saying that keeping it in a fridge can make the chocolate moist due to the matter of low humidity. Since it’s for quick class presentation sake, he had to do so.

Before Mr. Bernard successfully returning the chocolate to 31 degrees by pouring it over the marble table and mixing it, Ms. Carlotta quickly prepares the chocolate mold and Mr. Bernard pour the melted chocolate into it over several times. Solidifying it with the special hammer and finally using the fridge again to freeze the chocolate a bit. Afterwards Ms. Carlotta helps him to prepare the fillings for the chocolate.

Next, the chocolate which Mr. Bernard currently refrigerate will be filled with praline and ganache. Praline here is a filling made of mixture between chocolate, nut, and sometimes added dried fruits. While ganache is a mixture of chocolate and milk/cream. He can’t help but notice that people usually misinterpret the meaning of praline with any small chocolates other than chocolate bars they encounter. Praline is only a filling and doesn’t represent the whole chocolate. It’s just a flavor in a sense, it’s like your daily milk flavored with chocolate, strawberry, or mocha.

After reaching the desired temperature from the fridge, Mr. Bernard filled the chocolate with praline and then ganache in the next round. Then he showered again the gaps with the 31 degrees chocolate, hammered it to ensure the fullness, and then refrigerating it again. Seems quite difficult and it’s easier to just buy your usual box of chocolates at your favorite stores right? But if you know the whole process then we might appreciate a bit about the effort.

Later, using the rest of the unused chocolate, he also demonstrated of how to create a good ol’ hot chocolate. What made the hot chocolate interesting was that he had added a small scoop of vanilla ice cream into the base of the glass and after the glass filled, he topped it with a fresh cream and thin almonds.

The testing time has arrived at last! Each and every one of the bloggers expressed a joyful mirth when they savor Mr. Bernard’s creations. The chocolate was so fragrant and inviting. When you bite, it crumbles elegantly. Next all you gotta do is to experience the harmony between the filling and the chocolate. The praline chocolate was divine and tasty, not fully mild because you can feel the texture of the nuts there which was either hazelnuts or almond. Not to mention also the ganache. The proportional balance between the chocolate and milk created this perfect mildness and sweetness. Enjoy it with a glass of warm water and Mr. Bernard assured that every elements inside the chocolate will get rejuvenated somehow and you’ll feel the maximum taste of it.

This new concoction of hot chocolate was also interesting and taste really good. Sometimes you might get bored of your usual hot chocolate. Try to add the ice cream, topped it with whipped cream and almonds. Next, you’ll see the difference. I can safely say now that whenever you come to Singapore, don’t forget to visit Laurent’s Café & Chocolate Bar. Good job you did for us in Indonesia, Monsieur Bernard!

Now after he introduced and shared the beauty of Belgian chocolate, being the country that produced finest chocolates in the world, to Indonesia. Whether one day he wish to also compete in growing local chocolatier industry or not. The idea about opening one here will be most anticipated by any bubbling foodie and chocolate lovers in Indonesia. I love chocolate, do you?

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