Fundamentals of Chocolate Candies Class

January 7, 2011

I just returned from three days in Chicago, where I attended Fundamentals of Chocolate Candies at the French Pastry School. I learned a ton…way too much to summarize here, but I’ll give you the rundown of what we made in class.

The circular molded chocolates at the top of the plate are filled with Orange Liqueur Caramel.

To the right of those are Trios: three whole caramelized hazelnuts, set on a disc of chocolate and then dipped in chocolate.

In the center of the plate are Swiss Rochers: The center is a mixture of Hazelnut Praliné and dark chocolate, which is rolled into a ball, dipped in chocolate and rolled in Pralinettes (caramelized granulated almonds) and dipped in chocolate again.

The squares at the bottom of the plate are Lime Ganache, dipped in chocolate. Not pictured are Creamy From Normandy Ganache, dipped in chocolate (those look exactly like the Lime Ganache chocolates).

The oval-shaped molded chocolates are filled with Raspberry Ganache.

We made almost all of the components used in the chocolates. We didn’t make the Pralinettes, and although we did make Hazelnut Praliné, we used the commercial version in our Swiss Rochers.

Below is a photo of our Hazelnut Praliné 60/40 (60% nuts, 40% sugar). To make this, we cooked sugar and water and then added hazelnuts to create the most-delicious smelling concoction of roasted nuts coated with caramelized sugar. The cooled caramelized nuts are then pureed. The school has a heavy-duty food processor, but it can be done at home if you’re careful.

How do you like this lovely dish of my exclusive chocolate caramel ice cream topping? It’s so tasty, but I will admit that I was supposed to make Chocolate Caramels that are firm enough to cut into pieces. I asked the chef what happened and he said I didn’t cook it long enough. I’ll be trying this one again; the ones the chef made were just chewy enough to be satisfying without endangering your dental work and oh-so-chocolatey and caramely.

Here’s a hunk of Passion-Apricot Pâte de Fruit. I should cut this into squares and roll them in sugar, but I haven’t gotten to that yet. My table partner made this and it turned out extra-firm, but still tastes good. I’m glad that he goofed, because it made me feel better about the chocolate caramels. I made Pâte de Fruit once before using a simpler recipe, so I would probably stick with that if I were to make it again.

As with most things, working with chocolate takes a lot of practice. We learned about tempering and practiced dipping, molding, and stove techniques for making caramels, ganaches, and caramelized nuts. The class was a great jump-start to something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. Although I’m comfortable in the kitchen, there were a lot of things that were new to me, so being able see demonstrations and to try it hands-on with a chef ready to answer questions was fantastic.

My favorites are the molded chocolates because they’re so pretty as well as delicious. I’m looking forward to getting some molds and practicing my technique!

I’ll wrap up with a few more photos from the class. Casting ganache into a made-to-size mold:

Swiss Rochers before the final coating of chocolate:

Cutting ganache on the guitar, which is like a giant egg slicer:

Trios in progress. You can see the mold for the discs on the left:

Warming up filled chocolates so that the cap (the top of the mold, which will be the bottom of the chocolate) adheres to the chocolate in the mold:


  1. Wow, this was fascinating to see…you did all this??? Very nice to have the chance to learn all these new things. Will be fun to see what you do with it all. Those candies look so impressive!

  2. Ooh, yum, awesome, how fun. I wanna go do that! 😉

  3. The orange liqueur caramel sounds to DIE for!!!!

    What a wonderful class to attend-your chocolates are gorgeous!!!!

  4. What a neat class to take, it sounds like you learned a lot. All the candies look wonderful.

  5. Your candy looks unbelievably good. What a fun opportunity to learn some new things!

  6. Wow, what a fantastic treat to be able to take a class like that Jill! I’m adding it to my mental list of things to do if I ever get to Chicago 🙂

  7. Jill – I want some!!! You couldn’t through the magic of technology just zap some over here, could you? They look fantastic!!!

  8. What a fabulous class!!!!

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