We asked William Sitwell, editor-in-chief of Waitrose Food Illustrated, to explore the art of fine chocolate-making….
What should people know about chocolate?
There are as many types of chocolate as there are types of wines and coffee. If you have chocolate from a good plantation with a high cocoa ration, you can get the most amazing effect.
You went to Amelia Rope Chocolate where she has a chocolate consultancy, in addition to her handmade chocolates. What does she consult about?
She consults with chefs and other businesses and advises them. She has great contacts in Brazil and sources direct from suppliers there. She is so passionate that she will never skimp on quality and never mass produce and so never make money.
Did you taste any of her bespoke truffles?
She made me my own truffle with honey. There are the flavour profiles that make up my character, so she made mine out of honey. For dinner parties, she can make the right truffles for the perfect end to the menu.
Did you learn how to make a truffle?
I had a lesson in how to make them; it’s much simpler than I thought. You grind up good quality chocolate with honey and cream – that is a ganache – then you cool it down and pump it out of a piper, then chill it, roll it up and dip in chocolate and then powder.
Why do you think unusual tastes like salty or tart go with the sweetness of chocolate?
The first time you taste chocolate with salt, you think “what is this?” I had a caramel bar with Himalayan salt, and you think it’s soft because of the taste, but it’s not.
What else did you learn on your day of chocolate?
I learned about the history of chocolate from master chocolatier Chantal Coady at Rococo in Chelsea, and I went to Chocolate Society to drink the perfect hot chocolate. That is close to my heart, as I’ve always made hot chocolate. I use Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate with full fat milk and whisk it in a pan.
As editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated, do you find readers interested in chocolates?
People always want good quality, but also affordability. It’s posssible to get really affordable stuff, but with very great quality chocolate, so you need far less of it to get that hit. The pleasure is so much greater. People are often put off by the initial price tag, but a little bit will do more.