A week or so ago, I attended a chocolate making class. A raw chocolate making class to be exact. Our health conscious instructor stood behind a stainless steel table laden with items like melted cacao butter, dark and light cacao powders, and vanilla beans. Things I enjoy. But those three items also shared table space with ‘unusual’ things like agave syrup and rose water and spirulina powder.
There are two kinds of people in this world, apparently: the kind who put spirulina powder in their chocolate. And eat it. And the kind who don’t.
While I consider myself fairly interested in nutrition, I have not yet reached the point at which I will put algae powder in my food.
After an hour or so, it was time for we ten students to try our hands at making chocolate.
A lot of times when I take a class in something I’ll imagine that I’m going to be the star student of the class. Even if it’s something I’ve never done before, I’ll daydream that I turn out to be a veritable prodigy; the best student the teacher has ever seen.
This has actually never happened to me. But I was in the middle of a chocolate class. And goodness knows I’ve consumed enough chocolate in my lifetime to know a thing or two about what tastes good. So I really thought I had a shot at being a natural ‘Ms. Valrhona’.
I started mixing the cacao butter with the cacao powder and vanilla bean. I must have gotten a little carried away with my daydreaming because the next thing I knew…..my chocolate mixture had turned into something like cookie batter.
It was supposed to be a smooth, liquid consistency: liquid gold. Not liquid…tar.
I tried reheating it a bit to soften the mixture but the raw-food-requisite-118-degree-temperature-water proved too weak for my mess. When I poured the mixture into the designated Ziploc bag, about a third of it spilled out onto the sides of the bag. I had to get a second bag, to contain the first one.
Nobody else in the class needed a second bag.
The stuff was almost Magic-Shell-esque, hardening in front of my eyes. I finally gave up trying to shovel the remainder of the chocolate into the bag and shoveled it into my mouth instead.
It was tasty-ish. At least it didn’t taste like rose water. Or algae.
After we made the chocolate, our very-thin-teacher showed us how to make nut mylk.
Apparently ‘one’ can soak a bunch of nuts overnight, in water, whirr it in a blender and strain it and ….voila….nut milk. Mylk.
This was largely of interest to the segment of the (class) population who buys things like boxed almond milk. (Which is sugary and overpriced, we learned.) The nut guy went on to make a batch of chocolate mylk, talking about how it’s especially appealing to kids.
At which point I had to stifle a serious case of the giggles. I’m known for two things: prolific yawning in public and behaving inappropriately (i.e. laughing during a very un-funny class) in formal settings. But I couldn’t help it. Because I suddenly had a vision of myself…standing in the kitchen, whirring soaked nuts in a blender with some of my magic-shell-chocolate, pouring it into my unsuspecting children’s cups. Trying to pass it off as regular chocolate milk.
While the guy from those Folgers commercials stage-whispers: ‘we’ve secretly replaced their ordinary, cheap chocolate milk with our more expensive nut-water-version….let’s see if they can taste the difference.’
But I was sitting in the front row and had already made a spectacle of myself with the chocolate mess, so I tried extra hard not to laugh about my secret plan.
A couple of days later, I bought some raw cashews and soaked them in a bowl of water (overnight). The next morning I whirred the water-logged nuts in my blender.
I tried to consult my ‘recipe’ from class, but the handout was nowhere to be found. So I winged it. I retrieved my chunky chocolate from the back of the refrigerator – still uneaten, even though it had been several days since I’d brought it home.
I melted the chunks with a little bit of honey and blended it with the cashew ‘smoothie’.
I remembered I was supposed to ‘strain’ the mixture, but I had no straining mechanism. So I served it – as is – to my two very skeptical children. The Gort tasted it: ‘I don’t like this.’ He announced. And the Hen followed suit..’I doan like dis’. And I tasted it. And it was vile. And thick. Apparently that ‘straining’ step was crucial. Along with the ‘add three or four cups of water to thin the mixture’ step.
Yep, I found my hand-out after the fact.
That night I had a stomach ache the likes of which I’d never experienced before. I was certain it was a kidney stone or an onslaught of appendicitis, and nearly started packing a little hospital bag for myself.
And then I remembered….nut mylk.