"It's not much but it's ours"

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Yesterday was the second anniversary of the day I came home, sat down on my sofa and decided I had enough of my old life and began the journey, which became EAT MY GLOBE. I had just returned from The Frankfurt Book Fair and was up to my eyeballs in the chaos of an imploding company. Forty was a distant vision in the rear view mirror and I was as mad as Hell and really was not going to take it any more.

Move on two years and the same date saw me continuing to live the dream of seeking out and writing about the best food in the world. This time not in the far flung corners of the globe but in nearby Islington where master chocolate maker, Paul.A.Young had been kind enough to invite me and my chum, William to spend a morning with him up to our elbows in something brown from Ecuador.

In the two and a half years since his shop in Camden Passage opened, Paul has added to a reputation for excellence gained during six years as pastry chef to Marco Pierre White. He has another shop at The Royal Exchange and plans to open more and with a trip to visit cocoa plantations only days away, he is a busy man. The fact he was prepared to spend three hours with the likes of us is more a testament to his generosity than to our charms.

After the pre-requisite cup of tea and a slurp of his splendid hot chocolate, we donned aprons while Paul took us through the making of a chocolate ganache. But first, before we got our hands dirty, Paul gave us a chocolate tasting of some of the twenty-five different varieties he uses in his collection, from 62% with fruity notes of cherry and dried fruits to a 100% which coated the mouth. Each of Paul’s creations can use a blend of up to four different varieties.

Paul’s recipe for ganache is a simple one

500gms cream
500gms chocolate (we chose a 64% from, I think, the Dominican Republic)
150gms light muscavado sugar

We combined the sugar and the cream and sugar and scorched before mixing quickly into the chocolate, being sure not to create air bubbles, which can make the end result go mouldy and then decanted into a baking tray to cool.

While that was going on, Paul showed us how to temper chocolate on a cold marble slab, a process of cooling melted chocolate down quickly so it forms a nice glossy sheen and snaps when broken. As you can see from the film, Paul makes it look easy, but our own attempts were not quite so successful, and fortunately not caught on camera. Paul suggested that, at home, one way to achieve the same result is to melt two thirds of the required amount of chocolate and then add in the rest at a later stage to bring down the temperature.

When we turned our attention back to the ganache it was perfect for making truffles. Donning the sort of gloves that make men weep when Doctors put them on, we rolled small balls of chocolate in cocoa powder (Paul recommends Fair Trade or Green & Blacks cocoa if you are making them at home) and then dipped into tempered melted chocolate before passing through the cocoa one more time and allowing to set once again. The above amounts made well over thirty splendid examples of the truffler’s art and we moved upstairs to the shop, where Paul helped us pack them with the same attention to detail with which he does everything else.

“Perfect little Christmas presents for less than £20 worth of ingredients” Paul said as he saw us off the premises, making sure to lock the door to prevent our return, and he is right, they were easy to make even if they compared unfavourably to the fine examples in his shop.

Well worth a try and a great way to spend a morning that only two years ago I could only have dreamed about.

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Blogger Chris Pople said...

I could have watched him doing that thing with the melted chocolate all day. Fascinating stuff.

Have you tried the stilton chocolate? Or the Marmite flavour?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008 4:49:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to but in, but I tried the Marmite last Christmas.
I did not love it or hate it; the flavour was not strong enough to make me do either I thought.

I was hoping to try his stilton choc at Almeida when they had the chocolate week tasting menu on, but they had removed the 'cheese course' apparently after it proved unpopular in tasting sessions. (Also I believe it was Jean-Paul Hévin in Paris who started the fromage et chocolat thing...).

Big Young fan, anyway...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 8:17:00 pm  
Blogger William Leigh said...

Who's that handsome guy in the top picture?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 10:48:00 pm  
Blogger Gavin said...

I've been lucky enough to chat to Paul at both the Upper St place and his gaff in The City. Just to confirm he's a very sweet guy (no pun intended). And the marmite chocs are great.

Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:46:00 pm  

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