What an experience it is to spend a morning in the company of exceptional women crafting all textures of chocolate into a decadent desert at the Shangri-La, At The Shard, London. Do I have your attention? Perhaps that was all too much to announce in a single sentence. Nevertheless, that is exactly what happened. Binny’s Kitchen, Emily Luxton, Luxury London and I spent a fine morning at the Shangri-La’s chocolate masterclass creating it’s signature chocolate marquise under the expert guidance of executive pastry chef Heather Kaniuk.
We began by whisking egg whites into a perfect consistency to be used for the flourless chocolate cake base. Then we melted luxurious chocolate for our ”påte å bombe” to make the mousse. Under Heather’s patient instruction each carefully considered step brought us a little closer to creating the perfect chocolate delight.
The smile that says it all – Binny doing what she does best.
Red Heels and Pectin
Heather adding pectin jaune to my cocoa nib tuille.
The cocoa nib tuille, chocolate jelly and chocolate crumble were next to be prepared. (What a mouthful to say but even better to behold). Could I have been in better hands than the chef responsible for afternoon tea at the Shangri-La to learn from?
As we moved around the kitchen in red high heels and excitement, Heather introduced us to the use of pectin in baking and deserts. It was my very first time using pectin as an ingredient and I was happy to be taught by the best.
When Life Gives you Lemons use Kumquats Instead
Kumquats are rich, golden, mini citrus fruit which makes them perfect for use in desserts. As well as sea buckthorn sorbet we prepared kumquats to marry citrus flavour to dark chocolate. Preparing and blanching kumquats was a fine, delicate process. They were blanched and refreshed three times before poaching.
Caramel and Hazelnuts
Separating hot, caramelised hazelnuts.
The final step was adding caramelised hazelnuts. Roasted hazelnuts were cast in to cooking sugar water at precisely 118C. They were stirred until golden brown, removed and cocoa butter added for depth of flavour. Each hazelnut was individually separated by hand – something that happens at the Shangri-La each time a chocolate marquis is served.
A Decadent Desert is Served
The ultimate creation – a mouthwatering chocolate marquis.
The result at the end of our masterclass was a heavenly chocolate marquis (one might say, “to die for”). Rich, warm, aromatic textures combined with dark chocolate and citrus flavours tempted all five senses. The luscious inviting aroma of melting dark chocolate, candied nuts and kumquats permeated the kitchen and drifted out bringing several passers by to drop in and inquire, “What’s going on?”. “Everything!”, we replied in unison. It was a desert that Tita herself would have been proud of.
So where can you taste my heavenly desert? A far superior version created in chef Heather’s kitchen is available at Shangri-La’s Ting Restaurant.
Bespoke Chocolate Or Noir
On a final note, I was extremely honoured to be one of the first few people in the world to taste the bespoke chocolate, Or Noir, created by chef Heather Kaniuk for Shangri-La. It has been a real labour of love for Heather who spent months refining aromas and blends of chocolate and cocoa masses. This passion is conveyed in its rich, lingering flavours. Tastes are pleasurable when they are able to take us on a journey or evoke pleasant memories. Or Noir does both. The dark chocolate was my particular favourite with its marvellously smoky flavour and rich, vibrant colour.
You too can now taste Shangri-La’s bespoke chocolate in all it’s autumn desserts, dishes and drinks. As the nights draw in what a great way to spend long wintery evenings.