Research indicates that dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which boosts memory, attention span, reaction time and problem solving skills (chocolate definitely understands my needs).
Chocolate scent also induces relaxation, another reason why people feel less stressed out or less anxious after eating chocolate.

The magic cacao fruit was discovered in the 4th century in Central America by the Maya’s and were initially brewed as a potion or bitter beverage for immortality. The dried beans in the 12th century were used as coins. The cacao beans made its journey by 1528 to Spain and then chocolate was born. Gradually by the 18th century, it had visited France and reached Great Britain where it was first produced in industrial scale and by the 20th century with the development of techniques and materials chocolate became one for all.

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I did a course at the Chocolate Academy Centre Dubai which was a dream come true for me. The Chocolate Initiation course is one of the range of courses that are offered at the academy such as pastries, showpieces and confectionaries.
It is a venue for training courses and demonstrations on all aspects of chocolate work. The academy is an institute pioneering new chocolate products, applications and recipes and spreads chocolate spirit and culture globally through excellence and trains over 500 people every week all over the world with practical hand-on training.
Chef Philippe Marand is a key figure in the gourmet world and since 1998 is a technical consultant with Barry Callebaut who feels very strongly about sharing his skills.
Callebaut, a Belgian partner of chocolate professionals has a wide range of chocolate, fillings and decorating products.
Cacao Berry sources cocoa beans in the origin countries and is a master of processing of cocoa. It is the source of innovations such as Paillete Feuilletine biscuit crush, Pistoles, and MyCryo cocoa butter.
Lets talk cacao trees and beans. I wish i had chocolate trees growing in my backyard. These can live to be 200 year old but only produce beans for 25 years.

Cocoa Tree
Cocoa Tree


The 4 day course was action packed to say the least and started with a short history and theory on processing of chocolate from opening of pods, fermenting, drying, cleaning, crushing, roasting and grinding, each having a huge impact on the final product and also equally important in the processing,  after grinding,  which involves blending and tempering and finally correct storage.
The most important process of understanding chocolate making at home is tempering it correctly. You do this so that the chocolate sets well and there is a snap. The temperatures and humidity during this process is crucial so you need to learn to respect temperature.
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Cocoa butter is responsible for the good taste of chocolate.
Chocolate gets its designation depending on the percentage of dried cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
The addition of milk solids and milk fats converts dark to milk chocolate.

White chocolate has no cocoa solids but that does not mean it isn’t delicious.

Over the 4 day course, besides making chocolate moulds and bonbons we packed in so many different desserts like Royal Chocolat, Concorde, Pralines, Croustillant. Even chocolate tea cake and a profiterole tart. Each of these had multiple elements to the dish which we were taught patiently from chocolate biscuit, cream, spray, meringue, dip, mousse, ganache, glaze, tart…. endless chocolate mania!
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A huge thank you to Chef Ping for keeping everything ready for us everyday and guiding us through our creations.

The chef topped it up with a chocolate demonstration.

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Finally we set a table with everyone’s creations and we got ready for our “graduation” ceremony.

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Overall, this experience couldn’t be matched and I was in chocolate heaven.
I will recommend this course to anyone who is a chocolate lover and am looking forward to return for the other courses that are offered here.
I went home with souvenirs of all my chocolate creations and Chocolate Designs authored by Chef Philippe.

Chocolate is one of the good things on life and I am well on the way of this magical journey!

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