On Monday November 16, we arrived at the Condirama, Felchlin Chocolate’s teaching facility, and began our four days in class with a taste of Felchlin’s Xocolatl hot chocolate drink. The class began with a brief a history of Felchlin and we viewed an introductory video of the Felchlin Chocolate production process. In the kitchen we saw a detailed demonstration from Chef Stephan Iten and assistant Chef Marcel Bischof on some components of the things we would be preparing.
Afterwards we prepared an array of plated desserts and entremets including Crunchy Praline and Chocolate (a chocolate cremeux with a cocoa tuile served with ginger ice cream and a hazelnut butter crumble) and Garden of Eden (a chocolate enrobed panna cotta and chocolate mousse with orange apricot marmalade and tuile served with an Olive Tahiti Vinaigrette).
Our second day was a special addition to the usual Felchlin class. Award-winning chef Franz Ziegler guided us through several marzipan/chocolate Christmas figurines, as we all expressed our individual creativity. We welcomed this treat since we just added a day of marzipan lessons into our ICE Culinary baking curriculum.
By the third and fourth days, our jet lag was fading and our early morning meetings at the breakfast table became livelier as we recapped the previous evening’s games of pool and foosball. Everyone enjoyed the hotel’s large breakfast buffet that included croissants, white and whole-grain breads, cold meats, cheeses, cereal, and the star attraction, an authentic marzipan-filled Christmas Stollen. Most mornings were enlivened by our breakfast waiter who treated us to corny jokes and cappuccinos decorated with funny faces and other designs (pictured on the left).
Day three at the Condirma was one that everyone was looking forward to … chocolates. We started out with a chocolate tasting followed by a detailed ganache demonstration. We once again broke into groups to prepare pralinés (the Swiss name for dipped chocolates) and other chocolates including, Hacienda Milk Chocolates, Praline Hazelnut Croquantines, Caramel Chocolates with Fleur de Sel, Praline Centenario Crudo, Centenario Concha, Praline Rustic Noble, Gianduja Lemon, Grand Cru Praline Orange-Marzipan and Green Life.
On our last day of class we got an extra early start, since we had to finish both our chocolates and entremets. We started tasting the ganaches prepared the previous morning and then finished our confections by using both the enrobing machine and hand dipping. At the end of the day we had a final display and tasted everything … yum! We received our certificates and were ready but sad that Friday was our final day.
We began our last day with a tour of the Felchlin chocolate factory. Seeing production from bean to box was outstanding. After our factory visit, we headed over to Richemont pastry school in Lucerne for a tour and lunch. We then spent the remainder of the afternoon in Lucerne, visiting Max Chocolatier, sightseeing and shopping. Later, in Brunnen, we toured the Dettling Kirsch Distillery, sampling and tasting different kinds of kirsch. Our final dinner was at the top of Stoos Mountain in Morschach where we had a traditional Swiss fondue meal with live music that included yodeling and a traditional Alphorn.
All had a wonderful time and we are extremely grateful to Felchlin for hosting such a spectacular week.