Opinion

Cawley: Gooey truth of making chocolate

This past week in Nashville, I put my (lack of) culinary skills to the test by taking a chocolate-making class while on vacation.

As one might expect, things did not go very smoothly. I have many different interests, but cooking or baking has never fallen into that category.

When a friend suggested we check out the Goo Goo Shop and Dessert Bar in downtown Nashville and take a chocolate class, I figured, why not? How hard could it be?

Well, it turns out using a mixer is not as easy as it looks. And the friend I went with is one of those people who seems to be blessed with being naturally good at everything, so my stumbles were ever more apparent.

Things started off easy enough. The first portion of class was devoted to everyone (us and the only other group that signed up) making their own type of chocolate bar, or goo goo cluster.

So this was a pace I could deal with. I picked out my two choices for a top and bottom layer ā€” caramel and peanut butter ā€” and used my hands to condense each ball until it was flat. From there, it was placing the bottom layer into the tray, filling it with selected ingredients and then topping it with the other layer.

From there, it was taking a picture proving the class happened and then handing it over to the Goo Goo chocolatiers to make it into an actual candy bar that looked edible.

So there’s part one of the class and I’m feeling a little confident. Then comes part two, and I make my way back to my work station where the unsuspecting teacher chose my side to place the electric mixer on.

Part two of the class was devoted to making a peanut butter mix to frost a brownie with. Here things got a little messy.

In theory, it shouldn’t have been that difficult. It was basically placing peanut butter and sugar into a bowl and using the mixer to make it into frosting. Well, it turns out that the device has to be held a little high up in the bowl, instead of pressing it down, which subsequently shakes the table.

So, while adjusting the mixer up, I moved it a little too high up, which shot some of the peanut butter right below my friend’s eye, which is when she decided to take over that part of the class and relegated me to the rubber spatula.

Then, it was using a mason jar to put the mix into a plastic bag, which the teacher cut a hole into so that it could be used to squeeze frosting onto the brownie. Here was another misunderstanding on my part.

I guess the idea is not to spread the frosting after squeezing it onto the brownie, but rather to try to make it into a nice design. Who knew?

Despite the mishaps, both desserts still ended up tasting good. While I probably won’t ever be an expert in the kitchen, the next attempt will probably go a lot more smoothly.

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