For our latest quarterly staff event, we took a short trip across the river from our brick & mortar to southeast Portland to the Alma Handmade Chocolate confectioner store/kitchen to learn a little bit about chocolate- aka 99% of the world's kryptonite. Sarah Hart, Owner/Founder of Alma giving the team some background on the origins of chocolate. It was super engaging, and also super difficult not to dig right into all the samples on our tables. A quick tutorial placemat on the different varieties of chocolates and how to understand them with all senses: taste, touch, sight, smell, even sound! Paired along with some eclectic pairings from pistachios, candied pecans, sesame seeds, cinnamon, masala, cayenne, and Jacobsen Salt Co. Habanero salt. Hannah, Hart's daughter, and fellow chocolate expert, checking in to see what our favorite pairings were. Personally, my favorite was white chocolate and habanero salt. Sweet, salty, spicy? What else do you need?
After our chocolate lesson, we were put to work to make our very own truffles! Fun fact, did you know that the name truffle came from scraps of bitter chocolate ganache that were rolled together that just to happen to resembled the shape of truffle fungi? I didn't, either! Three stations were set up: one for scooping out the truffles, one for hand rolling/dipping, and another for "enrobing" the truffles on the cutest conveyor belt machine. Sara, Suzy, and Will scooping the last bits of ganache off the tray.
Betsy, Anna S., Elizabeth, Diana, and Amory got a little too excited (or just the right amount of excited?) at the hand rolling station.
What a bounty!! We were able to top our treats with cinnamon chili powder, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, cayenne, and salt. Alma even provided us with some boxes to make us feel super fancy.
And of course, we needed to be safe & sanitary with some proper hairnets and aprons.
Fortunately/unfortunately there was no I Love Lucy scenario that unfolded. We all kept our cool and demonstrated some pretty stellar confectioner skills. The ladies at Alma were so generous and informative. It was uplifting to hear about how much thought and care these people put into their product so they can share it with all who want to indulge in one of life's greatest pleasures: chocolate. Until next time, Barrie