13 Aug Hands-on at CHOCOMAZE!
While we were in Slovakia, we had an amazing opportunity to visit the CHOCOMAZE workshop and try our hands at making some beautiful—and delicious—chocolate treats.
CHOCOMAZE is based in Komárno, our sleepy home town in Slovakia. It was founded in 2013 by Katalin Vargha, and while it’s still a small business, it has already received recognition from all over Europe. CHOCOMAZE specializes in handcrafted chocolate bars and delights; and not only did we get a peek at how they do all this, we got a chance to make our very own treats with the help of the lovely Marti, who herself has only been working at CHOCOMAZE for about six weeks!
We closely examined all the different add-ins that they have to work with!
First, Marti showed us the tempering machines. They have two, one for milk chocolate and one for dark. Tempering helps the fatty acids in the chocolate crystallize into a more stable, which gives the finished product a glossy look and a nice snap when you bite it. Very important! Here’s a good explanation of tempering.
Our first volunteer worker chose to make white chocolate heart lollipops. For a little added flair, we also used edible ink transfers on one side. Marti prepared the mold, placing the ink transfer paper on one side. One of the main components of the ink is cocoa butter, so it practically melts into the surface of the chocolate bar.
The white chocolate was already in a warming pan, but needed a good stir, and then Marti used the cool marble slab to get it down to the right temperature for molding. This was mesmerizing to watch. Since we were the only ones eating this product, we used a very simple instrument to see whether the chocolate had reached the right temperature: the finger test! White chocolate should be about body temperature when it’s ready to work with.
Marti drizzled the chocolate into the molds, then tapped them to get rid of any bubbles.
She added the sticks, and it was time to decorate!
Volunteer worker number two went for dark chocolate mignons. Since the chocolate came straight from the tempering machine, there was no need to cool it on the work surface. The tempering machine even has a setting to jiggle the bubbles out of the chocolate.
Then the chocolate goes in the fridge to continue cooling and solidifying. CHOCOMAZE does every step by hand, even the packaging. So that’s what we did too.
It was too bad that we had just a few too many to fit in the box, so we had to eat them. The sacrifices we make! Everyone gave the finished products a big thumbs-up. The chocolate is rich and melts in your mouth, and we all approved the choices of tart dried fruits and little crispy dragées. We certainly gained an appreciation for the painstaking work it takes to produce these beautiful creations. If you’re in Slovakia or Hungary, you can try CHOCOMAZE’s treats for yourself. You can even special order your own mix of chocolate flavors and add-ins.
Thank you Marti, Kati, and CHOCOMAZE!