If you don’t have chocolate on the mind yet, you soon will with Valentine’s Day quickly approaching. And while there’s plenty of trendy treats out there–think mushroom chocolate bars and a $375 spiked hot chocolate–there’s nothing quite like keeping it simple with classic cacoa flavors and traditional cooking methods. Which is exactly the mindset behind the Institute of Culinary Education’s bean-to-bar chocolate lab, the first in the nation. James Beard Award-winning chef and ICE’s Creative Director/head of the chocolate lab, recently gave us a private lesson in chocolate making, from roasting and crushing the beans to tempering the final product. Ahead, watch this entire tutorial and learn about the machinery that makes it happen, what makes “real” chocolate real, and how you can get in on the action in the lab.
Video © Michael Ursone Films for 6sqft
ICE’s chocolate lab opened in the summer of 2015, at a time when bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturing was blowing up across the country. However, ICE is the only American culinary school with a chocolate lab for pastry students, seasoned professionals, and amateurs alike. The 550-square-foot lab approaches chocolate “from a holistic perspective,” with a roaster, winnower, hammer mill, cocoa butter press, and a ball mill refiner–all the equipment needed to produce 20- to 30-pound batches of chocolate.
Michael Laiskonis worked as the executive pastry chef at Le Bernardin for eight years before joining ICE in 2012. He recently announced that, in addition to his continued work at ICE, he’ll be helming a new after-hours dessert bar at Récolte on the Upper West Side. He told the Times that he missed creating “high-end restaurant-style desserts.”
Want to visit the chocolate lab and learn first-hand from Michael? ICE offers some fun, entry-level classes for anyone to enjoy. Coming up, they’re hosting “Chocolate 101: Intro to Chocolate,” a step-by-step guide to the chocolate-making process with (of course!) samples included,“Plated Desserts: Techniques in Chocolate” and “Chocolate 102: Fundamental Techniques.” See the full roster of chocolate lab classes here >>
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All images courtesy of the Institute of Culinary Education