Road Test: ChocoYou Chocolate Workshop
What child (or adult, for that matter) doesn't wish he or she could do a little time in a real Willy Wonka-type chocolate factory?
Well, Hong Kong has its own compact version in Sheung Wan that offers workshops on chocolate-making for anyone who's at least primary school age. The studio, one part of a boutique personalised chocolate company called Chocoyou chocoyou.com is the brainchild of Alexis Kwong, who previously made the sweet stuff as a hobby.
My son, Joshua, 10, joined the youngest workshop (for seven- to 14-year-olds). A 90-minute hands-on adventure began with the affable Kwong introducing the origins of the use of the cocoa bean and its evolution into confectionery. His no-nonsense approach and quizzing of the attendees went down well with the group of five (maximum size is six children).
Children watched an assistant chop and melt various chocolate types, and Kwong then introduced them to the absorbing projects of lollypop- and moulded chocolate-making.
The lollypops had human, animal or monster mouths in white chocolate that were mixed with colourful food dyes. That process, and the amusing results on a stick, was a winning combination.
The "wow" factor for this workshop was a large bar, personalised with a photo of the participant taken in the studio. The image is printed with edible dyes onto a white chocolate panel, and the bar could be decorated with other ingredients, too. Also fun was dipping fresh strawberries into melted milk chocolate.
Throughout the workshop, students heard how temperatures vary for working with different chocolate types and general pointers and rules of chocolate-making, such as tempering, and avoiding contact with water.
Cost: HK$300 for a children's workshop - a bargain, given the experience and all-Belgian chocolate treats consumed on-site and taken home.
Verdict: Educational and fun, with kids able to see, eat and share the result of their work. Things heard most often afterwards: "Tasty and fantastic", "wow" "delicious" and "fun and creative".