I don’t know about you but I’m getting restless. Having been cooped up for weeks – and for all the right reasons, don’t get me wrong – I need something to look forward to. With all of the restrictions let’s stay closer to home, not use public transport and engage more than one sense.
Truly local tourism, in my case a 5km / 3 m radius around Haarlem.
Was this just to have chocolate, I could have gone straight to the nearest supermarket and pick my favourite. I am, however also in need of some exercise (almost counter-intuitive, I know) and experience. For that reason and after some online digging, I found 5 promising addresses – one being your own – to take part in a chocolate workshop.
Now, I don’t know about you but quarantine or lock-down has meant less exercising for me than normal. That’s why these five addresses have become part of a bicycle route starting from the very heart, at the foot of the St Bavo church of Haarlem.
Leading from the centre where it is located, take the Kleine Houtstraat to Chocolaterie Pierre on your left-hand side. The façade is black with gold lettering. The colour scheme inside is chocolate ranging from the off-white to milk and dark tones.
The warm, sweet smell wafting from the molten heart of the work area embraces you. The shelves alongside the walls hold square, plastic little boxes stacked two high per offering with mocha beans, chocolate ‘flikken’ with different toppings, rum beans, and so on.
The chocolaterie carries over 90 varieties of bonbons. Plus it has an ice cream counter where fresh ice-cream is made every day.
Just standing there taking it all in, will satisfy your senses. But, why not take one of the workshops where you’ll learn to make bonbons,? Where they show you how to create hollow chocolate figures and small peanut rocks. The courses take about 2,5 hrs and you’ll bring all you make home including an apron.
You can either join a group or organize and book your own party of 8 -18 participants.
Costs €25 per person.
Do you just want to try and play around with a chocolate recipe first, why not try this one for chocolate fudge?
Less than 1 km away in Haarlem, visit Olala Chocola. This franchise now has 10 shops in four provinces and has elevated the chocolate events to a new high. Where most shops offer an option to do a workshop to learn more about the product, here you have a couple more choices.
Business, pleasure, old, young and skills
There are workshops for kids and teens (birthday parties), and skill leveled ones for adults; basic bonbons making to deluxe courses in big or small groups. Besides those Olala also offers packages for dinner, high tea and lunches in cooperation with nearby businesses.
- Kids parties: max 10 kids and two (supervising) adults €135 most weekday afternoons
- Teen workshops: min 8- max 15 teens, €19 p.p. on most weekday afternoons
- Adults: prices ranging from €26.50 – €39.50 depending on the day, time, group size and workshop
Of course, should you just want to try, browse and/or buy – who wouldn’t? Let’s be honest – choose from bonbons, (whipped) cream truffles or their edible typically Dutch chocolate gables.
Less than 5km from Haarlem centre another opportunity to salivate over this delectable treat, at Chocolaterie Van Dam. No cozy dark colours here, instead think straight lines, white-washed walls and personnel in chef’s whites. An entirely different atmosphere yet linked due to that ever-decadent smell that draws you in.
Craft your banner
Like either shop mentioned before here too you can take part in workshops. Promising you to bring home approximately 1 kg (2lb) of personally crafted edible masterpieces. During this 3-hour workshop you will:
- see you have a coffee while you get some background information,
- create your bonbons and
- cook its filling,
- craft a personal chocolate banner,
- have a tasting session,
- and more.
Heemstede signature chocolate
Van Dam’s specialty, smartly named for the place it’s situated in is Heemsteentjes. Blond chocolate covering almonds and hazelnuts dusted with cacao powder. They are similar to peanut rocks but smooth looking.
Want something refreshing after seeing these tasty beauties made straight in the open workspace? Then have an ice-cream with flavours like yoghurt-berry, mango, white chocolate and lemon. Personally speaking, I’m looking forward to their heavenly mud flavour.
And, as promised, what can be more local than your own home? There are companies that will come to you. Chocoparty, for example, will do a 2.5 hours workshop in which they promise to make chocolate figures, make bonbons and macaroons.
Who knows? Maybe they could even help me replicate the to-die-for Rogers’ Victoria Creams on Vancouver Island.
From bean to delicacy
Years ago, while travelling around Costa Rica I was lucky to get a close up look at where and how cacao grows. When you see how few of these cacao ‘beans or nuts’ grow inside a pod, and what work is involved in getting them out of their strangely spongy yet slippery white pulp, you understand why it is a decadent treat.
Once separated from the white membrane the beans are left to ferment for a couple of days. It’s one of the most important steps in the process as this will decide their taste. After fermentation, they’re left to dry before they can be roasted unless of course, they’re shipped to one of our end-users; the chocolate shops.
Roast, pulverize and grind to liquid
At their destination the beans are roasted, pulverized and the hulls get separated from the edible part and to end up with nibs.
Nibs are the closest to the particular end product. These hard and bitter cacao pieces get ground up and mixed with sugar, flavourings and if so desired, milk powder. The friction from grinding will liquefy the chocolate and once tempered the chocolate is ready for use. Pour them in molds for bars, banners, or bonbons. Drizzle over ice-cream, stir in hot milk, the options are endless.
Chocolate bucket list
Okay, now I want some! With the Corona situation as it is, workshops may not be conceivable in the foreseeable future yet but at least now I know where to go for a quick fix.
Once life gets going and I can sate my thirst for both chocolate and coffee once more, these places are on my list.
This is a franchise with locations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Either have a coffee or hot chocolate or sign up for a chocolate fondue, high tea or a high choc (Yes, please!).
If you’re bored out of your tree, like chocolate and (PC) games, you might enjoy this game. I got very hooked on Chocolatier years ago. In it, you have to create bonbons and make money. With your profit, you then buy your raw materials from all over the world. Expand even more by buying plants and your own ships. Fun while you’re cooped up and can’t do a workshop.
Anyhoooo. Sigh! Until, I can start organizing road trips for the summer, I’m happy to try any (or all) of these.
Are there other chocoplaces I HAVE to try, let me know in the comments. I’m more than happy to try.
Any other plans for local tourism, any thing you’d recommend near where you live?
NB: Graphics designed with help from Canva.