This year’s Leeds Indie Food Festival offered two chocolate-making workshops by Tyto Leodis confectionery. I immediately jumped at the chance to celebrate Leeds Independent foodie scene, having a look at one of Leeds’ favourite chocolatiers in action.
Leeds local, Mike Wallis, runs bespoke Tyto Leodis from the Fabrication 2 Warehouse. Mike sells his chocolates in Fabrication and also offers a range of classes and courses. The chocolate-making workshop is only offered to small groups, which means there is plenty of chance to get personal help and, more importantly, lots of chocolates to take home.
Mike began the session with a quick science lesson accompanied by tasters of chocolate with different cocoa percentages. His creations are famed in Leeds for their unique flavours. Although Mike’s favourite remains a classic espresso, one of his more memorable combinations was a Stilton and pear blend. Whilst we didn’t push the boat out as far as that in the workshop, we had the chance to work with many different flavours, including gin, marmalade, espresso and cashew butter. Mike is happy to vary the ingredients to suit the tastes of his participants, a touch that makes this workshop that bit more personal.
It was quickly established that this isn’t the class for you if you’re not happy to get a bit messy in the kitchen. First, we melted our chocolate by mixing it with boiling double cream. To cater for all tastes, Mike also showed us how to make vegan chocolates, using only dark chocolate and cashew butter. Although I’m not vegan, I’d have to say the cashew chocolates ended up as my favourite. After whipping up a ganache, we added our chosen liquid: gin or espresso. Mike is passionate about local ingredients and independents, so we used North Star Coffee, and gin from the Harewood Food and Drink Project.
Next was the most difficult stage – the piping. My first efforts left a lot to be desired, but after honing my technique under Mike’s tuition even I managed to produce some elegant truffles. After letting the chocolates set, we moved onto the decorating. Mike’s sophisticated techniques were a little out of our capability, but we managed to perfect a simple dunking style. After that, we decorated the truffles using blue cocoa powder spray, freeze dried strawberries, salted caramel sweets and sparkles!
At the end of the session, we each had about forty luxury chocolates to take home. The ganache truffles last for around four days, although they didn’t end up making it long past that evening in a house of six hungry students! But it’s not all over once the chocolates are eaten. Mike gives a handout with instructions to all his participants and I left feeling inspired to create my own chocolates. Everything we learned during the class would be possible to practice at home.
The class was a great way to spend a Saturday morning and well worth the money considering all the skills acquired, the copious tastings and the sizeable box of chocolates to enjoy at home. I’d definitely recommend signing up to the workshop, or even joining one of Mike’s longer courses that will teach you the art of more sophisticated decorating. If you’re not into baking, don’t be put off. I’ve probably baked a cake on fewer than five occasions and ruined at least half of those, but was able to leave this creative session with some great quality truffles under Mike’s instructions. Mike’s friendly, easy manner made the class enjoyable and fun, even for those of us who lacked a natural flair for chocolate design.
Find Tyto Leodis confectionery on sale at Fabrication in The Light.