| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Festive baking recipes

Time Out Kids visits the Choco’a workshop in Al Quoz

It’s not often you get to visit a REAL chocolate factory, so when Choco’a invited us to their workshop in Al Quoz to learn to make some Christmassy treats, we naturally jumped at the chance. Along with our seven year old helpers, Sadie and Rudy, we washed our hands and donned hairnets for the grand tour of the facilities followed by the chance to get stuck into some Christmas baking under the watchful eye of Choco’a’s experts.

Now, you might think that kids plus copious amounts of sugar would end in disaster, but Chef Frederic Legras regularly invites Dubai’s schools for class field trips around Choco’a’s kitchens. Friendly and ultra patient, he’s a big hit with the kids, who watch rapt as he shows us vast slabs of chocolate and ganache in the store room. ‘We love having the kids here,’ he explains. ‘Technically, we’re not a factory, but a giant kitchen where we can create everything to order, from cakes and bespoke boxes of chocolates, to themed treats such as chocolate racing cars to tie up with the Grand Prix.’

Everywhere we look, fantastic creations are being made, from metres of perfectly curled chocolate swirls, vast slabs of fluffy sponge and hundreds of candies being deftly handwrapped in metallic foil. Through the centre of the kitchen, a vast conveyor belt slowly takes the filings covered in melted chocolate, cooling them as they go along until they pop out the other end 15 minutes later, perfectly formed and ready to eat!

It’s then time to make our own creations (check out the recipes, right). Our madeira-style Christmas cake (kids much prefer lighter cakes to the traditional heavy fruit ones, Frederic tells us) is smothered in icing before Rudy and Sadie show off their artistic skills with chocolate lattice, fresh fruit and sprinkles galore. Gingerbread men and ladies are then treated to a fashionable makeover, courtesy of some green and pink icing.

At the end of the session, laden down with our festive creations, it was clear a good time was had by all (even if we didn’t see any Oompa Loompas – this time anyway). Now we just have to attempt to recreate them at home...
Chef Frederic runs creative chocolate art courses at Choco’a for adults. Starting again in February 2012, a month-long course of four lessons costs Dhs400, visit www.chocoa.ae/en/choco-academy/chocoa-creative-art-course for details. For schools that want to find out more about children’s field trips, call 04 340 9013.

Time Out Dubai,

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