The quintessential idea of camp hasn’t really changed that much over the years. If you were asked to draw an image of one, it might not look a lot different from the one portrayed in the 1961 Disney classic ‘The Parent Trap’, with cabins, canoes, trees, lakes and maybe a prank or two thrown in. Yeah, no matter the era, kids will be kids.
But there are ‘camp’ experiences which break that mold. A few which even involve filling one.
Both apply to ‘camp’ at Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park. It’s camp done Willy Wonka-style, sans the disappearance of participants. It’s a terrific opportunity for the kids – and parents, too – to check out the workings in the Peterbrooke kitchen, observe and learn how to create a few of their chocolate favorites.
Our camp afternoon was overseen by Master of Ceremonies and Chocolate Guru Danny Holt, a Peterbrooke employee for nearly two years. Danny first had us don our aprons and put our name to our hats. He then began with some chocolate history, from long ago with the Mayans to the more recent origins of Peterbrooke Chocolatier. Yes, there was a pop quiz afterward, and chocolate – which has apparently been used as money in times past – awarded as foil-covered coins. He was in luck, our group was pretty attentive. ‘Coins’ were tossed about regularly.
We then set about with our dipping exercises. From apples to pretzels to Oreos to Nuttberbutters, one by one campers took their latest materials forth for dipping in dark or milk chocolate, which was being spun around endlessly in the “tempering” machines. A few liked them as is, whereas others went straight for colorful sprinkles to add while the chocolate was still moist. Personally, I liked the punches of color added against the chocolaty backgrounds.
Before breaking for lunch – included in the $40 price – MC / CG Danny demonstrated the process for creating a Jami Shoo, Peterbrooke’s one-of-a-kind foray into non-wearable, yet completely edible chocolate high heel footwear. If you haven’t seen them, photos are available on their website or facebook page. A terrific one-of-a-kind gift, and an interesting process of swirling the chocolate about in the mold to form the shape.
Campers did tackle the molding process, but they were the one-sided version for flowers, ducks, music notes, small purses and more. After pouring the chocolate into the molds they were then tossed about on the vibrating table, evening out the chocolate and eliminating any internal air pockets. Sticks were added, if needed, and they joined the other items in the fridge.
It was then back to the chocolate dipped apples for the “drizzling” process. This is when the light – or sometimes not so light! – random lines are drizzled along its sides in patterns of which Jackson Pollack would surely be proud. Chocolate camp with some artsy opportunities, just like regular camp.
The last and final step was placing each of our chocolate creations in a colorful Peterbrooke cardboard box after slipping them into individual plastic sleeves and tying the ends with twist-ties. Slip the whole thing into a large plastic bag and heat – seriously, with sort of a hairdryer type device – to adhere the plastic to the sides of the box and voila, we’re done.
Chocolate Camp at Peterbrooke is a one-of-a-kind experience sure to delight the chocolate-LUVer and those who are simply curious how it’s all made and put together. The experience can also be had for birthday parties . . . . for young or those slightly less young.
Thanks Peterbrooke Chocolatier for a great day at camp!
Prep Work! – Photos above . . . . After donning hats and aprons, campers were ready to work. Misha Townsend does a flight attendant impersonation while fitting her plastic gloves. Just below, Brendan Kennedy shows off the chocolate alligator he made for his daughter. And, center left, Master of Ceremonies / Chocolate Guru Danny Holt begins a demonstration of making the store’s popular “Jami Shoo”.
Chocolate Creations – Photos above . . . . The ‘Shoo’ demonstration continues as the mold is firmly clamped together. A few shining examples — one quite literally — which are in a shop window. Other photos show campers filling molds, the “tempering” machine churning chocolate and another with campers preparing their boxes for their individual chocolate creations. Bottom left, some liked the plain variety but others went for massive infusions of color with sprinkles!
Dipping. Molding. – Photos above . . . . Campers take to dipping apples, pretzels, Oreos, NutterButters and more into chocolate above. The sample chocolate shoe is revealed and two of the camper’s own mold creations — a small purse and a flower — shown freshly removed from the molds selected by campers.