Choc Full of It

Choc Full of It

#Italy is known as a #foodanddrink hot spot. But it's not all pasta and pizza. Charming #Perugina, is the perfect place to go on an empty stomach. Someone once said a balanced diet is chocolate in both hands. After spending hours making quite a mess that resulted in chocolates, I'd have to agree wholeheartedly.


The Perugina Chocolate Factory

Who knew that making chocolate would be so filthy! It’s only when I look down to see my hands covered, my shoes with drips on them and my apron smeared with brown traces of fingers, that I realise there is no clean way to do this.

I’m having a chocolate-making lesson in the Perugina factory, the home of the famous Baci chocolates.

from  $55

Chocolate Making Lesson

Food & Drink
 Viale San Sisto, 207C, Perugia, Province of Perugia, Italy
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A romantic kiss for some… for me, more of a dribbling mess. They say you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. It seems you can’t make a chocolate without first splattering it on everything nearby.

The first step in making the famous Baci chocolates

“Now we get our bowl,” our expert chef Massimilano Guidubaldi instructs us, “and we pour everything out onto the table”.

With his thick Italian accent and slightly broken English, I’m convinced I’ve misheard the maestro. But he leads by example, emptying his bowl of melted chocolate onto the bench and using two kitchen tools to spread it and then condense it. It’s almost like kneading bread except it leaves a brown hardening mess on the bench each time.

Taste test
My rather messy workplace

I try to follow each of his instructions closely. I pour my dark chocolate into a mould of 40 small holes, I fill them each with a white chocolate filling I’ve mixed with limoncello and lemon rind, I cover it all up with another layer of dark chocolate, and then put it in the fridge to set. The whole process has taken well over an hour by the time I retrieve the finished product.

A masterpiece in the making

“Very perfect,” Guidubaldi tells some other members of the class. I look at my chocolates and try to pre-empt his judgement. One or two have cracked on the way out of the moulds. Most of them have air bubbles – cursed with pockmarks across their dark skin. But it’s all about the taste, right? I surreptitiously pop one into my mouth and am pleased with the richness of the dark chocolate and the sweet acidity of the lemon filling.

I surreptitiously pop one into my mouth and am pleased with the richness of the dark chocolate and the sweet acidity of the lemon filling
The finished product

I’d you ask me, it’s a success. A new Willy Wonka has been born (without the small creepy slaves).

The Chocolate Recipe

For those following along at home, I’ve got the recipe for you. Remember, though, there’s an art to this and even under the supervision of one of Italy’s finest chocolate chefs, it was hard work.

Ingredients:

Cream – 35g

Grated lemon peel

Perugina white chocolate – 120g

Butter – 20g

Limoncello Liquer – 20g

Perugina dark chocolate – lots

Instructions:

– Boil the cream with the lemon peel

– Add the grated white chocolate

– Add the butter and finally the liquer

– Cool to 28 degrees celcius

– Warm up the dark chocolate

– Make a shell of dark chocolate in the moulds

– Fill with the white chocolate mix, then close with dark chocolate

– Refrigerate for 10 minutes

A view of the kitchen where we learned how to make delicious chocolates

The Italian Kiss

The location for my chocolate lesson, the Perugina factory in Perugia, is now owned by Nestle and is the multinational’s Italian base. It’s still best known for its Baci chocolates, though.

The blue stars of Baci

“Baci is something else,” one of the factory’s workers puts it. “Italians have something to remember – that is the love of the baci.”

Every day of operation, more than one and a half million Baci chocolates are made here at Perugina. But that’s only a fraction of the 120 tons of chocolate that flows through the pipes and vats each day. The company has come a long way since it first opened in 1922.

Every day of operation, more than one and a half million Baci chocolates are made here at Perugina
Italian kisses

Italians are rightly proud of their chocolate. They weren’t the first in the world to make it but they have turned it into an art form. It’s part of the local culture and it was interesting to hear that the countries which are the biggest importers of Baci chocolates are those with the largest Italian populations.

Italians are rightly proud of their chocolate. They weren’t the first in the world to make it but they have turned it into an art form

A kiss, it seems, never means arriverdeci.

* You can check out the official Perugina Chocolate Factory website here (Italian).

Time Travel Turtle was a guest of the Umbria Regional Tourism Board but the opinions, over-written descriptions and bad jokes are his own.

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