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Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate d’Or

Michelle Brotohusodo

You may have guessed from some of my previous posts that I like chocolate. A lot. So you can imagine how pleased I was to discover another boutique chocolatier right on Canberra’s doorstep, and annoyed at myself for not finding out about it earlier! I’m talking about Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate d’Or in Murrumbateman.

Robyn did her first chocolate making course back in 2004 and, after making chocolates for friends for fun, received her first big order for a wedding in 2006. The success of that event gave her the confidence to become a professional chocolatier, and so Robyn Rowe Chocolates was born. Initially selling at markets and through direct orders online, Robyn and her husband Denis had always dreamed of opening their own shop. This dream was realised in January 2012, when the Chocolate d’Or was opened.

For all my love of chocolate, I’d never actually been to a chocolate making demonstration, so I was excited when I discovered that Robyn was running them every weekend in August, as part of the Fireside Festival.

We found little groups of people enjoying hot chocolates and chocolate truffles at tables set up outside. Entering the building, we were faced with the sight of lots of delicious truffles lined up neatly in a counter and to the left, their birthplace: the kitchen.

Gathering everyone together, Robyn began the demonstration with a brief description of how cacao is turned into chocolate, showing us pictures of cacao trees and pods, and passing around a cacao bean in a jar.

Robyn then told us about the source of her chocolate, Callebaut in Belgium, and explained that the chocolate that she used was made from Fairtrade cocoa from Ghana. What this means is that the growers get a fair price for their product, and contributions are also made to investment in their communities, in this case, working with schools, helping with sanitation, and providing sporting and classroom equipment.

Moving into the kitchen, Robyn explained the difference between milk and dark chocolate, and what couverture is (it’s a high quality chocolate, with more than 31 per cent cocoa mass). She then showed us —by pouring a delicious mass of it from a melting tank onto a bench.

Moving the couverture around with paddles, Robyn explained that the process was called tempering, which in simple terms means reducing the temperature of the chocolate from high (45°C) to low (31°C), to get it to an optimum state to work with. According to Robyn, the three most important things in this process are time, temperature and movement.

After working the couverture on the slab for as long as necessary, Robyn poured it back into the melting tank and mixed it with the remaining chocolate (by this point we were all very impressed with her arm strength—it looked like hard work!).

The first chocolate that Robyn demonstrated was how to make the shell of a chocolate. Pouring the chocolate into a mold, she then shook out the excess back into the melting tank, and stood the mold on the bench so the chocolate could set.

Next, Robyn demonstrated how to pipe fillings into chocolate. As someone who’s not particularly dextrous or tidy when I bake (a friend and I once tried to pipe macarons and it was an hilarious disaster), I was impressed with her skill.

This was followed by a demonstration of how to hand dip chocolates, which I thought looked particularly fun, as it seemed to consist of tossing or dropping truffles into the melting tank and then lifting them out with a dipping fork. Robyn then showed us how to drizzle chocolate over chocolates and also how fiddly working with gold leaf is.

Finally, Robyn showed us how to use a contraption called a guitar, to cut up a slab of caramel speculaas. At first the name confused me—though it had strings, I didn’t see any resemblance to a guitar. It made sense, however, after Robyn pushed down on it and the strings let out a mighty twang as they sliced through the caramel.

During the chocolate demonstration, we had gotten little tasters of some of the chocolates, so by the time it was over my friends and I were dying to try some truffles and drink some hot chocolate. On Robyn’s suggestion, we tried theCanberra Centenary chocolate (sea salted caramel available in dark or milk chocolate, currently the most popular chocolate available), as well as one of her newest creations, the aromatique poire (pear).

We all enjoyed the Centenary chocolates and while I found the aromatique poire a little strong, my friends really liked theirs (probably something to do with the liquer!). We’d also been eyeing off the bowls (yes, you read that right—bowls!) of hot chocolate that had been making their way out of the kitchen, so of course we had to get some ourselves.

Apart from being a talented chocolatier, Robyn also has creative talents in other areas, including art and embroidery. It seems logical then, that part of her vision for her Chocolate d’Or is to convert one room into a gallery, not only to show some of her work, and other local artists, but that of one of her assistants, who just happens to be Amanda McLean, one of Australia’s leading pastellists.

If you love chocolate, then I highly recommend a trip out to the Chocolate d’Or—I’ll certainly be going back for another bowl of hot chocolate and to restock on truffles.

The essentials
The place: Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate d’Or
Where: 1153 Nanima Road, Murrumbateman
When: Open Fri, Sat, Mon 10am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm
Contact: Call 02 6227 5827, visit the website at www.robynrowechocolates.com.au (includes info on stockists) or check out the Facebook page.

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Michelle Brotohusodo

Michelle moved to Canberra vowing to stay for two years, tops. 10 years later, she’s a bona fide Canberra convert. When she’s not working in her day job as a public servant, she’s enjoying Canberra’s culinary delights or finding fun things to do/see in and around town. More about the Author

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