It’s a rare kid (or adult) who doesn’t like chocolate. Who hasn’t dreamed of being Charlie in that Chocolate Factory, surrounded by a river of the sweet stuff? But while lots of us cook or bake with our kids, it’s not often that we get to channel our inner Willy Wonka.
Happily, our area offers up myriad opportunities for kids to get down and messy with chocolate. Unlike confectionary arts that include boiling sugar (hello, ER visit anyone?), chocolate-making is actually a pretty safe and accessible endeavor. Getting chocolate in “temper,” a chemical reaction that allows chocolate to remain glossy, crisp and firm at room temperature, does not require sky-high temperatures, just a bit of practice and patience.
Want to give your kid a shot at chocolate creativity in the company of a pro? Check out our roster of area chocolate-making classes for kids (many require kids attend with an adult, most are geared toward kids ages 10 and up). “Kids have fun with chocolate, they don’t have to deal with the technical stuff,” says Bill Fredericks, aka The Chocolate Man, whose offerings include classes just for kids from his Lake Forest Park chocolate emporium. “It’s creative, just another artistic medium. And they get to get their hands ‘dirty’ with chocolate.” Enough said.
(Note: Most facilities work with nuts, please call first if your child has a nut allergy to see if a class is appropriate.)
1. Boehms Candies & Chocolates, Issaquah
Kids who are age 8 and older (with parent) get a tour of the Boehms factory (founded in 1956), then head to the sprawling kitchen to create their own chocolate mold (from dolphins to soccer balls), clusters (nuts, raisins, coconut etc.), chocolate cream soft centers, rocky road (shape the marshmallow-nut log into whatever your imagination dictates), and a chocolate bar they can customize with colored white chocolate piping (some kids do their names.)
While the goodies cool, you tour founder Julius Boehms’ Edelweiss Chalet (a nod to his Austrian heritage) and, if there’s not a wedding, the High Alpine Chapel. Kids wind up with more than a pound and a half of chocolates to haul home. Classes, limited to 8 people, are roughly two hours on Sundays at 2 p.m. and Thursdays at 4 p.m. If you’re a group of 4 or more additional days and times may be available.
Where: 425-392-6652, 255 NE Gilman Boulevard, Issaquah
2. Dawn's Candy and Cake, Bothell
Owner Dawn Motes says she has had children as young as 2 take chocolate class with her (with a parent). “So long as the child can squeeze a bottle we’ll let them take a class. It’s super stinking fun.” She recommends the two-hour Chocolate 101 ($20; learn how to make filled candies), two-hour chocolate-dipping ($35) or three-hour express truffle-making ($40; create your own flavor combos) classes. Classes are offered on demand, even if it’s just you and your kiddo (she typically runs from 3-8 classes a day). Custom classes too. Classes are held in her shop, chock-a-block with candy-making supplies. Go home with up to a pound of goodies.
Where: 425-348-9380, 18107 Bothell Way NE Suite 101, Bothell.
3. Theo Chocolate, Seattle
The two-hour, $35 weeknight classes at the Fremont-based chocolate factory are for age 10 and up, with parent. In the salted butter toffee class you can expect to learn what makes high-quality chocolate, how to temper chocolate at home, watch a toffee-making demonstration by a Theo chocolatier while learning about the Maillard Reaction (a browning reaction that can give cocoa distinctive earthy or other flavors), and dip your toffee into Theo chocolate to tote home. The hand-rolled ganache truffle class teaches you ganache-making, rolling and dipping and at-home chocolate tempering (bag o’ truffles too). Many December classes are already full; 2014 schedule coming soon.
Where: 206-632-5100, 3400 Phinney Ave. N. Seattle.
4. Oh! Chocolate, Seattle
Oh! Chocolate, run by three generations of the Krautheim family since 1985, runs $79 chocolate dipping classes Friday and Saturday evenings at their Madison Valley shop at 6:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. Age 10 minimum; recommended age 13 and up, with parent. Learn how chocolate is produced from bean to bar, how chocolate tastes in various stages, how to temper chocolate and then fill a box of goodies — from graham crackers and Oreos to fruit and potato chips — you dip in chocolate. No classes until 2014.
Where: 206-329-8777, 3131 E. Madison St., Seattle.
5. The Chocolate Man, Lake Forest Park
Owner Bill Fredericks has more than two decades’ experience as a chocolatier. The grandfather of four offers classes for kids age 6-12 (parents are encouraged to watch, but don’t have to participate) and 12 and older. Both groups make chocolate suckers (kids pick out molds — anything from flowers and fire engines to snowflakes and Santa — and chocolate type) and decorate with “luster dust” (think edible powder eye shadow) and chocolate pizza (decorate a big blob with nuts, sprinklers, pralines, coconut etc.)
The younger class dips pre-made cake pops; the 12 and up class learns a variety of truffle techniques. Classes are $29 or two kids for $50. Kids walk out with about a pound of chocolate creations. Fredericks offers a dizzying array of adult classes; if your older child is motivated and ready, call.
Where: 206-365-2025, 17171 Bothell Way N.E, #A016B (upper level of the Lake Forest Park Town Center), Lake Forest Park
6. Pastry Craft, Seattle, Shoreline and Eastside
Pastry chef Laurie Pfalzer guides you through chocolate basics of bean to bar, how to temper chocolate without a thermometer (just like the pros), and two ways of cooking sugar for both toffee and nut brittles. Next scheduled class is a Dec. 3 holiday handmade candy for ages 10 and up with parent, $79, at The Foundry in Sodo (open slots as of press time). Make butter crunch pecan toffee, milk chocolate coconut toffee and nut brittles to tote home.
More chocolate and candy classes are in the works for 2014.
Where: 206-819-9025 for Pastry Craft. The Dec. 3 holiday handmade candy class is at The Foundry, 4130 1st Ave S., Seattle
7. Chocolate Box, Seattle
Most Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. the Chocolate Box runs a “Tour de Chocolate.” You get a mug of hot chocolate from Seattle’s Chocolat Vitale, learn about the global chocolate scene (including Fair Trade and chocolate politics) and processing of cacao, get shuttled from its downtown shop to Theo Chocolate in Fremont for a factory tour, then head back to the shop to learn how to hand-temper chocolate, create your own chocolate bar and dip a slew of goodies (Oreos, mini donuts, pretzels, fruit etc. into chocolate. Age 10 and older, with parent. $59 person. Other class offerings aren’t suitable for kids.
Where: 206-443-3900 or 206-427-2515, 106 Pine St., Seattle
Lynn Schnaiberg, chocoholic, has written stories for national publications including Outside, Business 2.0 and Education Week. She is author of “Outside’s Urban Adventure Chicago.”