Could there be anything more fun than getting a tour of a real-life chocolate factory? We don’t think so! We were fortunate enough to get to explore the Chuao Chocolatier headquarters with Willie Wonka himself, Chef Michael Antonorsi.
We know to always wash our hands before cooking in the kitchen, but did you know that when you are in a candy factory you get to wear a hair net? We wouldn’t want any strands of hair to fall into the chocolate! Chef Michael even wore one to cover his beard.
We’ve never seen so much chocolate in one place. It was like a big bathtub filled with melted deliciousness. And yummmmm, the smells were incredible!
Chef Michael took us around and showed us how they made their bars. The staff was making their “oh my s’mores” bars while we were there, so we got to see them put all the marshmallows on top of each bar by hand.
Before we came to Chuao, our mom had us watch the “I Love Lucy” episode when Lucy and Ethel were working at the candy factory. That was such a funny TV show! We felt like Lucy and Ethel as we sampled the goods and watched the conveyor belt quickly pass the chocolate bars down the line.
Once the bars were made we got to see how they packaged them in the Chuao boxes. They make A LOT of chocolate here! We were in absolute heaven!
After our tour, we started to get down to business. Chef Michael showed us all the ingredients we would be working with to make the clusters.
We learned all about melting chocolate. It can be a tricky process. You have to use a double boiler so it doesn’t burn. And you have to make sure that no water splashes into the chocolate. That happened to our mom once. She says she had to throw it all out and start all over again. It was a big bummer to ruin all that yummy chocolate!
Our chocolate melted perfectly!
Once it was melted we added the rest of our cluster ingredients.
We mixed everything well and filled trays with little scoops. One on the tray, one in our mouth, one in the tray, one in our mouth.
Chef Michael was so fun and silly. We had a blast making these clusters with him! And so much fun tasting them too!
If you’re ever in Carlsbad, CA, try to stop by the Chuao Chocolatier headquarters to take a tour and see how their candy is made. You’ll leave with a belly full of chocolate and a big smile on your face!
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- 2 Chuao Honeycomb chocolate bars
- 2 cups roasted almond slivers
- 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
- 1/4 cup orange peel
- Mix the almonds, pistachios and orange peel well to make sure there are no clumps and all the ingredients are mixed.
- Cut the chocolate bars into small chunks.
- Chop 1/4 of the chocolate into smaller pieces and reserve serparately.
- In a pot, bring approximately 3 cups of water to a simmer.
- Put the larger chocolate chunks into a bowl and place the bowl over the simmering water to create a double boiler. Make sure the bowl is wider than the pot to prevent water from splashing into the chocolate.
- Once approximately 1/2 of the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the pot to avoid burning. Continue mixing with the spatula to continue the melting process and avoid it becoming too hot. If you feel that it is cooling down too fast before everything has melted, you can place the bowl over the pot periodically for a few seconds to contiue melting the chocolate.
- Once the chocolate has completely melted, add the reserved small pieces of chocolate into the melted chocolate (away from the simmering water).
- Mix well until the chocolate has all melted.
- Add the nut mixture to the chocolate and mix well.
- Make sure you coat everything with the chocolate. (This will take some time, so be patient.)
- With two spoons, or a very small ice cream scoop, scoop a portion at a time and carefully place clusters over a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (or fill candy trays).
- Cool in refrigerator for 10 minutes to set.
- Make sure the nut mix is at room temperature before adding to the chocolate.
- Feel free to experiment with other ingredients. For example, shredded coconut, raisins, or marshmallows all make delicious variations.