Making our own chocolates at Dr Choc’s in Windsor

This is the next in my series about finding things for us to do on Groupon. Things that I didn’t even know existed nearby. Things that S and I can do together to experience something, learn something new, or do something we haven’t done before.
On a Saturday afternoon in late December, we found ourselves back in Windsor, where we visited Doctor Choc’s. We’d been there before to buy slabs of coffee or orange chocolate, but I later discovered that you can do chocolate making workshops there too. So of course we had to go back.

This is not a sponsored post – just something I decided to do with S and that I’d like to share with you.

We were a bit early, so we browsed around the shop for a while until it was time for the workshop to start.

I don’t know what the maximum numbers are, but nobody else had signed up that day, so it was just us and the member of staff running the workshop, which made it a really personal experience and gave us time to ask questions, or for me to get a bit of extra help when I needed it.

The workshops take place in an area behind the counter where there is a large table for dipping and decorating, and where the three chocolate machines full of their molten goodness are.

Rings came off, and I had to squeeze my unruly mane into a hairnet – I haven’t done that since I was about 12 when I used to do dressage competitions!

What we made

Our first task was to make the shells for the filled chocolates. You choose plain, milk, or white chocolate, and hold your mould under the chocolate machine so that you can fill three of the sections in the tray. As I couldn’t see where the chocolate was going to come out, I needed assistance lining mine up, and then to get rid of the excess.

The chocolate making room

When the shells in their mould were taken off to cool, we moved on to bigger, more shallow moulds. The tray had room for three bars. You could go for three of the same type, but both S and I wanted one of each – a plain, a milk, and a white chocolate bar.

Before we filled the trays, we chose from a range of jars which toppings we wanted to use. There were all kinds of things – nuts, seeds, fruit, chocolate decorations. I chose ground coffee beans for my dark one, chocolate buttons and a sugar butterfly for the milk, and guava pieces for the white one.

We then filled the moulds for the three bars and brought them back to the table where the decorations were waiting. They set fairly quickly, so it was important to get the toppings on so that they would set into the chocolate. They were then taken away to cool.

The next step was to pipe chocolate fondant filling into our shells. I’ve done icing with a piping bag before and I won’t get an award for the most beautiful piping, but I got the chocolate filling in the shell and this was easier once I’d worked out how fast it was coming out and how hard you needed to squish it to get the right amount! When this was done, we went back to the chocolate machine to give our chocolates a bottom that sealed the piped filling inside the shell.

Chocolate machines producing white, milk, and dark chocolate

The final part involved a cup of molten chocolate into which we dipped some pre-formed truffles. You put them on a stick, slosh it around so it’s covered, then remove it whilst not losing the truffle off the end of your cocktail stick. It’s all in the angle apparently! The truffles were really big, and we also dipped a couple of pieces of candid fruit. The remaining chocolate wasn’t wasted – it was set with a wooden stirrer in it for use as a hot chocolate spoon.

The café

The Groupon deal we got also included a drink at the café upstairs while we waited for our chocolates to set. I got hot chocolate in a cute little jar and it was very rich and very good. There was also a wide selection of cakes on offer – I didn’t have one because we were going to another event in the evening, and truth be told I’d rather fill up on pure chocolate than cake, but if you want some chocolate cake while you’re waiting, that’s no problem!

I enjoyed this experience – both because we learned a bit more about how the chocolates are made, and because we went away with some delicious chocolates! I think it’s a good activity to do with a friend or as part of a larger group. The staff were friendly and helpful, and you don’t have to have any prior experience or particular creative skills!

From an accessibility point of view, help was available if I wanted it, either from the member of staff or from S, but I was also able to participate actively in the workshop.

So if you like chocolate and can get to Windsor, I’d definitely recommend it. Also check Groupon to see if the deal’s still running!

More from Unseen Beauty

If you’d like to get my catch-up emails, usually once a week, you can sign up using this form.
The emails contain news of my new posts, other things that I’ve enjoyed (podcasts, posts from other bloggers, interesting articles etc), and any UK shopping information that I think my readers might like.

This post contains an affiliate link, but I only promote things that I have personally tried and enjoyed. We paid for the experience ourselves.

Blogmas day 20 – 10 December favourites!

So, as I usually do my monthly favourites at this time of the month, I thought I’d share December’s as part of Blogmas.

1. Firstly I’d like to mention my phone. It’s a joint birthday and Christmas present from S and it means that I now have a main phone and a really old one that I can use for video calls at work. I didn’t want the newest model or anything, but I did need a faster one and one with more space for all my books and music, so I’ve really been appreciating my phone since I got it in September.

2. I don’t have an office secret Santa because I work for myself, so I bought myself a silly present today. I wasn’t actually looking for this, but when I saw it, it kind of sums me up – love owls, hate mornings and stupid behaviour so maybe I do have irritable owl syndrome as it says on this mug! I got it for myself anyway!

3. The next thing is something I got for Giving Tuesday and I was alerted to it from the lovely Kerry from Kerry Life and Loves – go check her out if you haven’t already! She said in one of her posts that Radley was doing a collaboration with the Dogs Trust and they’d brought out a range of backpacks and coin purses with the usual Radley dog, plus a range of other dogs based on real dogs at the Dogs Trust. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I got the retriever purse! It’s out of stock at the moment, but you can sign up to be notified when new stock comes in.

4. I was happy with my Red Carpet lipstick from Elf, so I got 2 more – Wine Tour and Touch of Berry. One is moisturising and one is satin – I don’t like lipsticks that really dry out your lips, so always look for ones that moisturise. These are a good price too, even with the shipping.

5. Blogmas! It’s been fun, although I struggled most at weekends and on days off where I try to spend as little time online as possible! I’m wondering whether I joined the party too late – so many people are doing Blogmas this year that I’m way behind with all the content that I wanted to read. I wonder if other people feel the same? I wonder if Bloguary or Blogpril would be better in terms of getting more people to see the content? I don’t know, but I have enjoyed taking part, coming up with Christmassy ideas, and of course reading the content that my blogging friends have been putting out.

6. Clinique make-up. I was kindly sent some money for Christmas from someone who is probably reading this, so thanks again! I’d heard really good things about the Clinique chubby sticks, so I got the sculpting highlight and the cream contour. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know about my love for cream rather than powder products, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with these. Yes, you have to blend them well, and yes, this is a pain if you can’t see what you’re doing – but it’s much less of a pain than dealing with fall-out from powder if you can’t see it’s there, so this type of product has meant that I can do a lot more with my make-up than I did before. I’ve tried Clinique skincare before, but not the make-up, and I think it’s really good quality.

7. If you get the Latest in Beauty subscription box, they usually put in a couple of little free samples. Today was truffles and I very much approve of those, but what I wanted to tell you about was a little sample of the Lavera night cream. I liked it so much that I got the full-size one. Firstly it was the smell, which I loved, but I was also pleased to have found an organic cream that also left my skin feeling wonderful and soft.

8. Hot chocolate. Just because it’s winter and you can’t go wrong with a big mug of hot chocolate when it’s cold and you’re snuggled up in the warm. We like the Whispa one or Options orange sachets.

9. I’d never heard of Shay and Blue before, but I really liked their blood orange perfume that came in the M&S calendar. I would like to try out more citrus scents from this range in the new year – once I’ve used up some of the wonderful things from the calendars!

10. Time off! I love it! I spend so long in front of my laptop that a couple of days offline this week have done me the world of good! I’d definitely recommend it!

So, what things have you been enjoying this month?

The calendars

IN L’Occitane there was a shimmering cherry lotion – something I haven’t tried before, so I’m looking forward to that. I love a cherry scent!

In M&S there was a Pixie lip gloss. The only thing I’ve tried from Pixie is their glow tonic, so it’s good to have a look at one of their lip products too.

How about you?

Christmas tree in Stockholm

Would you like Unseen Beauty News emails!

If you’d like me to email you twice a week with information about what’s new on the site, and other things that I have been enjoying, you can sign up using this contact form.

Blogmas day 11 – things I love about winter

Let it snow! It did actually snow in our part of the world last night. It has now mixed with rain, and there’s not enough to make a good snow dog, but at least it snowed! Some people got up to 32 cm of the stuff, and I do feel sorry for all the people who lost power to their homes over the weekend. Still, even as an adult, I do think there’s something magical about the fluffy white stuff – as long as I don’t have to go anywhere in it!

11 things that I love about winter

People sometimes see winter as a dull and dreary time of the year. It’s true that in England it can be cold and damp, but actually I think there’s a lot to love about winter. Here are 11 of my favourite things!

1. Winter walks
Now that I work from home, I certainly don’t miss running to the train station in the rain and spending the rest of the day trying to dry out! But when it’s dry, I love wrapping up in my big thick coat, hat, scarf, and gloves, and going for a walk. We don’t get a lot of snow around here, but the air is so fresh and crisp – it really feels as though you’re doing something good for yourself, especially as we tend to spend a lot more time inside during the winter.

2. Winter food
I’m not just talking about Christmas dinner here, although I do enjoy roast turkey with all the trimmings! I also mean the home-made pumpkin soups and the hearty stews and casseroles that I make when it’s cold outside. These are really healthy too because they’re basically just meat and vegetables with a few additional herbs and spices for flavour.
I’m not a fan of the traditional desserts like Christmas cake or Christmas pudding, but I do enjoy a slice of chocolate log (a kind of cake) or a mince pie (a sweet pastry case filled with dried fruit and spices).

3. Christmas
Not just Christmas Day though – I mean the whole time leading up to Christmas with all the preparations, getting the tree, decorating it, buying presents, wrapping them, making Christmas food, listening to the music…

4. Winter clothes
AT the moment I’m wearing a soft, thick fleece with a wolf on it. Winter gives me the chance to get out all my warm snuggly clothes that would be too hot at any other time of the year. I think there’s something really comforting about being wrapped up warm!

5. Snuggling up on a cold evening
The wind is howling outside, the rain is lashing down – but it’s ok, because you’re in the warm, snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, reading a good book, watching a film, or just enjoying a steaming mug of hot chocolate!

6. Christmas markets
They are actually a German tradition, but they are becoming quite popular in the UK now. It’s basically a collection of stalls with people selling gifts, hand-made products, and food. You can usually pick up a tasty treat and find some gifts for Christmas presents, or just for yourself, that are a bit different to what you can find in the shops.

7. Decorating the house
I mentioned this earlier in the part about Christmas. I don’t go for the crazy lights and garden decorations that you can see for miles, but I do like to have a tree, the singing snowman and some greenery around the house.

8. Advent calendars
They really started to be a thing here last year, and now so many shops and brands are doing them. They used to be just for chocolate – you got a little chocolate treat every day, but now there are make-up ones, skincare ones, perfume ones, ones with candles, ones for pets, and ones with food or drinks inside. I love to see the variety, and getting a little treat each day from 1st till 25th December is of course fun too!

9. Snow
We don’t get a lot of it where I live in the south of England, but when we did get some, my dog used to love it. She would roll around on her back in it, burrow down into it with her paws, and do her best to catch the snowballs that I threw for her. Then she’d be really confused about where they disappeared to if they hit the ground.
When I was still at primary school, my family moved to the north of England, where there was more snow. The children used to get excited when it snowed because it often meant that the school would close and they could go sledging!

10. Time off work
I haven’t always taken holiday around Christmas time, but people don’t usually want training courses at this time of year, so now I usually take a couple of weeks off at the end of December. I don’t usually go away, so it’s holiday at home with my partner, and it gives me time to catch up with family and friends.

11. New Year
I’m not a fan of huge parties for New Year. Most years I stayed home with my dog, or celebrated locally with friends. When I used to live in London, I wasn’t interested in going to join the huge crowds. But I like New Year because it’s a new beginning – a fresh new year with so many possibilities. Like a blank page waiting to be filled, or a new chapter in a book.

Christmas tree in Stockholm

The calendars

So, what was behind your door no. 1?

L’Occitane – today I got another shower gel, this time the shea one. L’Occitane shower gels are lovely, and I prefer them to the oils. I haven’t had this one before, but I like the range.

M&S – after being so happy with yesterday’s mask (I tried it out yesterday), today’s offering was a make-up sponge. I can’t get excited about make-up sponges and do feel that this was a bit of a filler gift. It’s the first thing that I won’t use, so I suppose that’s not bad. I’ll find someone to give it to or put it in my give-away box – It’s not a bad product, I just can’t get very enthusiastic about it!

Question of the day

Today’s question – do you give or receive Christmas stockings? I don’t any more, but I always had one as a child, usually after Christmas dinner.

Would you like Unseen Beauty News emails!

If you’d like me to email you twice a week with information about what’s new on the site, and other things that I have been enjoying, you can sign up using this contact form.