As a self-proclaimed chocaholic, you can maybe start to understand how thrilled I was when I was invited to take part in a week-long chocolate class at the International Culinary Center in New York.

I showed up the first day with a butterfly-filled stomach and changed into my white chef’s uniform. It was my first time ever wearing one and I really liked it. It’s like wearing big comfy pajamas, not very sexy but definitely very comfy.

After meeting my fellow students from all over the world, our amazing instructor Chef Michelle Doll-Olson, and her equally amazing assistant Chef Cynthia Peithman, we were ready to dive into chocolate.

Making chocolate is not as easy as it might seem; it’s all about getting the temperature right—tempering, it’s called. You have to heat the chocolate, then cool it, and then heat it again.

We learned different ways to do it and some trick to fix it if it goes wrong. And if you’re wondering, yes! There is a lot of sampling going on.

We learned how to make truffles, peppermint patties, bonbons, dipping, and molding, and made a wonderful chocolate box. It was really a great experience—lots of hard work, but so cool. I’m not even going to talk about the amount of delicious chocolates you get to take home. I had chocolates for weeks.

One of my favorite things we made were Rochées: almond slices, toasted with powdered sugar and orange liqueur. So wonderful. I was lucky enough to get the recipe to share with my Sweet Paul family.

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Makes about 60

3 cups almonds, sliced

3/4 cup powdered sugar

4 oz orange liqueur

1 cup candied orange zest

tempered bittersweet or milk chocolate couverture, for covering

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Add the orange liqueur to the almonds and toss them to moisten slightly.
  3. Toss the almonds with the powdered sugar to coat all of the nuts.
  4. Toast the nuts for 5–10 minutes, or until golden brown, tossing them every few minutes to ensure even roasting.
  5. Allow the nuts to cool thoroughly before mixing with the chocolate, or the warmth of the nuts may take the chocolate out of temper.
  6. Combine a small amount of the roasted nuts with some finely chopped candied orange peel in a warm bowl—a slightly warm bowl will extend the working time before the chocolate hardens. Work in small batches, or the chocolate will set up before the piles are made. Put just enough tempered chocolate into the bowl to completely coat the nuts.
  7. Using 2 small spoons, place small piles of the coated nuts, approximately 1¼” in diameter and almost as high, on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
  8. Allow the chocolate to set in a cool, but not refrigerated, environment.
  9. After the chocolate is completely set, do not let the Rochées touch each other or they will take on a scuffed appearance.


The International Culinary Center offers a wide range of amateur and professional courses in everything from Italian food to pastry and cakes. Check out their program at

Photography by Kristin Gladney

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