On a day when the world’s headlines weigh heavily on everyone’s shoulders, from ISIS and Ebola to child slave labor lawsuits and hostile takeovers, it’s good to know that chocolate can not only prove tasty, but incredibly inspirational.
I’m referring to the recent news involving John Costello, master chocolatier at Nestlé’s Product Technology Center in York, UK, and the man credited with actually being able to brew tea in a chocolate teapot. Now that’s something, particularly if you’re British, or you love tea, or chocolate — or all three.
Granted, the idiom, “As much use as a chocolate teapot,” doesn’t necessarily roll off my lips that often. To be honest, the first time I had heard it referenced was in this news story. Of course, it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what it means. Most of us are very familiar with what heat does to chocolate.
So yea, it turns out that the BBC’s The One Show, a topical magazine-style television program, challenged Nestle about the usefulness of a chocolate teapot.
So Costello, who I’m sure is busy with a host of new product development projects as well as reformulations, couldn’t well refuse this throwing down of the gauntlet. After all, it wasn’t just Nestlé’s reputation at stake here, but confectionery technologists and chocolatiers worldwide.
The master chocolatier held his own, although it took him six weeks to prove The One Show wrong. Using 65 percent cocoa content dark chocolate, Costello used balloons to perform experiments that helped him determine the chocolate thickness necessary to hold boiling water and brew tea.
Moreover, the higher cocoa content dark chocolate had less cocoa fat, meaning it would hold its shape better.
The video, as seen above, shows how he meticulously came to the correct thickness necessary for the chocolate, created a two-piece silicon mould and then fashioned a chocolate teapot to boot.
Costello then shared a couple of other insights with viewers in ensuring that the chocolate teapot actually brewed “a cuppa.”
First, the opening of the teapot had to be large enough to let the steam out quickly. Second, he bored out a narrow opening in the spout to allow just a thin stream of tea to come out. Again, it was all about controlling the amount of hot tea flowing through the spout so that it wouldn’t simply melt.
Finally, he prefaced his pouring of hot water into the teapot saying that he wouldn’t stir the teabag but simply let it steep for two minutes. After pouring out the tea, One Show reporter Marty Jopson declared that, indeed, Costello had brewed a real tea, with just a slight hint of chocolate. Just marvelous.
The morale of this story? Well, there’s so much more to chocolate that we think. Moreover, confectionery technologists and chocolatiers everywhere can be proud of Costello rising to the challenge, demonstrating ingenuity as well as respect for the ingredient.
In these stressful times, one can use a little whimsy and inspiration. Or maybe a cup of tea brewed in a chocolate teapot.