Completing the Valrhona Master Chocolatier program this spring was both exciting and intimidating. At l’École du Grand Chocolat in France, Chef Christophe Domange began by having us make a “chablon,” a paper-thin sheet of chocolate on a large square of acetate. Part of the challenge is that the acetate sheet is essentially invisible against the granite countertop. It took most of us three or four tries to create something that Chef didn’t tell us to toss.

The chablon is placed beneath a plastic frame that gets filled with ganache—melted chocolate mixed with cream, sugar, flavorings, and butter. Chef demonstrated how to (properly) make a ganache; every precisely weighed ingredient, at very specific temperatures, is mixed just so, for a satiny smooth and glossy texture.

Over several days, we measured, stirred, piped, dipped, enrobed, and decorated, creating 20 different dark, milk, and white chocolate bonbons. Chef gave helpful guidance along the way but didn’t hesitate to point out when something you did or didn’t do ruined the final product.

My favorite part was learning new decorating techniques, especially creating designs with colored cocoa butter, sparkling “luster dust,” single-edge razor blades dipped in color, and wire brushes.

I’m looking forward to experimenting with everything I learned as I create new chocolates—so stay tuned for new flavors, shapes, and decorative touches coming this fall.