Recently, my boyfriend and I were fortunate to experience first-hand the Lindt difference, when we joined a full, excited class of adults and one child (a rarity – because Lindt offers separate children’s classes) for a fun baking class at the trendy, hot-and-happening Silo District, V&A Waterfront.
Trust me, if you loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a child, then Lindt Cape Town’s outstanding range of baking classes will provide you with an authentic, fun dip into the delicious world of chocolate dreams… (A month on and I’m still dreaming about it!)
Ever since I heard about the classes over a year ago now, I’ve been desirous to partake in one and when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t have been more excited and grateful to be part of this special experience, particularly as I knew it would be a fun way to bond with my boyfriend after work, thanks to the 18:00 pm slot we chose.
There really is no other way to describe this kind of once-in-a-lifetime experience, most especially because we knew we would be baking under the careful, reassuringly watchful eye of one of South Africa’s finest pastry chefs (no pressure…), Dimo Simatos, resident head chocolatier for Lindt South Africa.
To date, chef Dimo has enjoyed a highly successful career, having worked in the USA, France and the capital of chocolate iteself, Switzerland too. Although chef Dimo has worked as an out-and-out pastry chef in some equally top-class places – including Cape Town’s own five-star, One & Only hotel – his childhood love affair with chocolate eventually brought him to Lindt Cape Town.
I was fortunate to first meet Dimo through email correspondence, when he personally replied to my mails… From that alone, I could tell that here was a highly humble man, despite his impressive career, culinary achievements and reputation in the industry. Getting the chance to bake with him, was something that will undoubtedly stay with us for a long time to come… it truly was an honour.
Our evening with Lindt began when we left work on a Wednesday afternoon, beating the Cape Town peak traffic to arrive early at the Silo District, where Lindt Cape Town’s impressive new studio is now located. (Previously, they were near the Cape Quarter, in De Waterkant.)
This is now the location of not only one of Cape Town’s hottest hotels, The Silo Hotel, but also the brand spanking new Zeitz MOCAA, Africa’s first contemporary art museum and the buzzword in and around Cape Town since 2017.
We had booked our Ultimate Lindt Chocolate Cake class in advance, using the Lindt website. It’s an easy process, which allows you to select a date and time from several available (monthly) slots. Upon successful application, you receive an email confirming your booking and informing you (if you have not already paid) of payment details, the cancellation policy (within 48 hours before the class; you receive a voucher of the same value in exchange).
This particular class costs R475.00 per person. Included in the Lindt Ultimate Chocolate Cake package is: your own Lindt chocolate cake (which you bake yourself) in a stylish Lindt gift box, the same recipe (to replicate at home) and a 10% voucher for the Lindt Chocolate Boutique store. Note: The 10% voucher can only be redeemed after the class.
We explored some of the Silo District before making our way into a true chocolate haven… The relatively new Lindt shop and studio at the V&A Waterfront is a two-room space, filled to the brim with chocolate (Lindt) goodness. At the time of our visit, it was particularly Christmasy but it would be a magical place year-round.
Here, you can find a more extended selection of flavours, products and Lindt baking goods. Also, some items are fractionally cheaper than you might find in, say, your local Pick ‘n Pay or Checkers, providing added value for the customer.
Both outside and within the shop, you can see the slick, professional chocolate studio where all the magic comes to life. This is where all the baking classes are held, under Dimo and his efficient team’s guidance.
Towards the studio entrance, you will also find a dreamy selection of treats (as well as a Nespresso machine)… this was sorely tempting! There is also an ice-cream display near the front till for those who want a quick and easy treat while exploring the Silo District and surrounds.
Inside, we could see our class set up, waiting for us. We asked if we could quickly take some photos inside before the class began and were kindly allowed to do so.
For the Lindt classes, four people cook per cooking counter (unless there are spare counters, in which case you might cook on your own).
On your counter, you will find the following: two touch stoves, four cake tins for baking, four cooking pots with butter and whisks already in, four trowel-like scrapers (for scraping chocolate), a cleaning cloth and four sets of dry baking ingredients, egg mixture, Lindt baking chocolate and, of course, your own take-home recipe.
We were there first so we dressed along with the help of one of the Lindt ladies. There’s a cloakroom (where you can stash your handbags and jackets during the class), along with a sink for washing afterwards (your hands get pretty chocolatey…), where we stored our stuff.
We buttoned up our master chocolatier whites, apron and hat, a fun aspect reserved to the Cape Town studio only, so, again, we scored. It’s easier to assist each other with dressing, because the golden buttons must be well-fastened to sit properly and make you look like a master chocolatier.
Also, before and after our class, chef Dimo and his team assisted in taking individual or group photos, which was very helpful (although most still snapped selfies too).
Once everyone had arrived and dressed, our Lindt baking session began. We gathered around, listening to chef Dimo’s warm introduction and starting advice. Throughout the class, he provides insightful information and tips, ensuring a theoretical lesson, even while you enjoy the practical, hands-on side of things.
As he assured us, chef Dimo and other Lindt staff are on-hand to assist everyone during the class and constantly come around to check if everyone is managing, or to give a word of encouragement or approval.
And let me be clear: even if you have never baked before in your life – or love to bake but haven’t had the chance to do so in ages (like me), you can rest assured that the class is really easy and fun. If you get stuck or need some help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. The Lindt team is there to assist and more than happy to do so.
We began by melting our butter down (you will melt it with some water until it’s just boiling) and then mixing in our chocolate Lindt disks (these can be bought in store for home-baking) until it had melted down nicely. From there, you will add your eggs mix and combine the dry ingredients until you have a smooth mixture.
Don’t be shy to taste your batter or give your finger a swipe around the now-empty pot, like you might at home… It’s all part of the fun and overall Lindt experience!
After that, we carefully poured our batter into the cake tins, each of which are marked with your number. (Mine was 18.) This ensures that everyone gets their correct cake tin back after the baking process is complete.
You don’t have to worry about checking on your cake during its time in the oven, because this is handled by the staff in the back kitchen, where all the cakes cook together. The baking time is about 45 minutes.
While the cakes are baking (and filling the studio with even more delicious smells…) chef Dimo will give a few useful and cool demonstrations, and allow participants to ask questions and engage more with him.
Our first demo offered some insight into Lindt and what makes the difference between Lindt and other international chocolate producers so telling. (Honest, guilty confession: Yes, I am indeed faintly biased… Lindt has always shamelessly been my favourite chocolate since it arrived on SA shores.). Not only does Lindt do its bit to be as eco-friendly as possible, but it also sources chocolate from approved global suppliers.
Once they have gathered together the finest cocoa beans (sourced from countries like Madagascar, Ghana and Ecuador and delivered in simple Hessian bags), a detailed washing process commences. From there, the cocoa bean nibs get pressed – either until only the cocoa powder remains, or, if it’s for white chocolate, the natural fat can easily be extracted.
Once this has been done, the powder will be put into the conche machine. Used by all professional companies, the conche machine is necessary to make the core chocolate, although, naturally, additional ingredients will vary from company-to-company. The longer you conche, the more mellow the chocolate becomes… so dark chocolate is conched far less than milk chocolate etc.
This demo was wonderfully educational, particularly as we got to see, smell, taste (in the instance of the nib itself) and touch everything from the dried-out, oval cocoa fruit to the whole beans, nib and even the white chocolate fat extract!
Chocolate is ideally cooked at between 30-32 degrees and, when it comes to savouring and tasting chocolate, the best way is naturally to take a small bite, and let it melt on your tongue. (We also tasted some chocolate… but I’m not sure if anyone was patient enough to melt it in their mouth. 🙂 )
After that, chef Dimo showed us how to make both a chocolate collar for our ganache cake, as well as how to shave chocolate for toppings.
Once that was done, we each received some hot cream (be careful at this point, it’s boiling hot) and used it to melt the chocolate and make our oh-so-good ganache.
We pasted some between our cake halves to glue them together, made our own chocolate collars (hint: you use melted chocolate on plastic strips) and carefully placed them around the cake.
Then, it was time to add the ganache (which sets amazingly after a few moments, even when it seems runny at first) and decorate our cakes. There is shaved chocolate supplied at each table, but it can be quite fun and slightly more engaging to make your own from your left-overs.
With our cakes ready, it was time to pack them into their gift boxes and thank chef Dimo and co. for a wonderful lesson. After taking more photos and licking and washing sticky chocolate fingers, our group went into the shop to take some more Lindt goodies, along with their cakes, home.
While I can’t speak for everyone present, I believe from what I saw and heard that everyone had an amazing evening, baking our impossible-to-flop, mouthwatering cakes. For me personally, of all my travel experiences in and around Cape Town, this was one of the most special and fun to date.
I would strongly recommend the Lindt Ultimate Chocolate Cake experience for team building exercises, year-end function fun, special occasions (like birthdays or anniversaries), date nights or even group bonding sessions with friends or family.
Our cakes had set perfectly by the time we got home and made for a delicious week-long treat, which we shared with close friends and family. And I feel very blessed and proud to have experienced such an awesome thing with my loved one. 🙂
Overall, the Lindt Ultimate Chocolate Cake experience deserves a 10/10 rating for the following:
- a memorable baking experience/fun thing to do in Cape Town or Johannesburg;
- special, ultra-delicious cake and easy-to-follow recipe, both of which are tastefully and elegantly packaged;
- great fun and wonderful insight into Lindt;
- handy chocolate-making and baking tips;
- a unique opportunity to bake with master Lindt chocolatier, Dimo Simatos;
- a professional, well-communicated booking service and friendly, efficient on-site service from the Lindt Cape Town personnel;
- an all-round enjoyable, fun and handy baking session, which I cannot fault in the slightest.
Thank you very much to Lindt South Africa and Dimo Simatos and the Lindt Chocolate Studio Cape Town for this outstanding baking experience! We loved every moment with you and our divine, death-by-chocolate Lindt cakes were so, so good – definitely one of the memory banks!
For more information on Lindt South Africa and its amazing stores and offerings, please contact: (021) 831 0360 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit their website or find them for yourself at: Shop No 2, Silo 2, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.