Le Cordon Bleu Logo

The Art of Chocolate Sculpting

Our chef de patisserie, thomas, takes us through his latest creation

Step 1: Finding a theme for the showpiece

“As it is almost Christmas, I settled on a Christmas theme for the sculpture. I wanted it to be fun, interactive and to have some level of entertainment all age groups could engage with.”

Step 2: Research

“I researched people who have done showpieces before using chocolate, boutique designs and Christmas themed sculptures to give me a bit of inspiration. I also have to keep in mind that I am doing this with students so all techniques have to be in line with what we have taught them as skills.”

Step 3: Sketching out the showpiece

“I then sketch my first draft of what the sculpture will look like – this showpiece needed to contain various parts and each student was assigned to a different part of the sculpture. Every element of this sculpture had to also be complimentary of one another.”

Step 4: Working out the specifications

“After the first sketch I considered movement, I also considered the lightness of the sculpture, as it cannot be too heavy. Whilst keeping it fun and playful; I needed to keep in mind that we cannot make it too simple – the sculpture needs to have, and use, plenty of technique. I also factor in time as we only have three days in total to complete it.”

Step 5: Creating the sculpture

“We start with a mass, then begin to sculpt. We used three different types of chocolate to make the entire sculpture. Solid chocolate, soft, clay-like chocolate and liquid chocolate. The construction of elements was the most difficult part as every piece differs in weight - you have to take this into consideration when constructing the elements.”

"We use a tempering machine with liquid cocoa butter to paint the pieces. To achieve the snow-like effect on the snowman, we freeze the chocolate so when the cocoa butter coats the chocolate, it has a velvet-like effect. To achieive the glossy coat on the Santa Claus, we use a cloth dipped in iced water and run it over the chocolate to produce a high-shine effect. Many different techniques go into the creation of the sculpture as a whole."

Step 6: The finished product

Seeing the final product is the biggest highlight for our students. It is a very stessful and full-on three day experience, so on the third day, when all elements are assembled to create the final sculpture, the students get to see their work transform into a masterpiece."