Embleton WI, January meeting

SWEET STUFF: The members of Embleton WI met up at Creighton Hall for this first meeting of 2011 where the first task was to renew membership for the forthcoming season.

After a New Year greeting from the president Lady Craft, the members joined together for Jerusalem.

The business meeting covered, minutes read by the secretary, a report of finances from the treasurer and coverage of the county newsletter.

Forthcoming events include the spring council meeting in March at Hexham to which a delegate from the Institute has been appointed.

The votes for the resolution to be submitted to the national AGM in Liverpool were collected.

The speaker, Julie Shackleton of the Chocolate Spa in Alnwick was introduced to the members.

Julie began her talk by relating the history of chocolate back to BC when it was used as a form of currency.

In the 14th century chocolate was a drink for the elite and in the 16th century it came to Europe where the Spanish made it more palatable by additives.

The first chocolate shop came to London in the 17th century where it was still a drink for the exclusive classes.

It was in the 18th century when the names of today, stating with Joseph Fry began to appear and he used a steam engine to grind the cocoa beans.

In the 19th century he developed chocolate bars, Cadbury produced the first box of chocolate candy and Nestle the first milk chocolate bar. Lindt were responsible for much of the first machinery.

The main location for cocoa plantations is Africa with others in Asia and South America.

The processes of producing chocolate and the effect of these methods on the quality was explained.

Various health benefits have been attributed to the product through the years.

The members were then invited to participate in a chocolate tasting to assess the quality of three samples each of dark and milk chocolate, the results helping to illustrate the production processes.

After a vote of thanks from the president, the speaker was invited to judge the competition for My Favourite Chocolate Recipe. The winners were:1 Mrs J Laidler; 2 Mrs L Harrett; 3 Miss J Littler. The raffle winner was Mrs L Harrett.

Tea and biscuits completed the afternoon and gave the members a chance to catch up on their news after the Christmas break.