Dip in with Oh Chocolate’s new class on Mercer Island

Margo Masaoka, the owner of Oh Chocolate! on Mercer Island, explains how to temper chocolate during the first class on the Island.  - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
Margo Masaoka, the owner of Oh Chocolate! on Mercer Island, explains how to temper chocolate during the first class on the Island.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

Chocolate lovers unite. Islanders can now dip into their favorite chocolate, thanks to the new class offered at Oh Chocolate!

The class, which debuted to a small group on Saturday evening, is a blend of history and dipping, learning the ins and outs of the chocolate business from owner Margo Masaoka.

The class has long been a part of the shop in Madison Park, but Masaoka wanted to give it a go at the store’s flagship on the Island.

“It’s our maiden voyage,” she said of the first class. “I’m going to be running the store now, and it’s my little baby.”

The evening began with an inciting plate of chocolate while Masaoka walked those at the table through the family’s history.

Oh Chocolate! is the brainchild of Masaoka’s parents, Gertie and Karl Krautheim, whose adventure began in Hawaii, where Gertie learned to experiment with her husband’s favorite treat. The pair later moved to California to be closer to family, opening their very first store in Culver City, where it became a popular stop for those working in the nearby film studios.

While yearning for “crisper air,” Masaoka explained that her parents found their way to Wenatchee in the 1970s, but soon discovered a fancy chocolate store didn’t fit with the area. They headed west to the suburb of Mercer Island and opened the current location 27 years ago.

With the tempting wheel of chocolate lying on the table, Masaoka explained the way that cocoa is harvested, how it grows best in the rainforest near the equator when left to its own devices. Each pod comes with just 40 beans, which must be harvested at exactly the right time. From there, much like coffee, the beans are dried, then roasted and eventually processed into the chocolatey goodness that Americans know and love.

When her parents first began the journey, Masaoka said they tried the various types of chocolate, from Belgian to Swiss, finally settling on a French family’s process, which created a slightly bittersweet but delectable chocolate. The Guittard factory, where Oh Chocolate’s candy comes from, is located outside of San Francisco.

While explaining the various processes and types of chocolate, Masaoka walks her class through the various types on the chocolate plate, from dark to bittersweet to white chocolate, each with its own explanation of how it is made and how it differs from the other varieties.

Then the fun began.

Behind the shop’s chocolate-filled counter, piles of warm, melted dark chocolate were poured onto the granite, as Masaoka explained how to temper it. With their hands, students played in a pile of chocolate, pushing it around, allowing it to cool, which made it easier to dip and provide the shiny finish at the end. Marshmallows, shortbread, strawberries and even potato chips were laid out for students to practice the craft. The end result: an impressive amount of dipped goodies to take home and savor.

Masaoka said she hopes to keep each class small, offering an intimate and private setting, which easily allowed for customization and learning. Her ideal class would include between six to eight people, offered Friday and Saturday evenings, after the shop closes.

Classes are already scheduled through the rest of July and August, and Masaoka expects them to fill fast. The class is $79 per person. Private parties for small groups are also available.

To learn more about the class or to sign up, stop by the store at 2703 76th Ave. S.E. or call (206) 232-4974.

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