I admit I am a chocolate lover. I believe there are hardly any chocolate flavours that I don’t like. Add marzipan or nougat into the mix and I will have a hard time saying no. This leaves no doubt whatsoever that going to confectionary café Viba in Erfurt was exactly the right activity for both my soul and my tastebuds. And I also got to make chocolate lollipops myself.
Who is Viba?
Viba sweets is a confectionary business from Thuringia that gained a reputation for their nougat.
The history of nougat from Thuringia began in 1893. Siblings Willi Viebahn and Anna Reim opened a café in Schmalkalden and started manufacturing sweets.
The nougat sold extremely well and soon their production couldn’t keep up with the demand anymore. They acquired a used cigar packaging machine and managed to increase production. This is how the nougat roll was created. The previously rectangular shape had to be adjusted to fit the requirements of the packaging machine. In addition to their nougat rolls, the siblings also made and sold boiled sweets that were special because of their different texture (they called them “Zuckerkissen” – Sugar Cushions) as well as dragées and marzipan.
With the beginning of the Second World War came the nationalisation of the company and the drastic drop in production. They had to close down. Production was re-started in 1950 under a new name: VEB Nougat- und Marzipanfabrik (VEB Nougat- and Marzipan Factory). After the German Reunification, the management changed and brought yet another name but also many new ideas that were slowly implemented over time. Viba still manufactures the nougat rolls today but now they also have other sweet delights in their range as well. In 2012 the Viba nougat world and show confectionery opened its doors in Schmalkalden and in 2018 the company celebrated their 125th anniversary.
Making chocolate lollipops
What an absolute dream – I get to make chocolate lollipops! The Viba Confiserie Café in Erfurt facilitates multiple workshops around chocolate and nougat. I will be taking part in a course about how to make chocolate lollipops and I am very happy to have that opportunity.
We enter a little demonstration room in the bakery of the café where the workshops take place. The first step is to dress up in single-use coats and caps, then we wash and disinfect our hands. This makes me almost look like I know hat I am doing, but will I actually do well?
My first chocolate lollipop
The first blank workpieces are already set out on a table. Ingredients such as chocolate drops or cranberries are prepared and the chocolate is being warmed in big machines. We get to choose between white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. Easy – I pick the white chocolate.
Thankfully we are shown all the steps in detail and making our first chocolate lollipop isn’t too difficult. We dunk the blank into the liquid chocolate, tap off the excess and when the chocolate begins to look shiny it is time to apply the decorations. I chose to use cranberries. My first lollipop gets set aside to dry before it is ready to be wrapped.
Making a chocolate lollipop – round 2
That wasn’t too difficult. But that wasn’t the end of it. We moved on to making a second lollipop. Right, this, too, starts with a presentation of all the steps involved in the method. It looked reasonably easy. But watching is most certainly not doing and I think I might need a little extra practice before my lollipop turns out the way it looked in my head.
We have some form of coated parchment paper in front of us. We get a piping bag filled with chocolate. After we had closed the end securely we cut off the tip.
We had to work swiftly as we piped our desired shape onto the parchment paper. My plan was to make a mouse, so I needed the head and two ears, ideally with a smooth surface. The moment I had the shape down I had to quickly press the stick into it and secure it with a little bit of extra chocolate.
After the chocolate got a little firmer we were able to add some details with a smaller piping bag. A steady hand makes all the difference in this step. My mouse ended up with two very different ears and quite a wonky face. More shrew mouse than house mouse.
I would like to thank Martina from Places and Pleasures who took pictures of me during the chocolate lollipop workshop. I am pulling a very serious face here, but I had a lot of fun and really needed to focus to create a chocolate lollipop instead of a chocolate lump.
And by the way, my lollipops were really tasty!
A coffee for closure
The workshops aren’t the only things to enjoy at Viba in Erfurt. We concluded our trip at the café. They sell cakes that were made in the demonstration room of the bakery. They also sell ice cream, snacks and drinks.
I had a Viba Nougat Latte Macchiato (with Viba Nougat Liqueur) and it was so yummy and very moreish!
Lastly, we browsed the shop which was a temptation beyond words. But after a day so full of chocolate and nougat I resisted and went back to Berlin without a massive chocolate haul.
Viba Confiserie-Café Erfurt
Monday to Saturday: 09.00 – 18.00
Sunday and bank holidays: 13.00 – 18.00