NEWCHURCH WI held its birthday meeting on Wednesday March 11, which means that Culcheth's evening institute is now ‘56 years young’ – to quote president Doreen Procter.

Doreen welcomed a new member and two visitors and thanked Trudy MacDonald for the evening's flowers.

Secretary Jean Riley listed the main events for March and April – the spring coffee morning on March 18, then ‘Oklahoma’ and the monthly walk (the Lymm Heritage Trail), with a special outing in April to Media City and a fashion show at Bent's on April 30 run by Mosslands group.

Speaker Josie Norris continued the celebrations with her wonderful talk and demonstration ‘Let's Make Chocolate’.

Her interest began with Christmas truffles for her family and they paid for a course in chocolate-making, which set her on an extra career path.

She gave members the background to the cocoa tree, how it needs the heat and humidity of the tropics, and how its flowers grow on its trunk.

It needs insects, not bees, for pollination and in its warm homelands it can give two good harvests in a year.

Josie then passed round tiny samples of white, milk and plain chocolate and explained about cocoa- butter, the basis of really good chocolate.

She then demonstrated how to melt and ‘temper’ chocolate, using a microwave and a spatula with its own thermometer.

The chocolate must not overheat and cooling it needs great skill although Josie made it look easy.

Once in the moulds the chocolate needs sharp tapping to expel air bubbles.

Often several layers must be built up to make a thicker shell, as when Josie made two halves of an Easter egg and a high-heeled chocolate shoe.

Phyllis Longson thanked Josie very warmly and hoped for a return visit.

After that Aileen Paterson and Margaret Mellows served tea and birthday cake and Josie judged the March competition – a chocolate box.

The winner was Irene Bromilow, with Sylvia Brown and Olive Lee coming second and third.

The next meeting is on April 8 and the speaker will be Sheila Dean. Her topic is Fun with Antiques.

Contact Jean Riley (01925-762722 ) for further details.