Top of the Christmas Chocs

Top of the Christmas Chocs

I previously shared my ‘top of the chocs’ – five favourite chocolate recipes you can make at home.

It’s time for a festive update and a focus on lovely chocolate creations ideal for Christmas.

Here are my five top of the Christmas Chocs:

Christmas cake with chocolate icing and sprinkles topped with holly

Chocolate Christmas Cake 

Maybe you are not a fan of the rich fruity traditional Christmas cake and you’d like an alternative? 

This is an Italian version – full of nuts and chocolate. I found it in my Delia Christmas cookbook, but she credits the wonderful Anna del Conte for its origin). Chocolate and nuts, what’s not to love about this Christmas cake!  

It will keep for two weeks and can be frozen. No weeks of feeding beforehand.

Yule Log

Chocolate yule log

No Christmas would be complete without a chocolate log or Bûche de Noël.

I’ve shared a Mary Berry recipe here with thanks to BBC Good Food. The only amendment I would make is to use a higher cocoa content chocolate in the ganache. Mary is fond of using Bournville or similar, but I prefer more chocolate kick for my bark! 

There are some good shop-bought options available. Here’s a list of the best shop buys from Good Housekeeping.

Cheats Chocolate Trifle 

We all need a little cheat over Christmas, especially one that looks and tastes fabs but requires minimum effort.  

If you have time, you can cheat a little less by making your brownies. Shop bought will work fine here though.  

Method:

Break up your brownies and pop in the bottom of your trifle bowl.  

Spoon over some booze of your choice (Baileys works well and is suitably festive).  

Add a layer of something extra here – crushed Oreo biscuits, Maltesers or some boozy cherries for example.

Take a pot of posh custard (one with real vanilla) and add 100g of dark chocolate in button form, or broken into small pieces. Gently heat to melt the chocolate pour. Allow to cool (you can pop some clingfilm on the top to stop a skin from forming). Pour this over the brownies – cool.

The final layer is some boozy cream. Add the same booze you used to soak the brownies – around 100ml booze to 500ml double cream. Sift in 25g of icing sugar and whisk to soft peaks.

Spoon on a generous layer of cream and decorate with chocolate sprinkles of your choice (more Maltesers if you have already used them)

Enjoy mmmmmm.

Chocolate Salami 

Chocolate salami

This is a kid-friendly version of chocolate salami, which they can make – a rocky road sausage. It requires a couple of hours for the shaping element. Choose a festive film to go with the making process! With thanks to Claire Burnet of Chococo.  

Method:

Cover a baking tray with two layers of clingfilm

Melt 225g dark/milk chocolate to taste

Smash 100g of digestives and add these with 100g mixed dried fruits of your choice to the melted chocolate mixture, and 50g mini marshmallows – mix well

Leave to cool for 10 mins then pour onto your baking tray

Bring up the clingfilm and fold over the chocolate mixture, roll to form a sausage shape

Pop in the fridge, take out every 10 – 15 mins, and roll again to return to a sausage shape. It takes about approx. 2 hours to properly firm up

10 mins before you want to serve your sausage, take it out of the fridge. Roll in icing sugar for an authentic salami look, slice, and serve

There is a rather grown-up fruity salami sold by Chococo’s. It won a Great Taste award and is vegan-friendly.   

Truffles 

The perfect little homemade pressie, or to serve as a treat after a festive meal. Don’t forget you can flavour your ganache mixture with some booze or decorate in different coatings such as icing sugar or nuts.

three truffles with different chocolate finishes
Method:

250g dark chocolate

250g double cream

100g light muscovado sugar

Break the chocolate into small pieces and pop in a bowl.  

Place the cream and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for one minute.

Turn off the heat and allow the cream to cool for one minute. (If you pour boiling cream onto your chocolate, it will cause the chocolate to split – time the minute, don’t guess!)

Pour the cream/sugar onto the chocolate and mix well until smooth and very glossy – you can add a splash of booze at this stage. It may look like it is going to split but keep whisking and it will come back to a smooth mixture.

Allow to cool at room temperature, then place in the fridge, covered, for at least two hours or until fully set.

To roll, remove from the fridge and use a teaspoon to scoop even-sized pieces and place them on parchment paper. Powder your hands with cocoa powder and roll the ganache into even-sized spheres.    

(Take care not to handle for too long or the ganache will begin to melt).

Bloody Mary cocktail with lime and celery stick
Bloody Mary made with chocolate vodka!

If you want to go to town, you could then dip your ganache into tempered chocolate and create a lovely crunchy shell.

Not sure what’s the best chocolate to work with read this first!

Now after all that cooking you may need a restorative hot chocolate, or perhaps something a little stronger – chocolate vodka anyone?

7 tips to make Christmas a cracker

7 tips to make Christmas a cracker

I love Christmas. The chance to be with loved ones, eat great food, take a break from work, enjoy twinkly lights and a roaring fire.

Christmas tree with twinkly lights swirling into the sky

Christmas can be a sad and lonely time too. It’s a time when we think about those we have lost, those that might be struggling. It’s not for everyone.

Some of us take on too much and come Christmas time are stressed and exhausted. Perfection is overrated, but preparation is key.

Here are some tips on making your Christmas a cracker (part one):

Food

This is one of the best bits for me. Planning the big day and what we might eat. We never (or rarely) have turkey. Some of the family can take or leave it, so we try and have something special and different each year.  

A few months prior, I will start to pour over my cookbooks or trawl around the internet, getting a feel for what might make the menu. Do this well ahead of time and you are not panicking about what to make when things get busy.

Once you have your menu down, you can start to plan how you will get the food element done.

It’s all about the people

My hubby says that he can’t understand the fuss around Christmas food. The main point, he felt, was to be with the people on the day, and so many spent hours in the kitchen stressing about the meal. He’s a real eat-to-live person, so he doesn’t get the foodie thing. 

Christmas is so about the food for me, but he does have a point. I do consider a menu where I can get ahead and minimise my time in the kitchen on the big day. Kitchen-time is treasured by me too – a bit of cooking therapy and a quiet moment can be lovely.

Christmas cake covered in chocolate and sprinkles and topped with holly

Get ahead

Christmas cake is an easy one, I’m cooking mine next week (October half-term). I do a Delia – and we cover ours in marzipan and chocolate. Who do you use?

What element of your meal can be made ahead and frozen?

Par-boil roasties, open freeze, put into freezer bags, and pop them frozen into hot oil on the big day. 

Snowball cocktails with cherries and small cakes on a checked tablecloth

The crispiest version of roasties and no kitchen full of steam.

Red cabbage/cauliflower cheese/bread sauce – whatever you can, make ahead and freeze.

Pudding – last year I used a fantastic Delia recipe for frozen brulees. We didn’t eat them on the big day, but as they were in the freezer, we ate them when we fancied instead! Here are some of my fav choc puds.

Booze – it doesn’t go off, so you can definitely get ahead on your booze buying. Snowball anyone?

Cards on the table

Christmas cards are not really my thing so mostly I don’t send them. Especially if I am seeing the people I might send them to on a regular basis. 

Much prefer to make a charitable donation in lieu of sending cards and paying postage. I think many appreciate this and it’s important to me to be charitable, especially at Christmas.

Presents

Buying presents for people is one of my favourite things to do.  

I usually start this around the end of August and ensure I’m done by the end of October, early November.  Usually, I’m super busy with chocolate workshops on the run-up to Christmas, so having this element done nice and early works well for me.  

That may sound ridiculous, but it takes all the pressure off. Buying in dribs and drabs over the weeks means there is no last-minute rush. 

No huge pressure to fight around the shops with everyone or rely on deliveries turning up in time.

Keep a list of everyone you have to buy for. Write what you have bought for each person as you buy it, so you can refer to your list and know what you have yet to buy. Each year I copy the list over, I can go back over the years and see what I bought previously if I want inspiration or to avoid buying the same old thing each year.

I might well buy an experience rather than a physical present. People love doing things together and creating memories. PS: Hubby and I can help with chocolate or blacksmithing!

As well as the main pressies, I especially love a table pressie. Buying a tiny token for each person seated at the table to open after dinner. It might be a mini bottle of booze, some chocs or make-up for example.  

One thing that worked well was each having some posh chocolates as table presents one year. 

We enjoyed these instead of a pud!

Have conversations with loved ones and decide on a budget, so it doesn’t get silly. Put all the names in a hat and only buy for one person from a group if you have lots to consider. Agree on a price limit and go and buy for one person instead of everyone.

Make your own gifts – now is the time to make chutneys, jams, and jellies. Good Housekeeping always has some great make-ahead ideas.

As much as it’s lovely to choose a gift for someone you love, it’s definitely the thought that counts, not the amount you spend.

It’s a wrap

Buying the pressies, great! 

Cardboard box tied with red string, on a table with twinkly lights and tree decorations

Wrapping the pressies, boo!  

One of the worst jobs of Christmas for me. My sister is the best wrapper I know, she manages truly beautiful creations. However, in the spirit of trying to be more eco-friendly, we have ditched the wrapping paper and re-use bags, or even newspaper. 

We also ditched the crackers for the same reason.

I will rope in Hubby to help and we often have a wrapping blitz and get it all done in one go.

Sharing is caring

What are you having for the big day? Let’s share top foodie tips and menus.

What do you do for presents? 

How do you come up with inspiration?

I’d love to know how you celebrate Christmas. Please pop over to my Facebook page and share your tips for a great Christmas.

There is so much more to say, so head over to part two (covering breakfast, timetables, party games, and your guests).

The best hot chocolate?

The best hot chocolate?

The leaves are turning, the nights are drawing in – it’s officially hot chocolate season once again. 

Chocolate milk with cream on top with autumn leaves scattered around the plate

I’m going to give you my simple tips for the best hot chocolate (in my opinion). Including a bit of history, I’ve shared a recipe for Aztec-style hot chocolate too.

Read on for a review of a new hot chocolate outfit that is a must-visit next time you are up North.

What do you consider the best hot chocolate? Here are my tips:

A simple recipe

Ditch the pre-made chocolate drinks.

Take some of your favourite chocolate, add milk, and heat for the best results.

Hot chocolate in tall glass with cream and sprinkles with a separate pot of mini marshmallows on the side

25g – 30g of chocolate in button form or chop into smallish chunks.  

Measure milk of your choice in the mug you will be serving it in.

Add the cold milk to the chocolate and gently warm in a pan, or in short bursts in the microwave.

Stir frequently, preferably using a whisk.

Serve with adornments of your choice (cream, mallows, grated chocolate, cacao nibs) or leave and drink straight.

Use 50/50 milk/water if you prefer something lighter.

It’s all about the chocolate

squares of white and dark chocolate in a pile

I prefer a good quality dark chocolate for the best hot chocolate. 70% or more in strength would be my preference. Remember the quality of the chocolate is not always reflected in the percentage of cocoa. It may be that you like chocolate that has a good hit of flavour, but has a lower cocoa content.

Remember the milk will sweeten the mixture, so try and go a little darker in your chocolate choice for more chocolate flavour.  

Mix chocolates. If you are not a fan of dark chocolate, then use milk and add a little dark to mix. It will enhance the flavour and add more depth to your delicious hot chocolate drink.

If you want to try something different, strong, and spicey, then try this……..

Aztec-style Hot Chocolate

This is a water-based hot chocolate recipe with lots of added spices.

100g dark chocolate (in button form, or broken into small pieces)

 25g brown sugar

 20g cocoa powder

Spices of your choice – I tend to add lots, including chilli, ginger, cardamom, clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

Heat 500ml of water, add the sugar and the cocoa powder, and bring to a simmer, stirring, for three to four minutes. Remove from the heat and leave for one minute. 

Add your chocolate and spices and whisk vigorously. Return to the heat bring back to the simmer for a further two to three minutes – it’s then ready to serve.

For some, this is an acquired taste, but I love the depth and spiciness of this drink. Your kitchen will smell wonderful with a heady aroma of chocolate and spice!

Cocoa Joe’s

Cocoa Joe’s, a small independent company is currently based in York and Patetley Bridge only. On a recent visit to Pateley Bridge, a local recommended I try out their hot chocolate. It was a fab experience.

There was a chocolate menu. 

Hot chocolate drink in white cup and saucer

You chose your hot chocolate drink based on the chocolate it would contain. An outfit after my own heart!  

The server was really helpful and let me taste various options before I decided on the strength I wished to go for. From white, ruby, milk, and many dark varieties of chocolate up to a 100% option. 

There were chocolates from various regions, single-origin chocolate and the server was knowledgeable about all the chocolates on offer.

Chocolate chosen, the buttons were melted into hot, frothy milk, some grated chocolate added to the top and that was it. Silky, full chocolate taste and completely satisfying and delicious. It’s up there as one of my best hot chocolates.

How do you take yours?

Please come and share your top tips and photos on my Facebook page!

What a fab idea for a new business!

History of chocolate

History of chocolate

Chocolate has a fascinating history.

Used as currency and later badged as liquid gold, such was its value!

At one time it was for MEN ONLY (but thankfully women have made up for that since).

It was only enjoyed by royalty and society’s elite for many years as it was too rare and expensive for the common people. We owe gratitude to the Quaker families, who decided chocolate was a better alternative to gin and made it more accessible for all.

Here’s a brief history of chocolate

Origins

Botanists believe that the first cocoa trees grew wild in the Amazon Orinoco approximately 4,000 years ago.

Cocoa beans were first cultivated by the Mayans when they migrated to the Yucatan peninsula in the 7th Century AD.



The Aztecs

Mayan writing for the word Kakau referring to chocolate

Aztecs conquered large parts of Mexico 700 years later and imposed a feudal system on the Mayans and other tribes.

All taxes were paid in cocoa beans! Cocoa beans became the common currency:
4 nibs (or beans) = a rabbit
100 nibs = a slave
Fraudsters would fill hollowed-out cocoa bean shells with earth.

Chocolate was consumed in liquid form – mixed from a block of prepared nibs (crude chocolate tablet). Chillies, other spices, and flowers were mixed with dried, roasted, and ground cocoa nibs, they also added cornmeal as an emulsifier (to absorb the greasy cocoa butter).

Ruling Emperor of the Aztecs, Montezuma would consume huge quantities of chocolate at ceremonies – often a 1,000 jugs in a night!

Who drank it?

Native Aztec with chocolate equipment and weapons

Chocolate was strictly reserved for men only!

It was only available for the ‘elite’ – and acted to show their prowess and standing as a tonic aphrodisiac!

Referred to as Xocolatl – which literally means ‘bitter water’.

The first Chocolate Entrepreneur?

Hernan Cortes, who conquered the Aztecs and introduced chocolate successfully to Europe.
Hernan Cortes

Tenochtitlan (now known as Mexico City) was the Aztec capital – which was invaded by the Spanish Crown in 1519, led by Cortes.

Cortes was intrigued by the Aztec’s consumption of chocolate.

Columbus introduced the cocoa bean and Aztec drink to Europe 20 years prior to Cortes, but at the time it was intensely disliked. European palates were not used to the spices and chillies used in the drink.

Cleverly, Cortes added sugar and vanilla to the brew and recounted tales of Montezuma imbibing the sacred drink. Cortes realised the possibilities of exploiting this ‘liquid gold’. He established plantations in Mexico, Trinidad, and Haiti. African slaves became as important to cocoa cultivation as the sugar industry.

Chocolates reaches Europe

For the first 100 years after Cortes’ discovery, the drink remained a preserve of the Spanish Court – it was extremely expensive and only afforded by aristocrats.

News of the drink spread to Germany, Austria, Flanders, Italy, and then France in the first half of the 17th Century.

Chocolate appears to reach London around 1650 – when it was branded as a nourishing drink.
Pepys describes the drink as a hangover cure in his diary notes.

There were two varieties – ordinary and royal (royal with a higher cocoa content and little sugar).

During the 18th Century, Europe saw a rapid increase in consumption. Still, only wealthy people could afford it as it was heavily taxed.

Chocolate Pioneers

By 1852 taxes decreased due to merits promoted by Quaker industrialists and larger imports. In 1850 1,400 tonnes were imported, by the 1900s this had multiplied nine-fold!

Most of the early cocoa entrepreneurs are household names:
Hershey, Cadbury, Fry, and Rowntree – owing their success to Swiss pioneer inventors: Caillr, Suchard, Peter, Nestle, Lindt, and Tobler.

Fry was the first to create a chocolate bar-shaped mould for chocolate.

Rudolphe Lindt was responsible for creating the process of conching to ensure we have smooth chocolate to enjoy.

In the UK, four great Quaker families: Cadbury, Fry, Terry, and Rowntree became involved with cocoa as they saw it as a healthy alternative to the menace of gin! They played a large part in making chocolate a food of the people, creating model working environments and housing for workers.

Fry was the first to put chocolate in a tablet form in the shape of the bar as we know it today (sadly no relation to Dawn Fry, but a good name to start a chocolate workshop business with!)



Food of the Gods

Cacao beans

Chocolate has today become part of a daily culture for all levels of society in the Western world.

“Theobroma cacao’ is the Latin name for cocoa. Theobroma literally means ‘food of the gods’. It contains ‘theobromine’ which is a natural anti-depressant!

Hurrah for chocolate – if all this history has made you crave some of the good brown stuff, then here are some delicious chocolate recipes to make at home.

It is good for us to take a moment to realise how easy it is for us to access chocolate in today’s world and be grateful that we can enjoy this wonderful food stuff whenever we choose. Its history may have inspired you to try some more expensive chocolate, here’s how to taste it properly.

Enjoy!

Chocolate’s on the menu

Chocolate’s on the menu

Of course chocolate’s on the menu, but usually as your favourite dessert.

Have you considered trying chocolate in all your dishes, both savoury and sweet?

Rabot 1745

Head to Borough Market in London and you will find this little chocolate gem of a restaurant.

Restaurant Rabot 1745 is part of the Hotel Chocolat empire, and in fact there is a shop and cafe beneath the restaurant if you just want a hot chocolate and a chocolate treat.

Book a table at the restaurant and you will find every course includes chocolate, even the mash! It’s a wonderful experience and well worth a trip.

Read on to see what I chose from the menu…..

One for the Bucket List

The London restaurant is inspired by the original, located on the island of St Lucia in the Caribbean. You can visit the Rabot Estate, stay in the boutique hotel, book yourself and tree to bar experience, and eat in the restaurant.

It’s definitely on my bucket list when the world opens up again. In the meantime, if you can make it to London you can try the next best thing.

Head to the Toilets!

If you want to get into the mood, then firstly head to the toilets. You can hear cicadas (piped into the loos) and (almost) imagine you are in a rather more exotic location.

A great first impression

Once you sit down you are greeted with a small plate of freshly roasted cacao beans from the St Lucia Estate. They are wonderful, and really set the tone of the evening.

The menu

I started with a bread and dip selection, that included cacao pesto & cocoa infused oil. It was really tasty.

Next I opted for some fish that included a cocoa nib crust. Chocolate is quite savoury in it’s natural state, so it did not seem odd for the fish to have a cocoa addition at all.

We had to try the mash as we’d heard it talked about by others. A white chocolate-infused mash sounds quite disgusting, but i can confirm it was delicious.

A trio of chocolate mousse

Of course, by the time you get to pudding, it’s all very familiar territory, but I opted for a trio of mousse which showcased different strengths and styles of chocolate and it was truly decedent and another scrummy dish. Sorry that I took the picture after I’d eaten a bit too much, there definitely should have been a before shot!

The menu changes with the seasons, so why not take a look and see what you would choose!

If you decide to visit, don’t forget to pop to my facebook page and tell us about your experience.

What’s was on your chocolate menu?

How to ‘temper’ chocolate at home

How to ‘temper’ chocolate at home

This method is not strictly tempering the chocolate – it’s more mindful melting!

It still produces great results if done properly, with the right sort of chocolate.  

All you need is a microwave! You may have burnt chocolate in the microwave before but follow these simple steps and you will have great results from now on!   If you do have a disaster with your chocolate, take a look at some tips for fixing things.

Here’s how to ‘temper’ chocolate at home:
  1. Always use a plastic bowl (glass bowls hold too much heat and will eventually overheat the chocolate). 
  2. Use a minimum of 300g of good quality chocolate – chopped into small even-sized pieces. You can save any leftover chocolate you don’t use in an airtight container for another time. Buy your chocolate in button-form, it will save all the chopping!
  3. Put the chocolate into the microwave on full power for very short bursts at a time. Initially 30 secs to 1 min (or slightly longer for bigger volumes). Between each burst stir your chocolate, even if it has not started to melt yet – still give it a good stir. 
  4. It’s very important to get a lot of movement into chocolate – so keep stirring away, it will work wonders for the finished look!
  5. As the chocolate starts to melt, reduce the bursts in the microwave to 10-15 seconds. Stir every time you stop to see how the chocolate melt is progressing. 
  6. When the chocolate has almost melted, but there are still some un-melted lumps present, stop putting the bowl into the microwave. Now stir until the heat of the chocolate has melted the remaining lumps in the bowl. 
  7. Another good ‘temperature’ test is to put your hands around the outside of the plastic container. You should feel almost no heat whatsoever. The chocolate should be about the same as the temperature of your skin. 
  8. If the melted mixture feels too warm, then add some more chocolate and stir to melt the freshly added chocolate. Use the residual heat of the melted chocolate. Don’t put the bowl into the microwave again! If you can’t melt all of the freshly added chocolate, then pop the bowl into the microwave again for just a few seconds and repeat as above.
  9. The chocolate will not last very long in this state, it will start to get too thick to work with. Pop it back in the microwave for a few seconds to bring it back again. Be careful, it’s very easy to overheat! 
  10. If you make the chocolate too hot, you can add more fresh chocolate to the mix to bring the temperature back down again, as mentioned in point 8 above. 
  11. This will produce chocolate that you can use for moulds, piping, or dipping. It will seem quite thick in consistency – the bigger the quantity of chocolate, the longer you will have to ‘work’ with it.  
  12. Remember to leave your chocolate creations at room temperature to set (in a room that is not above 20°).
  13. You should ideally store chocolate in a cool, dark place and not in the fridge. Putting chocolate in the fridge can cause it to ‘bloom’ – where you will see white marks forming on the surface where the sugar and/or cocoa butter comes to the surface. 
  14. Bloom occurs because the chocolate has not been tempered properly, or the room is too warm when it is setting, or indeed it is cooled too quickly. It is still safe to eat, it just doesn’t look as appetising – ‘see what to do when it goes wrong for some tips on recovering from this scenario!
chocolate callets in a plastic bowl with stirrer
even-size chocolate
Chocolate callets in a plastic bowl
Keep stirring
Melting chocolate in plastic bowl
Melting callets
Melting chocolate in a plastic bowl
Almost there

Finally, come and share your creations with us all on my Facebook page! Enjoy

Decadent Chocolate Tart

Decadent Chocolate Tart

Chocolate and pecan tart
Photograph: Anders Schønnemann/Kyle Cathie – The Guardian
Ingredients

For the chocolate pastry

  • 175g butter
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 250g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder

For the filling

  • 200g Madagascan 64% dark chocolate, broken into pieces 200ml whipping or double cream (whipping cream gives a slightly lighter texture)
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
  • 10g Maldon sea salt

For the topping

  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  • 100g pecan halves
Method

For the pastry; cream together the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and 35ml water and mix well. Then add the flour and cocoa powder gradually until a paste is formed. (If you prefer, this can all be done in a mixer or food processor.) Wrap the pastry clingfilm and pop in the fridge for an hour.

Roll out the pastry until it is about 5cm bigger than your tart tin (your tin should be 24 cm diameter by 2.5cm deep) – sprinkle the surface with flour to avoid it sticking! Line your tin with the pastry, then pop it back in the fridge for another 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Blind bake your pastry for 20 mins (line the tart with baking parchment and add your baking beans). Lift out the beans and bake for a further 5 + minutes, until the base is dry. Allow to cool.

For the filling; put the chocolate, sugar and sea-salt in a glass bowl – place it over a pan simmering water, ensuring the bowl is not touching the water, and melt together, stirring until glossy and thick. Pour onto your pastry base and once cooled, pop back in the fridge for two more hours.

For the caramelised nut topping; heat a saucepan until warm and add the sugar, gradually mixing until you have a golden liquid caramel. Add the salt, give it a good stir. Pour in the pecans and, mixing thoroughly, quickly pour the mixture onto a parchment sheet and spread out. Allow to cool completely, then break or chop up the nuts into shards or chunky pieces to sprinkle over the tart.

Dawn Says
Dawn Fry

This is so rich, and so amazing, making your taste buds really zing. If you want to offer a bit of a show-off dessert and really please your chocoholic friends – this is the pudding for you. It needs a lot of cooling time, so you may wish to start the day before, making the pastry element ahead of the rest.
Inspired by the recipe Sea-Salted Chocolate and Pecan Tart from ‘Adventures with Chocolate’ by Paul A Young

This is number one is my top of the chocs recipes to make at home. For more inspiration pop to my facebook page.

If you love chocolate, have you ever considered what it might be like to make chocolate your business?

Mocha Mousse

Mocha Mousse

assorted espresso cups
Ingredients
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g dark muscovado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon espresso (strong, freshly brewed)
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 80 ml whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon roasted coffee beans
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cacao nibs
Method

Put a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl is not touching the water – melt the dark chocolate and remove from the heat, allowing it to slightly cool.
Make your espresso, and dissolve the dark sugar in one tablespoon of coffee. Leave to cool.
Using the egg yolks (you will use the egg whites later), whisk these in a large bowl and add the melted chocolate and coffee.
In a separate bowl (ensure the bowl is clean and grease-free) whisk your egg whites until they form stiff white peaks. Gently fold in the chocolate/coffee mixture, folding this in gradually with a metal spoon.
Divide this mixture between your espresso cups (it will make 6 – 8 cups, depending on their size). Pop these in the fridge to set.
Now melt the white chocolate (in the same way as the dark chocolate earlier). Allow this to cool. Pour your cream into a bowl and whisk until it forms soft peaks (do not over whisk as this will make the mixture too stiff). Fold your white chocolate into the whisked cream. Spoon this onto your chilled mocha mousses. This looks like the ‘crema’ on your coffee!
Finally, crush your coffee beans and cacao nibs in a mortar and pestle and sprinkle on top of each mousse. Chill the mousse until required. It’s good to allow them up to room temperature again before you eat them, and they will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Dawn Says
Dawn Fry

The brilliant thing about these is you can make them ahead, and they look so pretty when you serve them. I like to use different espresso cups and have an eclectic mix on the table. I might have odd sizes too so you can cater for those that can manage a little more than others!
Inspired by Macchiato by Claire Burnet from her debut book ‘Chococo chocolate cookbook’.

This is number two in my top of the chocs recipes to make at home. For more inspiration pop to my facebook page.

If you love chocolate, have you ever considered what it might be like to make chocolate your business?

Dark Chocolate Cake

Dark Chocolate Cake

Dark chocolate cake with white chocolate shavings
Ingredients
  • 180g 100% cacao chocolate, grated
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 50 light muscavado sugar
  • 125g golden caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds

For the icing:

  • 250ml double cream
  • 75g golden caster sugar
  • 90g 100% cacao chocolate, grated
Method

Preheat the oven to 170°C.
You will need a 25cm springform cake tin, lined with baking paper.
Put a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring the bowl is not touching the water – melt the grated chocolate and butter together and remove from the heat.
Beat the eggs with the two sugars (using your mixer preferably) until pale and doubled in size.
Once cooled, gently stir the melted chocolate into the eggs with a large metal spoon, and then fold in the ground almonds.
Pour the mixture into your tin and bake for 35 mins, or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in the tin.
To make the icing, heat the cream and sugar together until it comes to a light simmer. Remove this from the heat and wait one minute (exactly, put the timer on!). Stir in the grated chocolate until it has melted. Leave this to cool and spread over the cooled cake. You can add shavings or other adornments to your finished cake as you wish.

Dawn Says
Dawn Fry

There is no sweetness in the chocolate as it is 100% cacao. You can add more sugar to taste. You can buy 100% cacao in most supermarkets. Look in the cooking aisle instead of the chocolate section. It does give a wonderful full chocolate flavour. I love the intensity as I prefer things less sweet!
Inspired by the Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake in Willie Harcourt-Cooze’s book ‘Willie’s Chocolate Factory’

This is number three in my top of the chocs recipes to make at home. For more inspiration visit my facebook page.

If you love chocolate have you ever considered what it might be like to make chocolate your business?

Chocolate Crunchy Nut Squares

Chocolate Crunchy Nut Squares

Chocolate crunchy nut squares with mini marshmallows
Ingredients
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 100g milk chocolate
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 3 x 15ml tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g salted peanuts
  • 4 x 40g Crunchie bars
  • 1 baking or foil tray, approximately 30 x 20 x 5 cm. (if using a baking tray, line with parchment or greaseproof paper)
Method

Add chopped chocolate, butter, and syrup to your saucepan and place over low heat. Bash up your crunchies, measure out your salted peanuts and mix together in a separate bowl. Pour the melted chocolate mixture over the nut/honeycomb mixture, stir well and pour into your tin. Smooth out (add extra goodies if you wish, like mini marshmallows or edible glitter) and leave to cool. Once cooled, pop in the fridge for a few hours, then remove and cut into squares. Bet you can’t eat only one square!

Dawn Says
Dawn Fry

Use good quality chocolate. Minimum of 70% cocoa for the dark and 30% cocoa for the milk chocolate. You can buy some supermarket own-brand chocolate for this.
I buy honeycomb in chunks for my chocolate workshops – so I use this instead of buying Crunchie bars. I add a little extra milk chocolate too to compensate!
Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s Sweet and salty crunch nut bars, as appears in ‘Kitchen’

This is number five in my top of the chocs recipes to make at home. For more inspiration pop to my facebook page.

If you love chocolate, have you ever considered what it might be like to make chocolate your business?