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?

Top of the Chocs – five recipes to make at home

Top of the Chocs – five recipes to make at home

I’m sharing my top five fav chocolate recipes for you to make at home:

Sweet and salty crunchy nut squares

Nutty chocolate bars with marshmallows

In at number five, my son’s all-time favourite and the easiest thing to make in the world. The original recipe is by Nigella Lawson from her Kitchen cookbook. You know they are going to be decadent, extremely naughty but so nice! She mentions being inspired by sitting on the sofa simultaneously eating a mixture of salted nuts and chocolate.

You melt a mixture of dark and milk chocolate with butter and golden syrup, then pour this over crushed crunchie bars and salted peanuts – mix, leave to set then cut and eat! It’s totally delicious and sooo simple!

Full recipe

Everyone’s favourite – chocolate brownies

Chocolate brownies

If you’re anything like me, you’ve made 100’s of brownies over the years and probably tasted a fair few too. I like Nigella’s (Lawson again) recipe from her ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ cookbook for the best results.

Mix it up and experiment with different flavours. I add white chocolate buttons, or perhaps a mix of white chocolate and cranberries for Christmas! The current fav is to put some coffee, cardamom and caramel choc in the mix. It’s really a really good combination. What would you put in yours?

Full recipe

A truly decadent chocolate cake

Dark chocolate cake with white chocolate shavings

Did you see the documentary about Willie Harcourt-Cooze some years ago on Channel Four? It’s worth a watch – entitled ‘Willie’s Wonky Chocolate Factory’ I don’t know about chocolate enthusiasm, he has a chocolate obsession!

This cake is inspired by one from Willie’s book, Willie’s Chocolate Factory – a Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake. It uses Willie’s 100% cacao (Waitrose currently stock this in their baking section). It’s a solid block of pure chocolate you grate into the cake mix.
It makes a truly deep and wonderfully flavoured chocolate cake, which has no flour!

Full recipe

Mocha mousse

Espresso cups

A little get ahead dinner party treat served in cute espresso cups! My inspiration for this came from the founder and co-owner of Chococo (award-winning chocolate biz based in Dorset) – Claire Burnet. I have a copy of her first book, ‘Chococo – chocolate cookbook’!

It’s rather a rich pud and just a small amount goes a long way. The finished effect is like a little macchiato – and sprinkling the tops with a little coffee powder and some cocoa nibs* mixed together is a very nice finish!
*Cocoa nibs are chopped roasted cocoa beans that you can buy in most supermarkets or a good chocolate shop.

Full recipe


Dinner party wow pud

Chocolate tart
Photograph: Anders Schønnemann/Kyle Cathie, The Guardian

This comes in at No 1 – top of the chocs. Inspired by Master Chocolatier *Paul A Young’s sea-salted chocolate and pecan tart. it really does taste as good as it looks.

I’ve made this a few times, and it never fails to delight. Taken from Paul’s amazing book ‘Adventures with Chocolate’. Go the whole hog, make the chocolate pasty, follow Paul’s directions and use fantastic chocolate and you will be totally bowled over with the result.

*Paul A Young is my favourite chocolatier – read my interview with him!

Full recipe

I hope you enjoy making these. Why not share your go-to chocolate recipes and I can re-create a readers list!

Love to do more than just play with chocolate? My previous blog, five reasons to work with chocolate, may just inspire you!

For further recipes and inspiration pop to my Facebook page