Steph's Blog

Festive stalls and a bit of press

So, Easter is now over! It was a busy period, making lots of large handpainted Easter eggs (each one a little different, each one with it’s own quirks), mini eggs and mini chickens. Preparing for Easter trading is a lot of work – imagine hand-making and packaging thousands of chocolates in just a week or two!


We spent an extremely cold three days at The Chocolate Festival, braving the wind, rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures. It was actually colder than the December Festival! Luckily there were lots of lovely people there to meet or catch up with, and lots of top notch chocolate to keep us going (especially the delicious, rich hot chocolate from Jaz and Jul’s, with their melt-in-the-mouth vegan marshmallows).

One lovely lady who had enjoyed chocolates from us before said she uses her Kokopelli’s box to keep her earrings in – I adored that!

Quite a few food bloggers came along and wrote some very nice things about us. You can read them at Where The Wild Things Are, savannahsunset, Dining Belles and Chocolate Couverture.

We also ran an Easter chocolate stall in a swanky office in the City of London (thanks to Anna for helping out). This was a very civilised affair, nice and warm indoors without having to worry about products and signs flying away in the wind! I always like talking to new customers about our chocolate and telling Kokopelli’s story. Our handpainted Easter eggs went down very well.
As much as I enjoyed the Easter rush, it’s nice now to have some time for planning, reflection and product development.

We also have a lot of workshops booked in for the summer so this will be a good change of pace for a few months.

Finally, we had our first piece of newspaper press last week – exciting! (Click to enlarge.)

 
 

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Matzah toffee


So it’s Easter Sunday, and while most people are eating their Easter eggs, I have been nibbling (okay, okay, devouring) my matzah toffee. A layer of matzah covered in a layer of toffee covered in a layer of chocolate. I’d been planning to make this for weeks, ever since I found a recipe for it. A simple, quick and delicious recipe. It’s crunchy and sweet and a little bit salty all at once. During Passover, we eat lots of matzah, which is essentially a plain dry cracker that replaces all the usual foods containing wheat or other grains (and then some). This recipe jazzes up the matzah with yummy butter, sugar and chocolate. That’s my kind of treat.

I used David Lebovitz’s recipe, which is simple and quick. I felt pangs of guilt for using chocolate chips rather than good quality chocolate, and for just melting the chocolate and spreading it, rather than tempering it. But David said it was okay (and if it’s good enough for David Lebovitz, the accomplished pastry chef living in Paris, it’s good enough for me), so I went with it and it was delicious. In fact, this would even be tempting any time of year. Crunch crunch crunch.

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Easter 2013

Springtime is here! I can see it in the daffodils and sense it in the (slightly) warmer weather. Hoorah! And with spring, comes Easter, just two weeks away now. I am really excited to present Kokopelli’s ridiculously adorable Easter Collection, available at our online shop.

Our signature box contains four handpainted chocolate hens, two cast in solid dark chocolate, two in milk. Meticulously painting each one is a labour of love! These sweet little chickens are surrounded by eight chocolate eggs. Four have dark chocolate shells, filled with a zesty lemon-infused caramel and brushed with golden lustre dust. Four have milk chocolate shells and contain a smooth malted milk chocolate ganache, handpainted with lilac cocoa butter to highlight the design on the egg. Cute, right?

We will be at The Chocolate Festival again in London next weekend (22nd-24th March), where we will be selling all manner of chocolatey goodness, including these lovely chickens and eggs, Easter eggs, chocolate lollipops, as well as our year-round chocolates, and other sweet delights too. If you’re around London do pop down and say hello! It’s a fantastic event, with demonstrations, talks, beautiful things to look at and eat, and some of the country’s top chocolatiers all in one place. For a whole weekend. Come!

Huge thanks to the highly talented Talia of Macnifique for the gorgeous photos. Check out her out – not only is she a talented photographer, she is also a wonderful pastry chef!

Happy Easter!
 
 
 
 

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How to build a chocolate house

I am quite the seasoned gingerbread-house builder, having constructed quite a number over the years. However, I’ve always wanted to progress to using a different medium: chocolate.

So when the lovely Emily of Babkalicious said she had been given a huge block of chocolate, and what should she do with it, I immediately knew what had to be done. One cold and rainy Sunday a few weeks later, we spent a fabulous afternoon building our very own chocolate house.

And here’s how:

You will need at least 500g chocolate, though more is better (the bigger your chocolate house, the better, right?). We used about 650g.

Temper the chocolate and spread on a large piece of parchment paper like so:

After about 20 minutes, once it has set, heat a large, straight-edged knife, and carefully cut out your house shapes using a template (I used this one, but there are hundreds out there). You may need to keep re-heating your knife – if you use water to heat it, make sure it is totally dry when near the chocolate. You could also use the hob or something like a hairdryer.

Once you have all your pieces cut out in chocolate, it’s time for assembly. Choose a plate and start with one side piece and the back of the house. To stick the pieces together, warm an empty saucepan over the stove. Remove it from the heat and turn it upside down. Gently melt the edges of your house pieces on the bottom of the pan, stick together and hold for a minute or two until they are secure. Repeat with all pieces of your chocolate house, leaving the roof pieces until last.

Don’t forget to stick on the door! You could go wild and decorate your house, but we decided that less was more with ours. Try to build your house in a cool room – otherwise it can be easy to mark up your chocolate house with fingerprints (excuse ours – the excitement of it all was too much!).

Overall, a very successful and fairly sturdy, not to mention delicious, building.

Next step: Project Chocolate Castle. With turrets and everything. Oh yes.

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Love is in the air ♥

The day of love and affection is almost upon us, so what better time to present Kokopelli’s 2013 Valentine’s Collection? Three new flavours have been created specially for this amorous day, and one of our old favourites thrown in for good measure.

Our special Valentine’s Collection contains flavour combinations inspired by human relationships. The flavours correspond to a wide range of emotions and quirks – there’s sweet and tangy passionfruit caramel, smoky and inviting black cardamom, fiery cayenne pepper, comforting roasted hazelnut, sour cherry and sweet almond. All combined with smooth, meltingly delicious Valrhona couverture.

From left to right:
Passionfruit Caramel
Brought back by popular demand, this liquid caramel is sweet and tangy, infused with fresh passionfruits, within a fruity dark shell.

Morello Cherry with Amaretto
Inside this cocoa pod shell hides a soft centre made from morello cherries, with a touch of Amaretto to enhance the flavour.

Roasted Hazelnut
A classic favourite, this white chocolate shell is filled with roasted hazelnuts and milk chocolate, complemented by a touch of sea salt.

Smoky Black Cardamom and Cayenne Pepper
Smooth milk chocolate ganache infused with smoky, earthy black cardamom and a hint of cayenne pepper to tickle your throat, enrobed in dark chocolate and decorated with spiky red lines. My personal favourite because it’s a little unusual.

Each Valentine’s box comes with a beautiful, thick menu card to help you choose which chocolate to eat first.

We also have brand new notepaper on which we can include a handwritten message to your sweetheart (complimentary, of course!). Isn’t it lovely? There’s nothing like fresh, crisp headed notepaper. Yes, clearly I’m one of those that gets excited about stationery.

If you don’t want your Valentine’s chocolates to be sent straightaway, you can place your order now and specify in the order notes section at checkout when you would like them sent. It’s the perfect gift to impress your loved one, or an even better treat for yourself.

Kokopelli’s Valentine’s Collection is available to order at our online shop here.

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Waffles with chocolate sauce

These are perfect for a naughty Sunday breakfast. Warm, crisp, light and chocolatey, they are guaranteed to beat away those winter blues. It’s well worth investing in a waffle iron – they aren’t too expensive and who can say no to homemade weekend waffles?

Waffles recipe
185g flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
6g sugar
2 eggs, separated
110g butter, melted
390ml milk

Chocolate sauce
100ml cream
90g chopped chocolate

Mix together all dry ingredients. Add egg yolks, milk and butter and mix well. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into the mixture. Ladle batter into a hot buttered waffle iron and cook for around 3 minutes.

To make chocolate sauce, heat the cream to scorching point (when you see those first few bubbles), then pour onto the chopped chocolate. Stir from the centre with a spatula to emulsify and pour generously onto your hot waffles. Mmmm-mm.

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Florentinies

Happy New Year chocolovers! Here’s to a successful and joyful 2013 for us all.

I love florentines, especially at this time of year. They get me into the festive winter spirit, with their dried fruits and nuts, sticky sweetness and warm colours. This year, I decided to make florentine mini-bites, or as I’ve newly named them, florentinies.

These are chewy and a bit soft in the middle, filled with soft dried figs, stem ginger, currants, dried apricots, citrus peel, blackcurrants and toasted almonds.

They’ve been given the finishing touch with a glossy spread of dark chocolate.

Ingredients
25g butter
75g brown sugar
6g flour
75ml crème fraîche
70g flaked almonds, toasted
1 stem ginger ‘nut’, finely chopped
70g mixed dried fruit of your choice
Tempered dark chocolate, as needed

Method
Pre-heat oven to 180°C. Heat together butter, sugar and flour over a medium flame, stirring continuously. When all melted, add crème fraîche and stir well. Mix in all other ingredients. Spoon out into a silicone muffin tin for uniform pieces. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and bubbling, then transfer to a cooling rack. When cool, spread with melted, tempered chocolate and leave for a few minutes to set. Yum yum!

Makes around 15 florentinies. Store for several days in an airtight container, or even better, invite some friends over to eat them up immediately!

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The Chocolate Festival 2012 roundup

First up, it is with immense excitement that I can announce our brand spanking new ONLINE SHOP is up and running! Get your Christmas orders in before Wednesday 19th December. Go, go, go!

So, The Chocolate Festival has now been and gone, and I am finally able to relax a little. Truth be told, I was a little nervous in the seemingly long run-up, planning products, ordering materials and ingredients, writing risk assessments, actually making the chocolates, packaging everything, and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in such a short space of time (our chocolates have a short shelf life, so they all had to be made very close to the Festival). Luckily I had several generous helpers.

It turned out to be a fantastic event – 3 full-on, very cold days of talking and tasting chocolate with some lovely (and some eccentric) people. We made a lot of sales and got some excellent and useful feedback on our products and branding. A lot of people walked around the whole market several times and came back to us, choosing Kokopelli’s over all the other offerings. Many said that our chocolates stood out, that they were works of art, that some looked like marbles, that they were boldly flavoured (especially our lime chocolate). Every time someone uttered something like this, I got a little thrill and felt rather proud. Check out my hand-stitched banner, finished in the early hours on the first morning of the Festival!

The very talented PLAYMYMEDIA made this gorgeous short video showcasing our stall, in case you missed us:

Enormous thanks go to my helpers, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to do it – Memit, Mum, Dad, Julia and Eli. Big thanks also to all of you who came down specially to support Kokopelli’s! It was really lovely to see your friendly faces and kept me going when I couldn’t feel most of my body for the cold. ‘Til next year!

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Holidays are coming…

The holiday season is almost upon us – I can feel the first excitement and chill of it in the air. Lots of preparations are happening behind the scenes at Kokopelli’s. We have beautiful new boxes, new menus on the way, new seasonal chocolates, and lots of website development work going on – online shopping is now closer than ever!

I’m also excited to announce that Kokopelli’s will have a stall at The Chocolate Festival next weekend – from Friday 7th – Sunday 9th December. It’s at the Southbank Centre and it would be great if you popped by to say hello. It’s a really fantastic event showcasing the country’s top chocolatiers.

So without further ado, I introduce to you our winter specials:

Chai spiced caramels
A soft caramel delicately spiced with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, cardamom and fennel. Housed within a milk chocolate shell decorated with festive purple glitter and a touch of gold lustre.

Quince gems
Dark chocolate gem-shaped shell, striped with quince-coloured cocoa butter. Filled with a milk chocolate ganache, blended with quince puree, my favourite winter fruit with a wonderful perfume.

Pictures of our new boxes, menus and market stall banner to follow…

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Peanut butter pralines

I have been wanting to make these for months. And finally, I have done it. This was the most popular flavour choice in a recent survey I carried out (which many of you kindly answered), so it is satisfying to see it (and taste it!) realised.

I am having a bit of a colour splurge lately, as the nights darken more quickly and the skies turn a little greyer every day. So these lovely domes have a swirl of royal blue around their curves – somehow peanut butter made me think of blue – probably some clever marketing has brainwashed me. Let me know if you think of what it could be…

The shell of these chocolates is made from a smooth, rich, hearty couverture, while the praline centre is soft, peanut buttery and made with a gentle milk chocolate boasting mild malty notes. The sea salt within the peanut butter really brings the flavours to life.


I think this chocolate will complete the Kokopelli collection for now – of course I will always experiment with new flavours, especially seasonal ones, but this makes the set of our first complete collection. To see the other flavours within this range, have a look at our chocolates. Oh, and appreciate our new pictures on the site 🙂

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