How to churn butter in a jar

Yup, that’s right. All you need is some cream and a jar. Being a chocolatier, cream and butter are like old friends to me. I use them both in many of my recipes, and sometimes, there’s a little leftover cream after a spell in the kitchen. I find it very hard to throw anything with even a smidge of potential away – so this is the perfect solution. Make butter!

If you can, use double cream as this will yield the most butter (double cream has a higher fat content than say, whipping or single).

Pour your leftover cream into a jar, filling it about two-thirds full. I used around 150ml double cream, which was what was left in the fridge and didn’t have much life left on it.

Screw the lid on tight.

Shake.

Shake as if your life depended on it.

This is going to be a pretty good workout, as you’ll be shaking for about 10-15 minutes. First, you’ll make whipped cream, then you’ll feel when the butter begins to separate, as there will be a gentle thud in the jar with each movement. You should have what looks exactly like a blob of yellow butter sitting in milk. Shake a bit longer to help all the fat molecules bind together, then pour out the liquid into another container. Save it – this is buttermilk and can be used for many different recipes – bread, soup, pancakes…

Put your butter onto a board and press out the remaining buttermilk using a wooden spoon. You really want the butter to be as dry as possible – any remaining buttermilk will make the butter spoil as quickly as cream. You can also rinse your butter to get rid of any last remaining drops of buttermilk – knead it under cold running water. Now is the time to add any flavourings, if you wish. Dry the butter by gently dabbing with a paper towel and knead in sea salt, dried herbs, garlic powder or whatever takes your fancy. Shape it and wrap it in greaseproof paper, and marvel at what you have just made before popping it into the fridge. Ta-da! Homechurned butter!

homemade butter

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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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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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Valrhona

I am thrilled you let you lovely chocaholics know that over the next couple of weeks, Kokopelli’s will be switching to using Valrhona couverture. Couverture is a high quality type of chocolate used by chocolatiers and pâtissiers (it means ‘coating’ in French), containing extra cocoa butter, making it perfect for moulding and dipping. This is a significant improvement on the chocolate we have been using until now and it’s a move I have wanted to make for a long time. Finally, the time is right and I am so excited and priviliged to start working with such world-class chocolate.

Valrhona is a French chocolate maker, founded in 1922 by a pastry chef from the Rhône Valley. They make some of the very best chocolate in the world, sourcing the finest beans from around the globe to make a range of different chocolates, each one with it’s own unique and captivating flavour and aroma characteristics.

Instead of showing you a bag of Valrhona fèves, or chocolate buttons, I thought I’d show you the majesty of what can be made from Valrhona chocolate. Behold the Chocolate and Salt Caramel tart, which I made on a Valrhona masterclass I was fortunate enough to attend earlier in the year. Yes – WOW, right? I can assure you it tasted even better than it looks. And that it didn’t last very long.

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Banana and chocolate bread

There were a couple of old, browning bananas looking desperate in the fruit bowl. So I took pity on them and put them to good use, transforming them into a tempting banana bread. It’s not really a bread (that’s just to make you feel better about what you’re eating), it’s more of a cake. Dark chocolate chips make it all the more satisfying. I adapted this recipe from Green and Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Recipes, substituting some of the white sugar for brown for a deeper, more treacly flavour.

Ingredients
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
100g butter at room temperature
100g caster sugar
75g brown sugar
2 eggs
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 tbsp milk
100g chocolate chips or chunks

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin.
Cream together butter and sugars.
Add eggs, bananas and milk, mixing thoroughly.
Sift in flour and salt, mixing minimally to prevent releasing the gluten in the flour, which would give a heavier texture.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour mixture into tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45-60 minutes.

Wait until it cools, cut thick slices and eat warm, while the chocolate is still gooey. This is a gorgeous, moist cake. The addition of some chopped walnuts might go nicely…

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The best brownies ever

Here’s another recipe from Toll House that I grew up on. This means that for me, a brownie must contain chocolate chips or chunks. Without them, it’s a sorry squidgy half-cake. These brownies are a little fudgy, moist in the middle, slightly crisp on the outside, and just rich enough. The chocolate chips add bite and sass.

100g plain flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp salt
75g butter
150g sugar
2 tbsp water
350g chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 170°C. Combine flour, bicarbonate of soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Combine butter, sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, adding half the chocolate chips and the vanilla extract. Stir until melted and smooth, and transfer to a large bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then stir in the remaining chocolate chips. Pour into a baking pan (approx 20cm square) and bake for around half an hour.

Once cooled (if you can wait that long!), cut into generous squares and eat all by yourself. Erm, I mean invite some friends over to help you eat them…

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Here we go ’round the mulberry bush…

I found these dried mulberries in a Turkish cornershop. I remember discovering them in a dried fruit mix once, and wondering what they were but liking them so much that I picked them all out and ate them first. They are really delicious, soft and chewy, with sweet honey flavours and an almost floral taste. The tiny seeds give them a little crispiness. They go wonderfully well in my amaranth snack bars, generously drizzled with tempered dark chocolate.

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Gingerbread

I love gingerbread, especially when its a little chewy on the inside and has a small kick.

350 g plain flour
3 – 4 tsp ground ginger (depending on how much you like ginger!)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
85 g butter, cut into small chunks
175 g brown sugar
1 egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 190° C. Sift together the flour, ginger and bicarb of soda into a large mixing bowl. Add the small chunks of butter and rub it into the flour with your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. In a small bowl, beat together the syrup and the egg, then stir this too into the “breadcrumbs”. Mix everything together really well until you have a dough.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and put the dough onto it. Knead it a bit, stretching the dough by pushing it away from you. Fold the dough in half, turn it and push it away again. Continue this kneading until the dough is really smooth. Now use half of the dough at a time to make it easier to roll and cut. Sprinkle a little more flour on your work surface and roll out the dough until it is about ½ cm thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out lots of shapes from the dough (I like animal shapes). Bake the gingerbread for about 10 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool, but make sure to eat at least one while they’re still warm and a bit gooey. Mmmm…

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Florentines

Yum yum yum! Crispy, chewy, buttery snacks. Perfect for this season as the weather turns ever colder.

2 tbsp butter
75 g brown sugar
2 tsp flour
75 mL crème fraîche
65 g flaked almonds, toasted
1 piece of stem ginger, chopped well
60 g mixed dried fruit, chopped (I used raisins, sultanas, sour cherries, cranberries and strawberries)
Zest of 1 orange

Pre-heat the oven to 180°. Heat the butter, sugar and flour in a pan and stir continuously over a medium flame. When everything has melted and it is sticky and gooey, add the crème fraîche and stir well to mix it all together. Stir in the nuts, ginger, fruit and zest. Spoon out teaspoonfuls of the florentines onto a tray lined with baking paper and flatten each one little. Bake for 15 minutes, until they are golden brown and bubbling. Transfer them to a cooling rack and try very hard not eat them all at once. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, you could spread melted chocolate over the base of each one.

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