Market stall

It was a swelteringly hot but enjoyable day at the Ritherdon Road street party. It was great talking to the friendly people of Balham, getting feedback and generally enjoying the relaxed, summery atmosphere. There was even a local ukulele band! The best bit though was watching people’s faces as they tried a salted caramel for the first time, or tasted an earl grey chocolate, or marvelled at the combination of chocolate with lime as it melted in their mouths.

My gooey fudgey bites went down a treat with both kids and adults (recipe here). They were the first thing we sold out of – so fast, in fact, that there was no time to take a picture. I must admit I snuck one or two for breakfast while we were setting up. They are a little bit irresistible.

Here’s me and the stall just before the day kicked off:

And here are some of the new products I developed in the run up:

Chocolate-covered toasted almonds, rolled in golden caster sugar

Chocolate lollipops (left to right: dark chocolate and ginger, dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, dark chocolate with golden beads, white chocolate with black cherries and cocoa nibs, milk chocolate with golden beads, dark chocolate with purple glitter)

Chocolate bars (milk chocolate with toasted sesame and ginger, dark chocolate with sea salt, white chocolate with black cherries and cocoa nibs, dark chocolate with caramelised toasted almonds)

We also had a selection of truffles and chocolates including ginger truffles, earl grey chocolates, hazelnut and sea salt hearts, lime chocolates, raspberry chocolates, mint creams and sea salt caramels. The sea salt caramels were the bestsellers – I think personal taste will dictate the popularity of the others, but who could turn down a sea salt caramel?

Big thanks goes to everyone who helped out or came down to support Kokopelli’s!

Tags: , , , , , ,

Roasted hazelnut and sea salt chocolates

Can you tell I had fun designing and making these? I was always one for beautiful colours. I think they look rather regal, with their lilac and golden hues.

Inside is a special ganache – roasted hazelnuts, caramelised white chocolate and a pinch of sea salt to balance the sweetness and to complement the nuts. Wait a minute – caramelised white chocolate? Yup, that’s right: the white chocolate itself has been caramelised. This is a most magical process, where the chocolate turns from a creamy white to a golden colour. While this is happening, it begins to look grainy and awful until you gently stir it, coaxing it back to silken beauty.

This ganache is smooth and really quite hazelnutty, so if that’s your thing, then this is the chocolate for you.

Tags: , ,

Sea salt mou

Mou is a fancy French term for a soft, yet firm caramel (it actually means ‘soft’ in French). One that you can pick up and hold, yet still sink your teeth into with ease.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to make some chocolates for a big family event next week, for 150 people. Wowzers. Everyone loves caramel, right? And sea salt caramels are pretty hot right now, so I thought a sea salt mou would be a good choice as one of the flavours.

It took two attempts to get the caramel right, but that was purely because on my first try I forgot to put the thermometer in the pan right at the beginning, and you can’t just stick it in half-way through cooking when you’re at 100°C+ – the shock would kill my poor thermometer (not to mention the leaking mercury…). Still, that first batch made a nice rich caramel sauce, lots of it 🙂

So here they are, my successful second batch. They are covered in a milk chocolate from Costa Rica (which has complementary caramel notes), decorated with a tiny pinch of sea salt and a wave. I had a lot of fun dipping and decorating these – there’s something really satisfying about putting the final touch to your work.

These little moux are soft, sweet, salty, chewy, melty and a little mellow. Everything you could want in a caramel.

Tags: ,

Passionfruit caramels

I first heard of flavoured caramels back in 2008, when I completed a short work experience placement at Melt. Part of my interview was to identify the flavours in a number of their products (labels hidden!). One of these was a soft, buttery, chewy passionfruit caramel, wrapped simply and beautifully in light brown wax paper and twisted at the ends. I didn’t guess the passionfruit flavour correctly but it was the start of a little love affair with the sweet.

So I apprehensively committed myself to making a passionfruit caramel chocolate. I wanted this one to be quite liquid and a bit gooey. It was 🙂

It’s a great feeling knowing that I’ve come such a long way in a matter of months. And making these was no exception to the learning curve. After my raspberry truffles came out with little air bubbles (and a second batch a bit later was worse, even though I vibrated the mould more than usual), I did my reading and learned a great way to avoid this. After applying the yellow and red coloured white chocolate to the insides of the heart mould, I painted each cavity with a very thin coating of tempered chocolate to avoid all air bubbles, before filling and emptying the mould as usual to create shells. It worked a treat – hardly a single air bubble in sight.

However, the shell is just a little too thick on top and a little too thin on the bottom. I’m still working on getting this perfect. It’s tricky because the atmosphere you’re working in affects the way the chocolate behaves, and that’s never constant (temperature, humidity etc).

Still, I’m really pleased with how these came out – colourful, shiny, pretty, smooth. The caramel inside is sweet and tart and fruity. Yum.

Tags: , ,

Golden sea-salted caramels

I have been building up to making these – I’ve been a little terrified because of what happened a few years ago when I last made caramel. Silly me tried to get every last yummy morsel off the wooden spoon and a blob flicked out of the 250°C mass, landing on my thumb. I felt faint, panicked and rushed to the cold water tap. It wasn’t pretty. I’m left with a large trophy scar to remind me to be careful when cooking with sugars!

Anyway, having finally got over that trauma, I decided the time had come to try again. Sea-salted caramels it was to be. I know they’re becoming just slightly ubiquitous but they are super yummy, and something every good chocolatier should know how to make.

The shell still isn’t quite right, a little too thin on top (meaning you can see miniscule drops of caramel oozing out of some) but overall these came out good. They even fell softly out of their moulds as they are supposed to – no more thwacking the mould down hard on the table! The caramel is buttery and soft, with that touch of salt rounding off the flavours. I love the edible gold dust I used for the tops of the chocolates, definitely something I’ll use again. I wonder what other colours they have…

These got the seal of approval from my good friend Anna, who until last night had not eaten chocolate for 10 years and 5 months. She decided to break her long chocolate fast with one of my creations, a special moment. I was truly honoured.

Tags: ,