A Chocolate Proposal

I’m often surprised by the requests that come through to my inbox, but this one simply delighted me.

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A lovely client wanted to propose to his girlfriend with a bespoke chocolate engagement ring, within a bespoke chocolate ring box. He sent me her ring size and some other specifications, and I suggested we use an edible diamond to give it that essential sparkle.

The ring is made from dark chocolate, nestled on top of a marzipan cushion. It sits within a white chocolate box that is adorned with delicate pink hearts and gold detailing.

It’s really something special to be a small part of the personal moments in people’s lives. It’s one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

The best part is that she said yes (how could you refuse a chocolate ring?)!

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First of all thank you very much again for making this beautiful chocolate ring and ring box! My fiancé absolutely loves it! Everyone we’ve shown photos of the ring makes compliments on how amazing it looks. Thank you very, very much!!

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If you’d like to discuss your own bespoke chocolate piece, please get in touch.

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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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Lucky cats, matcha and passion

I’ve been busy working away in the kitchen this summer, scheming, devising and developing a clutch of new products. I am proud to introduce you to them:

Lucky Fortune Cats
These came to me in a dream. No, really. And then I woke up and decided that I needed to make them a reality. They are so much fun I just couldn’t resist!
cats
These lucky cats are painted by hand, and cast in smooth dark or white chocolate. Hidden inside each cat is a fortune printed on edible paper for you to discover. Available here in dark and here in white.

Matcha Bar

Matcha, or powdered green tea leaves, has been drunk in Japan for almost 1000 years and was originally created by Buddhist monks. It is known as the rarest and finest of all the Japanese green teas and is full of antioxidants. We have carefully blended a premium grade matcha from Kyoto with creamy white chocolate to produce a 50g matcha chocolate bar – bright green in colour but entirely natural, from the matcha. The fresh earthiness of the matcha cuts through the sweetness of the white chocolate, giving you a refreshing treat. Available from our shop here.

Passionfruit Caramels
Some of you may know that I have a penchant for that heavenly marriage of passionfruit and caramel. The tangy and the sweet all loved up in one delicious morsel. Now available is a new incarnation of this pairing in the form of a soft caramel. It is slightly chewy, but melts away on your tongue. The fresh passionfruit puree gives it a slight tang and exotic flavour, balanced by the rich butteriness. I can never get enough of these and I’m always left wanting just another taste. Available here. Let us know if there are other caramel flavours we should try – leave a comment below and we’ll send you a sample if we try your idea. Mango? Cinnamon? Raspberry? Cardamom? Ginger?

All these new products are now available on our online shop. I’m always open to new ideas so let me know if there is something else you’d like us to try! Thanks once again to the talented Macnifique for the gorgeous photos.

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Cornish chocolate adventures

So I just returned from a lovely, relaxing holiday in Cornwall. Needless to say, I’m always on the lookout for anything remotely chocolatey, especially when I’m elsewhere, to see what curiosities I can find. I found a number of wonderful chocolatey treasures.

Let’s start with the best first. This was both unexpected and hugely exciting – at The Eden Project, they have a rainforest biome – a mini rainforest created in a huge greenhouse-type dome. I had no idea they had cacao trees there (Theobroma cacao, food of the gods), so when we came across them I jumped up and down a little wildly and squealed “Eeeeeee!”.
What a magical tree, smaller than you’d expect, with shiny, waxy leaves, peppermint green pods and a mystical aura. And take a look at the beautiful, intricate, exotic flowers:

Most of the pods were green, but I did manage to find a couple of gorgeous reddish-brown ones that looked a bit more mature:

How I would have loved to be able to open one up and taste the sweet mucilage encasing the beans – but I suppose that will have to wait until I can visit a cacao plantation. For now, the privilege of seeing and touching cacao trees will tide me over until such time. What an amazing surprise.

Other treasures included a trip to I Should Coco, a sweet little chocolate shop in St Ives and the discovery of solid ‘chocolate pasties’ in touristy shops all over the region. I’ll leave you with just one more picture, a dried cocoa pod on display in I Should Coco:

What magic!

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Handmade chocolates – 1953

I found this video while doing some research and it totally captivated me. Not only is the commentary wildly entertaining, it shows you that handmade chocolate production methods have remained unchanged in almost 60 years. I’ve just watched this three times… (yes, it IS that good – watch it now!).

Cor blimey, well wasn’t that smashing?! Jolly good show old chap!

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Chocolate mint tea

I picked up this treasure on a trip to the Netherlands over the weekend to celebrate Koninginnedag, (Queen’s Day) with our Dutch friends. What a fantastic national holiday! Can’t really imagine something similar happening in the UK for our Lizzie…

On the much-anticipated trip to the supermarket to pick up goodies to bring home, we headed straight for the tea aisle. I love the variety of herbal teas and infusions in Holland. This one immediately caught my eye: Chocolate and mint. Confusingly, most of the box is in English, but the ingredients list isn’t. My very limited translation skills tell me that the ingredients are tea, green rooibos, peppermint, flavourings, liquorice, pieces of cacao bean (guessing this means cocoa nibs).

My companions are somewhat sceptical when I drop the box in the trolley. However, I really like it. It gives an intoxicating chocolatey aroma. The earthiness of the tea matches well with the earthiness of the cocoa nibs, and a subtle sweetness is provided by the liquorice. The mint adds a freshness that lightens the drink. It’s really refreshing actually. I might have to ask my lovely friends to send some more…

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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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Black garlic

I couldn’t resist when I saw this at a reduced price in the shops. I’d heard of it but had no idea what it was like, or how to use it. It’s aged, fermented garlic that is transformed to a mellow, sweet and rich delicacy. The texture is a lot like soft, sticky dried fruit.

The taste is not at all overpowering as with regular raw garlic, and it certainly doesn’t stay with you for nearly as long. It really does have balsamic flavours as described on the packaging, and it’s quite treacly. In Korea it is prized as a health food, rich in antioxidants.

I ambitiously tried the company’s Baked Bananas with Black Garlic recipe, but it’s not something I’ll be readily recommending. We also used it in a stir-fry when we had run out of fresh garlic, but the flavour was a little lost there. I think black garlic would go wonderfully in some freshly-made houmous – that’ll be my next experiment with it…

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