Raspberry and cracked black pepper chocolates

These glitzy, shiny gems are made from a beautiful, fruity Madagascan chocolate with real character. Their pink flecks give a hint at the flavour of their filling, and were today described as ‘mini planetariums’, which I thought was lovely. Inside their colourful shells hides a firm ganache, bursting with tangy raspberries and rich, dark chocolate. As the centre quickly melts away you are left with a kick on your tongue from the freshly ground black pepper. Fruity, tangy, sharp, rich and peppery all in one mouthful. Oh, and they are dairy-free too – bonus.

Tags: , , ,

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…

Tags: , , ,

Blackcurrant triangles

This summer is supposed to be all about Britishness, right? So without being overly patriotic, I’ve opted for a summer blackcurrant flavour for this month’s new chocolate. Significant blackcurrant cultivation in the UK began during WWII, when fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, became scarce. The government encouraged the growth of blackcurrants as an alternative VitC source, and it has remained a popular British flavour ever since.

These chocolate triangles contain a very smooth white chocolate ganache centre, blended with blackcurrants and crème de cassis, topped with blackcurrant compote. Isn’t the purple colour gorgeous?

The compote gives that unmistakeable blackcurrant tang, contrasting with the creamy centre. It finishes with a bit of texture from the fruit in the compote and a pleasing cocoa taste from the dark milk chocolate enrobing.

Each chocolate has been given a light dusting of purple and pink chocolate shavings, adding a flash of colour to match what’s inside.

I have also decided to finally take up the We Should Cocoa challenge (hosted by Chocolate Teapot and Chocolate Log Blog), after years of reading other food bloggers’ entries. This month’s special ingredient, blackcurrants, was particularly inspiring since it’s a seasonal ingredient, and I’ve rarely used them before.

So, here’s my entry and the recipe for blackcurrant triangle chocolates:

Make blackcurrant butter ganache by mixing together 120g best quality unsalted butter at room temperature, with 130g blackcurrant compote (made by boiling down blackcurrants with sugar to taste until a jam-like consistency is reached). When smooth, gradually add in 300g tempered white chocolate, mixing as you go. Stir in 35g crème de cassis, pour into a frame and leave to set for at least an hour.

Spread a thin layer of tempered dark milk chocolate onto the slab. Once the chocolate is almost set, cut into triangles with a sharp knife. With the chocolate on the bottom of each triangle, pipe a little dab of compote on top of each ganache triangle. Now comes the really tricky part: dip the triangles in the tempered dark milk chocolate without the compote falling off! Sprinkle with shavings of coloured chocolate and leave to set. Et voila!

Tags: , , ,

Lemon ice cream

(Apologies for another lemon post – it’s just that it’s the summer, and I bought a glut of lemons, and they’re yummy.)

I often have a craving for lemon ice cream in the summer. Not lemon sorbet – I mean the real deal. Lemon ice cream. It reminds me of holidays in France, scorching sunny days cooled down by this refreshing treat.

However, it can be hard to get hold of in this country (you have to really make an effort to find it), so I resolved to make some myself. I had an old recipe I’d made years ago, but the scrap of paper it was written on had seen better days, so I took a glance at what I could determine from it and made the rest up. This is my rambling prelude to an apology for the impreciseness of the recipe below, as it relied heavily upon what was in the fridge.

Ingredients
300ml whipping cream
100ml double cream
Pared zest of 2½ lemons (use a vegetable peeler, it’s easier and quicker than a grater)
1½ lemons’ juice
¾ cup sugar

Method
Heat the cream with the sugar and zest to scorching point (just under the boil). Leave to cool and infuse for around 4 hours. Stir in the lemon juice. If you have an ice cream machine, strain out the zest and transfer it into there to freeze. If you don’t, strain and transfer to a tupperware container and place into the freezer. After 45 minutes, break up the ice crystals that begin to form with a spatula or other utensil by stirring briskly, breaking up the frozen bits around the edges. Return to freezer and repeat around every 30 minutes or so until it is frozen. This should take 2-3 hours and will ensure a smoother, creamier ice cream.

Melty cold sweet tangy creamy refeshing ice cream. Perfect.

Tags: , ,

Lemon chocolates

As summer is shyly beginning to make an appearance in between cloudbursts, I thought it needed a bit of encouragement with a gorgeous new lemon chocolate.

Lemon zest-infused cream is blended with creamy white chocolate and lemon juice for a smooth, sweet, only slightly tangy chocolate. It is dipped in a mellow milk chocolate and sprinkled with dried lemon zest for added colour and zing. This chocolate is subtle and a bit shy just like this summer we keep getting teasing glimpses of. Mostly though, these lemon chocolates are dreamy and creamy and sweet and moreish.

Tags: ,

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: , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , ,

Raspberry bonbons and The Chocolate Festival

Dark raspberry bonbons. Bright, colourful, fruity, rich. A winning combination. Can you tell I’m feeling summery?

In other news, I had a great afternoon out at The Chocolate Festival today. Highly recommended if you are out and about in London this weekend! Lots to taste, some interesting new flavour combinations, and best of all, you get the chance to chat to some of the top chocolatiers in the country. One of my tasting favourites was a cobnut brownie from Marc Demarquette, though I also enjoyed sampling chocolate from Original Beans and many others! Topped off with beautiful sunshine and lots of happy chocolatey faces.

Tags: ,

Mango and cardamom chocolates

Here’s my take on a pate de fruit and ganache layered chocolate. Pâtes de fruit are fruit jellies, a sophisticated and delectable French confection made with real fruit. They have an intense fruit flavour and are a lot like a set jam, making them worlds away from the more commonplace fruit-flavoured jellies (which, let’s face it, are just sugar shapes with artificial flavours and colours). Happily pâtes de fruit are also vegetarian. The quince sweets I made are an example of such a treat.

I was craving a taste of the exotic when I came up with the flavours to go in this chocolate – I think it was during that very cold week recently after a short spell of warmer weather, and inspired by a mango lassi I enjoyed not long ago. So, here it is – mango pate de fruit, topped with cardamom ganache, enrobed in a dark milky chocolate and decorated with orange-gold flecks.

I was worried that the cardamom wouldn’t be able to stand up to the strong mango flavour, but it actually packed a punch. Yummy. I’ll definitely be making this again, though I might try each on its own next time for single flavours. Still, these two make perfect partners. The different textures work really well together; soft cardamom ganache atop slightly chewy mango. Mm-mmm – a taste of the tropics.

Tags: , ,

Golden rum and lychee truffles

I thought it was about time I made a grown-up, boozy chocolate.

I used 7-year-old Havana Club golden rum and a bowlful of lychees to make these glittering delights. The shell is crisp and the centre gives way to you as you bite it. The rum hits you first – then the lychee subtlely comes through in a sweet, fruity, perfumed way. It was inspired by a cocktail I had a couple of months ago, though I can’t remember for the life of me where. This is a good combination – I think this one’s a keeper.

Tags: , ,