C is for Chocolate
Next week is ‘Chocolate Week‘. Very few of us need encouragement to eat chocolate, but the website details offers and events to look forward to. The Kitchen Goddess website is also getting into the spirit of things, with lots of chocolate recipes. Last week’s Recipe of the Week of ‘White Chocolate Mousse with Spiced Raspberries‘ particularly caught my eye.
This ties in nicely with a blog entry I have been working on for some time, as I seem to have been doing a fair bit of chocolate ‘cooking’ recently.
It started whilst I was reading ‘The Lollipop Shoes‘ by Joanne Harris, the follow up to her popular novel ‘Chocolat’. Throughout the book, characters indulge in rich home-made hot chocolate. The descriptions of the spices used made me think about trying it myself, an adventurous change to powder from a jar.
So, I decided to do a bit of research, and see what recipes I could try. My first port of call was ‘Green & Blacks Chocolate Recipes‘ which has a wonderful array of chocolate recipes from ‘Italian Venison’, to the wonderful ‘Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake‘, and chocolate souffle with Caramel Sauce. Although the book details the origins (and how to make Kukuh), it didn’t have quite what I was looking for. So, I turned to the internet. I was fascinated by the mention that the Mayans drank their chocolate with chilli, as do some of the characters in ‘The Lollipop Shoes’. The recipes I found seemed quite heavy on the chilli, so being the wimp I am, I reduced it a little, and experimented with what ingredients I had.
- 230 ml milk
- 22 g chocolate – chopped finely, or grated
- 3 g chilli
- 1/2 vanilla pod – split down the middle
- 1/2 stick Cinnamon
- teaspoon nutmeg
I added the chilli, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg to the milk, and heated it gently (take care not to let the milk boil). Once the milk was simmering, I stirred in the chocolate. I used skimmed milk, which makes this drink quite healthy(!) but still tasty (and quite spicy enough for me). I imagine that made with full-fat milk and some cream it would make a very decadent treat.
A few days later, I found myself in possession of some good quality chocolate (Divine 70%), and decided that now was as good a time as any to start practicing making truffles for Christmas time. These can be made in advance and frozen, or alternatively scoffed in 3 days. I’ve used Delia’s recipe before, and did again this time. The first batch was made with Brandy – and you can’t miss it in the taste. For the second batch I used Orange Essence, which I personally preferred. Which ever recipe you follow, prepared to get messy!
Last weekend my husband asked me to make some muffins to take to his MBA tutorial. Again I turned to the G&B chocolate recipe book. They have a recipe for ‘Banana, Cherry and White Chocolate Muffins’, but I wanted something more chocolately. I used their recipe as a guideline for quantities, and added in some cocoa powder and milk chocolate drops. The recipe told me that it would make 10 large muffins. It lied. I suspected as much when it also said to fill the case 2/3 full, and there wasn’t enough. So, instead I got 10 small muffins. (and then looked at another recipe that used double the amount for 12 muffins!). They were delicious anyway. So, if you decide to try this, either share it between 6 large muffin cases, or double it to go for 12!
- 150g (5 oz) plain flour
- 0.5 level tablespoon baking powder
- 0.25 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium egg
- 40g (1.5 oz ) caster sugar
- 125ml (4 fl oz) milk
- 50g (2 oz) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 100g milk chocolate drops
Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
Melt the butter (it really needs to be entirely melted to mix well, says the voice of experience). Whisk it together with the egg, sugar and milk. Then add the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Make sure the texture isn’t too smooth, so you get that lumpy look muffins are known for. Add the chocolate drops, and mix in. Finally, share the mixture between the muffin cases, or muffin tray if you have one. Remember, you are aiming for 2/3rds full! Bake for approx 20 minutes. The tops should spring back when you touch them.
I found this article to be interesting reading on the Origins of Chocolate, and today I came across ‘Chocolate Source‘ – a whole site dedicated to chocolate, fantastic. So I’ll leave you with that, and with ‘10 things you didn’t know about chocolate‘ from the Ethical Superstore website – an excellent source for Divine Fairtrade Chocolate. Oh, and as a final note, at a Beer tasting session at Taste of Bath last year, we were advised that Leffe Brune is the perfect accompaniment for chocolate.