If you can’t get to the Fat Duck in Bray, an experience I have yet to enjoy, never fear. You can always try some of Heston Blumenthal’s alchemical concoctions in chocolate form. Waitrose have teamed up with Heston to offer a box of twelve planet like chocolate orbs for their Christmas Collection. Heston’s Cocktail Chocolate Box will be available from Waitrose at £13.50, if it isn’t already.
As you might expect, these are not your average box of Christmas chocs. Not only are they inspired by cocktails, but the textures and flavours are a little unusual. They are best suited to those of an inquisitive nature and an open mind.
The concept is fun and I enjoyed them as a one of experience. They are distinctly alcoholic and you probably ought not to operate heavy machinery after eating one. I found the milk chocolate a little too sweet and this seemed to detract from the complex flavours. This was a prototype box and it didn’t include a description card, so I had to guess which ones were which; I only managed two. I know certain of my readers will be most unimpressed with my limited knowledge of cocktails, but I had no clue what most of them are meant to taste like.
A fruity caramel with and orange coloured and flavoured fondant running through the middle with a milk chocolate coating – I guess Negroni.
I guessed this one! A thin milk chocolate contained a Gin and Tonic soft milk chocolate centre. The botanicals left a clean and slightly bitter taste in the mouth which I really liked.
A fruity jelly with a pink frothy centre slap bang in the middle, enrobed in a thin dark chocolate shell. The alcohol hit to this one was a delayed reaction that was stronger after rather than during consumption. I couldn’t even guess as to its identity, but Cuba Libre didn’t fit anywhere else.
A green lime flavoured jelly like centre with soft caramel wrapped in a thin milk chocolate shell. I found this to be an interesting eating experience. I think I detected a hint of mint – my money is on Mojito.
A soft dark chocolate ganache with an oaky flavour wrapped in dark chocolate. This one was particularly boozy and warmed my throat nicely as it went down. I’m guessing Sherry and Whisky.
A lime citrus jelly and dark alcoholic ganache contained within a dark chocolate shell. Very nice it was. Could be Caipirinha.
Don’t miss yesterday’s post: Chocolate Week: Day One
I was sent a Heston’s Cocktail Chocolate Box to try. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.
This recipe for a pomegranate chocolate cocktail is admittedly unusual, but it’s also interesting and has both depth and bite. The name Pomegranate Choctail emerged as the one most apt for this chocolatey fruity drink.
Tea tasting and blending is a veritable art form. Find out how the masters at Twinings do it in their tea masterclass. You’ll also find a review of Twinings redbush tea and a recipe for a salted caramel chocolate tea cocktail.
As soon as I heard that Victoria had chosen mint as this month’s We Should Cocoa ingredient, I knew immediately I wanted to use fresh mint. We have an abundance of both spearmint and peppermint growing down at the plot and it seemed criminal not to use some of it for this challenge. That’s as far as I got for a while, but then along came the Cornish strawberries. Warmed by the sun (we did get a few days of it), I couldn’t resist the scent of an enticing tray of them as I passed by our local greengrocers – the decision to incorporate strawberries marinaded in mint syrup was made. The next leap was simple, Kate had set layer cakes as this month’s Tea Time Treats challenge, so that is what I planned to do. The last piece of the jigsaw came from Janine who chose cocktails for her Baking with Spirit challenge. Woohoo, last year I came up with the cocktail Chocadoodledoo, using vodka, chocolate, mint and cream, so all I had to do was use some of my mint schnapps and add cream. So, maybe the strawberries didn’t quite fit in, but it is June for goodness sake and it’s meant to be summer. I used Pam Corbin’s recipe in Cakes for the Genoese but used duck eggs and buckwheat flour to make it gluten free.
This is how I made:
Chocolate Genoese with Minted Strawberry Cream
- Heated 100g golden caster sugar with 100 ml water in a pan and simmered for a few minutes. Added a handful of spearmint leaves, covered the pan and simmered for a further 5 minutes. Turned off the heat and left to infuse for an hour.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp homemade mint schnapps.
- Melted 75g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat.
- Using electric beaters, beat 125g of golden caster sugar and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt with 4 duck eggs for about 10 minutes on high speed, when the mixture was pale, thick and had quadrupled in volume.
- Sifted in 100g of buckwheat flour with 25g cocoa powder in two batches. Folded each batch into the eggs as gently as possible.
- Poured the cooled butter down the side of the bowl and folded in – again as gently as possible.
- Divided between two 8 inch cake moulds and baked at 180C for 22 minutes when the tops were firm and a cake tester came out clean.
- Roughly chopped a punnet of Cornish Strawberries and poured over two tbsp of the mint syrup. Stirred and left to infuse.
- As soon as the cakes came out of the oven poured the remaining syrup over the tops, then left for 15 minutes.
- Turned out onto a wire rack and left to cool completely.
- Whisked 150 ml whipping cream until peaks formed.
- Spooned the strawberries and juice over one cake, then covered with the cream.
- Placed the remaining cake on top and dusted with icing sugar.
The cake was as light as a feather and disappeared rather too quickly. The mint gave a subtle cooling quality which was refreshing and the slight alcoholic kick added a frisson of sophistication. The strawberries and cream did exactly what was required of them. The rain may have poured down, but it felt like summer in our house as we gorged on this delicious minted strawberry and cream chocolate cake.
I’m also entering this to Karen’s Cooking with Herbs as both the cake and strawberries are infused with fresh mint.
Whilst I’m at it, I may as well enter it into Ren’s Simple and in Season as it features both mint and strawberries.
And of course I mustn’t forget Made with Love Mondays on Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/Luv.
And finally, I think, I’m linking this up to Recipe of the Week with Emily of A Mummy Too. It does what it says on the tin!
Anyone fancy a cocktail? Well we can’t give you cocktails, but we can give you these 21 cocktail inspired chocolate recipes. From painkiller cupcakes to mojito macarons to cosmopolitan truffles, you’re bound to find something to tempt you.
Having set the challenge to celebrate We Should Cocoa’s 2nd birthday with cocktails, I was subsequently completely flummoxed as to what to make. I know nothing about cocktails, except that I’m usually happy to drink one when it’s offered. I wanted to do something other than cupcakes, not because I don’t like cupcakes, but I thought there might be a proliferation of these and it would be fun to do something different. However, the days flew by and I was no nearer deciding what to make and then it was time to go back to work after my lovely three week break. Needing something to take back to work with me, I thought cupcakes would probably work best as they are less messy than a cake which needs to be cut with a knife. And it was National Cupcake Week too. So, my cocktail entry has turned out to be cupcakes after all.
Following on from my Chocadoodledoo, I quite fancied making a cupcake version of the cocktail, using the peppermint schnapps I made earlier in the year. Seeing Jacs’s post for her After Eight cake, confirmed my decision – it looked so good. A little googling came up with a Chocolate Mint Rum cocktail which was similar enough for me and also meant I could enter these into Baking with Spirit, which happens to be rum this month. I based my recipe on the one I made for chocolate peppermint cupcakes a couple of years ago and tweaked it to make way for the rum and mint schanpps. I also changed the frosting by adding cream cheese and mint liqueur.
This is how I did it:
- Melted 85g unsalted butter with 100g dark peppermint chocolate (Co-op Fairtrade 51%) in a large pan over a low heat.
- Added 175g dark brown sugar and stirred until smooth.
- Beat in two large eggs.
- Sifted in 180g flour (1/3 wholemeal, 1/3 white, 1/3 buckwheat) with 2 heaped tsp cocoa powder, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda.
- Stirred in 2 tbsp yogurt.
- Poured 2 tbsp rum into a jug with 1 tbsp mint schapps and topped up to 150ml with water.
- Mixed this in until just incorporated.
- Spooned into 15 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 17 minutes until risen and firm to the touch.
- Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 130g sifted icing sugar.
- Added 3 tsp peppermint schnapps to soften and beat until well incorporated.
- Beat in 50g cream cheese.
- Topped the cupcakes with the icing and added Elizabeth Shaw mint batons to give a cocktail effect.
I was really pleased with this experiment; I was aiming for subtlety with the mint and rum and this is what I got. CT described them as blowing hot and cold. The warmth of the rum came through like a tropical breeze to be quickly countered by a cooling menthol blast. In a moment of verbosity, he went on to say that the mint intensity had three stages: a hint of mint in the sponge, distinctly minty in the icing finished by a powerful burst from the chocolate baton. He recommended that the cake be eaten from the bottom up to enjoy the full experience. The sponge was moist and light and the cream cheese icing was delicious as was the rum chocolate sponge. Yum.
Janine over at Cake of the Week has just started a new challenge, the most appropriately named Baking with Spirit whereby a different alcoholic drink is chosen to cook with each month. This inaugural month happens to be rum, so I’m putting these cakes forward.
Cocktails are not something I know much about. There was a certain bar in Baker Street we used to frequent when I was a student, where a certain Aussie barman gave us half price cocktails when he was in a good mood. But sadly his moods took a turn for the worse when his overtures were rebuffed by one of our group. Other than that, I can probably count my cocktails on the fingers of one hand – maybe two if pressed. However, there is something rather alluring about them and I expect if I had an independent income I’d drink more of them. So when Urvashi of Botanical Baker challenged us to come up with some summer cocktails, I just couldn’t resist.
Although I’m not much of a drinker – honestly – I do make my own liqueurs: sloe gin, cassis, rhubarb schnapps and various other vodka infusions. I’ve had some cocoa nibs soaking in vodka now for over six months, so I figured it was time to test out my attempt at chocolate extract and concoct some chocolate cocktails. Having used three rose flowers to make some rose sugar, I was left with one glorious bloom. Sadly the weather was not favourable, so I thought I’d harvest it before it got blown away. What better use than to make rose syrup which would be perfect for a summer cocktail.
This is what I did:
Rhubarbarella (Rhubarb & Rose Cocktail)
50ml rhubarb schnapps
50ml lemon balm tea
10ml chocolate extract
squeeze of lemon juice
Ran a little lemon juice around the rim of a glass then dipped the glass into a saucer of rose sugar (caster sugar). Placed all the above ingredients in a well sealed jar and shook. Strained into the glass and added a sprig of lemon balm.
Chocadoodledoo (Chocolate & Mint Cocktail)
50ml Mint schnapps
10ml chocolate extract
50ml single cream
Placed the above ingredients into a glass and shook well. Strained into a glass and added a sprig of mint
Rhubarbarella was the star of the show. Rose and rhubarb had already proved themselves as a flavour pairing in the last lot of Nonnettes I made so I had high hopes. It was delicious, fruity, refreshing and with a definite kick – of chocolate as well as alcahol. The rose flavour added a layer of sophistication, or so it seemed after a few sips ……. The colour was alluring and I impressed myself with the sugared glass. I’d be happy to drink this all summer long, which by latest reckoning, ends tomorrow.
Although the chocolate came through quite powerfully, I wasn’t quite so taken with chocadoodledoo due to a slight bitterness from the mint schnapps. Next time I’ll add some sugar to counteract this. It was certainly bracing, the mint schnapps being noticeably stronger than the rhubarb. However, I’m not giving up on this one, there will be a next time.
* Rose Syrup The rose syrup was absolutely delicious and I can see many uses for it, not least added to sparkling water and used as a drink. I made it by adding 200g golden caster sugar to 200ml water and putting this on a low heat until fully dissolved. I added the petals of a deep red rose and left to not quite simmer for half an hour. I then strained the syrup into a bottle and left to cool.
As I have used mint and lemon balm in my cocktails, I am submitting this to Karen’s Herbs on Saturday. A challenge I keep meaning to join in, but somehow keep forgetting about.