Rich triple chocolate muffins, or buns as I’d call them. They’re liberally studded with pieces of both crunchy white chocolate and melting milk chocolate. Not only are they delicious, but they’re easy to make and will appeal to all.
Today is the first day of National Chocolate Week. It’s caught me completely unawares this year. I’m worried I’m losing my chocolate grip. In a panic, I’ve just had a look through my draft posts to see if I have anything suitable. Well, I sort of do, a post from 18 months ago! These caramel chocolate chip bars may not be overloaded with chocolate, but they were rather good.
This one pan brownie recipe is super quick and easy. It produces a tray of rich, flavoursome raspberry fudge brownies in no time. The brownie batter is made with dark raspberry chocolate, then studded with lush fresh raspberries and pieces of white chocolate. What’s not to love?
Well, it’s been a busy seven days in the chocolate world and Chocolate Week has culminated in the prestigious Chocolate Show in London this weekend. For me, the grand culmination is a Cocoa Runners box of bean to bar chocolates from around the world. I’m very excited.
All this blustery and quite frankly miserable weather we’ve been experiencing down here in the last few days means that warming comfort food is required. What could be more comforting than wrapping your hands around a mug of steaming hot chocolate in cheery defiance of the weather gods?
Luckily I have both hot chocolate and some rather fine goat’s milk in plentiful supply.
The goats at St Helen’s Farm in East Yorkshire have been producing fresh milk for the last 27 years. Many people who find themselves unable to drink cow’s milk, are able to tolerate the goat version. Do watch out for future goaty posts where I will be trying out other products from the farm. I’m not normally a fan of skimmed milk, or even semi-skimmed milk, but I did like both of these in goat form and they do work remarkably well with chocolate. There is a slight goaty tang, but it’s not too strong and adds another dimension to the drink which I could become quite addicted to.
Chocolate Week has brought me many delights and one of these was a chocolate bar from Barry Callebaut with my name iced on the top. This put a big smile on my face. It wasn’t long, however, before the bar disappeared. Half of it went into a pan of skimmed goat’s milk to make the hot chocolate you can see above and the other half was shared with CT a little later.
Hans Sloane Drinking Chocolate
Back in May, I reviewed Hans Sloane Natural Honey and Rich Dark drinking chocolates and was favourably impressed. I was hoping to try their award winning Madagascar and Ecuador single origin varieties, so I was delighted when a fragrant parcel arrived in the post. CT and I girded our loins and got down to the difficult business of doing a compare and contrast exercise. It was difficult to see much difference in the appearance of these two chocolates but when it came to smell and taste the resemblance disappeared. Thick and rich as these drinking chocolates are, I decided to taste test them with water once again. The shiny chocolate beads melt beautifully this way and the flavours are not masked by dairy. I found, with absolutely no surprise whatsoever, that we liked both of them. We did, however, both have the same preference.
Madagascar 67% – a rich and fruity aroma wafts up from the packet on opening. It has a strong fruity taste with aromatic cardamom notes. It’s also a little bitter and leaves a slightly drying sensation behind in the mouth.
Ecuador 70% – the fragrance is more of tobacco in this case. It has woody notes with liquorice tones that make it quite robust. It is less sweet, richer and drier than the Madagascar which makes it our favourite.
There is currently a 20% discount on the Ecuador, so now is a good time to try it. You’ll find this on the Hans Sloane website.
Mortimer Chocolate Powder
Some of you may be aware that I’m a big fan of Mortimer’s chocolate powders. They are fabulous used in bakes where chocolate is called for, as no melting is required; the chocolate is ground down to a powder so can go straight into the mix – less fuss and less washing up. The powders also make excellent hot chocolates. Not only do they taste good, but the chocolate melts quickly and easily. The dark chocolates are both 70%, but come from two different continents: one from Ecuador and one from West Africa. I have reviewed these in a previous post, so I won’t repeat my findings here. The fruity West African, however, worked particularly well in these rich chocolate scones.
The white couverture powder is equally impressive and contains 40% cocoa solids, which is much higher than many brands. Flavoured with natural vanilla, it is free from both gluten and soya. I’ve used it in various recipes, but you can find specific mention in my red gooseberry cakes and burnt butter cupcakes. I have to confess that I’ve not tried this as a hot chocolate, but for those with a sweet tooth, I expect it would make a very nice drink indeed.
Come back tomorrow for more ChocolateWeek tasters and don’t miss out on those posted earlier this week:
Thanks go to Hans Sloane, Mortimer Chocolate Company, St Helen’s Farm and Barry Callebaut for the various samples. I was not required to write positive reviews and as always, all opinions are my own.
Chocolate Week is about a number of things, but right up there at the top has to be indulgence. Well indulgence and pampering was certainly what it was all about for me when I was sent some Rachel’s Divine Desserts and a load of luxurious goodies to accompany them.
Fairtrade products have had a lot of bad press recently, but it is an important concept to which I feel we should adhere. As far as chocolate goes, according to the Fairtrade Foundation, Fairtrade is enabling small scale farmers in Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and the Dominican Republic to trade their way out of poverty. This is done by not only giving them a premium on the price they get for their cocoa but giving them long term contracts which provide stability allowing them to invest in their farms and communities. For more information on how lives in West Africa have been improved by Fairtrade, you can read the report from Fairtrade International, published earlier this year.
Divine was one of the very first chocolate companies to adopt the Fairtrade ethos and they have remained true to their principles ever since. The company is unique for a British mainstream chocolate business in that it is part owned by a co-operative of cocoa farmers in Ghana. You can read all about it here. Divine are one of the main sponsors of Chocolate Week. They have come up with two new chocolate bars as well as some new chocolate recipes especially for the occasion. I’m very keen to try both the 70% dark chocolate with mango and coconut and the milk chocolate with almonds. They have also helped organise a number of events around the country. Visit their website to find out what and where these are.
Living in Cornwall, means it is not always possible to attend some of the food events I would ideally like to. A celebration of twenty years of Fairtrade held in London a couple of months ago was one such. The diversity of products now out there carrying the Fairtrade label is really quite amazing. I remember when there was only tea, coffee and chocolate and they were hard to find. As I was unable to make the celebration, I was kindly sent a few of the products that were being showcased on the day. One of these was a bar of Divine chocolate.
Divine Milk Chocolate (38%) with Spiced Toffee Apple – I was very excited by this new bar on the block, not a flavour combination I’d come across in chocolate before. With the apple season fast approaching I wanted to keep this for a suitable appley occasion. Turned out this was Bonfire Night and I made these rather wonderful spiced toffee apple bonfire cakes. But meanwhile, I had to try a little of it. A mixture of apple pie and toffee apples, this was as good as I was hoping it might be. Pieces of crunchy toffee and chewy cinnamon flavoured apple punctuates Divine’s signature high cocoa content milk chocolate. One piece lasts a satisfyingly long time and leaves fruity spicy notes in the mouth which are just perfect for autumn.
Divine has always decorated its outer wrappers with traditional West African symbols called Adinkras, each of which has it’s own special meaning. This was the first Divine bar I’ve seen where the Adinkras are imprinted on the chocolate itself.
I also have my sights set on these two new recipes on the Divine site (photographs courtesy of the Divine):
|Hazelnut & Raspberry Dark Chocolate Truffles|
|Lemon and Chocolate Tarts|
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for more chocolate tasters for #NationalChocolateWeek and don’t miss out on these:
Thanks to the Fairtrade Foundation for sending me these products to try. I was not required to write a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.
So it’s Chocolate Week Day Three and still so much to look forward to. Today, we’re featuring artisan salt caramel truffles, chocolate bars from the Grown Up Chocolate Company and some chocolate mints.
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.
Chocolate Week starts today! Of course every week is chocolate week in our household, but I’m actually referring to the official event which runs from 13th-19th October. You’ll be hard pressed to miss the numerous activities and promotions happening throughout the land. I’m celebrating by giving you a daily taste of what’s out there in the chocolate world and will be posting every day this week. Here goes …
Chocolat Chocolat is a chocolate shop in Cambridge offering a range of luxury chocolate products. Founded in 1999, it now has an online shop in addition to its high street one. It is particularly well known for its handmade sheet chocolate sprinkled with such ingredients as French sea salt, Turkish hazelnuts and Dutch speculoos. It also offers the ability to create your own chocolate bars – now what a fabulous idea indeed. These are great fun and make an extra special treat for yourself and a great present for anyone else. You choose your chocolate base bar then add up to three toppings of your choice or, if it all gets a bit much, you can go with one of the suggested combinations. The base bars come in a choice of: dark 70% or 55%, milk, caramel or white. Then it’s over to choosing your toppings which are far too numerous to mention here, but include, nuts, fruit, spices, herbs, flowers, confectionary and even gold leaf. A final touch is a gift tag on which you can compose your own message. The bars all weigh 100g and three bars cost £14.95.
Mine got into a bit of a muddle as there was a website glitch whilst I was creating my order. I was sent an e-mail detailing what I had ordered and to let them know if anything was wrong. It wasn’t quite what I ordered, but I was remiss and didn’t get back to them so I have no-one to blame but myself for the rather unlikely bars I actually got. The packaging was simple but elegant; chocolate brown cardboard together with the turquoise and gold Chocolat Chocolat logo looked particularly stylish. In amongst the chocolate bars was a little label informing me who had made them. A surprise miniature Dolfin bar was also included in the package which put an even bigger smile on my face. Dolfin are one of the better Belgian chocolate brands which I first tried on a trip to Ghent a few years ago and I’ve not yet been disappointed by any of their chocolate. This was a nice touch which gave a subliminal message that I was in for a treat.
Pecan Nuts, Liquorice and Cinnamon on a caramel milk 34% chocolate bar. I love cinnamon, so was very happy with this, but I’m not entirely sure that I asked for liquorice on the same bar; cinnamon is a dominant flavour and drowned out pretty much anything else. The nuts provided an interesting and welcome crunch.
Chilli and Caramelised Pistachio on a milk 34% chocolate bar – This was a very tasty bar with the pistachios giving texture and a sweet crunch. I couldn’t however taste any chilli. Maybe my habit of eating chilli for breakfast has reduced my sensitivity.
Chopped Apricots on a 70% dark chocolate bar – This was delicious and surprisingly, for me, my favourite. The chocolate was smooth with fruity notes. It was not at all bitter and went down far too easily. The pieces of soft and sweet apricots punctuated the chocolate in a most delightful way.
I was sent three Chocolat Chocolat bars to try. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.