So who does not love chocolate? It is one of those magical things – in small doses of course. My step-father used to swear by Cadbury’s, something my French mother never really understood. So convinced was she that French or Belgian chocolate was vastly superior, a few years ago she organised a grand chocolate tasting amongst their friends in South Africa where they lived but she failed to get much support!
Happily palates have changed and there is now a much better appreciation of top quality chocolate alongside the traditional old family favourites. As you will see in our interview with Mike Noble from Noble & Stace on the website, excellent chocolates are now even being made here in the south-east of England. From wines to chocolates, who would have thought it? Here are a few recipes for Christmas. Some of these would make great gifts as well… if you don’t end up eating them all. SR
Ginger Caramel Crunch
From Mike Noble www.nobleandstace.co.uk
120g sugar, 27g glucose syrup, 610g good quality dark chocolate, 110g white chocolate, 160g double cream, 20g salted butter, crystallised ginger (optional).
Makes approximately 40 chocolates
1. Make the caramel crunch – put 50g of sugar and 20g of glucose syrup into a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Cook until it’s amber in colour and then immediately pour onto an oven safe silicon mat that’s on a heat resistant surface. Leave to cool and then break up into fine pieces in a processor.
2. Make the ganache – put 110g of good quality dark chocolate and 110g of white chocolate into a bowl and set aside. Measure out 160g of double cream and 7g of glucose syrup into a microwave-safe bowl and bring to the boil – set aside. Now put 28g of water and 70g of sugar into a heavy based saucepan, stir and heat gently until it turns a rich amber in colour. Take off the heat and very carefully pour in the warm cream, a little at a time and stirring continously. It will spit and steam a lot at this stage so take extra care! Then pour the caramel and cream mixture onto the chocolate, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then combine. Once the mixture has cooled to 35d C stir in 20g salted butter, the crunch from step 1 and ground ginger to taste – start with just a pinch!
3. Cut the ganache – pour the ganache into a lined tin so it’s approximately 1cm thick and leave somewhere cool to set. Once it’s firm, cut into small cubes and separate out on a piece of greaseproof paper, leaving overnight at room temperature to dry.
4.Dip – Temper approximately 500g of good quality dark chocolate then using a dipping fork, coat each ganache square before placing on a greaseproof sheet to cool. Decorate each with a piece of crystallised ginger if you wish!
Cherry Surprise Chocolates
From Lakeland www.lakeland.co.uk
225g icing sugar, sifted, 1 tbsp liquid glucose, 1 tsp cherry liqueur, small jar of maraschino cherries (you will need 20 cherries and some of the liquid), 400g white or milk chocolate, roughly chopped.
Makes 20 chocolates
1. Place a chocolate mould in the fridge 20 minutes before starting.
2. Make a fondant filling; mix together the icing sugar, liquid glucose, cherry liqueur and 3 tsp of the liquid from the maraschino cherry jar, reserve.
3. Place 50g of the chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate very slowly, stirring all the time. Remove the chocolate from the heat.
4. Take the mould from the refrigerator and fill a third of each shape with chocolate; using a small paint brush, spread the chocolate up the sides of the shapes until all covered. Return the mould to the fridge for about 10 minutes. Once set, check to see if there are any gaps in the chocolate; if so, fill them in with melted chocolate and chill again to set.
5. Add a cherry to each chocolate and top with cherry filling, leaving space for a layer of chocolate. Refrigerate until the filling is firmer; when firm to touch, melt the remaining chocolate and pour on top of the filling, so that it comes level with the sides of each shape and completes the chocolate.
6. Return to the fridge for about 30 minutes until completely hardened. When ready, gently flex the moulds to release the chocolates and store in a cool dry place.
St Emilion au Chocolat
From Elizabeth David’s French Country Cooking (Penguin)
125g butter, 125g sugar 125g, 1 teacup milk, 1 egg, 250g dark chocolate,12-16 macaroons, a tot of rum or brandy.
1. Cream the butter and the sugar until they are well amalgamated. Scald the milk and let it cool, then mix it with the yolk of the egg.
2. Melt the chocolate in a bain marie with a very little water, then stir in the milk and egg mixture, then the butter and sugar. Stir this cream carefully until it is absolutely smooth.
3. In a souffle dish or individual ramekins, arrange a layer of macaroons, soaked in a little rum or brandy; over these pour a layer of the chocolate cream, then put another layer of macaroons and so on until the dish is full, finishing with macaroons. Leave the dish in a cold place for at least 12 hours.
Cinnamon and chocolate stars
From Jessica Haggerty’s Brighton Bakes (The Book Guild)
Sprinkled prettily over your tablecloth, these make the perfect pick-up-and-munch treat. They’re also very useful as Christmas tree decorations. An all-purpose, buttery, crumbly biscuit then – simple, but all the better for it.
150g self-raising flour, 150g plain flour, 2tsp ground cinnamon, 125g butter, 100g sugar, 1 egg, beaten, 100g chocolate.
Makes 24 biscuits
1. Preheat the oven to 160C, gas mark 3.
2. Sift the flours and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the egg and mix well.
4. Combine both the dry and wet ingredients and mix into a firm dough.
5. Lightly flour the work surface, turn out the dough and knead it lightly until smooth, making sure not to overwork it or your biscuits will be tough. Roll to a 5mm thickness.
6. Use a star cutter (or indeed any that take your fancy) to cut into shapes and place on a greased oven tray. Bake for 10-15 minutes until light golden. Cool on a rack.
7. Melt your chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently bubbling water. Dip your stars in the chocolate or drizzle it over them decoratively. Place back on the rack to harden.