Tag Archives: chocolate

Chocolate Fondant

Felicity Cloake has done it again, as part of her marvellous How to Make the Perfect… series.

I’ve been sleeping badly (due to a mild chest infection – inconvenient rather than life threatening) and there was a spare egg going to waste, and one thing led to another…

Just follow her very reasonable instructions.

I used a fan-forced oven, so cautiously set the temperature to 180ºC, and the necessary rising and pulling away from the edge of the ramekin took place at 14 minutes, instead of 12.

Best with ice cream, I think.

Tiramisù

Chocolate. Alcohol. Fat. Sugar. Caffeine. The five essential food groups in a single dish.

  • 300mL strong coffee (fire up the espresso machine or the mocha pot)
  • 250mL marsala
  • 250g (1 packet) of Savoiardi biscuits
  • 150mL double cream (the more luxuriant the better)
  • ¼ cup icing sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cornflour
  • 250g mascarpone (this is about a standard container)
  • chocolate, strawberries, etc for putting on top

Here’s what you do.

  1. In a bowl, mix coffee and two thirds of the marsala, allow to cool
  2. In another bowl, the cream, the icing sugar, the cornflour, and the remainder of the marsala (Add marsala gradually, otherwise the whole thing separates and refuses to co-operate.)
  3. Dip each of the biscuits in the coffee/marsala mixture (not enough to make them disintegrate) and tightly pack them in a layer at the bottom of a square dish. An 8″ × 8″ × 2.5″ deep dish will accommodate two layers from a standard packet (buy an extra packet in case you need more; the remains can be kept for next time as Savoiardi seem impervious to the passage of time)
  4. Cover with half the cream/marsala mix
  5. Repeat
  6. Cover with grated chocolate – I normally get a couple of Cadbury Flake bars and bash them into submission whilst still in their wrappers
  7. Refrigerate at least overnight before serving

Variation

Make the cream/marsala mix, throw a couple of punnets of chopped strawberries and serve in large wine glasses.

Adult Hot Chocolate

Something to occupy the time if you’re plagued by biphasic sleep and don’t fancy being an author.

The trick here is knowing how much chilli to use, if in doubt, less is more, as it’s only there to add a certain zing to the proceedings. The dried chillis in my cupboard at the moment are medium sized, but very mild.

  1. In a small saucepan, heat 200mL milk (full cream is better than semi skimmed in this case) per person, plus 4 cardamom pods, a quarter of a cinnamon stick and a small dried chilli or a pinch chilli flakes.
  2. When the milk is shuddering, almost at the boil, turn off the heat, stir, and leave to stand.
  3. Meanwhile, break up 80g of dark chocolate per person, and place in a glass jug atop a pan of simmering water, and allow to melt.
  4. When the chocolate has almost melted (after about five minutes) turn the heat back on under the milk, but don’t let it boil.
  5. Once the chocolate has melted, turn the heat up underneath. Pour a splash of the hot milk in, less than the volume of chocolate, and stir until it blends in. The chocolate will become very thick.
  6. Keep adding the milk, in increasing amounts, stirring all the time, until you’ve added about half of it. You’ll need to pour it through a sieve to catch the spices.
  7. You can add the final half in one go, but keep stirring. The water underneath may have come to the boil by this point, but don’t worry. Once it’s all blended, turn the heat off, and serve in warmed cups.

Chocolate and Armagnac Sauce

Having now performed this recipe relatively sober, let me share the secret.

  1. Place a glass/ceramic bowl atop a pan of barely simmering water. I normally use the jug in which the sauce itself will be served. Add however much dark dark dark chocolate you fancy; about 100g.
  2. In a separate small saucepan heat an equal amount of double cream, once it starts to bubble, turn the heat off.
  3. When the chocolate has melted, which will be a few minutes later, pour the hot cream (which will have cooled away from boiling point) on top, and stir vigorously. The sauce may go a little grainy, but some brutal stirring ought to sort that out.
  4. Splash some Armagnac (one 25mL shot per 100g of chocolate and 100mL of cream) on top and blend it in. Again, some elbow work may be needed to get a smooth sauce.
  5. Turn the heat off underneath. The residual heat in the water pan should keep the sauce warm for a while.

Chocolate Mousse

Being of a Certain Age, I can’t ever think of chocolate mousse without my mind immediately going back to the scene where the Swedish Chef chases a moose ’round the kitchen with a bowl of chocolate sauce and a spoon.

"Här är det mööse! Här är det choklad!"

Here’s the recipe I’ve scribbled down, which is mainly Delia, with a touch of Nigel. I’ve compared it with a more voluptuous procedure described by Pomiane, for which I’m not sure my arteries are prepared.

Remember, cookin’ chocolate has more cocoa butter than eatin’ chocolate, so will behave a bit better when you melt it. You will need:

  • 200g dark cooking chocolate
  • 30g caster sugar, more if you have a sweet tooth or if the chocolate is really bitter
  • 3 large eggs, separated (Pomiane reckons 6!)
  • interesting things: finely grated orange peel, Cognac, etc., Pomiane devotes a number of pages to amusing things you can add
  • 120mL warm water (Pomiane suggests 150mL double cream!)

Break the chocolate into its constituent squares and combine with the water in a glass bowl atop a saucepan of hot water, and allow to melt. Stir, but as little as possible.

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Once it’s melted, and the mixture is smooth, remove from the heat, stir in the egg yolks, and combine thoroughly. The chocolate is likely to be hotter than the curdling point of eggs (both in the mid forties) so you might want to perform the old trick of putting a splash of the chocolate into the yolks and stirring, before returning the combined mess into the chocolate. Alternately, you could just wait for the chocolate to cool. (Pomiane suggests that once combined, the results are returned to the heat, until the egg yolks have thickened, as though you were making a custard. That sounds complex and dangerous.)

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Meanwhile beat the whites to soft peaks. Then, beat in the sugar in three or four consignments. The whites will collapse a bit, and become shiny, yet strangely alluring.

Your next task is to combine everything. There are two irreconcilable objectives: (a) to produce a homogeneous mixture, and (b) not to knock all the air out of the egg whites. The trick is to (a) use a metal spoon and (b) sacrifice all the air in  about a quarter of the egg whites by vigorously mixing them in to loosen up the chocolate.

Gradually fold in the rest. It will start by looking like this…

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…but will eventually, after a few minutes gentle, patient labour, look like this…

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…at which point it should go in the fridge, for at least two hours. Some people would have you putting this into individual ramekins or poncy wine glasses, but I’m having none of that bollocks. If my favourite bistro in Paris can serve it out of a large bowl, then that’s good enough for the likes of you.

Finished product below.

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Börk! Börk! Börk!

Dark Chocolate and Grand Marnier Truffles

A spot of minor surgery left me confined, if not to the house itself, certainly to within the bounds of the parish. Some spare cream needed to be used up before it became putrescent, so I whiled away the hours by making these. It should be pointed out that there is no really clean way of doing this, and you will end up covering yourself in chocolate. I personally find this oddly pleasurable.

  • 400g dark cooking chocolate (I used Waitrose ‘cos it’s cheaper than certain better known brands and has a bit more cocoa butter and hence more malleable)
  • 200mL single cream
  • 50mL Grand Marnier
  • Cocoa powder or icing sugar for dusting

Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place in a glass bowl atop (and not touching) a pan of barely simmering water, so it will melt. Too much heat and the chocolate will curdle, which is not pleasant.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan. When it starts to boil turn off the heat and give it a bit of a stir to reduce the temperature. If you wanted an alcohol-free truffle you could add the liqueur to the cream before heating.

When the chocolate has mostly melted, pour in the hot cream, and stir vigorously. If the chocolate hasn’t all melted, then leave on the heat and keep stirring for a few moments.

Remove from the heat, stir in the liqueur, and put in the fridge. What we want to do here is get the mixture cool enough so that you can form it into balls, but not so cool it becomes solid. I reckon about an hour is needed. If you want a fluffy truffle, you will need to take the mixture out after half an hour and give it a good going over with the electric beaters, and then again at the end of the hour. If, after an hour, the mixture has become too solid, then just pop the bowl atop the simmering water again.

Cookbook authors then glibly tell you to form the mixture into small balls and dust with cocoa. Pffft. That instruction will not prepare you for the mess and the fiddling; nor the cleaning up afterwards. I use two long-handled teaspoons to get a grip on the mixture, and end up with lumps, rather than perfect spheres. The mixture won’t be too sticky, so I use my (scrupulously scrubbed) fingers to even them up, and then roll them in the cocoa powder or icing sugar.

Variations

  • You could use more cream if you like a lighter consistency; up to about 300mL should work
  • You could infuse the cream with spices (vanilla, chilli, cardamon, etc) as you heat it – just be sure to strain it afterwards
  • Any interesting liqueur or spirit should work: dark rum, brandy, amaretto, kirsch, frangelico, or even a cold ristretto
  • You could do this with white chocolate and limoncello

Hot Chocolate

Humph. Double humph.

I’m grumpy.

I’ve taken this as an indication that I’ve not had enough chocolate recently, so after a lacklustre supper (details not necessary) I’ve decided to make some hot chocolate from scratch.

I’m using Waitrose Dark Continental Cooking Chocolate, which melts easily, and is very tasty. It also has the advantage of being cheap. For each person I use about 60g chocolate, a tablespoon of cream, and 200mL milk, but you can adjust the ratios to suit. It can happily be done without cream, but I happened to have some lurking in the fridge.

It cannot be done with milk chocolate.

  1. Get a double boiler, or a Pyrex jug atop a saucepan of water, and bring the water to the boil, and then reduce as low as possible.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and add.
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    It will take a few minutes to melt, do not stir it, although the occasional poke and prod are acceptable.
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  3. Whilst that’s going on, heat up the milk. I use the steam nozzle on my espresso machine for this, but otherwise do it in an adjacent saucepan. Do not boil.
  4. Stir in the cream if you’re using it. This should add easily, and make the next steps less hazardous.
  5. Add a small amount of the hot milk to the chocolate and stir vigorously. If the milk is too cold, or you add too much, the chocolate will separate, and you’ll need a balloon whisk.
  6. Turn up the heat underneath the chocolate, so the water will come to the boil, but don’t wait for it to come to the boil, carry on with the next steps.
  7. Keep on adding the milk, bit by bit, until you’ve added about half the milk.
  8. You can then add the rest of the hot milk in one go, but keep on stirring.
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  9. Serve in pre-heated cups.
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Variations

Here are some other ideas.

  • If you follow this procedure, just using equal quantities of chocolate and cream, this makes quite a passable chocolate sauce.
  • You could also add some liqueur, e.g. Frangelico or even some whiskey, but be subtle; no more than a half a teaspoon, to make it “mysterious”, as Pomiane would say.