Tag Archives: chocolate

Valentine chocolates – gifts of love and health!

Winter bloom and chocolate

Winter bloom and chocolate

Valentine day approaching and the shops are tempting us with a cornucopia of very sweet and colourful confectionary – but if you are still sticking to your healthy New Year resolutions, the choice can be quite daunting… So here I give you a more virtuous but deliciously indulgent version.

These delicate chocolate flowers are made with raw chocolate, non dairy ingredients and they are still big in flavour and satisfaction…

Ingredients list:

  • Dates, 250g
  • 100g of 100% cocoa chocolate (Check out Chocolat Rabot in Borough Market)
  • Raisins, 150g
  • Vanilla bean, 1
  • Crystalised ginger, a few pieces, but only optional!

Cut the chocolate in squares, cut up the dates.

Than put all in your best chopper (I use my Thermomix for the smoothest result) and mix at high speed for a few minutes until you get a glossy paste. DO NOT overwork it or the chocolate will melt !

Put in silicone moulds for individual chocolates (as above) or just roll bite size chunks in your palms and present them in a nice box or sachet to your Valentine with his Valentine day coffee. Garantie to score brownie points with any health-conscious foodie!

No need to be vegan either to appreciate the soft and creamy result – But take the best chocolate for the best taste, as always… My writing buddies loved them so much that I dedicate this recipe to our blue-stocking group – and their Valentines!

HAPPY VALENTINE DAY EVERYONE! This year it falls on a sunday so plan to take him to a spa, an art gallery or just a favourite place / corner of the world- like Venice?!!!

Promise Venice and chocolate this year!

One of my handprinted Valentine cards/original print.

 

Revisiting old favourites: Nigella’s moist chocolate cake

I still have my much fingered copy of “How to be a domestic goddess” by Nigella Lawson in prime position on my kitchen shelves. And I have adored this recipe since I started making it because it is both light and strong but does not give you this chocolate overdose feeling, even if you eat tons of it!
To emphasize the strength and lightness of the mix, I make it with twice as much chocolate and a third less sugar than the original but I particularly love the tangy taste left by the use of bicarbonate. It reminds me of a moist gingerbread…

Recently, I have been adding cinnamon and ginger to the original mix because I love spices and because they go so well with this moist and dense chocolate base… Here is one good reason for reblogging!

The other one is that I am due to serve it tomorrow to some of my favourite bloggers and can’t wait to get their feed back on it! I am having the closest thing there is in adulthood to a Teddy bear picnic: a mum and babes tea party! I wanted to celebrate a few very good friends first babies and this seems a good reason to throw a tea party but because those friends are real foodies and very demanding girls, I am desperately trying to impress and feeling a little nervous…

“Domestic goddess” or not, I am going to enjoy this tomorrow! (this was written early summer and party went well thank you very much – Babies lovely and even the mothers behaved!)
Ingredients list:

  • Butter 225g
  • Muscovado sugar 260g
  • Eggs 2
  • Vanilla extract 1tsp
  • Dark chocolate 200g
  • Flour 200g
  • Bicarbonate of soda, 1 tsp
  • Boiling water 250ml
  • Optional spices: Tablespoonful of cinnamon and ginger

Pre-heat the oven to 190° C and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper. This cake mix will be very runny so this is pretty essential.
Cream the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon then add the beaten eggs and vanilla. Melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water and add it to the mix. Measure the flour with the bicarbonate and add it in batches to the mix with the boiling water until you have them all well combined.

Note that you can add some cinnamon and ginger in the mix to make it richer in taste but do not have . A nice twist is also to present it with a cinnamon and ginger infused chocolate icing- more indulgent but totally worth it for a special party.

Pour into the tin then bake at 190° for 30 minutes. Turn down the oven to 170 °and bake for another 15mn.

Remove when the cake has raised but is still squidgy inside. It keeps well and like gingerbread is lovely the next day with a cup of black tea or Chai Latte.

Here are a few photos from the tea party:

My lovely friend and blogger @homesweetlondon

My lovely friend and blogger @homesweetlondon

HIghtea IMG_0281

Darkest Peru magic bullets!

Raw balls of pure energy

Do you feel sometime that you need a break from your daily life? That you are up for a different kind of challenge?! That you are hungry for new views, new flavours, new emotions? Last week, this blog was travelling to Galicia in Northern Spain. You might know that already if you follow me on FB or Instagram… I was walking the millennia old Pilgrim’s Way and feeling way out of my comfort zone…  But loving every minute…

The Way of St James

The Way of St James

Here are some of the items I carry in my backpack :

Energy balls ready to pack!

Energy balls ready to pack!

Lucuma fruity energy balls to sustain my companion and I through the long daily walks! This is a new version of my Energy Balls– this time flavoured with orange , chocolate and Lucuma – a protein packed Aztec powder that a Peruvian friend introduced to me this year. To say my walking companion is addicted is an understatement: I have promised the recipe and here it is.

Lucuma Cocoa and Orange Energy Balls or Darkest Peru magic bullets!
Ingredients list:

  • Cup of almond(soaked)
  • Cup of dates
  • Handful of raisins
  • Zest of one small orange
  • 1 tbsp lucuma powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp linseeds
  • 1 handful sunflower seeds
  • 2 or three squares of very dark chocolate (I use 100% cocoa sans sugar)
  • Cocoa powder and more Lucuma powder to roll in

Mix it all in a grinder /blender until it makes a sticky paste.
Roll each bite into a mix of cocoa and lucuma, as you would for a chocolate truffle! Those healthy chocolatey truffle melt in the mouth and done in the Thermomix, they are smooth and fudgey… Plus super packed with everything you need to walk all day with 8 kg of back-pack!
Store in a metal box. They can keep for weeks but they will not last that long.

We were walking from Santiago de Compostella to Finisterre, the “end of the world” – or at least the extreme western point of Europe!

IMG_9698_2 IMG_9791_2

 Postscript: You can find Lucuma powder in Peru -but also at your nearest Wholefoods store. It is rich in B vitamins and has a high protein content. It tastes a bit sweet and chocolatey so goes really well with cocoa and orange!

Dainty chesnut and whipped cream mont-blancs

IMG_8545

Once you have mastered the art of tempering your chocolate , a whole world of sweet opportunities opens up!

Here I have just used melted chocolate (tempered to a T!) to brush inside mini silicone cup cake cases in order to produce my mini version of the so iconic and delicious Mont-blanc pudding!

Once the inside of the cup is brushed several times with chocolate, let it cool. Delicately peel off the silicone cup and you are left with a nice chocolate shell ready to fill as you please.

I have used Clement Faugier “Creme de Marrons” and topped it up with Chantilly made in my siphon: 500ml single cream, 1 sachet of vanilla sugar and a drop of dark rum. Put the cartridge in. Shake the siphon and start spraying!

The top is decorated with a chocolate coffee bean. Delicious combination.

I love my new ISI Gourmet Whip bought last summer and I have to stop myself making Chantilly at every opportunity…

Tempering and producing your own Christmas chocolates…

IMG_2927…is much easier than I first though possible! Once I mastered my secret weapon… And the thrill of offering your own homemade chocolate is … well… a THRILL!

A few attempts and several recipes later, I can give you my very first and almost foolproof recipe for gorgeous and velvety homemade chocolates. The glossy squares in the picture encase a delicious strawberry ganache. But if raspberries are easier to come by, they will do just as well. If you are running short of presents, you have got a week to master this.

These recipes are adapted for the Thermomix and I have to say, this machine really allows you to quickly temper chocolate almost as well as a professional tempering device. There. I have said it: I am never trying anything else again…

For the strawberry purée:

  • 200 g strawberries, fresh or frozen
  • 20 g granulated sugar
  1. Heat the strawberries and sugar 6 minutes/80°C/Speed 3/Reverse Blade Direction (using reverse blade stops the strawberry pips breaking up/splitting and releasing any bitterness). Pass through a fine sieve or muslin cloth into a small bowl and set aside. Squeeze by hand to get as much purée as possible or press with the back of a spoon.

For the chocolate ganache:

  • 130 g whipping cream (37% butterfat)
  • 130 g strawberry purée
  • 4 drops strawberry essential oil OR ½ tsp natural strawberry extract
  • 650 g good milk chocolate callets/chips/drops OR milk chocolate bars broken into 1 cm pieces
  1. In a clean TM bowl heat the cream and strawberry purée 8 minutes/60°C/Speed 2.
  2. Add the chocolate and melt 3 minutes/50°C/Speed 2.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the TM bowl with the spatula, then melt again 5 minutes/37°C/Speed 2. Pour the chocolate mixture into a frame or tray lined with clingfilm 1 cm deep. Allow to set at room temperature overnight then place in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours. Cut into desired shapes and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

This recipe comes curtesy of the Thermomix website and the following is pinched from Thermochoc.com. It works a dream.

Tempering the chocolate

Thermomix method

Ingredient:

▪   500g high quality chocolate, broken into small pieces

  1. Pulse the chocolate on Turbo for 5-6 seconds, to turn it into pieces about the size of crushed hazelnuts, this helps it to melt evenly.
  2. Take out about half the chocolate and put to one side.
  3. Heat the remaining chocolate on 50 degrees, speed 2 for 6 minutes. This will take it up to about 46-48 degrees.
  4. Add the remaining chocolate and mix on speed 2 for 6 minutes. This will take it down to about 28-29 degrees, and the chocolate might look like it’s starting to lump.
  5. Heat at 37 degrees for 30 seconds on speed 3. This will take the chocolate up to about 32-33 degrees, which is a good temperature to use.

Your chocolate should now be tempered. Which basically means that each molecule is back into place et your chocolate will now have a snappy texture and a glossy appearance- So tempering is a little bit like putting together lego blogs!

Keep the pan in a bigger one full of hot (not boiling) water so you can keep it at melting temperature while you work with it.

Cut up squares from the cooled strawberry ganache and dip them into the tempered chocolate. Remove carefully and leave to dry onto a silpat or grease proof paper. While still soft, you can decorate with a violet or a rose petal dipped in sugar- avalaible from delicatessens or baking supplies.

IMG_8545With thanks to www.thermochoc.com