Thursday, 31 July 2014

Chocolate Treats

It's been a while since I did a round-up of Chocolate Treats. I've had a few sent to me over the last several months and now feels like a good time to let you know about them all.

Food of the Gods

Cornish Raw Chocolate
Cornwall is starting to produce some fabulous and innovative chocolate. I've already highlighted some of our chocolate producers, but Food of the Gods has only recently come to my attention. Based down at the other end of Cornwall to me, in St Just, this is an exciting new enterprise. Owner and chocolate maker Dal Hall loves his chocolate, but didn't like eating all the associated sugar and additives that comes with most mass produced bars. Initially running a few raw chocolate workshops for people with mental health problems and seeing the joy it brought them, he decided to start making his own raw chocolate whilst carrying on the day job. Ethics are important and Dal's chocolate is made using organic and fairly traded ingredients. There are only three things in the base chocolate, cocoa solids, cocoa butter and unusually, date syrup. I was particularly interested in this latter ingredient as it appeals far more to me than agave syrup or Sweet Freedom - the only two sweeteners I've so far been aware of. Date syrup is a more natural ingredient, being less highly processed and containing fibre, potassium and antioxidants.

Cornish Raw Chocolate
The chocolate is 96% cocoa, leaving only 4% to be sweetened by the date syrup. This makes it the healthiest raw chocolate I know as well as the darkest. I was sent three bars to try: one with cocoa nibs, one with mixed nuts and one with rose petals, goji berries and something chocolatey. The something chocolatey is a bit of a mystery as none of the bars had labels on them. However it tasted very nice. In fact both CT and I enjoyed this chocolate very much. Although it's barely sweet and very rich and dark, it's surprisingly easy to eat. It's not at all bitter and you can really taste the chocolate. The texture is also much better than the raw chocolate I've made myself; it's less soft and almost has a bit of a snap to it. It is, however, quite chewy, so better munched than left to gradually melt in the mouth. The nut bar was probably my favourite, even though I was quite taken by the rose which had a subtle flavour with burst of fruitiness from the berries.

This Food of the Gods is by far and away the most exciting raw chocolate I've yet come across and I wish Dal every success with his venture.

The chocolate is available online and at selected outlets in Cornwall, one of which is happily Trevallicks, the farm shop in my home village. Online it costs £2.75 for a 60g bar including P&P.


Fig Pistachio Chocolates
Italian food has to be one of the best in the world, it's certainly one of my favourites. Finding authentic high quality Italian ingredients isn't always easy. Vorrei are a new online Italian food shop selling products ethically sourced from small scale Italian suppliers and farms. I noticed many of their products are organic too - bene. I was glad to see they have a particularly pleasing chocolate selection.

Giuliette (Colavolpe) - dried oven-baked figs, walnuts, sugar, cocoa butter, Bronte pistachios, powdered milk, lactose and milk proteins, flavouring, soy lecithin, colouring E131.
The Colavolpe family have been making figgy confections now for three generations. Based in Calabria, one of their signature ingredients is the dottato fig, a small but tasty variety that grows particularly well in that region.

Colavolpe Giuliette
I adore figs and pistachios both, so these little parcels of sumptuousness all wrapped up in white chocolate are just the sort of thing likely to appeal to me. The dried figs are stuffed with a mixture of walnuts, pistachios and white chocolate, then enrobed in more white chocolate. Despite the minimal amount of pistachio in the filling, (only 5%), the flavour was still detectable. I would prefer a higher percentage of pistachio myself and for the food colouring to be omitted. That aside, I enjoyed these so much I really didn't want to share; poor CT didn't get much of a look in. The outer chocolate is a good foil for the richer chewy fig within. I found the packaging almost as appealing. Wrapped individually in pistachio coloured foil lined paper, the figs nestled in a similarly coloured box.

A box of 12, weighing 250g costs £10.50.

Betty and Walter

Inspired by the names of Betty and Walter bags and accessories, Creighton's Chocolaterie have created a limited range of chocolate bars to complement them. I was sent one of their bars to try. When the box arrived I didn't know which of the four flavours I was going to get. All of them sounded interesting, especially the fig and pink pepper dark chocolate. But secretly my heart yearned for rose. I've had an affinity with rose ever since I was a nipper and was dressed up as the Fry's Turkish Delight girl for our village carnival one year. And as I've said before, this queen of flowers reminds me of my grandad who was passionate about his roses and won awards for them every year.

Beautifully packaged, the chocolate came with a personalised label which immediately endeared Betty and Walter to me and made me smile.

Almond Rose Chocolate
Almond and Rose Milk Chocolate - (33.6%) sugar, cocoa butter, while milk powder, cocoa mass, soya lecithin, vanilla, almonds, rose oil.
I was so enamoured by the anticipation of not knowing what I was going to get and later by the look, sound and scent of this bar, that I took it in stages. I made the whole seductive process of looking, smelling, touching and finally tasting, last as long as I could. In a nutshell: day one, I received it; day two I unwrapped the outer packaging ; day 3, I unwrapped the inner packaging and tasted the chocolate.

Wrapped in greaseproof paper emblazoned with Creighton's chocolaterie interspersed with yum, I found this to be a classy way of wrapping the chocolate. As soon as the outer layer of plastic was taken off, the evocative scent of rose assailed my nostrils. But what of the chocolate? Thankfully, it tasted delightfully of rose too. The bar was sweet, but whilst I'm not generally a fan of very sweet chocolate, it somehow works with rose. The crunchy pieces of almond gave added texture and interest. Once started, CT got in on the act and the bar didn't last very long at all.

At £3.50 for a 100g bar, this is well worth the money,for the pure anticipatory joy, if nothing else.

Seed and Bean

Seed & Been Chocolate
Seed and Bean is a company I approve of. I've reviewed some of their 85g chocolate bars before and here too; the chocolate is both tasty and of good quality. They also come in a range of interesting flavours. But more than that, they are organically certified by the Soil Association and the only UK chocolate company to receive 100% ethical accreditation from The Ethical Company Organisation. This means, in their own words "we give a really fair deal to cocoa farmers, whilst fully respecting the rural environment, both in the UK and overseas".

Cornish Sea Salt - (70% dark chocolate) - cocoa mass, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, smoked sea salt, soya lecithin, vanilla extract.
With my patriotic Cornish hat on, I was very pleased to see that Seed and Bean were using Cornish sea salt in another of their bars. The chocolate is smooth and melts sumptuously in the mouth. It's not in the least bit bitter, which is generally a sign of good quality dark chocolate. I'm unable to eat more than a square of some sea salted bars I've tried as they are just too salty, but here the salt takes a supporting role. There is a subtle note of smokiness that enriches the experience. This is a bar to savour and delight in.

Lavender - (72% dark chocolate) - cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract, lavender oil soya lecithin, .
Lavender is one of those flavours that you either like or dislike. Liking most things herbal, I'm rather partial to it as long as it's not too overpowering. This one is quite strong, the scent emanates from the bar as soon as it is opened and you can certainly taste the lavender. Both CT and I felt it was a bit too much and thus better suited to baking into a chocolate lavender cake than savouring on its own. Lavender, I've found works very nicely in this form as demonstrated by this chocolate lavender cake.

Prices for these 85g bars are around £2.30.


Naga Chilli Chocolate
Scotland's first chilli farm has a name that immediately appeals to me. It's no secret, I am a chilli head; next to our garlic, chillies are the most important crop we grow. Chillilicious not only has the distinction of being the most northerly chilli farm in Europe, but it is run by a team of women. Mother and daughter, Patricia and Stacey Galfskiy grow chillies in an environmentally sustainable way and make a variety of products from them. One such is a chocolate bar using the infamous naga -  the world's hottest chilli.

Hot Chilli Chocolate
Heaven & Hell - (dark chocolate, 53.8% cocoa) cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla. (white chocolate, 28%) sugar, cocoa butter , whole milll powder, soya lecithin, natural vanilla. Naga chilli.
A mix of dark and white chocolate, this bar is topped by dried naga chilli and swirled artfully together, it looks very attractive. The dark chocolate contains the chilli as well as being topped by it. The idea is that the white chocolate soothes the mouth after eating the fiery dark part. Chilli fiend that I am, I was slightly concerned about trying this bar - I had heard stories. Well, it didn't quite blow my head of, but it nearly did. My throat caught fire almost immediatly after the chocolate hit my mouth. But the sensation of hot chilli together with both dark and sweet white chocolate is quite exciting. Not something I'd want every day, but as an occasional wake up, it's an experience worth having.

Available from the Chillilicious online shop at £4 for a 100g bar.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Fasulye with Dukkah Roasted Tofu

Street food in the UK, I'm very glad to say, is on the up and up. Hot dogs and burgers made with cheap and often unhealthy ingredients are making way for fresher and more vibrant fare. With this in mind Cauldron Foods are challenging bloggers to create a street food recipe using one of their vegetarian products. Cauldron Cumberland sausages have long been a favourite of mine, but I am less familiar with their tofu. Sausages, I thought would be too easy, so I opted for the tofu.

But, the big question was, what would I do with it? In the end it was easy. I had a first picking of French beans (very exciting) and some tomatoes in need of using up. I decided to make a dryish version of taze fasulye, a Turkish dish otherwise known as green bean and tomato stew and top it with roasted tofu. Served in a split wholemeal pitta bread, this would make perfect street food I reckoned - healthy, tasty and attractive. As it happened, we ate ours at home atop a bed of brown rice, another street food option, though not quite as convenient.

Last year I made chocolate dukkah for a six course chocolate dinner and it was a roaring success. As I'd made quite a big batch of it, I froze it in little tubs and have been using it ever since. Dukkah is an Egyptian blend of coarsely ground nuts, seeds, spices and herbs that is traditionally used, along with a bowl of olive oil, to dunk bread in. It also makes a good dip for quails eggs and works well added to roasted vegetables. It was time to try it out with tofu.

Having tried it, I could only wonder why I hadn't done so before. It's a fabulous way to cook tofu. Luckily, as I'm unable to source this product in town, I bought an extra pack, so this will be appearing on our supper table again very soon. In fact the whole meal was delicious. Fasulye makes a regular appearance on our table at this time of year, but I've never eaten it with tofu before. The flavours and textures are complementary and it makes for a filling and satisfying dish.

I am of course entering this into the Cauldron Street Food Competition - you never know the £200 prize might be mine!

Vanesther over at Bangers & Mash is allowing us to use whatever spice we want for this month's Spice Trail. I have used chilli in my fasulye so am submitting that.

The basil was a last minute inspiration and I'm so glad I used it as it gave yet another welcome dimension to this dish. Having used it, I am sending my fasulye off to Karen at Lavender and Lovage who is looking for beautiful basil for her Cooking with Herbs event.

The beans and garlic are both home grown and the basil and tomatoes were in our occasional veg box. As such I'm entering my fasulye to Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary for her Shop Local.

As the tomatoes were in dire need of being used up, I'm also sending the fasulye off to Anne's Kitchen who is hosting this month's No Waste Food Challenge on behalf of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary.

Using home grown produce as well as my tip for making dukkah in a large batch and freezing it in small portions makes this eligible for Credit Crunch Munch. This is being hosted by Sarah of Maison Cupcake on behalf of Helen over at Fuss Free Flavours and Camilla over at Fab Food 4 All.

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Chocolate Dukkah
Chocolate Dukkah
An Egyptian coarse textured nut, seed, spice and herb blend with added cocoa for extra depth and richness. Traditionally used as a dip for bread, having first been dunked in olive oil.
  • 100g sesame seeds
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 25g cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 25g cocoa powder
1. Dry roast the hazelnuts in a hot oven for about 5 minutes, then remove their skins by rubbing with a clean tea towel.2. Dry fry the sesame seeds until fragrant and just starting to brown.3.Dry fry the coriander seeds followed by the cumin seeds until lightly browned.4. When all of the above have called down, throw all ingredients into a coffee grinder and blend to a coarse powder.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 1 jar

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Green Bean Tomato Stew
Taze Fasulye with Roasted Tofu
My quick version of a Turkish dish of green beans stewed in tomatoes with some added spice. Tofu roasted in Egyptian dukkah is sprinkled on the top. Can be served in pitta bread or on a bed of rice.
  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 - 5 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 400g tomatoes (or use a tin of chopped ones)
  • 1 fresh red chilli - deseeded if less heat desired and finely chopped
  • 1 Kg French beans (or other green beans) - topped and tailed
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 396g block fresh tofu - drained (I used Cauldron)
  • 3 tsp soy sauce (I use tamari)
  • 1 heaped tbsp dukkah
  • a few sprigs basil leaves - torn
1. Stir 1 clove of chopped garlic, the soya sauce and dukkah into the tofu and leave to marinade for 30 minutes.2. Place 2 tbsp of olive oil in a roasting tray and warm in the oven. Add the tofu and turn the pieces so they are all covered in oil. Roast at 200℃ for about 20 minutes until golden.3. Meanwhile roughly chop the tomatoes.4. In a large pan, fry the remaining garlic and chilli in the oil over moderate heat for a minute. Add the tomatoes and leave to cook for five minutes or so.5. Meanwhile, cut the beans into pieces about 4 cm long, then boil in some salted water until nearly tender (about 3 minutes). Drain the beans, but reserve the water.6. Add the beans with a little of the water to the tomatoes along with the honey (do not add water if using tinned toms). Cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce shouldn't be too wet.7. Serve with the tofu scattered over the top of the fasulya, then scatter with torn basil.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings

I was sent a £2 voucher from Cauldron Foods to buy one of their products. There was no requirement to right a positive review and as always, all opinions are my own.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Chocolate Sundae Royale - We Should Cocoa #47

Chocolate Blackcurrant Sundae
When Mõvenpick asked their fifteen favourite bloggers (of which I'm one!) to create a sundae using their ice-cream, perhaps unsurprisingly my thoughts jumped to chocolate. I was planning on an All Chocolate Sundae project using dark and white chocolate ice-cream, chocolate brownies and chocolate sauce. However, the plan was hijacked by these blackcurrants. Adding cassis to champagne makes for a Kir Royale, so I reasoned that adding blackcurrants to my chocolate sundae would not only enhance it, but make it fit for a monarch - a Chocolate Sundae Royale, no less.

Mõvenpick ice cream takes me straight back to Switzerland where I was a teenage au pair. Country bumpkin that I was, I found the ice-cream parlour serving Mõvenpick sundaes to be amazingly glamourous. My introduction consisted of a magnificent affair with 15 balls of differently flavoured ice-cream - I remember it well. So when I was sent two tubs of their ice-cream, two sundae glasses and matching spoons, I was all set to relive my dissolute youth. I chose Swiss Chocolate which not only tasted of rich dark chocolate but also contained generous amounts of Swiss chocolate shavings; I paired it with a contrasting creamy White Chocolate containing chunks of white chocolate. Both were way too tasty and the leftovers didn't hang around in our freezer for very long. These two, along with eight other flavours, can be purchased in 900g tubs from Ocado.

The ever-inspiring Elizabeth is hosting We Should Cocoa this month over at Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary. She has chosen chocolate ice cream and toppings recipes - you can do either or both. Ice-cream in July is becoming a bit of a tradition. Do have a look at the July 2013 We Should Cocoa ice-cream round up. Well I knew I was going to be getting some chocolate ice-cream, so I needed to come up with something particularly good for a topping.

CT gave me a most wonderful book for my birthday, Mast Brothers Chocolate: a family cookbook by Rick & Michael Mast. The book is full of dark and luscious recipes along with stories of their bean to bar chocolate making adventures. A recipe for hot caramel fudge sauce caught my eye and I knew that was the one I wanted to use for my sundae and my entry to We Should Cocoa.

This is how I made:

Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Chocolate Caramel Sauce
  • Melted ¼ a cup of golden caster sugar in a pan over medium heat, then allowed to simmer for a couple of minutes until it turned a bronzy colour. Removed from the heat.
  • Meanwhile heated ½ cup of double cream in a separate pan with ½ tsp of vanilla extract until hot.
  • Poured the cream into the caramel and stirred hard until all was smooth.
  • Added 100g chopped 70% dark chocolate and stirred until melted.
  • At this point my caramel ganache separated out, so I heated a ¼ cup of cream and poured this in, stirring carefully. Thankfully this worked and I had a thick but beautifully smooth and shiny warm chocolate caramel sauce.

This is how I made:

Blackcurrant Sauce

Blackcurrant Sauce
  • Simmered 150g blackcurrants with 75 ml water for about ten minutes to soften the fruit.
  • Pressed the mixture through a sieve, extracting as much juice as possible. Threw the remaining pulp in the compost.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp of icing sugar.
Chocolate Blackcurrant Sundae
Pride comes before a fall, but I think this might be one of the best sundaes I've ever eaten - maybe because I had it for breakfast! Not normally one for sweet foods in the morning, I reckon this was my most decadent breakfast ever. My excuse was simple: I had to make it early in the morning whilst the light was best for photographic purposes and before the house heated up too much. Different layers, textures, tastes and temperatures made a sundae surprise to keep us guessing - we were never quite sure what was coming in the next mouthful. Blackcurrant was an inspired addition; it had a punchy piquancy and the tart fruit cut through the richness of the chocolate and cream. A slug of cassis could easily be added to the blackcurrant sauce to make this even more decadent than it already is.

This Chocolate Sundae Royale is my entry to the Mõvenpick Ice Cream Blogger Competition. The creator of the favoured recipe wins a two-hour masterclass with the Langham's head pastry chef, Cherish Finden, followed by afternoon tea for two at the Palm Court. Fingers crossed.

You can see some of the other entries here:
Appropriately enough given the hot weather, this month's Family Foodies event is Chill Out, Baby, making my sundae eminently suitable (although it might be best to omit the optional cassis). It is hosted this time by Vanesther of Bangers & Mash and is hosted alternately with Lou of Eat Your Veg.

This month's Blogger Scream for Ice Cream over at Kavey Eats is all about holidays. Well, the Swiss sundaes that inspired this were not exactly holiday related - I don't think I've ever worked so hard as I did when I was an au pair. My entry is, however, travel related, so I hope it counts.

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Blackcurrant Chocolate Sundae
Chocolate Sundae Royale
A decedent chocolate ice-cream extravaganza made with dark and white chocolate ice-creams, chocolate caramel sauce, blackcurrant brownies and some blackcurrant sauce to cut through the richness.
  • 2 blackcurrant brownies - quartered
  • 6 small scoops white chocolate ice-cream
  • 4 small scoops Swiss chocolate ice-cream
  • ½ cup hot caramel fudge sauce (see above)
  • ¼ cup blackcurrant sauce (with an optional slug of added cassis for extra decadence)
1. Place one of the brownie quarters at the bottom of each sundae glass.2. Top with a scoop of white chocolate ice-cream followed by some of the chocolate sauce.3. Add 2 scoops of Swiss chocolate ice-cream followed by the remaining brownie quarters.4. Top with 2 scoops of white chocolate ice-cream, then drizzle the chocolate and blackcurrent sauces over the top until they flow down the sides.
Yield: 2


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