Friday, 19 September 2014

Getting Passionate about Caramels

The master at work, not me
The name Rococo for me conjures up images of sophisticated but slightly quirky chocolate luxury; a company steered by a woman who is thoroughly immersed in the world of fine chocolate. Chantal Coady is a name to be revered, she understands chocolate like few others. She is a chocolate pioneer and when she founded Rococo back in 1983, most of us in the UK had no idea what real chocolate was. Real Chocolate written by Chantal in 2003 was the first chocolate book I ever owned; reading the background and history of this most wonderful of substances, got me hooked (if it was possible to be even more hooked than I already was).

Rococo have teamed up with the kitchen expert Magnet to make a number of exquisite chocolates in one of their kitchens and have produced videos to show us how it's done. In this YouTube video, principal chocolatier Barry Johnson makes Passion Fruit and Rosemary Caramels in the Integra White range at the Magnet Kensington Showroom. It's an eleven minute step by step guide showing how to produce elegant chocolates including essential techniques such as how to use a mould, make caramel and those all-important finishing touches that delight the eye.

The flavours of passionfruit and rosemary had my mouth watering as soon as I heard about them. I adore passionfruit and when it is combined well with chocolate, it's a real treat. The addition of the robust earthiness of rosemary is a great balancer to the fruity, tangy sweetness of the passionfruit. I had to have a go. As the video didn't include quantities, I took an educated guess and the caramels worked out fine. I was only able to find one passionfruit, which wasn't really enough, so I ended up with only eight caramels and some leftover tempered chocolate. For the 100g of dark chocolate couverture I used, a double quantity of the passionfruit and rosemary caramel would have been perfect, making sixteen large chocolates instead of only eight.

Following the video, but with a few tweaks to adapt to what I had in the kitchen, this is how I made:

Passionfruit and Rosemary Caramel Chocolates 

  • Using a paintbrush, lightly dusted chocolate moulds with silvery gold glitter as I didn't have the means for Barry's method.
  • Tempered 100g of Costa Rica origin 71% dark chocolate.
  • Coated the sides and bottoms of 16 chocolate moulds (I was being hopeful and only had enough filling for 8). Left to set.
  • Pressed the insides of 1 large passionfruit through a sieve into a small pan.
  • Added 1 tsp of glucose syrup and a few needles of freshly picked and washed rosemary.
  • Heated over a low temperature until warm, then left to infuse for an hour.
  • Heated a heavy bottomed pan over a medium to high heat, then poured in 50g golden granulated sugar. Left to caramelise and turn a light reddish brown.
  • Removed from the heat and stirred in the passionfruit, mixing vigorously as I did so.
  • Added 15g of unsalted butter, followed by 25g of a good 41% milk chocolate and mixed until smooth.
  • Left to cool, then spooned into the moulds, leaving a 2mm gap at the top.
  • Left for a couple of hours to set.
  • Topped the moulds with the liquid tempered chocolate and left to set.
  • Removed with great care.

My attempt at cutting neatly in half
My chocolates may not have been as accomplished as Barry Johnson, but I was impressed with the results. The chocolate was tempered, with a good snap and a beautiful shine. In fact they were so shiny, they were virtually impossible to photograph. The chocolate was a high quality bar of Costa Rica origin 71% that I picked up at the Waterford Food Festival and it tasted delicious - rich and fruity but with no bitterness. The caramel was exquisite. It had a smooth soft texture and the flavours of sweet tart passionfruit, a hint or rosemary and rich chocolate melded perfectly. One of the points Barry mentions in the video is to be careful the caramel is well sealed by the chocolate as you don't want it to leak out. I not only managed this, but also achieved a thin chocolate shell so the caramel was enhanced rather than overwhelmed.

So if you're planning on holding a dinner party or need something special to wow friends and family, why not try making these mouth-watering Passion Fruit & Rosemary Caramels. Even if you don't, watch the video anyway - it's so interesting to see the process and watch a top chocolatier at work in a clean and tidy kitchen.

This is a sponsored post. I was not asked to write a positive review and as always any opinions expressed are my own.

As these chocolates contain a caramel flavoured with fresh rosemary, I am entering them into Karen's Cooking with Herbs over at Lavender and Lovage. Mediterranean herbs are this month's theme.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Blackberry and White Chocolate Melts

Blackberry Cakes
When leafing through Chantal Coady's book Rococo: mastering the art of chocolate a few weeks ago, I was struck by her recipe for White Chocolate Heartbreakers - a white chocolate cake served warm with a melting raspberry and white chocolate middle - rather like a chocolate fondant. I bookmarked it straight away as I thought it would be an excellent dessert for the upcoming blackberry season, producing a surprise purple melting middle rather than a pink one.

Blackberry and White Chocolate Cakes
This was the first time I made a recipe from this book. Annoyingly it was not watertight; the quantities used were inconsistent and some of the methodology didn't make sense. In fact, I suspect the book suffers from being poorly edited, which is a shame as it's a marvellous book with lots of fabulous recipe ideas. The index is a shambles. I couldn't find this recipe indexed under raspberries for instance - in fact I couldn't find it in the index at all. Warning: the recipe uses an awful lot of white chocolate and I only made half the amount! I ended up with 25g of stray chocolate that was unaccounted for in the recipe, so having already cut it up, I incorporated it anyway.  I envisaged the white chocolate would caramelise at the base (which it did), so I put the stray chocolate on the top, hoping it would do the same (which it did). I made the full quantity of the surprise centre as I had designs on it for another recipe - my chocolate blackberry cake. This had to be made the night before to allow the mixture to freeze (except it didn't).

This is how I made:

Blackberry and White Chocolate Melts

  • Puréed 125g blackberries with a stick blender, then pressed through a sieve to extract the seeds.
  • Melted 80g white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water.
  • Added the purée to the bowl and stirred until combined.
  • Filled six ice-cube trays with the mixture and put the remains in the fridge for future use. Froze the mixture overnight.
  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a pan over gently heat. 
  • Removed from the heat and added 100g chopped white chocolate. Left for a few minutes then stirred until melted and smooth.
  • Beat in 2 smallish duck eggs (2 largish hens eggs), one at a time with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt and ½ tsp vanilla extract.
  • Sifted in 60g self-raising flour along with 50g ground almonds and stirred gently to incorporate.
  • Chopped another 100g of white chocolate into small pieces and added 50g to the batter. 
  • Distributed about 25g of the chopped chocolate between 6 silicone muffin moulds.
  • Covered the chocolate with a spoonful of batter. Placed a frozen blackberry ganache on top of each one, then covered with the remaining batter.
  • Topped with a blackberry and the remaining chopped chocolate.
  • Baked at 160℃ for 30 minutes when the cakes were risen and golden.

Blackberry Volcano Cakes
Not everything went according to plan and I have a few quibbles with the recipe. The ganache didn't freeze for a start, so it was difficult to remove from the ice-cube tray. However, the result was still fabulous and these little puds are a decadent and delicious dessert I'd be happy to serve up at any dinner party. As envisaged, the white chocolate base and top caramelised giving another layer of flavour and texture to these gorgeous little puds. The blackberry ganache was a star, even though it erupted all over the cakes and didn't come out as a neat melting pool of purpleness in the middle. Blackberry and white chocolate volcano cakes would be a more appropriate name and one I shall use next time. Do let me know if you have any more success with the melts than I did.

I'm sending this off to Bookmarked Recipes with Jac over at Tinned Tomatoes.

As purple is the theme for Vegetable Palatte this month, I'm also sending these off to Shaheen  over at Allotment 2 Kitchen.

Anything goes for Treat Petite with Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer this month and as it's their first anniversary something special is required. So these blackberry and white chocolate melts are being shared with them too.

I've rather neglected Bake of the Week recently, so I am sending this off to Casa Costella while I remember.

Likewise, I haven't entered Recipe of the Week for a while either. So A Mummy Too also benefits from one of these Blackberry Volcano Cakes ;-)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Apple and White Chocolate Tarts

We had a wonderful time last week, jaunting off for an evening picnic with friends at Helligan Gardens followed by a production of Dead Dog in a Suitcase by the multi talented and much loved Kneehigh Theatre.

As I wanted something a little elegant for such an occasion and had a load of apples that needed using up, I decided to make some apple tarts. Since discovering the fabulous yogurt pastry I used for my rhubarb and almond cream pasty pie earlier this year, there's been no looking back. It's easy to make, easy to use, has a great taste and texture and doesn't crack when rolling. Being in a bit of a hurry, I forgot to add the white chocolate, so I ended up adding the chocolate to the apple puree part of the tart instead. This worked brilliantly, so I'm glad I made the initial mistake. The tarts looked good and tasted even better. The apple puree had a lovely creamy texture and vanilla flavour due to the white chocolate, which contrasted well with the crisp unsweetened pastry and the apple slices on top.

This is how I made:

Yogurt Pastry

  • Rubbed 150g salted butter into 260g flour (half wholemeal spelt, half plain white) until the mixture resembled breadcrumbs.
  • Stirred in 3 tbsp yogurt until the mixture clumped together.
  • Brought it into a ball with my hands and left to rest for an hour before rolling.
I used about a third of the pastry for the tarts and used the rest in a roasted squash, runner bean, blue cheese and walnut tart which I also made for the picnic.

September's Four Seasons is all about getting fruity, so I am sending these double apple tarts off to Louisa at Extra Veg and Anneli at Delicieux.

print recipe
Apple & White Chocolate Tarts
Individual apple tarts with a base of vanillary apple puree and white chocolate topped with apple slices and glazed with apple jelly.
  • shortcrust pastry (mine was homemade) - enough for 6 x 10 cm tart tins
  • 4 windfall apples
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vanilla sugar (golden caster)
  • 30g vanillary white chocolate (I used Green & Blacks)
  • 1 drop nutmeg extract
  • 3 dessert apples
  • 1 tbsp apple jelly
1. Roll the shortcrust as thin as possible and line the tart cases. Blind bake at 180C for 10 mins.2. Peel, core and dice the windfall apples being sure to cut out any bad bits.3. Cook over low heat with a splash of water and the vanilla sugar until soft.4. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate and nutmeg. Stir until the chocolate has dissolved and the apples are roughly pureed. 5. Divide this between the six tart cases, ensuring they are all covered.6. Quarter and core the dessert apples, then slice thinly. Top the tarts with the apple slices, then sprinkle with a little vanilla sugar.7. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes or until the apples are soft and slightly caramelised.8. Warm the apple jelly in a pan and brush over the hot apples. Leave the tarts to cool.
Total time: Yield: 6


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