Theobroma Cacao


Today is a day of many things…today I handed in my dissertation proposal, along with many others, and i’m actually very excited about it. Today, I spent over an hour reading about chocolate, which i’m actually addicted to at the moment (reading, not chocolate). I bought the most amazing book last year, the Green & Blacks chocolate cookbook. I think honestly that it’s the most amazing investment i’ve made in cookbook terms, maybe minus my James Martin’s Dessert book if i’m being truly honest. Today, is a day of celebration, because I got my first 500 views! *cue balloons, whistles, bells, drums, confetti and such like*. It’s pretty sad that I got excited when I saw, I know, but…I don’t care! Hehe. I’m actually having a lot of fun writing this, and hopefully some people are having fun reading this.

But really, there is something so satisfying about learning about all this stuff, through all the waves of chocolate that is found everywhere, it’s so refreshing to find something that’s really gone back to basics, learning about where it comes from and how it’s made into the high percentage bars of chocolate that’s sold on the shelf. 
 
For instance, I did not know that Green & Blacks was the first product to be awarded the fairtrade mark in supermarkets in the UK (and it was the Maya Gold flavour, nom). How’s that for knowledge! In all fairness, it’s on the ‘About’ page on their website, it’s not like I did tonnes of trawling the internet. Also found that you have to melt chocolate at different speeds so as to not ruin the taste and texture, so, dark chocolate takes a little longer to melt than milk or white, but if you let it bubble it turns it gritty and rubbish, so you have to keep it on a double boiler, whereas milk and white just kinda do there own thing and melt within seconds, but, you shouldn’t let those bubble either because the milk chocolate turns gritty and bitter and the cocao butter in the white chocolate splits and it goes super acidic.
 
I’ve always being quite partial to a bit of dark chocolate, it tastes better, you can use it in everything, savoury and sweet (my chilis just don’t taste quite right without it) and it’s just incredibly indulgent. I love it. And it always intrigues me how some amazing chocolatiers can manipulate it in such a manner, it’s an art, as cheesy as it sounds. I must have spent about 3 hours looking at different specialist chocolatiers in the UK, one of the best being Rococo in London, and how they make all these different truffles and cakes and sweets. I hope that one day I can get to even a quarter of their skill! While we are in the realms of truffles, i’ll leave you with a recipe for Green & Black’s chocolate truffles.
 
NB: You can make these with pretty much all the flavours that they do, but if you want smooth truffles, Maya Gold, Mint, Espresso or just plain dark, anything over 85% is pushing it for the bitterness for me, but if it’s your taste, go for it!
 
Green & Black’s Truffles
From my trusted Green & Black’s cookbook
Servings vary, depending on your desired size of Truffle!
275g dark chocolate, in whatever flavour you’ve chosen
250ml double cream
50g unsalted butter, at room temperature
Cocoa powder 
 
For starters, put your chocolate (broken into pieces) in a large bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour it over your chocolate, when stirring, try not to let it slosh and make too many bubbles, or your truffles will have air bubbles.
 
Leave to cool for a few minutes and add the butter in 2 stages, after this, it should look glossy and beautiful.
 
Leave it in the fridge for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Take the ganache out the fridge approximately 15 minutes before you want to make the truffles, it’s hard to scoop out the bowl when it’s too cold, and it’s even more difficult to keep them together when they’re melting.
 
Make sure your hands are cold and dry and dust them with cocoa. Then it’s just a case of taking spoonfuls of mixture and rolling it lightly in your hands, keep it rustic though, it’s how they were meant to be made! 
 
Put a few tablespoons of cocoa in a bowl and drop each one in, dusting any excess by kind of playing hot potato with them. Then stick them in the fridge. 
 
They’re lush, and i’ve made them loads, the Maya Gold ones are especially nice!
There is very little troubleshooting with this recipe, as there aren’t many stages or ingredients, but if your truffles look like theyre going to split (it sometimes happens because of the high fat content of the cream), if you have a food processor, give it a few pulses, if not, stir it vigourously for a minute or so and it should be fine!
 
But onwards with the post, if you ever want to check out the Rococo website (http://rococochocolates.com/), it’s not very frilly or particularly exciting (in terms of bells and whistles and video) but it’s got some good information, and if you’re ever in the area, you can go look at all the yummy expensive chocolate. 
 
If your budget is a little less then what they’re offering, try Hotel Chocolat (http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/), it’s not exactly ‘Bargain Basement’ cheap, but if you want to treat yourself to some luxury without re-mortgaging your house, it’s a pretty safe bet. I may have accidentily ordered four big boxes last Christmas (oops!), and me and my family (namely my Dad, I know you took all the good ones!) had a nice time picking on some really well made chocolate. It’s good for Christmas presents too, it’s a little bit different from Thorntons, and there are quite a few shops dotted around. The liquid chocolate that you stir into milk is pretty sexy too.
 
Well, as this is a celebration of not only reaching 500 views, but of chocolate in all it’s glory, I shall leave you with an awesome recipe for crinkle cookies. They are like brownies in the middle and get a glaze on the outside not too dissimilar to Krispy Kreme Donuts, and well…it’s hard to resist after that.
 
Jess’ Trusted Crinkle Cookie Recipe
Makes 20 decent sized cookies.
175g good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
175g plain flour
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract
Icing sugar
 
Put your oven at 160C degree/gas mark 4.
Melt your chocolate and butter over a double boiler (with a bowl over boiling water) gently, and set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and half a teaspoon of salt.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until pale, and add the chocolate mix and the vanilla extract slowly.
Add the flour mixture and mix thoroughly, cover the bowl then leave in the fridge to chill from anything from 2 hours up to 4 days…2 hours is fine though.
Take the mixture and shape into little balls, toss them generously in icing sugar and lay on a lined baking sheet, use the heel of your hand to flatten them just a little.
To get crisp edges and soft centres 12-15 minutes is fine.
Leave to cool a little, then transfer to a cooling rack.
 
 
This picture is stolen off the internet, but they do look exactly like that!
 
They are very nice warm, but I honestly prefer them when they are completely cool, even chilled a bit, as they go chewy and yum!
This is it for now, i’m afraid, go forth and try these, they don’t take much effort, time or expense and they really are absolutely delicious.
 
Peace
JR
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