Advent calendar’s are obviously a big part of Christmas, it’s not quite the same if you have a Christmas when you’re young (or young at heart) and not opening the little door every morning, piercing the thin foil with your thumb and eating a little piece of dog chocolate inside. There are quite a few traditions that are seared into our brains now, such as the fact that no matter how unpleasant the chocolate, you are forced, by unofficial law to get up every morning and eat chocolate for breakfast for most of December. Of course when you’re little you don’t really think like that, you’re too busy smearing it round your face and running round the house like a lunatic. There are still some ‘traditional’ styled advent calendars knocking around, the advent candles, where a candle is lit for every day leading up to Christmas.
I always thought in my naivety that the oldest advent calendars were the fabric ones filled with gifts, just because of the significant absence of chocolate. The first printed calendars came about in 1908 by a man named Gerhard Lang after his mother used to make him them as a child. It was simply named “Christmas-Calendar” or “Munich-Christmas-Calendar” (how inventive, Mr Lang) and was for all of the Lutheran Christians in the area. He went on to create little doored advent calendars, filled with Biblical references. The association isn’t so abstract to grasp, it’s entirely logical that the first printed ones were religiously based, as is the entirely holiday, obviously. There used to have the snowy nativity scenes with doors that could be opened to reveal selected bible verses for each day. I would love to see a modern (and, obviously, an Athiest) child get one for this December, just to see the look on their face and the slow realisation that there’s nothing to eat in it. I would guess it’s something not too dissimilar to this…
I’m surprised it’s taken this long to feature a cat picture on my blog in all honesty.But it’s true, living in the UK, well in the area I live in at least, there is not a huge saturation of Christianity and most of the children here would be horrified at the lack of sweeties on a chilly December morn. But I digress, I was mentioning the dog chocolate that comes in most of the advent calendars, even in – i’m sorry in advance – Cadbury’s. I have a love-hate relationship with Cadbury’s chocolate; love because I have such fond memories of eating chocolate buttons as a child, but hate because I don’t like the taste of it anymore, it makes my teeth hurt. So I decided to test a proper one this year. I mentioned in my Theobroma Cocoa post about my love for good chocolate, and after a few months of working hard to save money, I decided to treat me and my other half to a good advent calendar this year.
It’s pretty amazing, it’s probably as thick as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (a good reference point?) and you get two little truffles in each one to either share with your significant other. I’m no going to lie, it is as of today, the 9th of November, and nearly every chocolate in this calendar has been eaten. Such a lack of dedication to my etiquette
When I started eating them I completely didn’t care that is was November, they were too nice. There are a few different types, so you don’t get bored, which is a nice thought; mulled wine, gingerbread, cinnamon, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and salted caramel. They’re all pretty sexy, but the gingerbread truffle is absolutely immense, followed closely by milk chocolate. It’s nice to indulge yourself once in a while with really amazing chocolate, I don’t eat Cadbury’s anymore, so I like to buy a little bit of something amazing. I tried a direct comparison to Cadbury’s equivalent house milk (Dairy Milk), dark (Bournville) and white (Dream) to Hotel Chocolat’s, and it signed my soul onto it forever. Never will a piece of Bournville grace my lips or cooking ever again. The actual cocoa mass content is horrific (with Hotel Chocolat’s milk chocolate containing more than Bournville, which is meant to be dark), they instead fill it with vegetable fat which not only makes the texture horrible, but makes it completely tasteless. I understand why they did it, they wanted to spread chocolate to as many people as they could, so they held back on the cocoa content, because, it’s unavoidable, cocoa is very expensive at around £1700 a tonne. But it’s been at the significant cost of the taste of it, ironically making it taste less and less like chocolate as their greed got the better of them. I digress, if you fancy actually treating yourself this year instead of eating cardboard chocolate, or just want something a little more sophisticated, have a look at here, they’re probably the best actual chocolate advent calendars out there, without remortgaging your house. They’ve also got a pretty wicked Christmas selection at the moment as well, the awesome gingerbread truffles that I have in my advent calendar come in the little boxes of eight on the right hand side of the page. If you feel like it’s too much to spend on yourself, why not treat someone else to one? Maybe they’ll repay the favour and you’ll have a tonne of good karma at the same time.
Just on a final note, I thought i’d post a short summary of some adventures i’ve been up to recently. I was propositioned into making a small set of cakes for a friend’s party so I thought i’d share the love.
A lovely little lemon cupcake with cream cheese icing, with added cute sugar daisy!
Along with a massive chocolate layer cake – the recipe of which is in my last post – with a half dark (for the adults) and half milk (for the kiddies) chocolate ganache on the outside. I hope everyone enjoyed them, and I had a really fun time making everything and playing with edible glitter with my sister! It prompted me to seriously debate the idea of setting up my own little independent cake shop.I suppose that’s it for now my lovelies. The mince pie experimentation will have to wait for a few weeks but i’m sure i’ll think of something to fill my time with until then. I’m having some pretty epic cravings for Moroccan food at the moment, I suspect a tagine is in order. Soon.