Monthly Archives: April 2011

A very special Easter Egg- revealed

As you will have a seen a couple of weeks ago I have been making a very special egg for a Wedding which was held this weekend. I was commissioned at the beginning of this year to make the egg for a couple who wanted to crack the egg instead of cutting the cake. The Soon to be Mrs Morris made sure none of the guests new about the egg, so when I arrived at the hotel to set up I had to keep out of site.

I really enjoyed making the egg, and Sarah felt me to add my own decorations, so to represent the time of year and to go with the location I added flowers.

Thank you again to Jenny Foord for making the giant egg cup.


Recipe Wednesday- Chocolate Torte

Today I decided to tweet a recipe while making a Chocolate Torte, I got quite a lot of good feedback, so time permitting I will try and do a recipe every so often. So here goes 🙂

 Ingredients:

  •  200 grams of dark chocolate- 50% min cocoa content
  • 200 grams of butter
  • 220 grams of sugar
  • 4 free range eggs separated

Firstly preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. If you use a fan assisted oven I would recommend you heat your oven to 160 degrees.

In a bowl over a pan of hot water melt the chocolate and butter, then leave to cool

In another bowl beat the egg yolks and half the sugar (110grams) together

Fold the cooled chocolate and butter mixture into the egg yolks

Whisk the egg whites until they are frothy and then slowly add the sugar, whisking until you have glossy stiff peaks

Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then pour into the cake tin.

Cook for approximately 40mins. Use a skewer to test if the torte is ready, prick the middle of the torte, if the skewer comes out clean the torte is ready.

Dust with cocoa or icing sugar and serve with a fruit couli, cream or a salted caramel sauce


Egg-xtra exciting Easter

If you follow me on twitter you will have seen me mention how I’ve been commissioned to make s giant chocolate Easter egg. I will be able to reveal all after the weekend, but for the time being here’s s picture of the mould and the handmade egg cup. The egg cup has been made by Jenny Foord.

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Cocoa Facts

It’s nearly Easter so here are some delicious facts about Cocoa  🙂

Carl von Linne (Swedish Botanist) gave the Cocoa tree the name Theobroma Cacao, this transalates as “drink of the gods”. The Greek word theos (gods) and broma (drink) make up the name and reflect the Mayan belief that the cocoa tree belonged to the gods.

Cocoa tree grows in tropical rainforest in the shade of bigger trees and thrive in warm humid climates. The trees can grow up to 15 metres in height, but are usually kept shorter so the pods can be accessed easily. The pods change colour during the ripening process, they are oval shaped, pointed at both ends and about 20cm long. They contain between 20-40 beans.

Check out the other interesting facts below (taken from www.worldcocoafoundation.org) :

  • Number of cocoa farmers, worldwide: 5-6 million
  • Number of people who depend upon cocoa for their livelihood, worldwide: 40-50 million
  • Annual cocoa production, worldwide: 3 million tons
  • Annual increase in demand for cocoa: 3 percent per year, for the past 100 years
  • Current global market value of annual cocoa crop: $5.1 billion
  • Cocoa growing regions: Africa, Asia, Central America, South America (all within 20 degrees of the equator)
  • Percentage of cocoa that comes from West Africa: 70 percent
  • Length of time required for a cocoa tree to produce its first beans (pods): five years
  • Duration of “peak growing period” for the average cocoa tree: 10 years

Cupcakes and Cosmo’s- decorating classes

Following on from the delicious cupcake recipe I posted the other day I have added some dates to our events list. Many of our customers enjoy making their own cupcakes, but they always say they haven’t managed to perfect the decorating side.

At Valentines we ran a special cupcake evening for Single Ladies and this Wednesday and next Wednesday we are running classes again.

Julia will show you how she prepares her cupcake mix, how to make a simple butter cream and how to add flavours or colours. You’ll then be given 6 delicious cupcakes to decorate in any way you fancy; using butter cream, chocolate decorations, sweets, glitter and icing cut into shapes.

We’ll be serving Cosmo’s as a little treat and Julia will be on hand to help you and give you tips. You’ll then be able to wrap up your cupcakes and take them home!

For more information and to buy tickets please check out our event listing


Cupcake Recipe

Basic Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes):

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • Vanilla Essence or 1 vanilla pod (seeds removed from the pod and added to the mixture) or

Finely grated zest 1/2 large lemon (keeping the zest of the remaining half for the lemon icing)

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 150g plain flour
  • 1/4tsp baking powder

Simple Frosting

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 125g icing sugar, sifted

This is a rough guide as I find I have to play around with the consistency, usually I double/ triple the amount of icing sugar.

Method

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Line a 12-hole cake tin with 12 paper cases. Cream the butter in a large bowl or in a food mixer until soft. Add the sugar and vanilla and mix until the mixture if light, creamy and fluffy.

2.  Gradually add the beaten eggs, then sift in the flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture. Alternatively, whizz all the ingredients together in a food mixer.

3.  Divide the mixture between the paper cases and bake for 7-10 minutes, until risen and golden. When cooked, the top of each cake should be slightly springy to the touch. Remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool before you ice them.

4.  To make the icing, cream the butter in a bowl with a wooden spoon or hand-held electric beater until soft. Add the icing sugar and beat into the butter depending on the consistency of the mixture you may need to add more icing sugar. Add flavouring or colour at this point.

5) Pipe or spread the icing sugar over the cupcakes once they have cooled and decorate with sprinkles, crystallised petals or sweets.

Enjoy!


How to taste Chocolate

You may have heard chefs or read reviews which use the following terms snap, aroma, mouth feel.

Unless you’ve taken the time to really research chocolate and how it should be tasted all these terms can be quite mind boggling, so here’s my tips on how to taste chocolate.

 When tasting chocolate I find it’s best to choose plain bars rather than truffles, bonbons or bars which have been flavoured with anything. You don’t want anything to get in the way of the actual flavour of the chocolate. Chocolate like wine and coffee has its own distinct flavour, especially when trying Single Origin or Bean to bar chocolate.

Here’s our step by step guide to tasting chocolate:

Before you start make sure all your bars are at room temperature as chocolate which is very cold or even refrigerated will hide certain flavours. Also don’t be afraid to take a large piece of chocolate to try, you’re not going to be able to pick up all the different notes within the chocolate flavour with a tiny piece of chocolate.  Eat a piece of apple before you move on to the next sample of chocolate to clear your palette.

 Appearance:

We taste with our eyes as much as our mouths. The chocolate should have a good texture, not too soft or brittle, a shiny gloss with no bloom. Blooming is an indication of poor quality storage conditions (temperature) causing the sugar or fat to separate or poor quality tempering.

The colour of the chocolate is not an indication of quality of Cacao content. The environment the Cacao beans have been grown in as well as how they have been roasted will also have an effect on the overall colour. Cacao content doesn’t always symbolise good quality you may find a bar of high percentage cacao will have been produced with a poor quality cacao.

 Snap:

The “snap” should be a clear crisp sound which is produced when breaking a piece of chocolate. The crack or snap can be felt and heard when biting into the chocolate. A clean snapping sound demonstrates how well tempered the chocolate is, also the higher the cacao content the harder the chocolate will be to break and the louder the snap. Milk and White chocolate has lower cacao content so the snapping sound will be less pronounced and softer compared to dark chocolate.

Aroma:

As I have said previously chocolate takes on different flavours because of its environment, so just like Wine and Coffee chocolate from one country or plantation will have a totally different flavour and smell to another countries chocolate.

Single Origin Chocolate will have a more developed aroma compared to standard chocolate which has been made using various beans.

An experienced taster over time will also be able to learn the different aromas produced from different roasting techniques.

Here are some general descriptions to look out for when smelling the chocolate:

  • Fruity/ Citrus
  • Grassy/Green/Herbal
  • Floral
  • Nutty
  • Spicy
  • Woody
  • Caramel
  • Chemical
  • Sweet/Sugary

 

There are lots of different ways of describing aromas which is part of the fun of tasting!

Mouthful:

This is literally how the chocolate feels in your mouth, the texture and any other sensations you might feel. A high quality chocolate will melt in your mouth without you having to chew.

Texture- is it smooth, grainy, gritty, velvety, creamy, waxy or greasy?

N.B.  A waxy texture is usually a tell- tell sign that vegetable fat has been used instead of Cocoa Butter.

Taste- the best bit:

Hopefully if you’ve followed the above instructions when you actually get to taste the chocolate you will appreciate how much more you notice about the overall flavour.

Firstly beware that what you smell doesn’t always mean you will taste the same flavour, and what you taste may not feature in the aroma.

A good quality chocolate will have a series of flavours so take time to let the chocolate melt and taste the different stages of flavour. The after taste will certainly be different to the initial taste, also like wine tasting the after taste maybe short or long and linger.

As with all tastings the more varieties you try the better as over time you will pick up differences and recognise aromas, tastes and appearances more easily…..so the more homework the better! Make sure you have a clean palette before you try new chocolates. Everyone’s palettes are different, so tasting in groups will make the experience more enjoyable and interesting.

Start with the lowest Cacao content and slowly work your way up to the higher percentages. Starting with the lowest will allow you to pick up the difference in tastes/percentages of cacao in the each sample of chocolate.

Like all expert tastings you won’t suddenly pick everything up, but with practice and experience you will. The most important thing is to have fun.

 In the coming months we will be launching a special range of Single Origin bars perfect for tasting.


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