Christmas Chocolate Choices

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Time for some chocolate indulgence

 

Christmas is such a great time for some chocolate indulgence, for something a bit different and a bit more indulgent than a Wispa. And I don’t mean two Wispas! Here’s some to be considering:

 

The Chocolatier Water Ganaches

 

First up, order anything from The Chocolatier. I love what they are doing, truly delicious flavours, and a really passionate family affair. I met Aneesh and his family at their stand at Cake International where MGG and I worked through quite a few products and flavours, and came home carrying rather a lot of purchases! For something different I would try the Chocolate Peanut Butter, the Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel and any of the water ganaches. You won’t be disappointed!

 

J Chocolate Rugoso

 

For “simple” chocolate then I’d recommend J.Cocoa for true bean to bar production of some very tasty chocolate bars. I really love the 70% Rugoso Dark Chocolate, this has beautiful, smooth flavours to it. I also love James’ story, he started this as a hobby, is still making this in a shed in the garden and used to be a fishmonger. I don’t know how good he was as a fishmonger, but he’s making amazing chocolate.

 

artisan chocolate making kit

 

If they fancy themselves as a chocolatier, then maybe start them off with a chocolate making kit from Full of It Craft Chocolate. With two different kits, these come with raw cacao butter and raw cacao powder, either from Peru or Ecuador. All the instructions are there, and they can add their own choice of flavourings. Could be a great activity on Christmas Day afternoon, after the turkey and all the other excitement.

 

Rococo Roald Dahl Chocolate

 

I love Rococo, and I love the link up they’ve done as part of the Roald Dahl 100 celebrations. Each bar draws inspiration from different characters, from James with his giant peach, through to Mr Twit’s Beardy Breakfast Bar. These could make great stocking fillers for kids, big and small.

 

Chocolate Avocado

 

Chocolate certainly doesn’t have to be serious, and so this one is a bit of fun. Avocado has certainly been having a moment, and so perhaps you can pretend that you’re being healthy whilst indulging in this chocolate avocado. I might send it to MFL as he loathes avocado but loves chocolate.

 

Craft Chocolat Subscription

 

For a gift that keeps on giving for a bit longer than just Christmas Day, then how about a craft chocolate subscription from Cocoa Runners? Three bars of the finest craft chocolate will arrive every month, along with tasting notes so you really get the most out of the experience. Definitely one for the chocolate connoisseur.

 

Organic Trinidad Sipping Chocolate

 

Maybe they might like their chocolate on the hot side? Hot chocolate forms part of our Christmas traditions, and this sipping chocolate from Luxury Fine Foods would definitely make a very indulgent grown up hot chocolate. Made using single origin organic cacoa beans from Trinidad, this melts beautifully into warm milk and will make a great indulgence on a cold night.

Of course these are all lovely, and I think most people would be very happy to receive any of them. But there’s still room for a Terry’s chocolate orange in every stocking on Christmas morning, possibly even a Cadbury’s selection box. Although I think we might be having a Toblerone boycott going on. What chocolate is part of your family traditions at Christmas?

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How to make homemade chocolates the easy way

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We’ve been playing with some festive chocolate moulds from Lakeland, and I think after a bit of trial and error then these are great for creating some solid chocolate shapes quite quickly.

 

Festive chocolate moulds from Lakeland

 

Now, this is the Lakeland official image of how these could come out, and I think very easily you could get these done to look the same. Silicone moulds, plenty of detail, and some good shapes. I would say the only challenge, as you’ll see, is that a few of these are a bit too tiny and detailed.

 

The first snowman ready to go

 

We wanted to play around a bit with the chocolate, so MFL and I used white chocolate. He tempered some, I didn’t. He coloured some chocolate. I painted mine afterwards.

One of us is much more experienced with chocolate.

 

First trials of the chocoalte moulds

 

But what it proved is that it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, that you can produce really good looking shapes from these moulds. I think they’re perfect for small gifts, particularly if you need quite a few, as it’s pretty quick to do.

With a few pretty cellophane bags and some ribbon, then you can have a pile of these fairly quickly, depending on how fancy you want to get on decoration. I’ve also still got some candy melts with sprinkles in to try, which I think could be effective too.

 

First attempts with a few challenges

 

The only downside I would say to these was that the Rudolph’s antlers and the candy canes proved almost impossible to get out the mould in one piece. But I think I proved you could do this with kids, based on my level of expertise, or really go for it.

Homemade gifts have often had a bad rap, but I think these could be lovely. At the time of writing, these are half price on Lakeland at £2.49. If Star Wars is your thing, or that of the intended recipients, then there are also some chocolate moulds for both heroes or villains.

My thanks to Lakeland for sending me these moulds to try. They also sent me the train, which I am hoping to make as a Polar Express inspired centre piece at Christmas. Look out for my how to on this one soon.

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What to buy for those with a sweet tooth this Christmas

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Christmas gift ideas for those with a sweet tooth

 

I’ve admitted many times that I have a sweet tooth, whether cake or chocolate, or pretty much anything in between. I definitely consider this one of my specialist subject areas when it comes to gift recommendations. So whether you’re looking for something for them to eat, make or read, then these are some of the best.

 

Dark chocolate salted caramel honeycomb

 

Like a posh Crunchie

Ok, we have to admit, MFL and I demolished a box of this recently. It was research, honest. But this was amazing tasting, and you have to admit it looks beautiful. There’s a whole range of these beautiful gift boxes from Artisan du Chocolat, and you’ll be hard picked to choose between them. But I’d not turn down another box of this Dark Salted Caramel Honeycomb.

 

Sally's Candy Addiction

 

Inspiration for Making Their Own

Oh my word, where to start with Sally’s Candy Addiction? There wasn’t a page I turned and didn’t want to immediately rush into the kitchen and make. Maybe add some chocolate into their stocking too so they can head straight into the kitchen themselves. It’ll brighten up Christmas Day when the Ferrero Rocher have run out.

 

Vodka Cocktail Pastilles from Smith & Sinclair

 

Sneaky tipple in sweet form?

And no, this is not a box of liqueur chocolates! I love these cocktail pastilles from Smith & Sinclair. Warning, these are not for the kids, they do contain proper alcohol. So, if the boss is reading this, no, these are not what’s on my desk. Honest. But heaven knows, there are some days a sneaky vodka cocktail wouldn’t go amiss!

 

Pale Lemon & Sea Salt Chocolate Skis from Amelia Rope

 

Fun chocolate but with style

I’ve written several times about how much I love Amelia Rope’s chocolate. There isn’t anything on her site that I don’t think someone would be thrilled to receive. Unless good chocolate for them stops at Dairy Milk. For Christmas this year then I love these chocolate skis, which are pale lemon and sea salt chocolate. My kind of skiing!

 

Go full on retro with A Quarter Of

 

Go full on retro in your sweet choice

I love A Quarter Of, they were one of the first people I came across in the whole online retro sweet thing, and I think they do it really well. If Christmas isn’t made for a trip down memory lane, then I don’t know when is. Bring on the Fruit Salads, a Sherbet Fountain and some Love Hearts. Sophistication can be overrated!

 

Safari Animal Chocolate Lollipop Kit

 

In case there’s no selection box from Santa

I love this kit from Chocolate At Home, which you could give to an older child, or a big kid, and it could be a great activity for over the Christmas holidays. There are simpler ones, and more chocolate bar based ones, so really something for everyone.

 

In case you can’t get hold of any of these, then maybe a box of Matchmakers will do. Or you could just get organised now!

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Don’t try dunking these biscuits in your tea!

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I saw these at the weekend and just thought they were great fun!

 

chocolate biscuits

 

I think they’re very clever, and cover many of my favourite biscuits, so a tick for that, and then they’re made of chocolate, so another tick for that.

Just about perfect, other than they would be a bit rubbish if dunked in your tea! Good choice perhaps for Mother’s Day (March 15 here in the UK), especially if you deliver them alongside a cup of tea in bed. Just remember to point out whilst realistic, any dunking is purely at their own risk!

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Truly drop dead gorgeous chocolates!

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I hadn’t planned to write any more posts about chocolate for Valentine’s Day, but then I spotted these on Twitter.

Chocolate macarons from Drop Dead Chocolates - great gift for a food lover with great taste in chocolate

These are chocolate macarons from Drop Dead Chocolates. Which is possibly not the most romantic sounding name for a chocolatier, but I take it that it’s missing the word gorgeous from the name, which is certainly a word you’d add into a description of these.

I love some of the unusual flavours as well, such as Winter Spice or Green Apple. They are so pretty to look at that they are almost too pretty to eat.

Almost.

Anyway, just thought if you were looking for something a little different on the sweet gift front then these might just be a wonderful choice.

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When chocolate gets fantastical

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The Fairest Hamper

 

This is just something a bit fun, but still incredibly tasty, for a chocolate lover for sure, but perhaps one with a love of things fantastical and a little gothic.

Fairy Tale Gourmet are incredibly inventive and I don’t know anyone else doing anything like this. The Fairest Chocolate Hamper is, unsurprisingly from their Snow White collection, and is certainly going to be nothing like they’ve had before I’m sure.

I mean, who doesn’t want to try the Princess Snow Apple? Or Prince Charming’s nuts?

This is serious chocolate, in that it’s good stuff, but it definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. Which is a very good way to be!

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The Friday Five – Chocolate all round

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I love chocolate, I may well have mentioned this more than once. So this week is one of my favourite weeks, although quite often every week is Chocolate Week here.

I don’t actually have any cookbooks devoted to chocolate, but I did, then I might pick one of these:

 

Chocolate at Home

 

Chocolate at Home – from master patissier Will Torrent, this really does show you how to start making your own chocolate wonders at home. I would suggest this was for someone who was semi serious about chocolate making, rather than just fancying knocking up some truffles on a Saturday afternoon.

 

Miss Hopes Chocolate Box

 

Miss Hope’s Chocolate Box – I think this is probably more my personal style, particularly after the recent TV series. I mean, any book with a recipe for a Walnut Whip is fine with me! Chocolate Ginger Creams wouldn’t be passed up either.

 

Totally chocolate

 

Totally Chocolate – I love Eric Lanlard, but then I always love people with passion and conviction, and he has those in large spoonfuls. This covers all kinds of things to do with chocolate, from quick bakes to very glamorous desserts and show stopping cakes. Truly something for everyone and every kind of occasion.

 

Adventures with Chocolate

 

Adventures with Chocolate – I’m very tempted by this one! I saw Paul A. Young do a great demo at the first Harvest a few years back, and it was fabulous. Best brownie recipe I’ve come across for when you wanted brownie with added attitude! But let’s face it, this one might win for having apparently the best Chocolate Martini recipe in there. I’m all for a bit of testing!

 

Montezumas Chocolate Book

 

Montezuma’s Chocolate Cookbook – I’m very fond of Montezuma’s, I remember when they just started out when I lived near Chichester. I love their big flavours, and that there’s nothing really delicate going on, which probably sums up much of my approach to cooking and baking. Orange and Geranium Chocolate Souffles have to be a dessert worth trying.

To be honest, I’d love all five of these. I’d order up a few bars of chocolate from Amelia Rope and settle down to some very tasty reading.

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How will you celebrate Chocolate Week?

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I may have mentioned before that I am rather fond of chocolate, and do a reasonable amount of “testing”. So a whole week devoted to chocolate in all its variety is probably right up my street. Here’s a few things I might want to think about doing:

 

Amelia Rope White Edition 3

 

* I have three favourite chocolate companies that I would quite happily offer to test for on a regular basis! Amelia Rope got me loving white chocolate again, Artisan du Chocolat held a fabulous tasting that I was at and Rococo have been responsible for a few detours along Marylebone High Street.

 

The Boutique Chocolate Hotel

 

* I could consider booking into The Chocolate Boutique Hotel in Bournemouth. I lived in Bournemouth for a number of years, and it seems to have improved a lot since I left. It certainly never had a fashionable Soho quarter, which is where this hotel is. All named in suitably chocolate style, there’s chocolate on the menu every day, and you could even have a chocolate fountain of your own in your room. There are chocolate weekends to enjoy, so even if it’s awful British weather outside, you can enjoy chocolate treats inside.

 

Champneys Forest Mere

 

* For the lowest calorie version of chocolate, then I’d book in for the Chocolate Wrapper treatment at Champneys. This smells just like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, and leaves you with lovely soft skin. I’m very lucky in that I’ve stayed at all of the Champneys resorts for work over the years but if I had a choice then it would have to be Forest Mere. Feels like a fabulous liner afloat in the middle of an enchanted forest. And that was before the Chocolate Wrapper! Blissful escape.

How ever you choose to enjoy your chocolate this week, choose great chocolate from great people and take a moment to really enjoy it.

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Tasty chocolate Jubilee treats from Prestat

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I’ve kept meaning to write about these great designs from Prestat. Really attractive looking, and great sounding flavours too.

 

 

This bar is almond and sea salt milk chocolate, which even though milk chocolate would still tick the right boxes for me.

 

This box is perfect for the truffle lovers out there. Thirty artisan truffles all specially designed for the Diamond Jubilee, including flavours like Tropical Cinnamon or Orange and Cinnamon. And surely you’re going to hang onto that box? Stunning design.

Not the cheapest box of chocolates on the market, but then this is not cheap chocolate. Nor is this an everyday occasion! We may not see another Diamond Jubilee in our lifetime, so perhaps one small indulgence is permitted!

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The Friday Five – All About the Chocolate

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It's all about the chocolate

 

It wouldn’t be Easter without the chocolate, and you may have noticed that I am quite fond of my chocolate! So here are five of my favourites that put chocolate centre stage!

Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A. Young – I love Paul’s innovative approach to chocolate, and his brave approach to flavouring. That said, I am still not sure about putting chocolate with Marmite! This book gives you recipes to take you from breakfast to bedtime, which is just my idea of heaven. Broken down by flavourings, including herbs and flowers and fruits and nuts, this is a great book for an experimental food lover.

Miss Hope’s Chocolate Box – one for the nostalgia loving foodie! This has a recipe for a Walnut Whip, so got to be a winner in my book, as they are definitely one of my guilty pleasures. Fun, not too serious, but all about the taste, which is really what it should be about!

The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel – not a recipe book but a field guide to becoming an expert in all things chocolate. A guide to tasting it and getting the most of it, and really appreciating the huge variety of chocolate that is out there. Funnily enough, I don’t think a Mint Aero gets a mention!

Making Artisan Chocolates by Andrew Garrison Shotts – of course there are fabulous chocolate makers out there, but fantastic to make your own. This book covers truffles and moulded chocolates, as well as things like chocolate cookies. There are some great flavour inspirations here as well, things like banana caramel, five-spice praline and sesame.

I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers – okay, I know it’s the wrong season, but this is such a fantastic looking book, and surely it’s never too early to start dreaming about Christmas! Unusual recipes, great combinations of flavours, and things that you just want to cook. Chocolate fruity cakes with cranberry marmalade sound suitably festive, and White Chocolate Banana Walnut Christmas Log would definitely be an unusual variation on a theme!

 

So ditch the Cream Egg, get some great stuff and get a great chocolate book! Or try whipping up a magnificent chocolate dragon, like this amazing one taken by John Cooke.

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