My chocolate and Pastry Experiences

Scottish part time chocolatier in London enjoying all things Chocolate and Pastry


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The Best Brownies Ever?? Absolutely!

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So I’m not a huge brownie fan. I will occassionally have a Boston Brownie from Konditor & Cook as they are next to my workplace, but generally I would chose another treat over the brownie.

I then saw on my Emerald Street email that Hummingbird Bakery were having a Brownie Bake Off. By jove another competition to enter!

Now in my research I discovered that a brownie is not just simply a mix of flour, eggs, sugar and chocolate……oh no, it is much more complex than that! Brownies now-a-days fall into 3 categories: Cakey, Fudgey and Chewy and all of these are made with the various combinations of core ingredients. Increase the chocolate and decrease the flour and you’ve got a fudgey brownie, decrease the chocolate and increase the flour and you’ve got a cakey brownie. Use different types of brown sugar and you’ve got a chew brownie. I had no idea!

So I made 2 brownies, one that turned out quite cakey (see picture on the right below) and one that was proper fudgey (see header picture and left picture below) – fudgey wins hands down. I have also discovered that it’s much better to make brownies in a 8″x8″ inch pan rather than the individual

Screenshot_2015-11-09-21-51-11-1[1] Fudgey BrowniesIMG_20151108_131217[1]Individual Cakey Brownies

I made a Raspberry, Chambord & Almond Brownie, and highly recommend anyone to try it. Please tweet or instagram me the pictures ūüôā if you do make them

RecipeIMG_20151108_113651[1]

Ingredients
170g Chocolate (I used a 54% which quite a neutral flavour)
3 eggs
300g Caster sugar
70g + 2tbsp Plain flour
30g Cocoa powder
175g Fresh raspberries (washed & dried)
113g Unsalted butter
100g Almonds chopped
2 tbsp Chambord

Optional
1.5 handfuls Freese dried rapsberries

Method

Melt chocolate and butter in a bowel over boiling water, be careful not to get any waster into the chocolate.
Remove from heat and whisk in sugar in 4 stages to allow sugar to melt, keep stiring until it no longer feels gritty. The sugar also allows the chocolate to cool before the eggs are added.
Whisk in eggs 1 at a time
Fold in cocoa powder
Fold in flour in 4 stages, ensuring that there are no ribbons of flour. This could go into a lined pan at this stage for a plain brownie.
Mix through fresh berries and chopped almonds, try to squash down a little so that the little raspberry kernels are broken up.
Add chambord 1/2 tbps at a time and adjust to personal taste.
Mix through1.5 handfuls of freeze dried raspberry crumb.

Place in a double lined 8″ x 8″ tin and bake for 35 – 40 mins at 170¬įc

Now the important part, and the hardest….leave to cool competely before cutting. I found it easier to heat the knife in boiling water, then dry and cut….after each cut put the knife back in the water to heat up.

If you do make these, let me know how you get on.

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La Maison du Chocolate – Come fly with me

Maison full

So Nicolas Cloiseau has done it again. The Easter collection for La Maison du Chocolate is amazingly pretty and called “The Breakaway Flock”

A breakaway flock of dapper geese soar in formation over the Easter trails toward sweet horizons. This flock has a sharp eye for chic attire.

Picture1An art-de-vivre that showcases attention to detail and the exceptional quality of the materials used. The chocolate patina of the grain of the leather trunks is as supple of that of a handbag. Only the best exotic skins cover the hand-sewn suitcase handles. The clasps and locks protect the precious cargo of praliné eggs nestled inside.

Picture4The scarves around the necks of our fine-feathered flyers bow to the whims of the wind. This giggling gaggle of geese espies below a world of chocolate out of the corner of their aviator glasses. Their arrival is a harbinger of beautiful days ahead, springtime and the promise
of faraway gourmand lands. Immediate boarding for a long distance trip where dreams and chocolate will be the only sustenance on board.

All the figurines and chocolate decorations are made entirely by hand. They are filled with crispy crêpe praliné eggs, milk chocolate almond eggs, dark chocolate hazelnut praliné eggs, crunchy dark chocolate eggs.

The Pieces

Picture1

Easter Stopover

Figurine in dark and milk chocolate, scarf in ivory chocolate. Decoration composed of three suitcases in dark and milk chocolate, cobblestones in milk chocolate. Filled with 100g of praliné eggs.

Picture2

The Feathers

Figurine in dark and milk chocolate, scarf in ivory chocolate, cobblestones in milk chocolate. Filled with praliné eggs.

Picture3Aviator Egg

Egg in dark and milk chocolate, scarf in ivory chocolate. Filled with praliné eggs.


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What Price Chocolate…

so, this post is not like my usual posts – by that I mean that I’ve not made something to show you….today I attended the Academy of Chocolate bi-annual conference held in The Royal Automobile Club, London.

I was really looking forward to this as there were some amazing speakers, and it would be a good opportunity to meet some new people & learn a little more about the industry that I’m trying to learn.

The agenda ranged from:

  • sustainability – cocoa cultivation & genetics
  • child labour & child trafficking
  • bean-to-bar, marketing & ethical cocoa
  • skills, training & Communication
  • chocolate in America, the state of the market & other fairy tales

I had already seen a documentary about child trafficking, so I thought that I was pretty clued up but today really made me think.

Take the title “what price chocolate”; at what point do we, the consumer, think about the price that the cocoa farmer gets paid, the child labour trafficked into Cote d’Ivoire on the promise of ¬£20 a month to send to their families that they don’t get, the cost to the chocolate producers (by that I mean Nestle, Cadbury, Valrhona, Barry-Callebaut etc..), the cost of replanting new trees. Is it when we buy our Mars bar, or when we go into a luxury chocolatier and balk at the prices, or do we not ask at all.

Do we ever consider that this valuable commodity may not be around in future generations. Do we care? Is there enough awareness that cocoa farmers are converting their farms to other crops that are more profitable and provide a yield in a shorter time than the 3-5 yrs required for new trees planted to produce good enough cocoa pods, or that farmers are not replanting their trees once the lifetime of the trees have been reached because they are just not making money, or that the farmers children are not willing to take on the family non-money making farms and are pulled by the bright lights of the nearest big city to earn more money.

Do we care that a lot of the farmers can’t afford labour so they are using family members, not such a big deal – you think ” our farmers do the same thing – isn’t that what family is for?” but what if that farmer with his 3 kids is only earning $2 without taking into consideration his operating costs? is it really wonder that they turn their back on Cocoa.

Would we spend ¬£10 on a bar of chocolate if it meant that the farmer was getting a fair wage, which would encourage him to invest in replanting trees….for his children to stay and take on the family farm ensuring the trees continue to produce?

Is there an assumption that when we buy a bar of chocolate the question of ethics/fairtrade etc has already been taken care of. Does that absolve us of raising the questions ourselves? Do you ever wonder why a mars bar is the price it is, yet when you walk into a chocolatiers a single chocolate may be 75p, or is it so far removed that you just don’t think about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still reach for the cheap chocolate because I’m a sugar addict – don’t get me started on added sugar to food! but I am glad that a recent court ruling now means that large chocolate producers/buyers can be held accountable for child labour and trafficking.

With a lot of foods we are now looking for provenance, why are we not doing this fully with chocolate. Cocoa is difficult to grow successfully, taking at least 5 yrs invested commitment from the farmer and this can only be grown 20 degrees to the north and south of the equator. With increased demand in this commodity, everything needs to be done to encourage the growth of the cocoa tree – but not at it’s current cost to the farmers.


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Autumnal treats from artisan chocolatiers La Maison du Chocolat

Maison Pressie

So I was luckily enough to be sent a sample of the new Autumn range from my favourite La Maison du Chocolate. I had already seen pictures of the new collection and was very excited to be sent one of my choosing.

Bouchee JolikaI chose the Bouchee Jolika ¬†which was the most amazing pistachio marzipan. I like making my own pistachio marzipan and mine has a little crunch to it with small pieces of pistachios being visible but this was the smoothest paste. I am glad that I didn’t get more of these as they are very very morish, one will never be enough.

The new collection is out now and sold individually at £3.10, you can view the whole collection here

Bouchee Jolika

Bouchee Jolika 

Pistachio and Marzipan with dark Chocolate

Bouchee Sylvia

Plain milk ganache

Bouchee Sylvia
Bouchee Rocher Milk Chocolate

Bouchee Rocher Milk Chocolate

Almond and nut milk chocolate praline with roasted almonds

Bouchee Rocher Dark Chocolate

Almond and nut dark chocolate praline with roasted almonds

Bouchee Rocher Dark Chocolate
Bouchee Mendiant Dark Chocolate

Bouchee Mendiant Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate bar with full round notes with a mélange of candied fruits and nuts.

Bouchee Nougat

Honey, almonds, pistachios, candiet fruits, hazelnutes

Bouchee Nougat