Getting ready for tomorrow busy time playing with mini egg boxes, ribbon, chocolates baskets and bunnies creating Easter packages with chocolates. Jozie did a stirling job with me yesterday coating and decorating salted caramels, dairy free caramels, mint, manjari vanilla, olive oil, saffron and cardamom, and her absolute favourite, coffee.
I am very lucky that for the moment as long as she gets a box of her favourites she is happy to work hard and is brilliant at anticipating where the next load of melted chocolate is going!
The only time I have really enjoyed and scoffed marshmallows was the first time we made s’mores* with my sister and family when on holiday with them in Michigan. Since then, the children have regularly made s’mores here over the bonfire, the living room fire, the BBQ or even the gas hob!
Hence marshmallows came and went for me until we went to Camp Bestival a couple of years ago and I ate freshly made marshmallows with waffles as a birthday treat – what a revaluation they were! Once I worked out that you really did need more than a hand held mixer to successfully make these I had to wait until January this year with the purchase of my first Kenwood Chef to experiment.
The result – vanilla and raspberry marshmallows. We are still testing out how best to eat them – there is compulsory and rigourous testing for new products here! So far, these raspberry mallow-pops are fairly high on the list of great ways to eat a marshmallow.
* For those that don’t know, these are a sandwich of the US equivalent of 2 digestives with a slab of chocolate and toasted marshmallows in the middle. To ease assembly we toast our marshmallows and sandwich them between 2 plain chocolate digestives. It is worrying how many a 12 year old can eat!
Not chocolate but definitely seasonal, in fact we are now just out of season and the marmalade was made a few weeks ago.
As someone who loves all things orange (chocolate orange and orange peel are always on production lists and among my favourites) it is surprising that however many times I try it I just don’t get on with marmalade. However, the rest of my family do. Marmalade on hot buttered toast is Mike’s favoured treat with his morning coffee whereas I am strictly a marmite girl.
However making marmalade was an annual event as a child and I remember helping my mum prepare enough seville oranges to make marmalade to last all year. And since the year that Mike accidentally brought home seville oranges instead of eating oranges, we have done the same.
This year I made six variations with three different mixes of sugar; plain granulated, light soft brown and dark soft brown. Each batch also had an added whisky version thus combining Mike’s other favourite, a large slug of single malt.
So far, it looks like we will have continue to make serval variations as each family member has a different favourite!
The snowdrops, hellebores and anconites show themselves and add a little colour to the garden, the mornings start to feel a little light and we all feel we can emerge into the idea of spring. For the chocolate kitchen, with the final flipping of a pancake and the start of lent, this also means rapidly working towards the annual chocolate fest known as Easter.
I haven’t fully worked out what Easter chocolate looks like in the kitchen but wanted to tempt you with a smile bowl of chocolates. Apologies to those who have taken the challenge to give up chocolate and sweet things for lent, you will just have to ignore me for the next few weeks. Giving up chocolate here cannot happen until after the Easter holidays.
After the hectic evening in Putney we enjoyed a calmer but equally delightful coffee and chocolate morning in Oxford on Saturday.
A number of people worked their way round the options on offer as they drank coffee and compared notes. Early Christmas needs were fulfilled, orders were placed and, of course, the chocolates were tasted and comprehensively tested!
Look out for the next Chocolate and Coffee event on Saturday 20th December. If you can’t make it but would like to place an order, we will see what we can do about getting them to you in time.
After a busy 10 days in the kitchen with the delightful smell of chocolate, cocoa, caramel, biscotti and more wafting through the place I am now packing up for the inaugural Christmas Fair at Putney Lawn Tennis Club.
I will then be at home on more familiar ground in Oxford at 52 Hurst Rise Road, Oxford OX2 9HQ on Saturday 29th November from 11.00 am – 1.00pm for tasting, purchase and ordering for Christmas.
Jozie and I have spent a happy couple of hours with Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp in Chocolat – hard to believe that in this household it was her first viewing!
This chocolate salami is inspired by a recipe in Chantal Coady’s book “Mastering the Art of Chocolate”. When I turned the page and saw salami I almost laughed out loud!
I have tried a number of combinations and this is the latest iteration. It is dairy free and is currently be tested by someone who recently had to give up dairy products and would still like to be able to eat chocolates from my kitchen. Fingers crossed they come out of testing with flying colours.
Biscotti day today. When making all things chocolate you generate bits of ‘waste’ chocolate. Not waste exactly, as I really don’t like throwing away good chocolate, but chocolate that hasn’t been used and needs a good recipe. The first time I made these biscotti it was with a big tin of waste chocolate. They all got eaten very quickly.
However, wastage cannot keep up with the demand for these and I have used blocks of chocolate (for this Christmas Valrhona’s Manjari, my favourite chocolate for just eating). They take nearly all day to gently dry out in a cool oven and so the smell of baking and chocolate has pervaded the house.
Had to get it packaged quick or too much QC testing would have meant none left for selling!