Chocolate: make your own seditious home brew this Easter

saffronbunny_food_blogger_cornwallChocolate advertising tells us a lot about chocolate itself and our attitudes towards the brown stuff (proletariat), the dark stuff (posh), the white stuff  (chocolate at all?).

When Cadbury’s substituted the usual sensual codes associated with chocolate advertising (a woman in a state of undress, optional dressing gown, obligatory bath with taps running and candles) for a gorilla, some drums and Phil Collins, it was clear that chocolate as a product had transcended conventional advertising.

We (mostly women) no longer needed to be told that a few chunks would send us into a Sophie Dahl Opium-esque yogic bridge of pleasure or that it provided death-defying anti-oxidants as well as life-enhancing endorphins. The benefits of a furtive chunk (or inhalation of an entire bar) speak for themselves.

Chocolate was considered so dangerous a drug that in the 17th-century, Charles II unsuccessfully tried to close down the newly popular chocolate houses which he deemed ‘hotbeds of sedition’.

From its origins in South America, a chocolate beverage mixed with sugar and spices had been the Spanish nobility’s best kept secret for about 100 years until Anne of Austria, daughter of Philip III, introduced it to her new husband, Louis XVIII in France where its reputation as an aphrodisiac was firmly established.

A Jamaican-inspired version took the Spanish version a luxurious step further with the addition of milk, a recipe developed by Hans Sloane who introduced it to the trendy coffee houses of London and where it was bought by the Cadbury brothers.

This seditious drink then wound its way to Vienna and on to the US to be reincarnated in the UK in solid form by J.S. Fry & Sons in 1830. Chocolate had become a confection.

That we can’t get enough of the stuff is never more obvious than at Easter. An estimated 80 million eggs are bought and consumed each year in the UK and the market is thought to be worth a staggering £200 million. How many of us however, have the confidence to resist the temptation of Lindt bunnies and Cadbury’s Creme eggs to make our own?

Not many I would warrant. Why? Because the idea of chocolate tempering can be intimidating. The good news is that you can cheat. Yup. It’s called a ganache. Whereas tempering is more of a science – it requires precise movements, temperature and timing – a ganache is all about three key components: chocolate, cream and heat.

The recipe below is for a cardamon-flavoured ganache but the cardamon could just as easily be substituted for vanilla or alcohol.

Ingredients (should all be at room temperature)

300g Ghana 40% chocolate callets (or small pieces)

150g whipping cream

20g cardamom pods ground in a pestle and mortar (or other flavouring)

42g softened (unsalted) butter

Method:

  • Boil cream with the cardamom seeds, heat to boiling point and leave for 15 minutes
  • Reboil
  • Leave to rest for 10 seconds and sieve on to the callets or chocolate pieces
  • Gently shake the bowl so that all the chocolate is covered
  • Leave for 10 seconds and begin to stir from the middle of the bowl outwards
  • Once the ganache is blended together (no lumps) add the butter
  • Put cling film over and put in the fridge until it begins to set at the edges
  • Pipe or scoop into little chocolates

This recipe is courtesy of a chocolate workshop by Tom and Nicky at nickygrant.com.

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