Friday, December 29, 2006

Chocolate Beetroot Cake

I have been kicked out of the kitchen where Thai Green Curry is being made so I thought I would update the latest chocolate news.

I just spent Christmas in the Lake District where my Chocolate Chip Cookies appeared to go down rather well. (For the recipe go to and sign up for the newsletter.) I also made some oatmeal and raisin cookies too. the cookie supply ran dangerously low so I improvised in the cottage kitchen and made some Christmas Cookies - nutmeg, raisin and orange.

One of my Christmas presents was the Chocolate recipe book from Green and Blacks. As soon as we returned to a full kitchen I headed to Tesco for inspiration (having spent some time poring over it beforehand). I saw the beetroot in the vegetable section (would you believe the organic beetroot is cheaper than the regular kind?) and decided I had to try to make beetroot cake. I first saw chocolate beetroot cake at Chatswood House but I didn't buy it, and then I saw the recipe in this book.

It is such an easy cake to make, you don't need to cream butter and sugar, or whip eggs. Though I guess you do need to process the beetroot to mush and melt the chocolate with butter. I was going to take a picture but I couldn't remember where I left my camera (in my handbag!) until after it was already cooked and cut.

I hope you all had a nice chocolatey Christmas!

Monday, December 18, 2006

visions of Chocolate from Russia

I finally have my photos on my computer. There was just so much chocolate on display here!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Chocolate Christmas pudding

I remember when I was a kid and we used to be served Christmas pudding, the only reasons my brothers and I used to accept it was for the promise of coins. And the brandy butter. We use to dig around in the dessert, eating little bits of pudding with large amounts of the accompaniments until we found coins.

Now that I'm all grown up I like Christmas pudding more - though still mainly for the brandy butter. I went searching on the internet for a chocolate Christmas pudding recipe. Though in November I was so organised and made my recipe for the December newsletter I decided last week that I would try and make a chocolate Christmas pudding instead. So the newsletter has been delayed because today has been the first day I have been able to make it. Actually, I started last night. I've never made any kind of steamed pudding before and didn't realise it is supposed to stand in the dish overnight. So I finally took it off the boil at about midnight (did you know they have to boil for 1 3/4 hours? The tedium. Fortunately I was simultaneously making several batches of biscotti.

The final unveiling occured at midday today. The bowl was not quite right, but the pudding still tasted good. A quick trip to the supermarket in the afternoon to get some milk because I was going to make custard. Then I decided brandy butter would be easier, so the milk is still sitting in the fridge. I wouldn't normally use milk for anything but custard is so precarious to make from scratch I decided I better not risk using rice milk or a similar substitute.

Here is the pudding and the recipe can be found in the December newsletter which I will send out tomorrow. I took the picture before I had any cream or anything else pretty to decorate it, so please excuse its nakedness.

Happy Holidays!
(Oh, how politically correct!)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dominiques Chocolate

I confess, I took some chocolate with me to St Petersburg. I had no idea if Russian knew anything about chocolate. Whether you could get any good chocolate. I wasn't going to risk it.
We walked past Grand Hotel Europe and saw they had "Europe's finest afternoon tea". As we had eaten a very late (and large) breakfast and booked to go to the ballet that evening, we decided afternoon tea might be better than dinner. On the mezzanine we discovered now only a selection of cakes (which, incidentally, the ones we tried weren't that great) but CHOCOLATE! The hotel has begun making their own selection. We tried 13 of their 15 (I don't like praline that much) and totally fell in with their green apple and madras curry. I also really liked both of their cassis chocolates. And the banana and vodka pepper was nice too!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

from Russia, with Chocolate

We are definitely staying in the right hotel. It was obvious from the moment we arrive in the room. Two blue-paper wrapped squares bearing the hotel name sitting on a silver tray on the desk, on the underside the words, "60% Kakao". Excellent. Not so much the quality but the knowing that there was some chocolate to hand. And I was so grateful I had dropped one in my handbag as it was a life saver in the Hermitage when my blood sugar was dangerously low but I didn't want to leave as we hadn't yet seen all the highlights on our list. It tied me over till our lovely Russian lunch.

Got to, off to dinner. More later on the Russian chocolate discoveries.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Low Battery - Noooooo.....

I’m on the plane to Russia and the Low Battery warning is popping up. No…. I’m sure I remembered to pack the adaptor. I know I packed the cord, because I was careful to avoid putting the still-warm hair straighteners too close to it when I was packing the suitcase. I was rather hoping that delaying the trip to St Petersburg until December might mean there would be snow on the ground, but no, it will

Just be cold. That’s where it went into hibernation. Still over an hour to go on the flight. I didn’t know how to pass the time. I’m such a geek. I don’t take books travelling, I take my laptop.

Anyway, am in Russia now so will enjoy being in Russia and write more on my return! (Yes, I found chocolate!)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chocolate IS good for you!

I picked up London Careers magazine on my way into the tube this morning. No – definitely not looking for work, just wanted to read the articles. I haven’t taken one in about a year and interestingly this particular issue, apart from having a very strange error in printing that positioned an article on cures for diseases next to an unsmiling photo of Cameron Diaz, had an article about chocolate. How the dark stuff is useful in people at risk of heart attack. According to this article it thins the blood. They found this out because in a trial where people where on a restricted diet to minimise the extraneous variable some of the participants refused to give up chocolate (smart people) so they decided to monitor them separately. They had healthy readings! Hooray! Long live chocoholics!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Discovering country chocolatiers

A perfect weekend for country driving, though it felt and sounded like someone was throwing full buckets of water onto the window last night this morning the sky was washed clean and blue again. Perfect for family visiting. We went to visit Donnington brewery, where my grandmother grew up. Described as the prettiest brewery in the UK, with its lake and old stone buildings it really is beautiful as though painted into life. It is not open to the public. Nearby is gorgeous Stow-on-the-Wold. My father was born there. It is such a pretty town. Not a high street chain in sight. Plenty of quality food shops, making me very happy. Even better a chocolatier opened about six months ago. The lovely Katherine owns and runs Miette in Stow. A chocolatier and patisserie. In the lead up to Christmas the patisserie has been put on hold because the demand for chocolates is so high. Which is a shame, because I do like quality baked things, especially when baked by a chocolatier – you can guarantee they would have used good chocolate. Miette means small, sweet thing. According to Katherine some of the locals seem to think it is called “meat”; a little unfortunate but it doesn’t seem to affect the rave reviews.

Whilst not all the range that I would have liked to have sampled were available yesterday the fig and orange marmalade truffle was just lovely. Not too orangey. One or two left to try still…

The brownies from Maby’s are also worth trying if you happen to be in Stow.