Thursday, 13 August 2009

A week of chocolate

Quite unexpectedly, I recieved a message from a friend the other day asking how often I exercise and brush my teeth during the day. This curious text came shortly after I uploaded more pictures of some sweet items I made for our online catalogue.

chocolate cream tart

It is only mid-week and I have gone through more than 5 kilos of chocolate. Since we've launched our official business website, the number of followers on our Facebook page have grown and orders for our sweets have arrived steadily. I am so pleased that our bespoke products are being received so well by the public and I owe it very much to all the wonderful feedback and recommendations from and by our friends. Thank you all so much!

a grand chocolate cake

Our most requested item is a cake we duly name "a grand chocolate cake". It is a tall cake consisting of rich velvety dark chocolate ganache sandwiched between 3 layers of tender-moist chocolate cake then topped regally with scrolls of dark chocolate. It is really an elaborate and celebratory version of my favourite chocolate cake - the one I eat in shamelessly door-stopper-thick wodges along with a tall glass of cold milk.

rich chocolate cake : rich yet light

Early on, I intended to put a family-style chocolate cake on our menu for everyday eating that is similar to the grand chocolate but in more modest proportions. However, after a brief study of various cream to chocolate ratios, I stumbled upon a winning formula that produced a chocolate creme not unlike chocolate mousse, and decided to incorporate it into a cake somehow. And so, our rich chocolate cake was born. This cake showcases 4 different textures of chocolate: 2 layers of moist cake, airy creme, velvety ganache and wispy curls in a perfect balance. It is a seriously intense chocolate experience, a heavyweight in the departments of flavour and character compared to many of its mousse-y compatriots. I must add, the beauty of this cake is, it makes for beautiful eating straight out of the refrigerator.

chocolate tart

One thing pretty much led to another and I spent most of my week trying out different chocolate recipes. I made some tarts and biscuits, and then some more. Although I find testing new recipes and making them reproducible an interesting exercise, I really am looking forward to having a little more time to indulge in "hobby" cooking and not "work" cooking.

classic chocolate chip cookies

And just for the record: I seldom exercise enough and I brush my teeth twice a day.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

the nibblers vs. the chompers

I spent a good part of last week experimenting with these biscuits. I know they look pretty basic - shortbread topped with dried fruit and nuts, but I assure you they are anything but. These biscuits embody the minimalist perfection of taste and texture. There is no recipe to follow but you can hardly go wrong. It is just paramount to begin with good chocolate, quality garnish and your favourite shortbread.

The inspiration for these bite sized treats came from the French mendiant which literally translates into "beggar of alms", more specifically referring to the 4 orders of mendicant monks. Of course, classically these perfect rounds of crisp chocolate discs are topped with blanched almonds, dried figs, raisins and hazelnuts, each representing the colour of the robes worn by the friars. I chose a combination of 5 nuts and fruit: pistachio, walnut, dried apricot, cranberry and raisin, as I felt compelled to, though not by greed, but by my inability to decide between raisin and cranberry with their complimentary sweet and tart nature.

I think these are the perfect after-dinner sweet. A little something to accompany your coffee when there just isn't enough room for dessert (a situation which remains foreign to me). Also, by adjusting the size of these biscuits, you can cater for all walks of biscuit eaters: the nibblers and the chompers. I have to add, I am partial to the larger biscuits because they look bountiful but my family have a firm preference for the smaller and more elegant variation which admittedly are more laborious to produce, but are as delightful to look at, and as delicious to eat.