From the vaults: Chocolat

This is yet another entry I have to re-post, God knows why. Maybe it’s me and I still haven’t figured out how to use WordPress properly. Just because I don’t want you to felt cheated, I’ve added a little extra.


Having recently finished “The Lollipop Shoes”, Joanne Harris’ excellent sequel to her superb book “Chocolat”, I felt quite inspired to write a themed entry for my blog. Although she is not a chef, Joanne Harris is very passionate about her food and that comes across really well in her books. I wish I had her skill when describing a recipe…

I have to say chocolate has always been one of my perennial passions anyway.

So I thought I’d leave you with two of my recent chocolate recipes: brownies and chocolate pistachio fudge, both from Nigella Lawson. Having temporarily lost my staple brownies recipe, I decided to try hers and they turned out great.

I will be including the other version (the one I use most of the time) here anyway so that I don’t lose it anymore.


Having recently been on holidays in Miramar, Argentina, I will also include a few pictures I took there, this time from a chocolate shop which made fresh batches of c hocolate twirls (chocolate en rama for us in Argentina) at the shop window, as you can see.



The other shop window is from a shop in Buenos A ires (it was in Miramar too) which had a lovely chocolate chess on display.

I don’t know if the pun was intended or not but regardless of that, it’s highly original when you stop to think that the point of the game (apart from the check-mate) is to “eat” your opponent’s pieces. I think that in English the proper term would be to “capture” your opponent’s pieces. Anyway, that’s what we would say in Spanish.

By the way, the chocolate fudge makes a wonderful present if you have friends who are into chocolate. By using a chocolate that was high in cocoa (70%), the taste is rich and not too sweet but very chocolatey. Enjoy!


Brownies – from How to be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson (I halved the recipe and it was still quite enough)

375g soft unsalted butter

375g best-quality dark chocolate

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

500g caster sugar

225g plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

300g chopped walnuts

tin measuring approximately 33 x 23 x 5 ½ cm

birthday candles and holders, if appropriate

Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line your brownie pan – I think it’s worth lining the sides as well as the base – with foil, parchment or Bake-O-Glide.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy-based pan. In a bowl or large wide-mouthed measuring jug, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla.

Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt.

When the chocolate has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar, and then the nuts and flour. Beat to combine smoothly and then scrape out of the saucepan into the lined pan.

Bake for about 25 minutes. When it’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle still dark and dense and gooey. And even with such a big batch you do need to keep alert, keep checking: the difference between gungy brownies and dry brownies is only a few minutes; remember that they will continue to cook as they cool.

Makes a maximum of 48.

VARIATIONS

You can really vary brownies as you wish: get rid of the walnuts, or halve them and make up their full weight with dried cherries; or replace them with other nuts – peanuts, brazils, hazelnuts – add shredded coconut or white chocolate chips or buttons; try stirring in some Jordan’s Original Crunchy cereal. I had high hopes for chic, after-dinner pistachio-studded brownies, but found the nuts get too soft and waxy, when what you need is a little crunchy contrast.

Brownies (this is the recipe I turn to most of the time)

First turn the oven on.

Grease and flour a rectangular pan.

Place a pan with boiling water on the heat and on top of this another pan to create a bain Marie. Here melt 6 bars of good-quality chocolate and 125g butter. Once melted, take off the heat.

Mix and add 2 cups sugar, 4 eggs, ½ tsp salt, 1 cup plain flour, 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) and 1 or 2 tsp vanilla essence.Scrape it out of the saucepan into the greased and floured pan. Bake until the top is dry (about 30 to 35 minutes but do check regularly as it will depend on your oven). Take out of the oven and leave it to cool. Cut into squares. They must be gooey inside but dry outside.


Chocolate Pistachio Fudge adapted from Nigell a Express by Nigella Lawson

350g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), chopped

1 x 397g can condensed milk

30g butter

pinch salt

150g pistachios


1.      Put the chopped chocolate, condensed milk , butter and salt in a heavy-based pan on a low heat, and stir to melt.

2.      Put the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.

3.      Add the nuts to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix. If you were doing regular fudge, you would notice the condensed milk change colour, a bit like when you make dulce de leche. This being chocolate fudge, I’m afraid you’ll have to play it by ear.

4.      Pour and spatch this mixture into a foil tray 23 cm square, smoothing the top.

5.      Let the fudge cool down, and refrigerate until set. You can then cut it into small pieces approx. 3 x 2.25 cm. cutting 8 x 10 lines in the tin to give 64 pieces best achieve this.

6.      Once cut, it can be kept in the freezer – no need to thaw jut eat straight away.

Makes 64 pieces of rich fudge


And here it is, the Domestic Goddess herself making them:


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