Something else we were given at the Academy of Chocolate Awards this summer – a stick of pure cocoa from Hotel Chocolat’s St. Lucian plantation. It comes with a recipe for a hot chocolate drink, but since it’s still relatively warm outside, it’s a bit soon for cocoa – for me at least.
So what to do with it? A nibble at it gave me some idea of its character – light, fragrant cocoa flavours, slightly bitter but not tongue-shrivellingly harsh, and obviously lacking in sweetness, it set my mind to thinking about desserts, and this is what I came up with.
I started with a trip to the fridge, wherein I located raspberries, cream, and a tub of Galler’s 85% Noir chocolate spread (other chocolate spreads are available, but probably not 85% cocoa). Having decided on a biscuit base, Hob Nobs were crushed and mixed with melted butter (other biscuits are available – I just wanted something a little more crumbly than a standard cheesecake base). I also decided to include a banana for extra fruitiness and to balance the fat and sugar in the rest of the dessert. Once the biscuits had been crushed and blended with the butter, I used them to create the base in some ramekins I had saved from some desserts made by another well known dessert manÜfactÜrer. Off they went to the fridge while I did some whipping of cream.
The cream was whipped until firm, and then half was put aside. The remaining half was blended with a generous dollop of the chocolate spread.
Taking care to incorporate the cream gradually, I ended up with a smooth, creamy mixture.
Next, the banana was sliced thinly and laid over the biscuit base.
After that, I spread a layer of my cream and chocolate mix over the bananas, and then made a layer of halved raspberries.
All that remained was for me to take the rest of the whipped cream and top off the ramekins. Now at this point the desserts could be said to be finished, but I discovered a curious thing. Grating a generous amount of the Hotel Chocolat stick over the cream transformed the taste. The light cocoa flavours blend amazingly well with the cream (much as they will with hot milk, I imagine), lifting the overall taste to new heights. I was surprised that such a seemingly minor addition could do so much, but it did.
And the desserts? Universally praised and consumed with gusto. They took about twenty minutes to make, cost a lot less than ready made puds, and the fruit cu the cream and chocolate perfectly. A neat alternative to just grating this lovely cocoa into hot milk.