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Adventures in Chocolate

We have been experimenting with chocolate and other flavours to see how they work together. This was in the run up to Valentine’s day.

I love game and had some venison medallions in the freezer, I wanted to keep them simple, but give them a twist. Then I remembered the amazing Willie’s Cacao from http://www.willieschocolateshop.com/willies-cacao-chocolate-shop.html  we were given for Christmas. It is one of the special single bean and country of origin, 100% cocoa and very dark and intense.

I just gave the venison medallions 2-3 minutes each side on a very hot pan and then put them to rest in the bottom oven. I added a splash of red wine to the pan and reduced it to a spoonful and then added a splash of hot water and brought it to the boil and let it reduce to about 3 tablespoonfuls. I added 20 grams of the chocolate in pieces and let it melt in the gravy, with the pan off the heat.

To serve with it I made a creamy, chicory and blue cheese gratin.
When the venison and chocolate sauce was on the plate with the creamy chicory I wondered if I’d made a big mistake. I hadn’t really thought this through.

The first mouthful of venison and chocolate was delicious. The second mouthful of chicory was delicious, but the third of chicory and chocolate was also delicious!
Somehow these two bitter elements had a complementary effect on each other that seemed to be helped by the cream. I may have found something, but I’m not sure chicory and chocolate sauce will take off.

Another flavour that always goes well with chocolate is orange.
Last night I was treated to a “Jaffa” pudding, an orange flavoured sponge pudding baked with a chocolate bottom that became it’s top and served with a marmalade sauce.
It was rich and the bitter dark chocolate with the sponge gave it a very un-sweet taste.
We also add orange zest to our hot chocolate pots giving them quite a zesty zing.

The best flavour I find I like with chocolate is coffee, a recent trial mocha bread & butter pudding went down really well. It still needs a little work.
The Mocha cake below will have to do for now. For Valentine’s day I cut out heart shapes with a cookie cutter and iced each of them. I works just as well to decorate the whole cake and let the icing set and cut it into fingers.

Mocha Cake

40 g cocoa powder
3 tbs espresso coffee
175 g soft butter                        
175 g caster sugar                       
175 g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
3 eggs

Set the oven to GM 4/350˚F/180˚C, line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment.
Mix the cocoa powder with the espresso.
Cut up the butter and put into a mixing bowl with the sugar and the eggs. Sift in the flour and baking powder.
Beat together the contents of the bowl until smooth and creamy.
Stir in the cocoa and espresso.
Pour the mixture into the Swiss roll tin and bake for 20-30 minutes in the centre of the oven.
When the cake is done it will spring back when gently poked with a finger. Take it out of the oven and turn on to a wire rack and peel off the paper. Leave to cool!
Cover the cake with the mocha icing and decorate with the white chocolate icing.

Mocha Satin Icing

115 g milk chocolate
50 g soft butter
3 tbs coffee
175 g sifted icing sugar

Put the chocolate, butter and coffee into a bowl over a pot of hot water and melt them together.
Beat in the icing sugar.
Leave to cool a little and pour over the cake.

White Chocolate Icing

60 g white chocolate
25 g soft butter
2 dsp milk
85 g sifted icing sugar

Put the chocolate, butter and milk in a bowl and put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melt them together.
Beat in the icing sugar.
Leave to cool a little and pour over the cake.

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