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Monday 18 July 2011

A Chocolate Dinner Party... round Kate's house!

Being huge fans of the popular television show 'Come Dine With Me', my dear friend Colette came up with the idea of hosting our own version of the programme. So, she gathered three of her friends together (me being one of them) and we all agreed to host a dinner party each. I know it's a cliché but I couldn't resist having a go at a chocolate themed evening. I kept this a secret so they had no idea until they actually started eating what the secret ingredient was!

A week before the party I concocted my own 'Chocolate Rum' recipe ready to add to my cocktails at the start of the evening. I basically infused a bottle of Rum with toasted cocoa nibs and some grated 100% (both available from Cocoa, Ecclesall Road by the way!).

Chocolate Rum Recipe:

Bottle of Rum (I used Morgan Spiced)
50g Cocoa nibs
2 squares Rococo 100%

A funnel, frying pan, grater, sieve, jug, empty bottle

1. Gently dry fry the cocoa nibs on on the hob for a couple of minutes
2. Add to the Rum (you may need to pour a bit out)
3. Grate in the the chocolate
4. Give it a good shake
5. Shake 2-3 times a day for 5 days minimum (depends how chocolaty you want it though!)
6. When you're ready to drink, strain into a jug and transfer into a clean bottle
7. Enjoy! It tastes good with Coke (a Cocoa Cola!), neat with ice or...

.... how about a Chocolate Mojito?

To accompany the Mojitos I made some nibbles....

Goats Cheese with Cocoa nibs... a truly magical combo

4 Tbls Cocoa nibs
11 oz goats cheese
½ clove minced garlic
1 Tbls honey
1 Tbls ginger syrup
Black pepper
Cocoa powder for sprinkling

1. You basically just mix all the ingredients together.
I then rolled the mixture into small bite size balls but you could roll into a log and slice it's up to you!
2. Sprinkle with Cocoa powder and serve!

I also made an Egyptian Chocolate Beetroot Dip... interesting

A pack of 4 cooked Beetroot grated (buy them from the Sharrow Marrow, Sharrowvale Road)
3 Tbls greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
lemon juice (to taste)
1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon paprika
1 square 100% choc grated
pepper to taste

1. Mix all ingredients together!
2. Serve warm or cold with pitta or some sort of bread (i was going to make chocolate bread but ran out of time!)

The lovely ladies looking beautiful and trying to guess what that secret ingredient is....

For starters I attempted a White Chocolate Avocado (Savoury?!) Cheesecake. Sounds random I know! If you haven't tried cooked avocado before you should. The flavour is much less subtle and quite bitter so the addition of sweet white chocolate balances out this bitterness.

White Chocolate Avocado Cheesecake Recipe

200g cream cheese
1 egg, beaten
25ml double cream
1 large avocado mashed
50g white chocolate chopped/grated
1tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

x6 10cm baked (and cooled) pastry shells (I cheated and used ready made puff pastry)
- I tried making a breadcrumb base instead of pastry but found pastry worked better.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees

2. Mix all ingredients together
3. Spoon into pastry shells
4. Bake until lightly browned and when toothpick comes out clean (approx 35 minutes).
5. Remove cakes from oven and cool.

I topped the cakes with roasted red pepper and drizzled with sticky Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar...

Ingredients (approximate measures I just shoved it all in a pan!)
4 parts Balsamic Vinegar
1 part Valrhona Abinao 85%

1. Gently heat vinegar in a pan stirring constantly until thick and syrupy
2. Take off heat and add chocolate, stir until melted

Cheers to Chocolate!
After the starter I served frozen grapes as a palate cleanser, thought this was important after all that rich food and a preparation for more...

Excuse the rubbish photo (doesn't really do the dish justice) as it was dark by the main course and I didn't have chance to fiddle around with camera settings (I had sipped a few glasses of wine at this point ooops!).

I decided to opt away from the predictable Mexican Mole sauce....
so served a Mushroom Ragu with a white chocolate sweet potato cake and a green salad with a citrus and cocoa nib vinaigrette.

Chocolate and mushrooms so go rather well together! Plus the addition of the 100% thickens the sauce and leaves a lovely velvety finish. I thought a slightly sweet Potato Cake would complement
the rich smokiness of the Ragu and the tangy crunchy salad would refresh the palate.

Mushroom & Chocolate Ragu Recipe


450g mixed mushrooms (I used button, shitake, oyster, portobella, enoki)
50g Butter
2 Garlic Cloves minced
150ml Red Wine
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
salt & pepper
50ml water
1 Tbsp grated Rococo 100% chocolate

1. Slice mushrooms to about ¼ inch thick

2.Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add some butter
3. Once butter is foaming. Add one type of mushroom and sauté, stirring frequently until browned.
Repeat this with each mushroom added more of the butter each time
and emptying all mushrooms into the same bowl.

When all mushrooms are cooked. Heat a splash of oil in the same pan and sauté the minced garlic until translucent, but not brown.
5. Return the mushrooms to the pan, add the the wine, spices, salt and simmer to let the wine evaporate.
6. Add the water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until to the mushrooms are cooked, they should get all lovely and juicy.

7. Uncover and cook until the sauce is reduced and slightly syrupy.
Stir in the chocolate until it melts.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes with white chocolate


170g quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions

450g sweet potatoes (2 medium sized), peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

4 spring onions chopped

1 tablespoon dried sage

50g white chocolate grat

salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 200 C
  2. Boil sweet potato chunks until soft. Mash.
  3. Combine mashed sweet potatoes, cooked quinoa, spring onions, white chocolate, sage, salt & pepper.
  4. Form into cakes and place onto a baking sheet covered in parchment (I pressed mine through a biscuit cutter to shape as the mixture was quite sloppy)
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re lightly brown and crisp on the outside

Salad Dressing: Citrus & Cocoa Nib Vinaigrette Recipe

2 lemons
1 small orange
1 shallot
300ml olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pepper
Cocoa Nibs

Prep Juice the lemons, orange, and shallot in a juice extractor. Put the juices in a bowl and whisk in the olive oil in a slow stream to form an emulsion. Add nibs. Season with the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Time for Dessert! There was a savoury twist to the chocolate dessert, thought I'd confuse their palates even more!

I made A basil infused white chocolate cream with sticky balsamic strawberries (found on BBC Goodfood) accompanied by a salted caramel tart.

The Salted caramel tart was dead easy (I cheated quite a bit!).

I basically just....
1. Bought some puff pastry and Dulche d'leche (caramel).
2. Rolled out the pastry, cut out circles, popped into a heart shaped mould and blind baked until golden.
3.Once cooled, I then filled the pastry hearts with the caramel and topped with some Gianduja (a posh version Italian version of praline, available from Cocoa)
3. Sprinkled with flakes of sea salt & popping candy (also available form Cocoa).

I decorated the white choc cream with a miniature sparkler and an edible flower from my garden!

I thought it'd be nice to give the ladies some chocolates to take home with them but thought it would be even more delightful if they could make their own! We made our chocolates whilst sipping on Cocoa's famous Blackforest Gateau Tea.

So I made some little bowls of ganache the night before and filled a Bento box with assorted sprinkles (included crushed ginger biscuits, vermicelli, cocoa, icing sugar, caramelised hazelnuts) to roll the chocolates in.

The chocolate ladies proud of their chocolate making skills!

To add a personal touch, I made some stickers for everyone to stick on the boxes.

When our sticky fingers were all clean we smoked Chocolate Shisha and blew smoke rings like the caterpillar!

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Day out in London

This was a spontaneous day trip to London with my boyfriend. He had to attend a 3 hour course in Waterloo, I was left with 3 hours to myself....so I attempted to find at least one chocolate shop to explore! There are three Rococo shops in London, I have been to the one on King's road with Kate but today I managed to find their new Belgravia shop.

We have sold Rococo chocolates for 7 years now so I love seeing their shops as they are just so beautiful! The packaging is gorgeous this picture has most of the bars we sell in Cocoa.

Rococo are the company that told us about the Grenada bar, so it was good to see it at home in London as well.

Inside the shop there is a small cafe selling delicious cakes and hot chocolate, I love these blueberry cupcakes!

And downstairs there is a chocolate factory where the chocolates are made and they also run chocolate courses for parties.

And outside there is a beautiful Moroccan garden full of colourful tiles, I love the way it looks like a patchwork rug on the ground. People were drinking their hot chocolate here, I wish Cocoa had a secret garden in the back but in reality it's full of bins!

As I walked out of Rococo I found a Pierre Herme shop full of Macaroons! I love this display.

I thought taking this picture was as close as I was going to get to taking them home.

I walked over to the V&A museum managing to not spend a penny in Belgravia (I was very proud of myself) Here are a few things that took my fancy right at the top of the museum in the Ceramics display.


Some of my favourite tea cups!

Then I took the tube to Islington to see Paul A Young's chocolate shop. He makes great chocolate but also stocks the Duffy bar, which we sell in Cocoa.

I also found this chocolate that is made in Brooklyn by the Mast brothers, they have a great website worth checking out: www.mastbrotherschocolate.com

These look great!

I also like these colourful chocolate slabs.

Kate and I are hoping to go to London in September for a food fair that has a special chocolate section, so hopefully we will find some more shops then!

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Mr Popple's Raw Chocolate

New in to Cocoa we have...... Raw chocolate! So what exactly is raw chocolate? Well normal chocolate comes from beans which have been roasted and mixed with sugar, this raw chocolate is made from un-roasted beans and instead of sugar has a natural sweeter called yacon. Raw un-roasted beans are really high in antioxidents and have 0ver 300 nutritional and feel good compounds that make you feel ....well good! By using Yacon as a sweetner instead of sugar you won't get any energy slumps.

Here is Mr Popple's range of bars. All of Mr Popple's bars are also gluten, soya and dairy free. The ingredients are fairly traded and even the packaging is 100% recycled & bio-degradable. As well as tasting great this chocolate has pretty magical benefits for us. Because the beans are not roasted we save all the nutrients (that would have been lost in the roasting process) creating psychoactive effects, such as...

Tryptophan – the body can convert this essential amino acid into serotonin which is one of the most powerful mood elevating neurotransmitters. Having an abundance of serotonin will help you feel great all day! Raw cacao is known as “nature’s prozac” for this reason
Theobromine – has a similar effect to caffeine
Anandimine – this cannabinoid produces mild feelings of bliss
Endorphins – released when eating exceptional chocolate, these produce a warm inner glow
Phenylethylamine (PEA) – this is the chemical released by the brain when we fall in love

And here are Mr Popple's bars in Cocoa, we are hoping to get the whole range in soon and then pop them into our cyber shop. Why not come in to cocoa and try chocolate that definitely won't make you feel guitly!