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Cover: Loco for cocoa

March, 2012

29Mar 12

Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin

Grandma's TiffinThe word ‘tiffin’ is a 19th century word inherited from the colonial days of the Raj. It’s a loosely Indian term meaning a light snack or lunch, or referring to any light meal. It also has some relation to an old English term, ‘tiffing’, which meant ‘to take a sip’. Tiffin as we now know it today, came about when with the typical light British ‘afternoon tea’, merged with the Indian custom of taking a slightly more filling snack between meals. In some parts of India and Nepal it still means an in-between-meals snack. In Mumbai it means a packed lunch, and there are even dedicated people (sometimes called ‘tiffin wallahs’) whose job it is to deliver tiffin in boxes to workers and schoolchildren during the day.

My favourite kind of tiffin is my Grandma’s recipe – a rich, chocolate, biscuit and fruit crunch.  Grandma’s Chocolate Tiffin is one of those comfort foods that take me back to all those ‘feel-good’, happy childhood memories that I never want to lose. It’s great fun to make with, and for, children, and it’s so simple.

Ingredients:

  • 115g butter or margarine
  • 60g sugar
  • 60g golden syrup
  • 60g shredded or desiccated coconut
  • 60g raisins
  • 60g of white chocolate broken into small pieces
  • 20g drinking chocolate or cocoa powder
  • 150g good quality milk chocolate (or dark chocolate if you prefer)
  • 225g rich tea biscuits

Preparation Guidelines

  1. Grease a shallow tin (medium sized, 8” x 10” approx).
  2. Break biscuits into small pieces.
  3. Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan with the sugar and syrup.
  4. Add the drinking chocolate, coconut and raisins. NB – you could substitute chopped walnuts or other nuts for the coconut if you prefer, or leave out altogether. It’s just the same with the raisins if you find them too sweet.  Whatever you choose, it will be de-licious – the chocolate will make sure of that – so play around!
  5. Bring just to the boil then remove from heat and stir in the biscuit pieces and white chocolate.
  6. Spread the mix in the shallow pre-greased tin and leave to cool.
  7. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl. NB – it’s best to melt the chocolate either in a bowl over a pan of hot water, or in a small microwave-proof bowl in the microwave for a just few seconds; it melts very quickly so keep a close eye on it.
  8. Spread the melted chocolate over the biscuit mix and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  9. Cut when cold.

Time:    15-20 mins

Cocoa Treats:    around 20 pieces

 

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27Mar 12

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Chocolate Lava CakeI discovered Chocolate Lava Cakes only recently, and they are a true delight!  They are not like your traditional chocolate fudge cake.  As you bite into the chocolate sponge, the warm, gooey chocolate filling spills out onto your tongue.  A sensuous, and very welcome surprise for those not expecting it – and a treat for those who already know!  In fact, you need to eat these little heavenly parcels with a spoon, unless you want to get messy.  Chocolate Lava cakes are always eaten warm!

Ingredients:

  • 100g bar of good quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 5 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 large or extra large eggs
  • 1 large or extra large egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • A sprinkle of icing sugar or chocolate syrup to top before serving

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Slowly melt the chocolate and the butter together in a heat-proof bowl that sits in a saucepan of hot water.  Once melted, combine them well.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and the sugar together until light and creamy.
  3. Fold the chocolate mixture into the creamed eggs and sugar until well-combined.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt into the chocolate and egg mix, and stir the whole mixture together with a spatula.
  5. Line 4 x 140g ramekins or small oven-proof pots with butter before dividing the mixture evenly into them. Give them a little tap on the work surface to release any trapped air bubbles, and put them in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes.
  6. Whilst the mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 220ºC.  Take a deep roasting tray, and after the chilling time, transfer the pots from the fridge to the tray, and then pour water into the tray around the ramekins until it reaches halfway up the outsides of the pots.  Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from the water and put them on a serving plate.  Sprinkle over a little chocolate syrup or icing sugar and serve the lava cakes warm with a teaspoon.  Alternatively, turn the cakes out onto a plate, serving them warm and with a spoon.

Note:  This dessert is also wonderful served hot with ice cream.

Time: 15 minutes to prepare, 30 minutes cooling time, 15 minutes to cook

Cocoa Treats: 4

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26Mar 12

No-Bake Chocolate Biscuit Crunch

Chocolate Biscuit CrunchThis is a no-bake chocolate biscuit crunch.  I remember making it at school as a child.  I have strong memories of putting the digestive biscuits into a white plastic bag and bashing them with a rolling pin.  That bit was so much fun for us, though it must have been a moment of pure cacophony for the poor teacher!  I think we were about five or six at the time and we all felt very grown up putting on our little aprons and mixing together all of the ingredients.  Then taking our creation home to share with our proud mummies and the rest of the family – keeping a few big squares for ourselves of course!

This is a great recipe to make with little ones. They love making chocolate cookies, and this recipe is quick and easy. It’s very satisfying for them, and there are no hot ovens for you to worry about.  The only difficult bit is waiting for your chocolate biscuit crunch to set in the fridge before you can eat it!

Ingredients:

  • 175g good milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 175g good dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 115g butter
  • 400g condensed milk
  • 250g digestive biscuits

Preparation Guidelines:

  1. Line a baking tray or cake tin with greaseproof paper or clingfilm.  Choose your tin depending on the shape you want to create.
  2. Melt the butter and the chocolate together very gently in a saucepan, stirring regularly.  Remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the condensed milk into the mixture and work together.
  4. Put the digestive biscuits into large, clean sandwich or freezer bags and crush them by rolling and gently bashing with a rolling pin.  You may need to do this in 2 batches.  You are aiming to end up with small broken bits of biscuit and some crumble rather than all-biscuit crumble!  Stir the biscuits into the mixture.
  5. Spoon the ready mixture into your tin, pressing it well into the corners.  Leave the mixture to cool a while in the tin, and then transfer it to the fridge for setting.  It will take a minimum of 2 hours to set, and this will depend on the settings of your fridge.
  6. When you are ready to serve your chocolate biscuit crunch, take it out of the fridge and cut it into squares or wedges, depending on the tin you chose to make your mould.

Time: 20 minutes preparation time.  No cooking time.  At least 2 ½ hours cooling and setting time.

Cocoa Treats: 10-20 pieces

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23Mar 12

Mocha Slushy Punch

Mocha Slushy Punch

In my opinion, Christopher Columbus’ most important discovery was chocolate. OK, he had to discover the Americas to find it, and that was great too, but chocolate was the best thing he ever did. Before then, it was the dark and secretive preserve of the Central Americans and one of their gods in particular, Quetzalcoatl, who is usually represented as a serpent-like figure with plumes. The ancient guardians of chocolate (or ‘xocolatl’, as it was known) revered it as a source of strength and wealth – and how right they were! It is both energy-giving and worth masses on the stock market! It has evolved into a vastly more sophisticated and varied product than Columbus could have dreamed, especially while he was drinking the bitter watery concoction that passed for drinking chocolate in those days! Columbus is known to have drunk chocolate, but it was his compatriot, Hernan Cortez who brought it back to Europe in the early 16th century. I bet they would have loved to have sampled my Mocha Slushy Punch.

Try this as a dessert idea after a filling dinner when you think there won’t be much room for heavy pudding – it goes down a treat!  I use Baileys, but you could just as easily use whisky or rum for a delicious alternative. You could also create some great non-alcoholic versions or use a similar recipe for a cool iced mocha.

Ingredients

  • 1L of freshly brewed coffee, well chilled
  • 1 small pot whipping cream (200ml)
  • 1L tub choc ice cream
  • 60ml Baileys
  • Chocolate syrup to drizzle on top

Preparation guidelines:

  1. Make the coffee in advance and put in the fridge to chill.
  2. Whip the cream until really firm.
  3. Put the chilled coffee into a big bowl.
  4. Add around half of the ice cream and mix in until slushy.
  5. Add your Baileys or other drink/flavouring.
  6. Mix in the rest of the ice cream, pour into tall glasses, add the whipped cream and sprinkle with the chocolate flakes.
  7. Serve immediately.

Note:  Serve immediately in tall glasses with long spoons. Keep super-chilled if it’s going to be more than 5 mins before you serve, to preserve the slushy texture.

Time:    10 mins plus a couple of hours to chill the fresh coffee

Cocoa Treats:    4 generous servings

 

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