Today's nattering starts with cheese. Not just any cheese mind you, a lovely selection of Swiss cheese.
On returning from a stock buying mission today, wifey and I decided to create some cheesy breads.
My favourite method is to incorporate some hard cheese into the dough, then top it off with some good quality mature cheddar 15 minutes before the cooking's up.
Wife's strategy is to use a much smoother, creamier cheese, such as a Swiss Appenzeller both in the dough and to top off the finished loaf.
So we both set to work.
It became apparent from the smells drifting out of the oven that I had made a mistake.
Although the hard cheese was making a lovely cheesy steam, the Swiss Appenzeller shone through to our hungry nostrils.
Please don't get me wrong, a good hard Cheddar is as good an accompaniment to lots of dishes as anything, but the subtle creaminess of a good quality Swiss cheese certainly takes some beating.
So, my advice to all you cheesy bakers out there, try letting a little Swiss into your life! (And the super soft cheeses of Switzerland are incredible. Try Vacherin Mont D'or).
And so to today's free recipe which this week is.... drum roll please......
FANTASTIC SIMPLE PARTY CHOCOLATES RECIPE
Be warned, at some point during this recipe I will use the phrase 'Bain Marie'. Please don't hurl your computer into the dustbin in disgust, it just means to place a glass bowl over a gently simmering pan of water so you can use the heat of the steam but not the moisture to melt your chocolate.
Just like all of the Fantastic recipes, the ingredients list can easily be tweaked and changed to suit individual tastes and dietary requirements.
Chocolate (For this selection, use white, dark and milk. One large bar of each.)
Jelly (choose your flavour, you won't need the whole pack)
Icing sugar (to dust the tops)
Bain Marie - Glass bowl, pan smaller than glass bowl, a little water
Ice cube tray(s) - These will be the moulds for your chocolates so choose wisely. The silicone variety is best as your chocolates will peel out of them much easier than a rigid tray
Visualise your finished chocolate. Yes, that's right, visualise it. Is is made of three layers of white, milk and dark chocolate? Perhaps it has a jelly centre? Maybe a pinch of coconut between each layer? Why not dust the top with icing sugar or hide an almond inside?
Ok, that's the zen bit over. Now for the method.
It's pretty obvious you're going to have to melt the chocolate so begin by setting up the Bain Marie (sorry). Put about an inch of water in the pan and, when it is close to simmering, turn down the heat a little and place the glass bowl on top as shown below;
Break up the chocolate bar of your choice into the bowl.
Move the chunks around until they melt together to form lovely silky melted chocolate.
Now, decide which of your party chocolates require this type of chocolate and begin filling the appropriate ice cube pots.
If you would like to create a simple solid chocolate, just fill a pot all the way to the top, easy!
If you want to hide a nut inside, fill about a third of the pot and allow to cool a little. When the chocolate is beginning to go tacky and thicken, press the nut into the third-full pot and leave to set completely (we find almonds work a treat, hazelnuts too).
Now, to finish the nut chocolate outlined above, when the base with a nut in it has set completely, continue filling the pot. If you are making a triple layer chocolate with a nut inside, don't make the middle layer too thick, allow plenty of room to finish the chocolate off with the third layer.
The jelly containing version above works in just the same way. The only difference is that a well cut piece of jelly (straight from the packet, don't bother making it into jelly proper) will stand on the first layer of chocolate when it has set completely.
I hope the illustrations help a little. Trying to photograph the process whilst racing setting chocolate is no fun at all! However, I do apologise for the quality. I am a cook, not an artist!
There are many different ways you can personalise these party chocolates.
If you are brave try hiding a chunk of hot chilli inside. If you are feeling fruity, why not try hiding some crystallised ginger or orange inside?
Now to finish your party chocolates;
When they have set completely, turn them onto a piece of baking parchment and use one, all or none of the methods below to add the final pizazz to your Fantastic Party Chocolates;
- Dust with icing sugar
- Dust with dessicated coconut
- Decorate with edible gold leaf
- Make child friendly with 100s and 1000s
- Carefully cut patterns into the tops with a sharp knife
- Gently push a favourite sweet into the top
Do check out our latest offerings on the kindle.
And please feel free to contact us via the Fantastic Cook Books Fan Page.
Until next time, enjoy your chocolates!
The Fantastic Team