There are some foods that however much you love them, they take so long to make you can really only do it once a year. Christmas seems to have a lot of these, and amongst my favourites are candied orange peel dipped in chocolate and caramelised rum-soaked cacao nibs to sprinkle over desserts or make into a chocolate. This Christmas my Magnificent Creations are using both.
If you would like to watch my tasting video for this Christmas Discovery Box you can go to www.williescacao.com/willies-world/willies-tv/. Otherwise here is a bit of background to the different chocolates.
As ever, make sure your chocolate is at room temperature, before you taste it. It really wants to be at body temperature because that’s the temperature it melts at, and when it will happily release all its flavours. Let’s start with the dark chocolates.
I always say my chocolates are like my children and I don’t have favourites, but the Rio Caribe 72 with its coffee, nutty notes is a classic that stands tall in the bean world. A beautiful trinitario bean from the palm fringed Paria peninsula in Venezuela. When I close my eyes and think of chocolate it’s these nutty, coffee layers of flavour that roll in.
Now let’s move around the globe to Indonesia, the home of the Surabaya 69 dark chocolate with its toffee, caramel notes. You could say this is the Marmite of my single estate dark chocolates, people either seem to love it or hate it. It’s quite a character, bold and extrovert. I make Milk of the Stars with this bean because of these rich caramel notes. Chocolate makers have often caramelised their sugar to make milk chocolates, but with this bean the caramel flavour is all natural. To finish off the dark chocolates, let’s get fruity. Both the Peruvian Chulucanas 70 and the Madagascan Sambirano 71 have fruit notes, but oh so different. With the Chulucanas you get soft raisins and plums, and with the Sambirano it is sparkly, juicy and almost citrussy.
Don’t you love cracking into whole nuts on Christmas day? I say cracking, it’s really more smashing with bits going everywhere. Let’s move on to Almendra, Sur del Lago 70 dark chocolate with Marcona almonds that I have roasted myself. These nuts are something special and freshly roasted they are just extraordinary. Health food shops really all need mini roasters so they can sell them that way! Hazelnut Raisin made with Chulucanas 70 also gets its nuts freshly roasted. And you can end up with Ginger Lime and Luscious Orange, another pair of festive favourites both made with the Baracoa bean because of its beautifully complementary honey notes.
Talk about handmade chocolates, I have been candying, soaking, drying and caramelising for months in preparation for these.
Naranja, Baracoa 69 dark chocolate jewelled with Candied Orange. Candied Orange Peel dipped in chocolate is a fabulous Christmas snack. But it takes hours of work, boiling the peel and rinsing it in cold water multiple times to remove the bitterness before you can candy it. A labour of love… I’ve done it for you!
Navidad, Sur del Lago 69 dark chocolate with caramelised, cognac soaked cacao nibs. I have soaked these nibs not just in any old brandy, but in 10 year old VSOP artisan cognac. It takes me back to Christmas in Venezuela, soaking nibs for months so that when they are dried and caramelised you still really catch the rum. This one takes even longer to make than the candied orange peel, but boy it’s worth it. Ho! Ho! Ho! and a bottle of rum!