Own up now. Don’t be shy. We’ve all done it, we’ve all been there. My name’s Tattie Weasle and I’m a chocoholic.
I’ve lied, cheated and stolen for my addiction and yes, I did eat some of my children’s Easter eggs without telling them. In fact, I am ashamed to admit some Easter eggs never actually arrived at their destination. Well, come on! The Boy got three Cadbury’s Mini Egg Easter Eggs and he’d have been sick if he had had them all! I was doing my motherly duty and saving him from himself…it’s true!
My addiction is so bad that when there is chocolate in the house I cannot sit still until I have eaten it. All of it. Only at that point can I relax.
With most other things I am a sharing sort of person but with chocolate that is not the case. Dear Charlie has been known to ask me if there is any chocolate in the house so he can have a bit with his tea just before bedtime. I have responded with the no I am sorry excuse, at the same time as stuffing my face with the last few pieces.
It’s not that I don’t love my husband, it’s just that, well, I obviously love chocolate more. So imagine my consternation when my husband was the one who opened a huge packet addressed to me only to find 11 bars of chocolate in it courtesy of Green & Blacks! There was no way I could hide the evidence and surreptitiously eat it at my leisure in the dead of night when the rest of the family was sleeping. Now I had to share.
Deciding that my best bet was to save myself from myself, I virtuously announced that as there was so much chocolate we’d all do the taste test that Green & Blacks had so kindly suggested. I had already noted that they had said each person should restrict themselves to only a couple of squares of each chocolate and I calculated that between the four of us technically only eight squares of each bar would be eaten leaving the rest, well available for future reference…
I think I was a little to obvious in my greed for Dear Charlie suggested very firmly that we should invite a whole load of friends over for a tasting the following Friday. OK. All well and good, but the following Friday was a week away and how on earth was I going to prevent myself from eating the chocolate before then? For every packet would have to be pristine on the night. I couldn’t just break it into bits in bowls because Dear Charlie would know that I had been at it.
It was a difficult week. It was an expensive week. For there was no way I could not eat the chocolate and every night the chocolate was checked to make sure it was all there an accounted for. Basically what happened was that he’d leave for work at 6am and by 7am the chocolate would have been opened and a few chunks devoured. The bar would then be hastily removed upstairs to my bedroom where it would be secreted in a little hidey hole in my wardrobe form whence I could snatch a couple of chunks throughout the day just to keep me going. I would then have to replace the bar with a new one bought from the local supermarket. Unfortunately for me some days did not work out so well. Like the time I took the Cherry one – I don’t like cherries and trying to buy a replacement saw me travel from Stowmarket to Bury St Edmunds in a desperate race against time one late afternoon to get the another back in the draw before he returned from London.
By the time Friday came round I was slightly manic and to be honest not really looking forward to an evening of chocolate. I think it was the guilt.
As well as eating chocolate I had also been given cooking chocolate. The whole meal was going to be based on chocolate. If it’s pudding you are after then Green & Blacks have some amazing recipes but if you want to have savoury dishes then, that is a little trickier.
However, as I said I’m a chocoholic and I now give you, the until now, heavily guarded secret of my gravy, my rich meat pies, the je ne sais quois of my hot pots; for years I have been using dark chocolate in a host of dishes, the best of which, is of course, Chilli Con Carne.
If you want to make your meat sauces just that little bit richer add a few cubes of dark chocolate the higher the cocoa content the better though for many an 85% will be a bit bitter. A good 70% will do perfectly and the nice thing I found out about Green & Blacks is that even at its highest cocoa content it is never bitter.
The evening was brilliant and we all followed the Green & Blacks Chocolate Tasting Rules and had a total blast. I will admit I have not had such fun in ages and I would be quite willing to share my chocolate again, perhaps, sometime in the future…maybe…
Green & Blacks Tasting Rules
• Ensure your chocolate is at room temperature.
• Limit yourself to around six different chocolate varieties. Allow roughly two squares per person. Any more will give you tasting fatigue.
• Start with the lightest variety, e.g. White, and finish with the darkest, e.g. Dark 85%
As you taste…
• Observe the appearance of the chocolate as chocolates vary in colour. Like wine, intensity of colour does not necessarily indicate intensity of flavour.
• Smell the chocolate. Take a small piece and let it melt between your thumb and forefinger. It is only then that you experience the aromas that we usually describe as flavours.
• Taste the chocolate. Put the first piece in your mouth and pinch your nose. Pinching your nose lets your tongue and mouth truly experience the tastes and other sensations perceived in the mouth, as opposed to flavour, which is perceived by the olfactory gland in the nasal canal. The tastes your tongue can detect are salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (a savoury taste); and the sensations and textures your mouth can detect include astringency and the cooling effect of the cocoa butter.
• Stop pinching your nose and breathe in deeply. You will immediately sense the aromas or flavours of the chocolate. This is because all these volatiles are already surrounding the olfactory gland. The deep breath of air just allows it to work properly.
• After you've tasted like this once, you can continue in this vein or taste in a more traditional way. By allowing the chocolate to melt slowly on the tongue one experiences the change and development of flavours as the cocoa butter melts and releases the volatiles.
• Give your guests water between samples to cleanse the palate.
We're all unique, so your tasting experience will be uniquely your own. Have fun comparing and contrasting your discoveries with others.
What we tasted:
White – Good vanilla tones, slightly salty
Creamy Milk- seemed almost burnt and milk powdery (to some but of course delicious to me!)
Buttersctoch – Better than a crunchy. Great choclately taste
Almond - almonds were amazing but the chocolate in comparison seemed bland and irrelevant
Ginger – to die for!
Cherry – the cherries were deliciously juicy (not what I thought but I was out voted) just like a Black Forest gateaux
Dark 70% - as dark chocolate should be!
Dark 85% - seriously strong but surprisingly smooth
Finally my recipe for Chill Con Carne (this is a bastardised version of the Waitrose one!)
Serves about 8
2lbs fully leaded minced beef none of this lean stuff
1 large onion, chopped
2/4 garlic cloves, chopped (some like it strong others don’t)
2 red chillis deseeded and all chopped up. Seriously try and avoid the seeds as they tend to be hot and bitter to the taste and rather unpleasant.
2 tsp hot chilli powder and a good pinch of coriander, ginger, cumin and cinnamon
Eight squares of dark chocolate, broken up as it melts better if you do that.
a big tin chopped tomatoes
A large dollop of tomato puree
2 ordinary tins of red kidney beans
Seasoning to taste
Put some oil in a big pan and fry off the onion and garlic being careful not to burn add the mince and keep going until it is all browned. Add the chilli and spices and tomato puree and cook until well flavoured then add everything else except the tinned tomatoes and kidney beans. I add the chocolate chunk by chunk and make sure it does not touch the bottom of the pan as it can burn if you are not careful.
Finally add the beans. Some people drain all the juices off the meat and add the beans then reduce the juice and re add it just before serving. I am far too lazy and just keep going with the cooking until it looks about right. I think this is because I don’t add stock with the tomatoes.
The salsa courtesy of Waitrose!
2 large, ripe avocados, roughly diced
4 large tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and diced
4 limes, juiced, and zest grated from 2
Handful of chopped fresh coriander
1 large green chilli, halved, deseeded and chopped
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
1 large red chilli, halved, deseeded and chopped
Chop all of it up, squeeze in the limes and hey presto seemples!!!!
Serve with all the accompaniments you like including cheese, sour cream and of course tortilla chips!