Chocolate Sunday

Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

Isn’t it great that there’s a whole day dedicated to chocolate?!

Okay, okay, I’m not being serious. And I certainly don’t mean to be insensitive to any religious folks out there. I do realise that for a great many people, Easter is about much more than chocolate. However as I’m an atheist to the bone, this weekend is pretty much ALL about the brown sticky goodness. That and having four days off work of course, could there be a better holiday?!

Almond and apricot chocolate bark

So this week I tried my hand at making chocolate bark; because a chocolate-melting project is always fun and you can really get creative with the flavours and appearance. For a few pointers I checked my infallible The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who like me is a little unable to stick to recipes; basically it helps you to mix and match flavours and gives you pointers and ideas as to what works well together (and why) without actually giving any recipes. I love it. After some flicking I decided to dress up some super-dark chocolate with almond and apricot and also rose, pistachio and cardamom. And what can I say? The Flavour Thesaurus never fails, although when you start with excellent quality, rich, dark chocolate, you would have to have a very serious fail for it not to taste like more, oh so much more.

Rose, pistachio & cardamom chocolate bark

Many thanks need to go to The Fella for helping me out with these photos. I made these on quite a hot day and struggled to take any decent shots in good light before the chocolate began to melt. He’s a bit of a creative whizz with the camera and help me tonnes. He did have quite the incentive though and obviously I rewarded him well! If you’re interested in checking our more of his work check out his website.

Happy chocolate day!

Almond and apricot chocolate bark & Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

Almond and apricot chocolate bark & Rose, pistachio and cardamom chocolate bark

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Pork with a serious, devilishly good (chocolaty!!) twist

If you’re anything like me you will think chocolate and wine are thee very  bestest inventions in the whole entire wide universe. Fact.

They are delicious together. Or separately. For breakfast (well maybe not the wine), brunch, lunch or tea. When you’re happy, sad, bored, stressed or just feel like you deserve a treat. I honestly don’t know what I would ever do if, in a desert island type situation, I had to choose between The Fella and a chocolate-red-wine combo. I’d certainly need a glass of wine to help me mull it over, I may need several in fact.

But… what if you mix these two yummie ingredients with something totally left of field, something completely unusual, something like pork? Am I blowing your mind?! I hope so because this dish is very very special indeed.

This is a recipe from Rachel Allen’s Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends, and it has been a major hit since the first time I made it a few years ago. Initially people are very reluctant to try it, but after a little coaxing and a taste, it gets gobbled up quicker than you can say: but chocolate isn’t supposed to be for dinner! Of course, you don’t actually taste the chocolate; it just adds a beautiful richness and sweetness to the sauce. Midweek dinner this ain’t, this is RICH and filling and unusual, but totally delicious. So I urge to mix it up a bit this weekend and try it, I guarantee you’ll love it, or your money back.

Sweet and sour pork with raisins, pine nuts and chocolate

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Bow ties ‘n’ bolly

Did someone say bolly?

Oh yes please! I’ll just have a wee little drop; oh how I love those bubbles! And what better to pair with bubbles than some beautiful spring strawberries. They’re a match made in heaven.

Fresh spring strawberries

Last weekend we went to a rather wonderful wedding; a very very special wedding – one where there were two dapper and dashing grooms, and not a bridezilla in sight.

One of the handsome grooms happens to be my Fella’s very good friend. So you can only imagine how proud I was to see The Fella stand up beside his mate on the big day, offering moral support, remembering the rings and delivering a suitably embarrassing speech.

Strawberries in white chocolate shirts

I made these strawberries for the Fella to bring over to the boys house that morning while everyone was getting ready. I thought them rather fitting, given the bow ties; and I knew the guys would enjoy them with a pre-ceremony glass of champers.

I got the idea from the fabulous The Vanilla Bean Diaries. Esté’s versions are much tidier (I think she’s going to make it as a master confectioner well before me); and she has the in-process shots down pat, something I’ve never managed.

Strawberries in milk chocolate jackets

However in this case, it probably had a lot to do with the fact I spent most of my time trying to scoff the melted chocolate and not concentrating on the whole photo-taking-bit, ops!

Try these today with a glass of bubbles, I’m sure if you think long enough you can come up with a reason. They really are a match made in heaven, much like our wonderful friends Scott and Mike.

You gotta love the love.

Strawberry bow ties

Chocolate dipped strawberries

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Offering to the cookie gods

Something strange has been happening in Chez Yumbolicious these past few weeks. Something very strange indeed.

I got a new cookbook last month; it was second hand and I think it might have some mad weird powers.

Basically, it follows me around the house. I keep finding it in the strangest of places: on the dining table, beside the couch, sitting on the landing, next  to the computer……… And it’s always open on the same page: chocolate chip cookies.

It’s so bizarre; I just can’t figure it out. It’s almost like the book is willing me to bake them. It must be the book, who else could it be? The Fella says I’m going mad, he said I should make them to appease the cookie gods, or heaven knows what the book would be up to next.

Heaven knows indeed.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Eastern inspired chocolate cake

So, all day I’ve been trying to think of a super interesting introduction for this post. Some exciting reason why I made this cake; something that would knock your socks off, make you rush into your kitchen and bake this immediately. But I was totally stumped.

Then I got to thinking: does a girl really need an excuse to bake a yumbo chocolate cake? Ehhh, I think not! No one should ever need a reason for chocolate. Ever. End of story.

So treat yourself and make this cake, it’s seriously good. The spices add subtle and interesting flavours, giving the cake an exotic twist. In fact, it’s so rich and dense and unusual you could serve it as a posh chocolate desert cake at a dinner party and all your friends would be mucho-impressedo.

I found the recipe in The back to basics cookbook by Maureen Tatlow and it’s an old style cake recipe. Now, I’ve always vaguely known that true bakers match the weight of the ingredients to the actual weight of the eggs they’ve used, but let’s be honest, how many of us ever do this? It works really well, but I’ve included actual quantities for those us you who need a non-efforty, super-fast chocolate hit.

Eastern inspired chocolate cake

Poshness!

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