FEATURE | A Chocolate Feast, part 1



Recipes with Chocolate


Biscotti di Castagne

200 g chestnut flour
200 g butter
125 g 70% chocolate, broken into pieces
100 g pastry flour
100 g sugar
1 egg
15 g bicarbonate of soda
Salt, pinch
Flour, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Sieve flours into a large bowl, add butter, rub into flours.

Add egg, sugar, salt and chocolate, combine.

Wrap dough in cling film, leave in fridge for an hour.

Dust a clean surface, roll the dough 1cm thick, cut into circles.

Place biscuits on a greaseproof paper in a baking tray.

Bake for 15 minutes.


Cantuccini with Chocolate and Pistachio

One of the great treats of Tuscany, these biscuits are traditionally made with almonds, but with chocolate and pistachio they are sublime.

225 g baking flour
125 g sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 orange, zest
2 eggs
50 g chocolate pieces
50 g pistachios

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Mix eggs with sugar, add orange zest, baking powder, flour and pistachios or chocolate. Knead for five minutes.

Roll into a large evenly shaped sausage, the length of the baking tray, roughly 6 cm wide.

Place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray, flatten a little, bake for 25 minutes (35 minutes for chocolate), until pale golden.

Cool for 15 minutes or longer if necessary.

Reduce temperature to 140°C.

Cut into 2 cm slices, place back on paper in tray.

Bake for 20 minutes, until the colour has turned to a golden brown.

Cinghiale Dolceforte

Typically Tuscan, wild boar in a sweet-strong sauce made with chocolate, candied and dried fruit, nuts, raisins and red wine vinegar is making a comeback after years in the doldrums.

This is an adaptation of the original 16th century recipe.

1 kg boar/pork, cut into 3 cm pieces
125 g onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
100 g carrot, chopped
100 ml red wine
50 g candied peel
50 g 70% chocolate, grated
50 g pine nuts
50 g prosciutto/thin ham, chopped
50 g raisins
30 ml olive oil
20 ml red wine vinegar
15 g flour
10 g brown sugar
Rosemary, large sprig
1 garlic clove, crushed
Parsley, large bunch, chopped
1 bay leaf
Black pepper, large pinch
Salt, pinch

Marinade meat in red wine, a splash of red wine vinegar and a bay leaf overnight.

Sauté carrots, celery, onions, garlic, prosciutto and rosemary in the oil in a large saucepan over a low heat for 15 minutes.

Drain the soaking liquid from the meat, season and brown in the vegetable and herb mixture.

Remove meat with a slotted spoon, add a little flour to the mixture and deglaze with half of the soaking liquid. Put in the meat, cover and cook over a low heat until the meat is tender, adding more liquid as necessary.

In a large bowl combine the brown sugar, candied peel, chocolate, pine nuts, raisins, the remaining red wine vinegar and a splash of water. Add this coarse sauce to the meat mixture, bring up the heat and cook gently for ten minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

Mousse au Chocolat

One ingredient that has been evolving with the availability of good quality European chocolate is mousse au chocolate.

It is becoming a popular filling for cakes, eclairs, patisseries and in the desserts known variously as mohrenköpf, schokoküsse and tête choco.

Traditionally made with marshmallow and a biscuit or waffle base, these confections are now filled with a variety of mixtures, among them chocolate cream or chocolate mousse.

Eclairs or profiteroles appear less complicated when the filling is made from a mousse.

Chocolate Mousse

Dark chocolate mousse has also found its way into sweet patisseries.

A chocolate cake is incomplete if one of the sponge fillings is not the ubiquitous dark mousse.

The idea of using a soft bitter-sweet filling has become essential, especially in the home kitchen where baking is being revolutionised by intrepid cooks.

The fundamental difference between a traditional French mousse of the early 20th century and the mousse favoured by bakers today is the use of butter. Cream produces a soft light mousse, butter hardens it. That and 70% cocoa.

If you want a mousse to serve as a dessert use cream, or the traditional equal amounts of chocolate, egg yolk and egg white. If you want it for a filling use butter or a combination of butter and cream, bearing in mind that the function of the butter is to make the mousse malleable.

250 g 70% chocolate
25 g butter, softened, optional 
(for mousse as a filling)
5 egg yolks, beaten
5 egg whites, whisked
50 ml cream, whipped, optional 
(for mousse as a dessert)

Fresh eggs and perfect chocolate are the secret to this delicacy.

Start by gently melting the chocolate, adding the butter in a bain marie while beating the yolks. Stir into the melted chocolate after 15 minutes. Whisk the egg white, fold carefully into the chocolate mixture. If using cream, add at this stage.

This quantity will provide a filling for profiteroles with a sufficient amount for making Tête Choco by shaping the mousse into balls and coating them with cocoa powder.

Profiteroles au Chocolat

Still a big favourite in European cafes.

Choux Pastry
250 ml water
4 eggs, 1 to wash
125 g flour
65 g butter
Chocolate mousse

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Lightly grease a baking tray.

In a large pot bring the water with the butter and a pinch of salt to the boil. Remove from the heat, add the flour in one go, stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Beat the eggs, incorporating a small amount each time to the pot until the dough is glossy, soft and smooth.

Spoon out onto the baking tray a piece the size of a small walnut. Egg wash each one.

Bake for 20 minutes.

If they are still soft, lower temperature, and cook for a further five minutes.

Pierce the base of each profiterole. Cool.

While the mousse is still soft push a teaspoon full into each profiteroles, widening the slit made earlier.

Eat at once!

Tartufi di Cioccolato

250 g 55% chocolate
125 g icing sugar
50 g cocoa powder
40 g butter
2 egg yolks, whisked
15 ml milk

Melt chocolate in a bain-marie with butter and milk. Leave to cool, about 15 minutes. Beat egg yolks with sugar, add to chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for four hours.

Put cocoa into a bowl.

Form chocolate paste into walnut-sized balls, coat in cocoa powder.

Makes about 30 truffles.

Tocinos del Cielo

It has been suggested that these divine ‘little pigs from heaven’ have an Andalusian origin, which makes Europe’s chocolate story even more interesting.

125 g sugar
250 ml water
6 egg yolks, beaten
100 g 70% chocolate
50 ml milk

Dissolve sugar the 250 ml of water in a small saucepan, bring it to a fast boil until it reduces into a syrup.

Test it by dipping a spoon into the syrup and pulling a thread of syrup out of the pan. If the thread breaks it is ready. Leave to cool.

When the syrup is not hot to touch, add the egg mixture slowly, stirring constantly.

Place this mixture in small cups, 4-5 cm in diameter, and arrange in a large wide frying pan half filled with boiling water. Simmer until the mixture has set, test with a gentle push of the forefinger.

Melt chocolate and milk in a bain-marie to produce a light chocolate sauce. Leave to cool.

Turn ‘little pigs’ onto a plate, cover with the tepid chocolate sauce.