Home baking is having a revival and cooking with chocolate is always fun – the smell is enough to send everyone to the kitchen to see what’s up!
Using cooking chocolate is the way to go. We recently made some Cake Pops.
The pops themselves were made from crumbed sponge cake mixed with butter cream and then formed into balls.
The first coat was a pink candy melt. Then, as an experiment, a coating of Menier white chocolate. We were really impressed with this chocolate, it melted quickly, had a good dipping consistency, and the taste! Well … let’s say we won’t be using anything else in future!
Then on with a coat of dark chocolate, again it melted and dipped well, holding the final decoration perfectly.
We loved the creamy taste of both the milk and white chocolate, the dark chocolate was pleasantly rich.
Ever used chocolate in savoury dishes?
Here’s a recipe for Braised Venison with Autumn Roots and Chocolate Sauce
600g venison (diced leg/shoulder)
2 tbsp seasoned flour
6 tbsp olive oil
150g smoked bacon lardons
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5 Chantenay carrots, quartered
3 medium turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
3 flat mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 heaped tbsp thyme
1 heaped tbsp rosemary, chopped
2 bay leaves
700ml red wine
300ml beef stock
30g Menier dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp salt and a large pinch of pepper
Serves 2 – 4
Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
Pour half of the olive oil into a large ovenproof casserole dish and heat over a medium heat. Add the lardons of bacon and cook for 4-5 minutes or until crisp and slightly browned, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Put the diced venison in to a bowl with the seasoned flour and toss well. Ensure all of the meat is well coated and shake off the excess flour. Put the casserole dish back over a medium heat. Once hot (you may need to add a little more oil at this point), add the venison in batches and cook until the meat is browned on all sides. Remove from the casserole dish and set aside with the lardons of bacon.
Add the rest of the olive oil to the casserole dish and heat over a medium heat, then add the garlic, shallots and celery and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the carrots, turnip, mushrooms and herbs and cook for about 10 minutes on a low-medium heat or until the vegetables and shallots are slightly browned. Stir frequently.
Return the venison and bacon to the casserole dish and stir gently. Add the red wine and bring to the boil, then add the beef stock and season with the salt and pepper. Bring back to the boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and transfer to the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 1½ – 1¾ hours, or until the meat is tender.
Once the meat is tender, remove from the oven and strain the meat and vegetables though a large sieve, retaining the liquid. Pour the liquid into a saucepan and bring back to the boil. Place the venison and the vegetables back into the casserole dish and cover to keep warm.
Once the liquid is boiling, whisk in the redcurrant jelly and re-heat gently. Lower the heat and whisk in the butter and the chocolate. Add small amounts gradually to ensure the chocolate does not split and go grainy. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Pour the sauce over the venison and vegetables and stir well.
Serve with creamed celeriac and steamed greens.
Menier Swiss premium cooking chocolate is available in major supermarkets nationwide with a RRP of £1.19.
Cake Pops created and photographed by Laura MacClelland
Val Reynolds, Editor