Something that seems to be very popular are chocolate slabs from Hotel Chocolat round the corner, which is where the idea for todays Christmas Hamper instalment originates.
Now, I am no Paul Young (he creates the most incredible flavour combinations and I’m lucky enough to have one round the corner at work, which can also be very dangerous), but something I thought I could give a go were chocolate slabs. The idea of creating one large ‘slab’ of chocolate seemed fun. And I can confirm, yes, it’s bloody fun and all my friends shall be receiving chocolate for birthdays and Christmases until further notice! This would also be a really fun thing to do with little ones – obviously make sure the adults do all the chocolate melting.
Today I’m going down the more traditional route with a Luxury Fruit and Nut combo. This makes enough for 1 slab which when broken up will make about 3 small gift bags. I used an own brand swiss chocolate from my local supermarket which has gone down very well!
– 120g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
– 50g milk chocolate
– Small handful of hazelnuts
– Small handful of pecan nuts
– Small handful of cranberries
– Small handful of raisins
– 1 tsp coconut oil
– Stardust (optional!)
Start by lightly toasting the nuts in a dry frying pan and set them to one side once done.I really thinks this add a lovely flavour to the nuts.
Then melt your dark chocolate in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl is not touching the water and as you add the chocolate add half a teaspoon of coconut oil to the bowl. I can’t remember exactly where this tip came from but I remember whilst watching a cooking show (probably Masterchef) someone said this adds a great shine to the chocolate and I’ve done it ever since. It does add a luxurious shine and also, I like the flavour too.
Whilst its melting line a baking tray with cling film and roughly chop your nuts. Once the dark chocolate has melted take it off the heat – wipe the bottom of your bowl so the steam on the outside doesn’t drip over your tray whilst pouring in the chocolate. Pour it out onto your tray – it will look very tempting but don’t touch!
Then melt your milk chocolate, remember to add 1/2 tsp of coconut oil whilst melting. Also, milk chocolate should be melted at a very slightly lower temperature so just keep an eye on it – the water below still needs to be hot enough to produce steam to melt it. Once melted, take a spoon of it and slowly pour in one place on the dark chocolate to create a large ‘spot’. Do this a couple of times where you wish.
Next you get to make beautiful swirls in the chocolate. I use a skewer – you could use a toothpick or the tip of a knife. Place the point into the chocolate and just move around the chocolate and it will create amazing swirls.
Once your happy with the pattern you have created sprinkle over the pecans and hazelnuts – try to keep it even. Then sprinkle over the raisins and cranberries. Also, at this point I like to add a sprinkle of sea salt which brings out the sweetness in the chocolate.
The next step is completely optional – when I was in Waitrose recently I was perusing the baking aisle (yes, this is something I enjoy, geek) I came across gold and silver stardust! I had to buy it and so here it is on my luxury fruit and nut. A great addition in my opinion.
Once you are done with your wondrous creation, place it in the fridge for a couple of hours until set. When it’s set you can just peel off from the tray and cling film.
Then just chop up your chocolate slab into bite-size pieces and tie up in your cellophane and decorate with ribbon and your gift is ready to give. Obviously its vital you also keep a couple of pieces back to quality check.