9 – 15 October 2017
A whole week dedicated to chocolate. Bliss!
During Chocolate Week chocolatiers, shops, hotels, bars & restaurants around the UK run events to celebrate chocolate. There’ll be talks, tastings, demonstrations & of course, purchasing opportunities. The week culminates with The Chocolate Show at Olympia National Hall. Run over 3 days, it’s a chance for more of the same but on a bigger scale & all under one roof. There’s even a chocolate fashion show! Take the family as there’s a children’s area too where they can get messy with chocolate workshops or have a girls day with friends & enjoy the chocolate cocktails.
Chocolate Week aims to promote fine chocolate, artisan chocolatiers & companies that offer a fair price to the cocoa farmers. Why not ditch your normal brand for the week & try something new? Visit an independent artisan chocolatier or look online & discover beans from different countries. 45 countries produce cocoa so there’s plenty to choose from, although the Ivory Coast produces the most at around 40%.
A Brief History of Chocolate
Cocoa trees are native to Central America where they have grown for thousands of years. Here, it was popular as a drink, sometimes served with chilli to spice it up or honey to sweeten it. When the Spaniard, Hernando Cortes arrived in the early 1500s, he was served a chocolate drink by the Aztec emperor, Montezuma & decided to take beans back with him to show the Spanish royal family. An expensive luxury, the drink became popular with Spanish aristocrats but it was nearly 100 years before word got out & it spread to the rest of Europe. The first English chocolate house opened in London in 1657. It was not until 1847, nearly 200 years later, that the first chocolate bar as we know it today was made by Fry & Son.
With such a history behind it, chocolate certainly deserves a week of celebration!
If you can’t make it to The Chocolate Show or any of the events planned for Chocolate Week, here are a few ideas to celebrate at home:
Make notes as you taste since otherwise you’ll forget & will have to try them all over again ………..
Invite friends round for a chocolate feast. Serve chocolate themed dishes & if you want to co-ordinate, decorate the table with brown napkins & brown (chocolate scented?) candles.
White chocolate baba ganoush
warm pitta bread
Chocolate beef & bean chilli with rice or Cocoa rubbed pork with mini roast potatoes
accompanied by salad or roast vegetables
Chocolate orange mousse
Chocolate dipped strawberries & cherries (a little out of season but you may just catch the end of them). Dip some of the fruit in dark melted chocolate, some in milk & some in white.
If you prefer baking to dinner party cooking, invite friends round for a drink & slice of cake (or two). The list of chocolate bakes is endless; there are chocolate sponges, richer tortes, brownies, muffins & shortbread to name but a few. Chocolate also sits well with other flavours such as nuts, orange, mint, raspberries, cherries & ginger to offer some variety.
There are plenty of chocolate flavoured drinks available. These include tea, coffee, cappuccino, milkshake & hot chocolate. Offer extras for the hot chocolate such as whipped cream, mini marshmallows & grated chocolate for the full indulgence experience.
Finish with some chocolate dipped fruit to offer some light relief.
Chocolate Brownies Recipe
100g butter 2 eggs
200g sugar 100g cream cheese
50g cocoa 50g plain chocolate
50g SR flour icing sugar
pinch of salt
Grease & line a 22cm square cake tray. Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
Melt the butter, sugar & cocoa in a saucepan, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. off the heat, add the flour, salt, eggs & cream cheese.
Cut the chocolate into chunks & add to the mixture. Pour into the prepared tray & bake for 25 minutes. It should still have a very slight wobble to it.
When cool, dust with icing sugar & cut into squares.