We think of the UK as having a long-established chocolate industry, with Fry’s, Terry’s and Cadbury’s all responsible for huge developments in chocolate production in the 19th Century. However, over the past century the UK has become known more for confectionery, while countries such as Switzerland, Belgium, France and Italy have picked up the fine chocolate mantel. Changes are once again occurring in the UK chocolate industry with an ever-increasing number of artisan chocolatiers encouraging consumers to move over to the luxury side of chocolate.
For survival, today’s high streets are increasingly dependent on the plethora of coffee shops (both independent and chain) that have sprung up over the past few years. While the meteoric rise in the numbers of these establishments is widely acknowledged to reflect our phenomenally popular coffee culture, chocolate has also been making its mark both as a hot drink – most cafés offer hot chocolate with a plethora of toppings to satisfy consumers looking for a sweet treat – and as an edible delight.
Chocolate Week 12-18 October 2015
Chocolate Week was launched 11 years ago to celebrate fine chocolate and make the public more aware of the work of the UK’s hugely talented pool of artisan chocolatiers and chocolate makers.
Since the launch of Chocolate Week, people’s attitude towards chocolate has changed. A survey from Canadean Consumer in 2014 showed that shoppers are trading up on chocolate, with a total of 38% of buyers saying they now buy premium either “regularly” or “all the time” (compared to 35% for coffee). According to the survey, shoppers determine a product’s premium value as a result of its ingredients rather than the price, which is great news for the artisan chocolate industry. 58% of consumers regard a product as superior to an “everyday” item if it promotes the use of the finest ingredients, which is significantly higher than those who validate a product’s premium value based on “if it’s expensive” (38%).
While the first Chocolate Week only had four participants, today it has over 150. There has been a huge rise in the number of artisan chocolatiers across the country, with the likes of Paul A Young, William Curley and Rococo regularly appearing on national television and in the press.
Chocolate bean to bar
The UK’s bean-to-bar industry has grown exponentially in the past few years. For a long time there was only Willie’s Cacao in Devon (see his mouthwatering recipes on pages 16-18) making fine chocolate from the bean; now we have Duffy’s in Lincolnshire, The Chocolate Tree in Edinburgh, Chocolarder in Cornwall, Pump Street Bakery in Suffolk, Forever Cacao in Wales and Lucocoa and Damson Chocolate in London, as well as many more enthusiasts making chocolate from the bean at home.
Even the French, renowned for their love of chocolate and great patissiers, have recognised the growth of the UK chocolate market, with Salon du Chocolat, which has been organising chocolate shows around the world for more than 20 years, launching The Chocolate Show in London two years ago.
For a detailed explanation of what comprises bean to bar chocolate, visit http://cocoarunners.com/explore/bean-to-bar/
This year, The Chocolate Show, which takes place 16-18 October at Olympia, will be celebrating the growth in artisan chocolate making by hosting a dedicated Bean-to-Bar area at the show, giving visitors access to a whole host of bean-to-bar makers from around the world, as well as the UK makers. The event will be the first show to make chocolate from the bean, live; visitors can get involved in the process and make their own bars of chocolate at the HB Bean to Bar station.
Did you know?
- 60% of people would be more likely to order afternoon tea if it included chocolate (Toluna/Callebaut 2014)
- 66% of consumers want restaurants to offer more chocolate varieties
- 70% of 18-34-year-olds – an important age group for out-of-home spending – are happy to pay more for their favourite chocolate dessert
- 30% of people may choose not to order a dessert at all if there isn’t a chocolate option on the menu
- The average price of a chocolate dessert is £4.38, commanding an 11% premium over non-chocolate dishes
- When it comes to menus, the average number of chocolate desserts is only two, whereas 75% of people would like to see three or even four cocoabased desserts
Macadamia Nut Brownies
Recipes courtesy of Willie Harcourt-Cooze
Being flourless, these are the lightest, melt-in-your-mouth brownies imaginable Makes about 50
- 290g Venezuelan Rio Caribe 72 dark chocolate
- 100g slightly salted butter
- 4 eggs
- 110g raw cane caster sugar
- 120g roughly chopped macademia nuts
- Alternatively you can use 200g 100% cacao and add an extra 90g of sugar
- EQUIPMENT 40cm x 24cm baking tin
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Lightly grease the baking tin and line with baking paper.
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl, set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the eggs and caster sugar in a large mixing bowl until light and creamy.
- Fold in melted chocolate and butter until well combined, then fold in the chopped nuts.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the centre is just firm to the touch.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin. Slice into approximately 4cm squares.
Hazelnut and Raisin Cloud Forest Chocolate Cake
This is a real crowd pleaser. If you make it in an old jelly mould and lightly dust it with icing sugar or cocoa powder, a very simple cake becomes a real beauty Serves 12
- 300g dark chocolate, Willie suggests fruity Peruvian Chulucanas 70
- 60g raisins
- 40g whole hazelnuts roughly chopped (Alternatively use 400g Willie’s Cacao Hazelnut and Raisin chocolate)
- 250g unsalted butter
- 6 eggs
- 100g raw cane sugar For the icing (optional)
- 250ml double cream
- 75g golden raw cane sugar
- 90g cacao, finely grated Serve with whipped double cream
- EQUIPMENT 25cm springform cake tin
- Preheat the oven to 170˚C. Lightly grease the cake tin, then line with baking paper.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not in contact with the water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Beat the eggs with the sugar in a large bowl until pale and doubled in volume. Stir in the melted chocolate and butter mixture.
- Tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until slightly risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave in the tin on a wire rack to cool.
- To prepare the icing, place the cream and sugar in a pan over low heat and bring just to the point of boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cacao until melted and evenly mixed through. Set aside to cool.
- When the cake is completely cold, place on a serving plate or cake board and spread the cooled icing evenly over the top and sides. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve. Don’t store in the fridge as the cake and icing can become too hard.
As I have always baked my own bread, it seemed only natural to mix cacao into a loaf. Try toasting this bread too, as it brings out the roasted flavours of the cacao even more Makes 1 large loaf or 10 rolls
- 300g plain white flour
- 100g strong wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp easy-blend yeast
- 150ml full-fat milk
- 150ml water
- 75g 100% cacao, chopped. Suggestion, Venezuelan Carenero 100% cacao
- 75ml extra virgin olive oil
- 200g green olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 egg yolk, beaten or 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- Sift the flours and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir in the yeast. Warm the milk and water in a saucepan. Add the cacao and stir until it has melted.
- Pour in the olive oil and mix well. Tip this warm liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Add more flour or warm water if necessary to reach the right consistency.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. You can also make the dough in a food processor or an electric mixer with a dough-hook attachment. Simply place the flour, salt and yeast in the mixer or processor bowl, then add the warm liquid and process for about 5 minutes.
- Place in a little greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel, or place another large bowl upturned on top. Leave in a warm place for at least 2 hours to allow the dough to rise, doubling in size.
- Tip the risen dough onto a floured surface and knock it back to its original size. Press into a large, oiled bread tin or divide into ten pieces and shape each into a small roll.
- Place the rolls on an oiled baking tray. Lightly brush the top of the loaf or the rolls with either a little egg yolk or milk. Leave in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until well risen (almost doubled in size).
- Preheat oven to 190ºC and bake the bread; 45 minutes for the loaf, or 15 minutes for the rolls. To test if the bread is done, tap it sharply on the underside - it should sound hollow. If not, return to the oven for a further 3-5 minutes and test again.
- When fully cooked, turn the loaf out of the tin, or remove the rolls from the tray, and leave to cool on a wire rack.