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Christmas Countdown

While the traditional turkey roast no longer cuts the mustard with many diners during the festive season, consumers are still looking to let their hair down at this time of year, providing operators with the opportunity to benefit from not only increased footfall, but also greater spend per head. Does your establishment tick all the boxes required to give partygoers a memorable experience – one that will ensure they both spread the word and choose to return in future

Christmas – with its increased trade and profit opportunities – comes but once a year. In order to optimise the potential benefits of this crazy festive season, operators need to prepare, prepare, prepare. EC caught up with Andrew Scott, Managing Director of Victus Hospitality Consultancy* who urges those in the hospitality industry to pull out all the stops at this time of year to ensure the best possible returns.

“It takes 295 days for the average Christmas dinner to go from seed to plate; this is the amount of effort you should be putting into your Christmas trading plan,” says Andrew unequivocally. “Utilise your figures from previous years to see what worked and what didn’t. Did you offer both an à la carte and prix fixe? Did your customers enjoy from both equally or was there a clear preference amongst your guests? These seem like simple questions, but by answering them you can make the most of your Christmas trade and ease the workload of your staff.”

Christmas diningPlay to your strengths

Andrew continues: “It’s important to stick to your strengths and not stretch yourself. The temptation is to offer everything to everyone in order to appeal to the widest market, but by doing so you create strain upon your business and will likely fall short of the competition.”

“If food isn’t your strength, but atmosphere and service is, concentrate on creating an experience to remember. Can you bring in live music? Create a winter wonderland or offer inimitable table service to create an unforgettable experience?

“If you’re lucky enough to have room at your disposal, can you offer private dining? Christmas sees the average table size increase naturally, so take that one step further by offering party packages.

“If the kitchen is your key selling point throughout the year, Christmas is the time to take that further and let your imagination shine. Avoid the turkey and trimmings and offer something truly unique to mark you out from your competitors. Use your research from previous years to decide upon the format of your menu and run with it.”

* Victus Consultancy offers a variety of hospitality consultancy services – including training and mentoring staff, mystery guest programmes, allergen compliance, and food and beverage advice – that are tailored to each individual business. The company specialises in helping hospitality businesses increase their profitability, operational efficiency and staff retention, improving their standards, reputation and customer feedback.

Brits are ditching the dishes and dining out on Christmas Day

Data from restaurant booking service OpenTable reveals the following about dining out on Christmas Day:

  • 2014 saw a 45% yearon- year increase in bookings. The trend is expected to continue
  • British cuisine still reigns supreme, with a quarter (25%) choosing this for their Christmas dinner. Indian food comes in second at 14%, followed by Italian (11%), French (11%) and Modern European (6%)
  • Lunch is the most popular time to eat the main Christmas meal (between noon and 3:00pm).

Gareth Ogden, partner at haysmacintyreManaging your fesfive menu

December is a time when many operators will adjust their offerings to make the most of the increase in general trade and group bookings. Indeed, the focus on a few profitable dishes through a set menu can improve margins, reduce waste and simplify operational efficiency during one of the busiest periods of the year. Gareth Ogden, partner at haysmacintyre advises operators to consider the following before putting in place a temporary fixed-price menu

Run the numbers

The fixed price Christmas menu will often be associated with traditional options such as turkey roast followed by Christmas pudding and mince pies. However it is worth considering which dishes on your existing menu could work well on the set menu, alongside festive stalwarts. Identify your most popular, as well as your most profitable dishes that you currently serve. An analysis of your POS data, together with the detailed costings, will highlight which ones might be included. Don’t forget to consider the preparation time and labour cost – as well as the purchase costs.

In the 2016 haysmacintyre UK Hospitality Index, food gross margins averaged 65% for wet-led businesses and 71% for dry-led businesses

The price is right

A creative pricing strategy can maximise covers and ensure consistency of demand across the festive season’s busy and quieter periods alike. The premium menu for December’s Friday and Saturday nights can be simplified and discounted to boost the quieter Monday to Wednesday lunchtimes.

Chirstmas TurkeyConsider your options

Beware diluting the benefits of the fixed price approach by presenting too diverse a range of festive options. Yes, it is a time when customers traditionally like to indulge, but it is crucial to avoid slowing down service during busy periods with overly complex dishes that your kitchen staff may not be used to preparing. Consider limiting the number of items on the trickier and more time-consuming main course list, while offering a wider range of more familiar starters and desserts to maintain the impression of customer choice.

Promote as premium

Set menus sitting alongside or replacing the à la carte offering for a period of time are sometimes viewed as a cheaper, less attractive option. Promote the set menu as a premium offering – particularly if you are planning it for Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve. Building in a ‘complementary’ glass of Champagne or Prosecco will enhance the feeling of excellence and add an extra incentive to party goers faced with a bewildering number of options in the competitive festive market.

haysmacintyre is a leading mid-tier firm of Chartered Accountants and tax advisers in Central London, providing advice to a range of hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars and leisure companies across the hospitality sector.

Harnessing international traditions

“At Christmas, it’s all about standing out from the crowd, creating interest and appealing to consumers – potentially opening new profit avenues in the process,” says Matt White, Chair of The Universities Caterers Organisation (TUCO) and Director of Catering, Hotel & Conference Services at The University of Reading.

“For example, we all recognise the popularity of the German Christmas markets and in recent years some of our universities have mirrored this approach and created Christmas festivals that intertwine popular traditions and dishes from around the world. The festivals were made up of stalls stocked with treats such as German stollen, pretzels and hotdogs, as well as traditional mulled wine alongside fairground games and an opportunity to meet the reindeer.”

If you don’t have the space to create your own Christmas market, it doesn’t take much to tweak a menu to provide an international feel.

“University catering teams look at going the extra mile to create a home-away-from-home Christmas for our international students,” continues Matt. “This might mean serving a twist on the classic turkey roast, which engages with international communities without losing British traditions. A good example of this is the addition of sauerkraut – a traditional Christmas staple side-dish in countries such as Poland, Norway, Russia and Germany.”

Arancini Images courtesy of Tilda FoodserviceArancini Images courtesy of Tilda Foodservice

“Add an exotic, new dimension to the festive menu by serving up a traditional taste of Italy,” suggests Craig Dillon, Head of Foodservice, Tilda. “Arancini are stuffed risotto balls, rolled in breadcrumbs and baked or deep-fried. They are a key part of festive celebrations in southern Italy and traditionally served up on Christmas Eve during the ‘Feast of Seven Fishes’.”

Arancini can be stuffed with a selection of different ingredients ranging from mushrooms, cheese, meat Bolognese and fish. For this, and many other innovative rice recipes, visit www.tildafoodservice.com

Icing on the cake

You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it countless times: differentiation is the key to creating a memorable and welcoming Christmas event for customers. It goes without saying that your food and drink offer has to be top notch, but the aesthetics of your establishment should also reflect the fact that this is Christmas party time.

Judith Stokeld, Sales Director, Thompson Medd Christmas comments: “At this time of year, operators should ask themselves whether they have the correct napkins and does the overall theme look visually good.”

First impressions count. Judith advises operators to consider the following:

  • Little things can often make the biggest impact when it comes to festive celebrations. Decorations will enhance the experience and make guests feel valued
  • CrackersGuests expect operators to go that extra mile at Christmas – novelty crackers, party poppers, jokes and streamers are what it’s all about at this time of year
  • Add a bit of extra fun to party events with items such as novelty hats, ladies’ tiaras, tooters, blowouts and bunting
  • The table centre pieces should reflect the occasion and the colour scheme you’re going for. If it’s festive, are you going to use themed balloons, novelty ornaments or lighting? Moving outside, if it’s a New Year’s Eve party, do you have fireworks, festive lighting/lanterns, fleecy blankets and bunting etc?

Christmas tips from Kerrymaid

“Christmas is a time when families and friends come together to celebrate,” says Jessica Lalor, brand development manager for Kerrymaid. “It is traditional to enjoy a three-course meal, but venues should look at offering consumers something newer and more exciting.”

Helping operators to think outside the box, Jessica has the following suggestions:

  • Create a sense of occasion in venues by using POS to advertise Christmas parties, menus or specific festive-themed lunch or dinner menus
  • Don’t forget to add Christmas classics with an innovative twist when designing menus
  • Prepare set menus. Design a selection of menus fit for all budgets
  • Make sure the most popular dishes remain at the forefront to ensure regulars are happy on the day
  • Give consumers a feeling of being at home with their families by allowing them to carve meat at their table
  • Offer Christmas favourites as bite-sized, small dishes to create a sharing platter for the table
  • Take a traditional Yorkshire pudding and cram full with meat, potatoes and stuffing to create a visually appetising mini Christmas dinner. This creative idea can also be used for starters and desserts
  • Offer starter dishes as mini canapés; this way consumers can eat more of their favourite dishes but also have the choice of tucking into a variety of other canapé-styled dishes
  • Offer large, indulgent sharing sundaes, but with a Christmas twist. Think about topping an ice-cream sundae with pieces of warm Christmas pud or generously filled with lots of mulled berries
  • Give consumers the control with their desserts and place a large jug of cream or custard in the middle of the table
  • Think about developing a kids’ menu to keep children entertained – decorating desserts and adding ice cream and custard is a great way to keep them amused.

Cheese

CheeseboardCreating a cheeseboard

The traditional advice for creating the perfect cheeseboard is to select varieties that showcase different milk types, textures and flavours. This is a good starting point but there really are no hard and fast rules.

The three-cheese cheeseboard usually comprises a hard cheese, a soft and a blue. This can easily be extended with the introduction of a fresh goats’ or ewes’ milk cheese, a powerful washed rind cheese or a beautifully balanced smoked variety.

HARD – Always a crowd pleaser and a food service staple. You can’t go wrong with quality farmhouse cheddar. An alternative to Cheddar would be a great British Territorial such as Lincolnshire Poacher, Appleby’s Cheshire or Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire.

SOFT – You’re looking to offer diners contrast in consistency, something oozingly decadent and creamily rich is the order of the day. If you want to offer British, why not try Perl Wen from Wales (a combination of Caerphilly meets brie), or Tunworth, a Camembert-style cheese that really holds its own against its Continental cousins.

BLUE – Christmas and Stilton go hand in hand. Colston Bassett Dairy has been producing awarding winning blues since 1913 and collected three Great Taste Stars in 2016 for their hand-ladled Stilton.

GOATS’ – With lighter, citrus notes, many goats’ cheeses serve as a palate cleanser. Ragstone and Golden Cross’ classic log shapes also deliver richness and complexity – perfect for Christmas.

Blue CheeseRIND WASHED – As the name suggests, these cheeses are washed in brine or alcohol as they mature, to develop a fragrant and often attractive peachy coloured rind. Perhaps the most recognisable of all are Stinking Bishop, which is washed in perry, or the pungent Epoisse from France, which combines sweet, salty and spicy flavours.

REGIONAL – with a plethora of British cheeses available, try to include local varieties.

“The versatility of cheese and its suitability for many dietary requirements means it is an ideal addition to any Christmas menu,” says Kenneth Axen, Managing Director, Futura Foods.

“Roasted figs stuffed with Gorgonzola and finished with honey make an unusual and impressive appetiser, along with a Brie-topped crostini with cranberry reduction and crushed pistachios (pictured). Roasted parsnips served with a generous handful of Grana Padano are also a real crowd pleaser.

“For a standout starter, which has the added bonus of being vegetarian and gluten-free, try grilling halloumi until golden before drizzling with cranberry sauce and honey to serve. A cranberry, Feta and walnut salad (pictured) will always attract attention as a lighter menu item. For a refreshingly different Boxing Day option, combine leftover turkey with feta and spinach for quick and easy turkey burgers.”

KENNETH’S TIP - Leftover cranberry sauce is a great, fuss-free alterna­ive to other chutneys at Christmaswhen catering for large par­ies.

Taylor Chip DryPort

Around 40% of all Port sales in the UK occur during the final eight weeks of the year. It therefore makes sense to ensure Port has a presence on festive menus as consumers expect to drink it at this time. With Port looking to expand its seasonal slot and underline its versatility with food, many operators are already serving different Port styles by the glass with dessert and/or cheese.

“As a category, many restaurants recognise the importance of listing at least one Aged Tawny Port by the glass alongside Late Bottled Vintage and Vintage Ports,” comments Andrew Hawes, Managing Director of Mentzendorff, which represents top Port houses, Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft. “However there is still a long way to go before Port reaches its full potential in the on-trade.

“With Christmas on the horizon and consumers engaging positively with Port brands in retail, there’s no better time for the on-trade to capitalise on this trend and make additional profit. As a cocktail for pre-dinner drinks, with desserts and cheese at the end of the meal or as the perfect digestif – there is a Port style for all.

White Port

Taylor’s Chip Dry White Port and tonic is set to become the hot new trend in 2017 (Drinks Business). Add plenty of ice and a sprig of mint for a long, refreshing aperitif in place of the ubiquitous G+T.

Pink Port

Croft created the first rosé Port in 2008. Croft Pink is a light, floral wine charged with raspberry and cherry aromas. This newcomer has torn up the rules of traditional Port consumption by mixing it with tonic, charging it with chilli or topping it up with sparkling wine for the perfect party cocktail. Recipes can be found at www.croftpink.com/en/cocktail-recipes

Croft Pink PortRuby or Reserve Port

These young styles are an excellent introduction to Port. Intensely fruity in flavour, they have rich, blackcurrant and liquorice aromas with a luscious texture and firm tannins. Match with dark chocolate desserts or mature cheddar.

Late Bottled Vintage Port (LBV)

Not to be confused with Vintage Port, LBV is matured in wooden casks for around five or six years and bottled ready to drink. Rich in style with redcurrant, raspberry and blueberry aromas, it pairs well with goat’s cheese or dark chocolate. There’s no need to decant LBV. Once open, it remains in good condition for around a month.

Aged Tawny Ports

Following long ageing in wooden casks, Tawny Ports have a characteristic spice, nut and oak aroma matched with a silky, opulent palate. Lighter, nuttier and crisper than a Ruby or LBV, they are naturally refreshing and can be served chilled with mince pies, caramel-dominant desserts and rich liver patés. Matured for several years, for added complexity, they are available in different stages of maturity from 10, 20, 30 to 40 Year Old Tawny Ports. They will keep for around six to eight weeks once opened.

Vintage Ports

Made only in the best years, Vintage is regarded as the pinnacle of Port. Unlike other red Ports, this style is aged in bottle for at least ten to 15 years and should be treated like a mature red wine, decanted and consumed within 48 hours. Vintage Ports from a single vineyard are called ‘Single Quinta’ and can be consumed a bit younger than their classic counterparts.

Equipment

During the festive season you will no doubt require extra staff, however have you assessed your kitchen’s capabilities? Is now the time to invest in some extra light equipment to ensure you can cope during busy times?

“Light equipment typically measures up to 400mm front to back and operates from a standard 13amp domestic electricity supply,” says Helen Applewhite, Marketing Manager, Lincat Ltd. “It’s therefore space saving, easy to install and can also be stored away to create more workspace when not required.

Before the onslaught, Helen advises the following:

  • Check your oven capacity. Will your current equipment enable you to cope with increased demand
  • Check the versatility of your equipment. How can you increase production with the same kitchen footprint during busy periods? Have you thought of a combi oven
  • Is all your equipment in top working order? It’s always worthwhile having your equipment tested before a particularly busy period, such as Christmas, but it’s good practice to have an annual service anyway.
Prawn cocktailsPrawn prices at an all time high as adverse weather conditions decimate supply

Prawn price increase

Increased pressure on supply and extreme global weather conditions have meant seafood suppliers have seen prawn price increases of up to 15% in the last three months, with black tiger prawns now 40% more expensive than some other species, says purchasing company, Beacon. Operators are advised to bear this in mind when pricing the classic prawn cocktail on their Christmas menus.

Too much Christmas spirit is illegal

REMEMBER: It is against the law in the UK to knowingly sell alcohol to someone who is drunk.

It is against the law in the UK to buy alcohol on behalf of someone who is drunk.

For further information, including free downloadable posters, visit www.beerandpub.com/campaigns/servingdrunks

Vegetarian

Increasingly, people are looking for meat-free options on menus. Thanks to The Vegetarian Society for these tasty recipes, which are also perfect for gluten-free and vegan diners.

Pea and Spinach Soup with Beetroot SwirlPea and Spinach Soup with Beetroot Swirl

Serves 4

Vegan
Gluten-free
Wheat-free
Nut-free

INGREDIENTS

For the soup:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small potato (around 130g), peeled and chopped
  • 1250ml vegan vegetable stock
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 150g frozen spinach
  • Salt and pepper

For the beetroot swirl:

  • 1 cooked beetroot
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water

To garnish:

  • Soya cream (optional)

METHOD

  1. In a large pan, gently fry the onion in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the garlic and potato. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Add the stock to the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. While the soup cooks, put the ingredients for the beetroot swirl into a blender and blend until smooth. Set the finished swirl aside and rinse the jug of the blender thoroughly.
  3. Add the peas and spinach to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Let the soup cool for a few moments, then blend until smooth. Season to taste, reheat if necessary and serve in warm bowls with a swirl of the beetroot mixture and soya cream if desired.

Note: Will keep for three days in the fridge. Can be frozen for up to three months.

Christmas GaletteChristmas Galette

Serves 4

These filled buckwheat pancakes make a luxurious starter.

Gluten-free
Wheat-free
Can be vegan

INGREDIENTS

For the pancakes:

  • 100g buckwheat flour
  • 300ml milk or soya milk
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (and some extra for frying)

For the filling:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 40g walnuts, chopped
  • 100g vegetarian or vegan cream cheese
  • 100ml single cream or soya cream
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

To serve:

  • 100g vegetarian Cheshire cheese or vegan cheese, crumbled or grated
  • Mango chutney and/or cranberry sauce
  • Small side salad (optional)

METHOD

  1. To make the pancake batter, whisk the buckwheat flour, milk or soya milk, paprika and vegetable oil together and set to one side. Preheat the oven on its lowest setting.
  2. To prepare the filling, fry the mushrooms in the oil for 5 minutes, then add the remaining filling ingredients and cook for another 5 minutes. Season to taste and keep warm.
  3. To make the pancakes, heat a little oil in a medium non-stick frying pan. Add a quarter of the batter and cook the pancake for around 2 minutes on each side, until set and lightly golden brown. Slide the pancake out of the pan and fold the edges in to create a square shape with the centre exposed. Place the pancake on a baking sheet, cover with foil or greaseproof paper, and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  4. To serve, place each pancake on a warm plate. Unfold the edges, place a quarter of the filling in the centre, then refold. Sprinkle with the extra cheese and add a dollop of mango chutney or cranberry sauce, and a side salad if you like.

Note: Gluten-free buckwheat flour is widely available

Nut RoastNut Roast

Serves 4 - 6

Easy to make and delicious hot or cold, nut roast is the classic main course for a veggie Christmas.

Vegan
Gluten-free
Wheat-free

INGREDIENTS

  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 50g sun-dried tomatoes (oil reserved) drained and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • 200g mixed nuts, chopped
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 1½ tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cook the lentils in plenty of water for 15 minutes, then drain using a fine sieve. While the lentils cook, heat a little of the sun-dried tomato oil in your largest frying pan and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the other ingredients, except the seasoning, to the pan. Stir well, add the cooked lentils and stir again, seasoning to taste.
  3. Line a loaf tin (approximately 20cm x 10cm) with non-stick baking paper and spoon in the mixture. Bake for 50 minutes and allow to cool slightly before removing and cutting into thick slices.

Note: This can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to three months, or chilled for up to three days and reheated. Gluten-free soy sauce is widely available.

Christmas GravyChristmas Gravy

Serves 4

Vegan
Gluten-free
Wheat-free
Nut-free

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 5 cherry tomatoes
  • 600ml vegan vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp cranberry sauce
  • 3 tbsp vegan red wine
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Gently fry the onion in the oil in a large, deep pan for 5 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, garlic, celery and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the stock, cranberry sauce, wine and herbs, season and simmer for 15 minutes. Purée with a stick blender until smooth.

Note: Will keep for up to three days in the fridge. Can be frozen for up to three months. Gluten-free stock is widely available.

Festive Flavours - the Vegetarian Society’s new Christmas recipe collection is available free of charge at vegsoc.org/christmas

Guiny FowlGuinea Fowl with Herbs, California Prunes, Walnuts & Braised Fennel

Recipe courtesy of Rosemary Shrager

Serves 4

GUINEA FOWL INGREDIENTS

  • 1 plump guinea fowl
  • 4 leaves sage
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 10 California Prunes
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 rashers dry cured streaky bacon chopped
  • 8 walnuts, chopped in quarters
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Cook the bacon and put into a bowl. Cut the prunes in half and add to the bacon, chop the herbs and mix in with the walnuts and salt and pepper.
  3. Take a large sheet of foil and put it in a roasting tin, then lay the fowl on top, stuff and cover the guinea fowl with the mixture. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and olive oil.
  4. Close the foil tightly, roast for an hour, pulling back the foil for the last 20 minutes to allow the bird to brown.

BRAISED FENNEL INGREDIENTS

  • 4 small heads of fennel, trimmed and cut in quarters
  • 40g butter
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD

  1. Blanch the fennel in boiling water for 3 minutes.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to take the fennel in one layer, then toss the fennel until it is beginning to colour.
  3. Add the stock, cover the pan and cook until tender, then remove the lid and reduce the stock until syrupy. Put into buttered gratin dish and sprinkle over the parmesan.
  4. Taste for seasoning – it may not need much salt but will need pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

California Prune, Port and Cherry Christmas PuddingCalifornia Prune, Port and Cherry Christmas Pudding

Recipe courtesy of Rosemary Shrager

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g California prunes, chopped
  • 100g dried sour cherries, chopped
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 100ml port
  • 100g self-raising flour, sieved
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1⁄2 tsp each of ground cloves, ginger and cinnamon
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 225g dark brown sugar
  • 50g blanched almonds, chopped
  • 50g hazelnuts, chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten

METHOD

You will need a lightly greased 1.1 litre pudding basin, greaseproof paper, kitchen foil and some string

  1. Put the prunes and sour cherries in a bowl and pour over the brandy and port. Leave for 1 hour if time permits or 15 minutes to soak.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, add the flour and spices. Add the breadcrumbs and treacle, sugar, nuts, orange zest and the grated apple and mix together until well combined.
  3. Now tip in the soaked fruit and liquid along with the orange juice and stir well, then add the egg and mix until it reaches a dropping consistency.
  4. Spoon into the prepared pudding basin, cover with pleated greaseproof paper, then foil and secure with string.
  5. Sit the pudding in a pan of simmering water, about half way up the bowl and cook gently with the lid ajar for 3 hours. Top up with boiling water as soon as the level gets low. Remove from pan then remove the foil and greaseproof paper. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: To reheat and eat; cook as per the recipe and remove the foil and paper. Replace with fresh paper, wrap in foil and store in a cool place for up to 9 months. To serve, steam again for 11⁄2 hours or reheat in the microwave for 10 minutes on high setting.

Dough Balls with Dark Chocolate SauceTear and Share Dough Balls with Dark Chocolate Sauce

Recipe courtesy of Callebaut

Serves 16

Sharing platters are ideal for encouraging additional sales from customers who might not have been able to fit in a full-size version. According to research by Callebaut, 65% of customers say they are more likely to order a dessert if they can share it.

INGREDIENTS

For the dough balls

  • 600g strong flour
  • 15g milk powder
  • 11g salt
  • 15g sugar
  • 15g fat
  • 26g yeast
  • 345g water
  • Callebaut Chocolate chips

For the chocolate sauce

  • 100g Callebaut 811NV Dark Chocolate
  • 100g whipping cream

METHOD

Dough Balls

  1. Create a dough by combining all the ingredients and add in chocolate chips.
  2. Allow the dough to rest under a cover for 1 hour.
  3. When ready, divide the dough into 15g portions and mould into balls.
  4. Place the dough balls on a tray in a circular pattern with a gap in between each dough ball.
  5. Prove the dough balls in a moist atmosphere to prevent skinning.
  6. Bake in an oven at approx. 230°C for 12-15 minutes.

Chocolate sauce

  1. Place the dark chocolate and cream together in a plastic bowl and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  2. Stir and continue to heat at 10 second intervals until all the chocolate has melted.

For a host of other tasty chocolate recipes, visit www.fortheloveofchoc.com

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