To say in French “I’m a chocoholic” it’s “Je raffole de chocolat”. Are you one?? I suppose I am as I eat it every day, and when I wake up at night! Should I feel guilty? - No—as you will realise if you read to the end of this subject. It first came to Europe via Spain in 1528. Before retiring and moving to France we owned Hotwells Post Office. We were always late getting up and as I had to get the children and myself to school breakfast had to be quick and easy. We always had bread and butter with chocolate (there were shelves full of it downstairs!) Have you ever wondered what happens to unsold Easter eggs? Well, we ate them from Easter onwards until they were all gone.
A survey revealed that 9 out of 10 people admit to loving chocolate and the tenth one is lying! On average women eat 5 kilos a year. In France they sometimes say “Je deprime donc je chocolat” or “When I’m feeling down I turn to chocolate”. Scientists have proved that it does help to lift depression possible because it contains serotonin and theobromine. It gives you energy and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. It is certainly good for your heart because it has more antioxidants than red wine plus iron, potassium and magnesium. I should point out that you only get these benefits if you eat good quality dark chocolate and it is a complex labour intensive art to make it.
Unfortunately I have no room to explain about this. I’ll just point out that sweetness, saltiness, acidity and bitterness should all be evident. Brillat -Savarin (a great food connoisseur) said “Chocolate is health”. There are many specialist chocolate shops in France. Perhaps you have read “Chocolate” by Joanne Harris or seen the film? There is even an ‘Académie du Chocolat’ Have you heard of the Chocolate tasting club? If you want it—I have the telephone number!
Now for a few recipes for this ‘Food of the Gods’! None of them take long and are even quicker to eat….
Chocolate Rice Pudding
Make your normal rice pudding and whilst hot pour it into little ramekins. Break up some 80% dark chocolate into tiny pieces and using a teaspoon push some down into the centre of each dish. Leave at room temperature so that the chocolate will melt into the rice. You could vary this dish by adding vanilla extract into the rice, or some finely chopped mandarin slices or even a few sultanas—as well as the chocolate.
Mousse au Chocolat
Everyone has their own method of making this pudding—but this one, I think, is the easiest. It is also one of the lightest as it has very little sugar and more egg whites than yolks. To make 4 small dishes put 125 grams of dark chocolate to melt over a pan of simmering water. Be careful not to let the bowl containing the chocolate touch the water. Then add one tablespoon of sugar, stirring well and add 3 egg yolks slowly. Beat 5 egg whites until the mixture forms stiff peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Pour it into one large dish, or individual ones and leave overnight in your fridge. You could decorate by grating over some white chocolate and orange zest.
Finally—my thought for March….
Reach for the moon if you want to be amongst the stars!
Happy Easter Esmé