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Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Chocolate Truffle Masterclass

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An invite to a chocolate truffle masterclass with leading chocolatier Paul A Young is a no-brainer! I do like playing with chocolate and I'll take any help going, especially if it's from one of the world's best. The event was organised by Pinterest UK and held at The Cookery School in central London, with help from Great British Chefs.

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Paul A Young

We learned about the different kinds of chocolate and cocoa beans, and also how to temper chocolate correctly at home. You don't need expensive equipment - a bowl set over simmering water to melt the chocolate, a granite or marble slab (cheap from a builders' merchant), plus a scraper to spread and scoop the chocolate up will do. Something you won't be able to buy are cold hands, which are essential for rolling the truffle mixture into little balls! Apart from cold hands, you also need a cool kitchen, and when you've made the truffles or chocolates, don't store them in the fridge. Properly tempered chocolate shrinks slightly, which helps to remove chocolates from a mould.

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Chocolate ready for melting

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Chocolate & cream for the truffles

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Tempering the chocolate

We rolled out our own Port and Stilton Truffles ***YES!*** which were absolutely gorgeous. If you want to have a go at making them yourself, the recipe is on the Great British Chefs website, Port and Stilton Truffles. You can read Pinterest's own blog post here and see more photos on the Pinterest board Paul A Young recipes.

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In case you're not familiar with Pinterest, it's a pinboard-style photo sharing website allowing users to create and manage theme based image collections including events, interests, and hobbies. You can search other pinboards and re-pin images to your own boards for safe keeping. I like to think of it as my creative inspiration boards, somewhere I can come back to time and again, to drool, gaze or just get fabulous ideas. I have 53 boards - mostly food boards - one is devoted to chocolate! Have a look, but don't blame me if you become addicted!

Pinterest boards
My boards

More photos from the evening:

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Rolling the truffles

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Finished truffles

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Nicely equipped cookery school

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We even got fed!

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Lovely canapes

Thank you to Pinterest, Great British Chefs and to Paul A Young for the fabulous chocolate masterclass.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Pecan Raspberry Meringue Torte Recipe


One of my favourite things to make with leftover egg whites are meringues. I made up this easy 3 layer raspberry meringue torte for the husband's birthday. If you like your meringue crunchy, eat on the day you make it because it will go soft due to the double cream filling.


Pecan Raspberry Meringue Torte

4 large egg whites
200g caster sugar
100g chopped, roasted pecans
300ml double cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 tablespoon raspberry liqueur
150g fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberries

Line three baking trays with baking parchment and use a 23cm round plate, or tin, as a template to draw a circle on each piece of parchment. Turn the paper over so the circle marks are on the underneath.

Put the egg whites into a clean, large, grease-free bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Gently fold in the chopped, roasted pecans, reserving a tablespoon for serving.

Spread the meringue equally onto the three baking sheets, keeping just inside the circle. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2, for about 1½ hours, until the meringues are pale and crisp. Remove from the oven and place the meringues onto wire racks to cool.

Whip the cream to soft peaks and fold in the raspberry liqueur.

To assemble the dessert, place one of the meringues onto a serving plate and spread a third of the whipped double cream over. Scatter half of the raspberries over the cream and place another meringue on top. Add another third of cream and the rest of the raspberries, followed by the last meringue disc. Top with the remaining cream and scatter the reserved pecans and freeze-dried raspberries over the top.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pairing Côtes du Rhône Wines with Chinese Food

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My latest wine challenge was quite interesting and very timely (given we're in the middle of Chinese New Year!) - can Côtes du Rhône wines be paired with Chinese takeaway food?

I have to admit that I've not eaten Chinese takeaway food for years - after all, you can make a fabulous stir-fry at home, and Chinese ingredients are easily accessible in all supermarkets nowadays. I asked around on Twitter to see where I might find a good restaurant in my part of the woods and there were some good recommendations, but had to go to the closest one in the end due to never-ending poor weather. I cannot lie, I was a little disappointed - thank goodness for the wine!

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I was sent two wines to try with the food, a red one - La Chasse Côtes Du Rhône Reserve (Sainsbury’s, £7.99) and a white - Saint Maurice Côtes du Rhône Villages Blanc de Rouville, Domaine de l'Echevin 2012 (The Wine Society, £12.50).

The Côtes Du Rhône wine area in southeast France has been producing wines for at least 2000 years, with the hot and sunny climate producing a more constant temperature than that of other French wine producing regions. Over 450 million bottles of wine are produced each year (14% of French wine production); with 80% red, 14% rosé and 6% white.

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The La Chasse Côtes Du Rhône Reserve was a light, fruity, red, and matched the less sweet dishes. It perked up the prawn crackers and was a great accompaniment to the king prawn delight - a spicy Szechuan style dish. It's also a good wine to serve with mature cheeses as I discovered the next day!

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The Saint Maurice Côtes du Rhône Villages was a very refreshing and zesty light white wine, excellent with all the Chinese dishes, but particularly the sweeter dishes of crispy shredded seaweed and sweet & sour chicken. A great all rounder of a wine!

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There was nothing terribly wrong with the food, it felt like stepping in time by 20 years with exactly the same sickly sticky sauce on the sweet & sour, same flavour gravy on the vegetables.... I don't really know what I had been expecting! I was thinking that the food would be as good as mine and hoping that it would be better. Having said that, we were hungry and most of it got eaten.

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I know it's a bit slobbish not to put the food into serving dishes, but it's a takeaway and I did get out the chopsticks and decent wine glasses!  My favourite dishes were the plain chow mein noodles, which bought out the lovely aromatic scent of the red wine and the crispy shredded seaweed - a great match for the sweeter white wine. The most disappointing dish were the spring rolls, nice and crisp on the outside but quite mushy non-descript vegetables inside.

Next time you order a Chinese takeaway, don't reach for the lager or tea, try some fabulous affordable Côtes du Rhône wine. Dare I say to pop the red wine in the fridge for half an hour, especially if you're not ordering the sweet dishes, a chilled glass of Chasse Côtes Du Rhône Reserve is the perfect partner for your food!
Happy Chinese New Year!

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Disclosure: I was sent two bottles of Côtes du Rhône wines to see how they pair with Chinese takeaway food, all views are my own.
Please drink responsibly, visit Drinkaware for more information.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2014 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.