From delicate truffles to crunchy chocolate biscuits, cocoa-centric treats are the ultimate guilty pleasure. While chocolate cakes, mousses and cheesecakes are common dinner party desserts, cooking with cocoa is notoriously tricky and remains a skill many of us are yet to fully master. Fortunately, for those tired of reluctantly pouring away thick, lumpy bowls of chocolate, Ellen de Jager, Head Pastry Chef at Michelin starred Bohemia Restaurant, is on hand to solve the cocoa-conundrum once and for all. Below, Bohemia’s Ellen de Jager lends her top tips for making your own chocolate creations at home. Start from scratch To make your own raw chocolate, the essentials you’ll need are grated cocoa butter, coconut oil, raw organic cocoa powder and agave syrup. Place the grated cocoa butter and coconut oil in a small, heat-safe bowl. Then place the bowl in a shallow pan containing a small amount of warm water stirring occasionally. Lastly, add the dry ingredients and place the chocolate in the freezer for 30 minutes. Feel the heat If making raw chocolate is a step too far, you might wish to simply melt shop bought chocolate in order to make your own unique cocoa treats. Ensure you cut the bar into even squares. This means the chocolate will all melt at an equal speed. Steer clear of the wooden spoon As tempting as it may be, stay away from wooden spoons when stirring chocolate, as they retain odor and moisture which will ruin the chocolate. Seizing is a common problem when melting chocolate, so it’s essential to eliminate any chance of the chocolate coming into contact with water. Always make sure the bowls and utensils you use are perfectly dry. Glorious ganache Believe it or not, chocolates can be seasonal too. A fruity chocolate ganache is a perfect addition to your after dinner treat. We serve a selection to our Bohemia diners every evening. For making these at home, combine heavy cream and liquidized, boiled fruit then stir in melted milk chocolate before adding softened butter. In terms of flavours, our seasonal summer berry and exotic fruit ganaches are extremely popular. I particularly love our apricot, lime and peach flavours! Finishing touch A splash of colour can turn your creation from mundane to magical in minutes. At Bohemia, we recently created a stunning ‘Lost Treasure of Easter’ sculpture at Bohemia, which took five days to make and we used about 25kg of chocolate. This involved lots of cocoa butter colouring. If you want to try yourself, you can buy coloured cocoa butter in a can from most cookery shops. Ensure you keep your batch of chocolates at an even distance from the aerosole can when spraying, to ensure the colour is a continuous shade throughout. Watch the clock Timing is key when working with chocolate. Only leave it in the refrigerator until set – no longer as overly chilled chocolate can create problems. When removing your chocolate from the fridge, it’s important to keep your hands off the surface as finger prints can easily make a mark. Michelin starred Bohemia is renowned for its chic desserts and afternoon tea masterminded by Head Pastry Chef Ellen de Jager. The Bohemian Afternoon Tea Collection is priced at £19.95 per person.
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