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  1. ice-2367072_1280

    This chocolate sorbet recipe is perfect as a delicious dessert, but also suitable for dairy free diets. Because it's made without cream or milk, this sorbet is very light and taste amazingly well.

    Whist the preparation time is very short, you need to leave the sorbet to freeze for quite some time, so make sure you start your sorbet making the day before you want to serve it.

    Since the flavour in this recipe comes from the main ingredients - the chocolate, make sure that you use the best chocolate you have ( minimum 60-77% cocoa solids), use the strongest cocoa powder and add intense coffee to enhance the flavour.

    The pinch of salt is also very crucial part of getting the flavour right. If you make this recipe without it, it will be just very sweet and a little bit bland. The salt balances out the sweetness of the sugar. To make sure this chocolate sorbet is the best one you've ever eaten, taste the mixture before you start the freezing process and add tiny bit more of salt if you need to. Other alternatives to bring out the chocolate flavours include few chilli flakes, tiny pinch of ground pink, white or normal peper or pinch of cinnamon. Obviously don't all all of these at the same time!

    You can also change the flavour of your chocolate sorbet by changing the type of sugar you use. For example using soft brown sugar will give you richer darker flavour, whilst using 100g caster suger and 100g molases sugar will give you nearly liquorice taste, which of course, can never be a bad thing!

    Chocolate sorbet recipe ingredients list

    200g caster sugar

    60g cocoa powder

    pinch of salt

    2 teaspoons of coffee mixture to enhance flavour (mix one teaspoon of instant coffee granules with tiny amount of boiled water)

    85g - 100g dark chocolate (use dairy free chocolate to make sure this desert is truly 'dairy free')

    500 ml water

    1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

    30ml chocolate liquer or similar (for extra flavour and to help the sorbet to come out better from the tub)

    Here is what you do:

    Add the sugar, cocoa powder, salt, coffee extract, chocolate and water in a medium size saucepan and start heating over medium heat.

    Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar and chocolate have disolved. Make sure you stir the pan continuously to prevent the mixture catching (burning).

    Remove from heat, add vanilla extract and alcohol (if using). Transfer to a plastic tub with a lid and leave to chill in the fridge for few hours.

    At this point, if you have a ice cream maker add the mixture to your machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

    If you haven't got a ice cream maker, leave out the alcohol at the last stage, put the mixture into a large shallow plastic tub (or use something like a shallow cake tin) to a freezer and set your watch to 60 minutes. Basically for the next few hours, take the tub out of the freezer and with a fork mash up and rake up the sorbet and then put back to freezer. This replicates the ice cream maker churning the sorbet and preventing it from just freezing in one solid block. By 'raking up' the chocolate sorbet you are keeping the ice in small flakes, which makes is so lovely and soft.

    After about 4-5 hrs, the chocolate sorbet is ready and you can add the alcohol and then either serve it or leave it in the freezer and use at a later stage. Because you've done all the fluffing up and raking of the sorbet, it won't set solid.

    So, here you are - a very easy and delicious recipe for chocolate sorbet, which doesn't even need ice cream maker. 

    Enjoy and do let me know how you get on!

    Happy summer!


  2. girls-1608658_1920

    We just love running our chocolate making hen parties. It's so much fun and laughter and of course there is loads of chocolate!

    And we often get asked whether we have a good hen party quiz. Well, until recently I've always refered people to other websites until this week I finally had the chance to design our own. I'm very happy to share the hen party quiz with you and you can downloaded for free right here on our blog. You don't need to subscribe to anywhere or part with any details, just download it, print it and use it! 

    And of course we'd love you to share it with your friends and other people you might think it would be useful too.

    So, what is the hen party quiz? It's all about how well do you know your bride and it includes some light hearted quiestions about the bride and the groom. 

    First of all download and print the hen party quiz as many times as you need to (the number of friends in your hen party)

    Before you hand out the hen party quiz to the group, make sure that you get the bride to answer all the questions beforehand. Not that you should take this quiz too seriously, but it helps to have the answers first in case the bride can't remember afterwards!

    Next hand the quiz sheets around with pens or pencils and allocate some time for people to complete the questions. The quiz is perfect 'time filler' for example if you (as the party organiser) need to sort out the next part of the entertaiment or food or something else completely.

    Once the time is up (you probably don't need more than 10-15 minutes for this hen party quiz), get everyone to swap their sheets and mark each other answers. Read out the answers and let everyone to mark their friend's quizz sheets. 

    Tot up the scores on each sheet. You can even do this yourself to make sure nobody is cheating! 

    Let everyone know who is the winner and give them a little something as a prize (this could be something relevant to the quiz - like a photo of where the bride and groom first met, or the favourite food - or something entirely else!

    To download high resolution version - just click on the picture below or here.

    Share this with your friends

    Bridal Quiz

  3. dreamstimeextralarge_44047176

    As you might know, I've always been fascinated by traditional sweets. Probably because our house is victorian I wanted to dive a little deeper into the history of victorian sweets. 

    In Victorian times, everything seems possible! It was the time for great inventions, connecting the whole countries with new amazing technology (called the steam railways!) and also time for everything proper!

    Sweets for everyone

    Each area of life seems to have had an invention or two that improved what was already there. This was no different to traditional sweets making. New machines and equipment made the production of sweets much cheaper and available to a wider audience. Suddenly, sweets were becoming a treat for more people than ever before.

    Historically sweets and confectionery was hand-made luxury available only to kings, queens and wealthy aristocrats. The industrial revolution brought about many technological advances; lowering prices for refined sugar and allowing for factory produced sweets and confectionary. Because of these changes, sweets were no longer luxurious items for the super rich. 

    The first milk chocolate bar

    Victorian times were also a great time for inventions in the sweets industry. The first dark or plain chocolate bar was made in 1847, but it took nearly another 30 years before milk chocolate bar was invented. As you might know, chocolate doesn't really like water, it splits, makes the chocolate go grey and you can't really temper it and mould it.

    The chocolate manufacturers were first trying to add pure milk to chocolate mass to create a milk chocolate. And whilst this sounds like a great idea in principle, it didn't work, for all those reasons mentioned above. It wasn't until1875, when a very clever chocolatier thought about swapping the liquid milk for dried powdered milk and hey, presto - milk chocolate bar was born!


    New sweets invented

    A lot of modern sweets, were invented in Victorian times. This was because sugar, which was imported from West Indies become much cheaper. Marshmallows were invented about 1850. Toffee was invented in the early 19th century and fudge was invented in the the USA in the 1880s. Peanut brittle and jelly beans were also invented in the 19th century. First wine gums were sold in 1893. 

    Turkish delight was invented in 1777 and it became popular in Europe in the 19th century.

    Hard boiled sweets made from lemon or peppermint flavours were popular in the early nineteenth century. 

    Meanwhile Kendal mint cake was invented in 1869. Turkish delight, which was originally invented in 1777  only become popular in Europe in the 19th century. 

    The Great Exhibition in London in 1851 was a great event for many reasons, but it was also first time when "French-style" sweets made with soft cream centres were first displayed. A new sweet making equipment made this possible. Until then nobody managed to add a soft centre to a hard boiled sweets.

    Seaside rock appeared in the late 19th century, and it was in the 19th century that people began to eat boiled sweets; as sugar became cheaper a wide variety of boiled sweets were developed.

    Other new sweets invented during the 19th century included  candy floss (1897) and liquorice allsorts (1899) (liquorice was originally used as a medicine but Pontefract cakes were invented in the early 17th century and people began to eat it as a sweet). 

    In 1903 the ice cream cone was invented. 
    Choc-ices went on sale in the USA in 1921. 
    Meanwhile bubble gum was invented in 1906 (although it wasn't actually sold until 1928) and the first lollipops were sold about 1908. 

    The most famous sweet released during the first decade of the 20th century is the wine gum. Unusually this sweet wasn’t aimed at children but at adults- hence the alcohol inspired name. Although the name might suggest otherwise there is no wine involved in the making of these delicious sweets, children eat these just as gladly.  

    The Victorian sweets with the most interesting back story are Liquorice Allsorts ‘created’ in 1899. According to legend, a travelling salesman dropped his tray of samples. The salesman may have thought that he’s blown the pitch but his customer so loved the assortment of shapes and colours arrayed on the floor that he asked if these sweets could be made intentionally!


    A surprising invention of Victorian times - the Cheewing gum

    Another great Victorian Sweets invention was a chewing gum. I was defintelly surprised by that, because somehow I always thought that chewing gum is such a modern type of sweet. Anyway, chewing gum from trees was common across the world for centuries, but chewing gum as we know it was not made commercially until 1848.There is a long history of people using various types of wood and natural sap from trees that could be chewed. For example, 5000 years ago, in the Neolithic period, people chewed wood, possibly because they believed it had some medicinal properties. 

    In ancient Greece, people chewed mastiche, a derived-product of mastic trees. People used it because it tasted good and also because it said to have curative properties (as reported by Dioscorides). 

    In the middle ages, the Sultan’s harem used to chew mastic as breath freshener, for its cosmetic and healing properties. Later on, American Indians chewed resin from spruce trees and the first settlers of New England in America realised it's potential and started to sell the first chewing-gum in 1848 as "The State of Maine Pure Spruce Gum." And apparently, to this date, it is still sold!

    In 1850, the first wax-made chewing gum was sold and it didn’t take a long time for it to take over the spruce tree gum in popularity.

    The Victorian Sweets Shop

    One thing I'd love to do is to be able to walk in to original Victorian sweets shop. As sweets become cheaper, shop keepers started to stock more sweet treats and you could find shops dedicated to just sweets. Just imagine all those tall jars filled with different types of sweets and smilling shop keeper measuring out a quarter of a pound of your favourite sweets.

    A traditional Victorian Sweets would include: Fudge, Marzipan, Liquorice Allsorts, Jelly Babies, Brandy Balls, Clove Rocks, Pear Drops, Coconut Ice, Marshmallows, Bonbons, Chocolate Limes, Toffee or Wine Gums. 

    There were also many sweets - especially in Britain, such as rose or violet lozengers, Lime Fruit, Twisted Barley Sugar, Strawberry Drops, Damson Drops, Chocolate Drops, Caramels or Chocolate Kisses.

    Sweets were weighted by shop assistants and sold in paper bags or scones. Sometimes you could buy chocolates in pretty boxes, which were apparently padded with cotton wool to protect the chocolate inside!

    In many traditional sweets shops, you could find a large tray of home-made toffee on the counter. The shopkeeper would break it up with a small hammer and what looked like a pair of scissors. Children would often buy just an ounce of sweets at the time. That's about 30 grams, which doesn't sound like a lot.

    I love the idea that Victorian's believed that sugar was healthy! Victorian advertising for sweets often refered to them as a wholesome!

    The new found love for sweets had also a bit of a shady side to it! Although sugar become much more affordable in Victorian times, it didn't stop sweets shopkeepers and victorian sweets producers to make their products even cheaper - but for themselves!

    Sweets which were made from white sugar were often sold with plaster of Paris added in. Roasted almonds were often subsituted with kernels of various fruits, such as peaches, apricots and nectarines. Apparently in London, kitchen maids serving in wealthy families were known for collecting fruit kernels from their kitchens and selling them on to sweets shops, making a little extra pocket money at the same time!

    And it apparently didn't stopped there! Other ingredients that were added to Victorian sweets included lime, alum, bullock's blood, charcoal or acetate of soda.

    Oxide of leads was also mixed with the small proportions of sugar and used in making sweets like sugar plums. I guess that was because of the colour! Lead is of course fairly poisonous, but nobody would know when children would be sucking on the sugar plums, only having a slight blue tongs! 

    So, here you are - a potted history of Victorian Sweets! I'm sure I'll carry on researching more about this wonderful subject, especially the practical research, which of course includes trying some of these recipes and tasting them too!

    Until next time...



  4. Boiled Sweets Recipe

    Author: Magdalena Marsden

    This article was last updated on 20 July 2017

     I've always been interested in traditional confectionery - pretty much all of my life I was on a quest for the perfect sweets, chocolates or bonbons. And I was always fascinated about the process of sweet's making and it was partly the reason why I founded Cocoa & Heart few years back. All those demonstrations at seaside sweet's shops of how to make a stick of rock got me thinking, that perhaps I could have a go myself. And I did - successfully - made several batches of boiled sweets and now you can have a go too, following my step by step boiled sweets recipe tutorial.

  5. Is cocoa a fruit

    Author: Nick Marsden

    When we’re running our various chocolate making courses we often  get asked lots of questions from enthusiastic chocolate makers about every aspect of the chocolate making process. And, of course, it’s a pleasure to share our knowledge with so many keen and eager course attendees and chocolatiers to be. Sometimes the questions are technical and detailed– such as those about the tempering and the chocolate crystallisation process. Others are more general, but equally practical, like when do we get to eat it all?