Don’t stop the choc consumption when it’s time for main meals or classic snacks this Christmas. Instead, introduce an even higher cocoa content to your festive diet by quietly dishing up some of these chocolate-laced delights…
Breaking the fast
Carluccio’s is a past master when it comes to ‘Tony’s bread’ – offering endless examples that are consistently buttery, tender, and shockingly moreish. In this 1kg incarnation, a healthy helping of chocolate chunks only improves matters; as does the application of a hazelnut glaze. A fat slice should be toasted until good and golden, slathered with salted butter, and applied to face asap on Christmas morn.
The irresistible nibble
Despite a high calorie content, health nuts reckon nuts are one of the more nutritious nibbles you can consume over Christmas – and they feature heavily in this marvellous mixture. Combining roasted Giffoni hazel and Brazil nuts with the same specimens enrobed in dark and milk chocolate, this selection is more poppable than Pringles – and, happily, rather better for your health.
Fancying up the feast
Stuff the turkey – make the gravy the star of your festive feast. A good glug of this rich, rounded vinegar will add depth, cocoa-y complexity and just a touch of acidity to lift a gravy’s meaty savour; whilst biting on one of the roasted cocoa nibs that flavour the balsamic releases a nicely nutty note. After dinner, this condiment also comes into its own dribbled over ice cream or mellow, creamy gorgonzola dolce.
There are two clear camps when it comes to flavour-added cheeses – those who dismiss them as nasty novelties, and those for whom the weirder the inclusions, the more wonderful the result. The notion of chocolate and cheese might displease the former, but if you’d not say no to a slice of cranberry cheesecake, suspend suspicion and pop a wedge of this first on a digestive biscuit then in your gob.
This is heaven with smoked salmon. I’d imagine you can’t imagine this combo ’til you’ve tried (and fallen in love) with it for yourself. The sweet heat of the chocolate-enriched classic condiment is wicked good with smoked salmon’s oleaginous, rich flesh – extra wonderful once a few leaves of peppery watercress are invited to party on your palate. Not sold on salmon? Dollop it on rare roast beef canapes.
A good pud has an almost chocolate-y depth even without the ingredient actually having a physical presence. Here, it proves itself a gift to this rich recipe – 100% and 70% chocolates teaming up with flavoursome fruit and lashings of Julian Temperley’s cider apple brandy to yield a not-too-sweet treat that’ll eat every bit as as well fried in butter for breakfast as it does as a finale to The Big Lunch.
Ice cream is for life, not just for summer – and you’ll find it dished up by the hottest hosts at the coolest Christmas dos. Do as they do, and serve scoops of Heston’s florentine-flavoured ice cream atop the very Italian cookies whose ingredients inspired the recipe. The decadent dark chocolate base is enriched with roasted salted almonds, candied peel and crystallised ginger; a textured, tasty treat.
Mincemeat doesn’t have to be a sticky, sickly goop full of dull dried fruit. Nor does it need to be confined to mince pies. Try Hotel Chocolate’s cocoa nib-laden, brandy-laced, cinnamon and ginger-spiced stuff stuffed into apples, swirled into sweet bun dough pre-bake, warmed up as a nice ice cream topping, or even in lieu of chutney with a Christmas cheeseboard.
Tea time treats
I won’t mince my words: I have little time or affection for the classic Christmas pies. Unsurprisingly, as with so many things, chocolate makes it better. As does a decent dose of citrus peel in the mincemeat contained within the cocoa-enriched pastry cases of Fortnum’s pint-sized pies.
In the past few years we’ve stolen stollen from the Germans and added it to our own festive repast. Kinda cakey, kinda bready, somewhat sconelike, there’s no denying a buttered slice is very nice – especially so when the loaf – said to resemble a swaddles infant Jesus – swaddles a gooey layer of marzipan, candied black cherries and dark choc chunks, lending the 16th-century classic a Black Forest vibe.
If Selfridges’ cherry-choc effort weren’t quite chocolate-y enough for you, this one ups the cocoa content still further. Belgian chocolate is added to an already indulgent all-butter fruitcake, layered up with rum-sozzled marzipan which in turn contains chocolate chips. In case you needed reminding what time of year it is, a decent dose of cinnamon and nutmeg adds a fantastically festive flavour.
Closely resembling a giant Ferrero Rocher and containing a tipple so thick it could easily topple into the ‘sauce’ category, this bottle is far too festive for its own good. If all things dark, smooth, and very, very rich appeal, you’ll swoon at the first sip. Good served over a fair few ‘rocks’; better yet mixed with Guinness for a drink that’s velvety and voluptuous with a seductively bitter finish.
‘Yule’ love this indulgent cream liqueur (#SorryNotSorry). Ideal for when you’d pounce upon pudding but you really couldn’t manage another morsel, it’s a classic Christmas dessert in gluggable form. Blended from a cream liqueur made by the 119 year-old Ballyrashane Creamery in Ireland, a generous measure both hits the sweet spot and delivers a pleasant boozy buzz.
Flavoured vodkas can be variously underwhelming, overwhelming, synthetic or quite frankly pathetic attempts at adding interest to a bland base spirit. The vodka used in this salted-caramel-and-plantation-cocoa infused (not flavoured) creation is small batch English stuff; the saline seasoning superior Maldon salt. It’s brilliantly balanced and contains a whole cocoa bean that’s wholly more welcome than the worm in a bottle of mezcal.
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