Saturday, 20 April 2013

Tropical chocolate

Around Easter we had friends over for dinner on a couple of occasions (yes, out of that kitchen of mine...) And at that time of the year, either as a result of the approaching spring or the excessive use of colour yellow everywhere, the thoughts turn to tropical fruitiness.

I wanted to keep the dessert simple, light and (and courtesy of the logistical challenges posed by the doll house-like dimensions of the kitchen) something I could prepare in advance. But c'mon - the only thing brains can process during Easter is...chocolate. So for coffees I made tropical chocolate.

In all its simplicity this is much like a slightly more sophisticated and grown up version of Rocky Road. This is also tremendously easy and grateful treat to make, as you can use just about anything you like in this. I like it best when there's a combination of something crunchy like nuts, something fruity and chewy like dried fruits or berries and something unexpected like candied ginger.

For these I used dried papaya and mango to give them some sweetness, pecans to give them crunch, dried coconut shavings to complement the tropical fruitiness, candied ginger to give them a bit edge and soft dried cranberries to balance the sweetness (a.k.a because I had some lying around and didn't know what to do with them...)

And in all its easiness this is how it goes: melt 200 g of good quality dark chocolate in Bain Marie (you could of course use milk chocolate or white chocolate of you prefer them, but then adjust the toppings to avoid things from getting too icky. For milk chocolate you might want to try salted nuts or broken down pretzels and raisins, for white chocolate pistachio and dried berries with a bit of acidity such as cranberry would work well). Do not add milk or cream - otherwise they won't set. Let the chocolate melt all the way and then, using a table spoon spoon the mixture on a baking sheet forming round discs (mine were about 5 cm in diametre) and sprinkle the toppings on top of them. Let cool in room temperature and then transfer to fridge. You can also just pour the mixture into an oven dish lined with parchment into one sheet and then break it into free-form artisanal looking pieces.

Since chocolate hasn't really been making appearances in our kitchen of late, this simple treat is also our entry to the Finnish foodbloggers' monthly food challenge where the theme this months is chocolate... Stay tuned for more information!

Candied ginger is available in stores but can also be made at home:

2 dl fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 1/3 cm slices
6 dl sugar
6 dl water

Bring water to boil. Add sugar and cook until it has completely dissolved. Add ginger and cook for 40-50 minutes until it's soft and sweet. Once it's done, drain the pieces (reserve the liquid!) and spread on a wire rack to dry. Sprinkle sugar on a baking sheet and toss the ginger in it. Let dry completely and then store in an airtight container.

Depending on the consistency after boiling the ginger (it might be done already), keep cooking the liquid until it has reduced and reached a syrup-like consistency. Cool and store in the fridge.

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