Tag Archives: chocolate

7 Easter Gift Do’s and Dont’s

EASTER BASKET CLOSE UP cropped

Easter Gifts

Easter is a great time for families and friends to gather and celebrate. As an event that’s not only a great family time it’s equally great, because it includes lots of chocolates, egg treats and bunnies. It is one of our most favourite holidays. My mind is drawn to think about the chocolate Easter bilbies, the little fun surprises in every egg hunt, the brownie gifts everyone looks forward to, and all sorts of chocolates that will surely make you crave big-time.  Easter gifts really make us smile!

Central to the celebration of Easter is gift-giving. And more so than Christmas gifts, the most common Easter gift most people prefer is chocolate. Yum!

You’ve probably already made up your list of gift recipients. Now you’re at the tough part – what to give to who? Before anything else, keep this in mind: everyone loves a delicious gift at Easter!

Holiday gift-giving can be a daunting task. But follow some simple Dos and Don’ts, and you’ll be fine avoiding all the  hassle. Here are the rules to make food gift giving a delightful experience for you and your gift recipient!

Let’s start with the DON’TS.

Don’t go it alone.

The thought of making your own gift is really fun. But if you consider the number of your gift recipients, plus the materials you need to gather and the time you need to make all your food Easter  gifts on time, you might end up feeling more stressed than happy. So the first rule is – try not to make gifts all on your own. Not only do you cut the work needed to prepare your food gifts, you also turn this could-be-stressful moment into a fun Holiday get-together with lots of chocolate dipping and tasting! You will be surprised how many hands are so willing to help.

Don’t start until everything you need is ready.

Baking chocolate goodies is both an art and a science. Chocolate can be difficult to handle so you want to have everything you need ready before you start making treats. It is important that you plan ahead. Make a list of the different treats you want to make – whether its brownies, chocolate tarts, chocolate-coated candies, cookies, truffles – make sure all the ingredients and baking supplies you need are right there on your kitchen counter and ready to go.

Don’t take it too seriously.

You don’t always make food gifts for your friends and family. So it is understandable that you want to give your best effort to make the perfect present for each one of them. But your homemade gifts need not be perfect like those you see in local food stores. So don’t take it too seriously. Just go with the flow. Let your imagination and resourcefulness guide you. Creativity is at its peak when you feel relaxed and not anxious.

Don’t spend too much, especially on gift wraps.

You should avoid spending too much especially on gift wraps. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make every best effort for beautiful presentation of your food gift. You probably have some clean gift wraps you are able to reuse. If you’re wrapping cookies and brownies, you can put them in clear plastic and tie with an attractive low cost ribbon. This simple gift-wrapping approach is always a winner.

Don’t forget the label and your message.

Your homemade chocolate food gift can be made more special if you make a label and include your personal message. If you have good handwriting skills, much better. But if you are not confident, you can always have your message printed. Also, it’s a good idea to put a note about the shelf life of your gift. This way, your gift recipients know how long they can keep the gift. These days too, an important consideration is recipients with a  food allergy. Label your gluten free Easter gifts, with exactly that – Gluten Free Gift -so that your Easter gift is truly personalised for your recipient.

Now, let’s go to the Dos…

Do set a budget.

The last thing you want to experience is the stress of knowing that you have overspent. So before this happens, you want to think about your budget. How much are you willing to spend for each of your chocolate gifts? Do the math now before you think about what chocolate treats to prepare. This way, you will have one less worry.

Do experiment.

Easter chocolate gifts are so fun to make. Ideas are all over – on and off the web. From the recipes to the gift boxes and wrappers, you will surely find a great design to incorporate in your gift. But don’t be afraid to experiment. Who knows – you might end up making a luxury food gift that will set the trend. You just don’t want to delight your gift recipients with the taste of your food gift but also WOW them with your presentation!

If you’re into homemade food Easter gifts, you should try baking some really good Easter nests! Here’s a recipe you can try this Easter. This no-bake recipe takes minutes to do so you can save a lot of time prepping your food gift. Your kids can even do this on their own!

Chocolate Easter Nests

200 grams milk chocolate

200 grams dark chocolate

100 grams shredded coconut

40 coloured candy-coated Easter eggs

How to do:

  1. This recipe starts with melting the dark chocolate. Cut the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir from time to time until the chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Add the shredded coconut and stir to combine.
  3. Create chocolate nests of about 7 centimetres in diameter. Using the back of a metal spoon, make a small dent in the centre of each nest. Cool completely and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Before packing, fill the dent with candy-coated eggs.

Recipe Source: Delicious.com.au

 Importantly take the time to really enjoy the lead up to Easter. Whether you buy gifts online, in store or make them yourself, the important part is always the joy in the act of gift giving. Here at Dello Mano, we revere food gifts and always feel that a food gift is such a beautiful way to celebrate any festive events. Of course a chocolate gift is even better!

No time to bake then checkout Dello Mano Luxury Easter Chocolate gifts and cookies. Our food gifts are all hand made using our own recipes, premium ingredients and in small batches to protect our food quality.

 

Dark Chocoalte

The Worst Chocolate Advice You’ll Hear!

chocolate on beater

Chocolate

The worst advice you can be given about Chocolate in the kitchen is that it is too hard to use. Dont listen for a moment. Everything from brownies to cookies taste better with real chocolate. The beautiful chemistry of chocolate is amazing and although there are some rules to follow, it is really worth the trouble. If you’re like most home bakers, chocolate is one of the things you’ll  really want to include in your cooking repertoire. From cake fillings to frostings and dips, chocolate has always been a popular choice. The bitter-sweet, creamy and aromatic flavour of chocolate makes it a great addition in the kitchen. Here at Dello Mano we use real chocolate in everything from baked chocolate cake,  brownie  to  chocolate truffle.

I know when I first started using chocolate in the product development kitchens at Cadbury, as young Food Scientists we were obsessed with the myth that chocolate was only for the really well seasoned. True, the absolute talent of chocolatiers is indeed both a Science and Art and they acquire those skills  from the many, many hours of concentration, practice and patience (!!). All the same with some knowledge around chocolate chemistry, the rules and some practice you’ll find you will be working happily with chocolate in no time.

Dark Tempered Chocolate

Chocolate properly tempered is glossy and shiny

When working with chocolates, there are some rules that need to be followed. Here are a few tips when using chocolate in the kitchen.

  • Store in airtight dry conditions to retain  freshness and flavour.
  • Donot store chocolate in the freezer or the fridge as when it is brought to room temperature condensation will form on the chocolate surface
  • Too often, problems with chocolate are centred on the melting process. Most recipes for brownies, fudge, chocolate mousse, ganache and cakes require melting the chocolate first before incorporating it to the mixture or batter. And this is where all the trouble often begins. Even a tiny tad droplet of water can ruin a good quality chocolate and make it ‘seize’, or turn into a grainy and clumpy mixture.
    • NOTE: If your chocolate seizes, you do need not need to throw it in the rubbish bin. You can use it for other purposes. For instance, you can wait until it cools down and solidifies again, chop it and use as ‘chocolate chips’ for your cookies or as toppers for your cake. Or, here is a nice idea – you can eat it! While the texture and appearance of a chocolate that has seized are no longer appetizing, the taste is still the same. It is still chocolate after all.
  • When melting chocolate, you want to eliminate any chance that it gets contact with water. So start by making sure that the bowls and utensils you are using are perfectly dry. Try not to use wooden spoons or spatulas to stir the chocolate, as wood tends to retain moisture.
  • If you’re using the ‘double-broiler method’, keep the water underneath the bowl hot, not boiling. Boiling water may splash above the rim of the saucepan, which could cause droplets of water to come in contact with the chocolate. Not only that. Boiling water produces a lot of steam, which can also cause your chocolate to seize.
  • If the recipe calls for melting chocolate with a liquid, like in making ganache wherein chocolate is heated along with heavy cream, you need to watch out for the right proportions. Too little liquid can cause the chocolate to separate. Meanwhile, if you add too much liquid, you could end up with particles of chocolate suspended in the mixture.
  • Apart from making sure that your chocolate doesn’t come in contact with water, you must also ensure that it doesn’t get heated high above the threshold. Chocolate is temperamental. It is very sensitive to high temperatures. If you are melting dark chocolate, be sure to not go beyond 55-58 C If you are working with milk or white chocolate then do not exceed 45-50. Take care as it’s quite easy to exceed these temperatures if you are using a double broiler. Best bet is to not let the water come to the boil, just to be safe. Take extra care when using a microwave, overheating chocolate is still possible if you put it in maximum heat. I find when brownie baking that it is best to stop and stir to make sure that there are no “hot spots” forming in the chocolate. Having a candy thermometer around is helpful.
  • Oh and just like cooking with wine – the better quality the chocolate  you use, the better quality will be your cooking result.

Working with chocolates can be a real challenge. We bake brownies everyday and we’re still in love with chocolate. The effort is always worth it. And once you get the hang of it and accept that chocolate is the “boss” – you’ll be the best of friends.

6 Layer Caramel Cake

A delicious 6 layer caramel cake is perfect in this kind of weather. Here at Dello Mano we’re celebrating Caramel week so, how better to enjoy it than in 6 layers!  We made this one at home last weekend and successfully getting us into the caramel zone.

Each layer is a delicious moist cake, not as dense as brownie but rather fudgy – cakey if that makes sense?  The caramel we made was a lovely creamy version and I think totally up to you in terms of which recipe you use to prepare. The important part is just making sure the caramel consistency is enough to hold it firm between layers but just viscous enough to allow it to ooze when the cake is cut. We all need that little bit of theater at the cutting of an impressive layer cake 🙂 We finished the cake off with a little rock salt just to add a little spark in contrast to the overall caramel sweetness.

6 layer caramel layer

6 layer caramel cake – delicious!

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Why You Should Give White Chocolate a Chance

Maybe it’s time to give white chocolate a chance? Or you not a fan? This week at Dello Mano we’ll celebrate White Chocolate in everything from Hot White Chocolate to Pancakes with White chocolate Mousse and fresh raspberries.

White chocolate looks different and doesn’t taste like regular chocolate. It doesn’t have the bittersweet taste that makes regular chocolates addictive.  That’s because it isn’t really chocolate after all. But it does have a few selling points.

White Chocolate Pancakes at Dello Mano

White Chocolate Pancakes with White Chocolate Mousse and fresh raspberries

Read more…

Recipe : Double Chocolate Pecan Fudge Squares

We bake most weekends and this past weekend was no exception.  With winter theoretically on our door step ( in theory, I say  because the days here in Brisbane at this time of the year really are glorious!) it seemed only fitting to bake ourselves  a triple layer treat.

Dello Mano Kitchen Baking of Double Pecan Fudge Squares

Triple layers of yumness!

The layers in these Double Chocolate Pecan Fudge Squares  do take a little more time however the result is well worth the effort.

Start by preparing the biscuit base according to the instructions below. Take care not to overbake it as it tends to dry quickly and you really are looking for lovely moistness across each of the square layers.

The  creamy chocolate filling is simply a brown sugar and butter mix made super delicious with condensed milk.  I’ve long been a fan of condensed milk. Beginning my Food Science career at Carnation, I remember clearly the joy of huge and I mean really huge, vats of white creamy condensed milk. My job then was to taste test the condensed milk as it caramalises over time.  A  life well spent – condensed milk tasting to now these days brownie tasting!

condensed milk pouring

Delicious condensed milk makes for the beginning

Of course, as we always say great chocolate makes or breaks a dessert. Here at Dello Mano our choice of beautiful chocolate is Belgian chocolate however so long as you choose great quality, the choice of chocolate is yours.

dark chocolate bowl

Delicious dark chocolate

After melting, pour the molten dark Belgian chocolate onto the base of biscuit and creamy filling.

Dark chocolate pouring into pan

Use great quality dark chocolate

Starting to get exciting now – take a little care to evenly spread the chocolate so as to ensure the squares look balanced when they’re cut. Refrigerate.

spread dark chocolate onto filling

Dark chocolate spread onto filling

Remove from the refrigerator and carefully cut the layers to your preferred size. Since we love Dello Mano cubes, we have a preference for little squares, but really the fudge squares could be ribbons or bar shaped.  Just take a little care when moving the knife through the layers to avoid cracking.

cutting double pecan fudge

Carefully cut into neat squares

Sit back and enjoy those delicious layers.

double pecan fudge finished

Double Pecan Fudge – the final product

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE PECAN FUDGE SLICE

INGREDIENTS:

BASE

¼ cup finely chopped pecans

100 g Butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 cup plain flour, sifted

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

FILLING

395 g can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

125 g butter, chopped into small pieces

120g coursely chopped pecans

100 g  dark Belgian chocolate, chopped

FROSTING

60 g butter, chopped

200 g dark Belgian chocolate, chopped 

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 170-180°C depending on your oven. Grease and line a brownie style pan.

       THE BASE

Combine butter, sugar and pecans in a bowl. Add flour and baking powder. Mix until well combined. Using the back of a spoon         press the base mixture into the cake pan.

Bake for 18 minutes or until golden and firm to touch.

THE FILLING

Combine milk, sugar and butter in a 2-liter (8 cup) microwave safe jug or bowl. Cook, uncovered, stirring every 2 minutes for 6         to 8 minutes on high (100%) power or until mixtures comes to the boil and is thick and golden. Stand for 1 minute.Add the          chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Stir in pecans.

Add the chocolate and stir constantly until melted. Stir in pecans.

Pour over warm base and set aside to cool completely.

TO MAKE FROSTING

Melt butter over a low heat.  When melted slowly add chocolate, stirring gently  until smooth. Be careful not to aerate the chocolate mix. Pour over fudge filling.

Optional : Spread some crushed pecans on top before refrigerating ( can there ever be too many pecans!)

Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set. Cut into squares and serve.

        Recipe adapted from Stahmann Pecan Farms – www.stahmann.com.au

 

 

15 Chocolate Facts

Oh chocolate ! It is undeniably one of the most loved food in the world–from bars, luxury brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries and gift boxed chocolates–everything just seems better with chocolate, don’t you agree?

But did you know that chocolate actually has a very rich history? Take a look at some of the most amazing facts about our favorite sweet treat:

1. The scientific name of cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao, Greek for “food for the Gods”. But the word chocolate actually comes from the Aztec term “Xocolatl” meaning bitter water.

cocoa bean

Deb our Brownie Master went to Africa – obsessed with learning everything about chocolate and brownies

2. Chocolate has been very valuable through history. The Aztecs believed that the cocoa beans are gifts from their god Quetzalcoatl and used them as currency (10 beans = a rabbit, 100 beans = a servant). In the American Revolutionary War, chocolate was used to  pay the soldiers.

3. The first chocolate bar was invented in 1847 by Joseph Fry. His company Fry & Son eventually merged with Cadbury.

4. Most of the world’s chocolate supply comes from Latin America (15%), Asia (17%) and Africa (68%). 33% of the global supply actually comes from Côte d’Ivoire in Africa.

Read more…

Tempt Your Tastebuds—5 of the World’s Most Expensive Desserts

As an old saying goes, “Always save room for dessert“. But have you heard that there are desserts we might have to save money for just to enjoy? It’s true! Just take a look at 5 of the world’s most expensive desserts:

Golden Opulence Sundae ($1,000)

New York City’s Serendipity 3 is known for great treats but this product is their most opulent on their product list. Recognized by the Guinness World Records in 2007 as “World’s Most Expensive Sundae”, Golden Opulence Sundae is so exclusive, reservations must be made 48 hours in advance.

Here’s a quick look at what goes into the Golden Opulence Sundae:

  • Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream
  • 23-carat gold leaf
  • Medei Porceleana chocolate and Chuao chocolate
  • gold dragets
  • grande passon caviar with fresh passion fruit

Brownie Extraordinaire ($1,000)

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