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14th-20th October is Chocolate Week, so an excuse to eat chocolate – if an excuse is needed!

Hello, this is Cookery Editor, Sue, and this week I’ve got a good excuse to write about one of my passions – chocolate, as it’s Chocolate Week.  It’s a real foodie week this week, as it’s also “National Baking Week“, so you can combine both by baking with chocolate.

I think that you only have to look on the supermarket shelves now to see the huge increase in “good” chocolates.  Just as a few years ago people’s understanding of wines improved and we now have better quality wines with plenty of variety from different grape types, the same is happening with chocolate and we can see chocolate from specific countries and even “named plantation” varieties becoming much more common in supermarkets without even having to go to specialist chocolate stores.

I’ve been very spoilt this week as my husband was given Gift Box of assorted bars of Valrhona chocolate which is one of our favourite brands of chocolate. So far we’ve started with the milder milk chocolates are going to work up to the darker ones so the taste gets stronger with each one, but we’re trying to ration it so we don’t eat it too quickly as it’s a real treat to have it as it’s unfortunately not easy to find for sale, unless we order it by mail order.  However, when it comes to an everyday eating chocolate, the Lindt Excellence Sea Salt variety often seems to just fall into my shopping trolley and is one of my favourites at the moment.

If you’re in or visiting York and you like chocoalte, then somewhere on your “to visit” list should be York’s Chocolate Story.  As the home to Terry’s, Rowntree’s and Craven’s the city has a long heritage of producing chocolate. Nestlé took over Rowntree’s in 1988, and their factory is still in the city, producing 6 million Kit Kats every day! (That’s over 1 billion every year). On a visit you’ll learn about the origins of chocoalte making and they have a team of chocolatiers who’ll show you how to make chocolates. During Chocolate Week they have special events planned such as an evening masterclass and tasting session for “Choctails” which are chocolate cocktails.

When it comes to cooking with chocolate, I like to use a good quality chocolate, but it doesn’t need to be quite such as good a quality as a bar for eating.  The dark chocolate I use most often is the Waitrose Continental Plain Chocolate, which I find gives a really good flavour when used in cooking.

Our Best Chocolate Recipes

Our Best Chocolate Recipes

Once you’ve selected your chocoalte, if you’re after any inspiration for what to make, then don’t forget that our special chocoalte magazine is still for sale in shops priced at just £4.95.

Chocolate Millionaire's Shortbread

Chocolate Millionaire’s Shortbread

One of my favourite recipes in the magazine is the Chocoalte Millionaire’s Shortbread, which is a twist on the classic recipe as the shortbread has cocoa added to it.  I usually make the caramel in the microwave oven as I find that it sometimes catches on the base of a saucepan and it’s easy to end up with brown flecks in it where it’s caught and burnt, and I don’t have this when I cook it in the microwave. If you don’t have a microwave oven and need to make it in a saucepan, just take care and stir it regularly to help reduce the risk of it catching.

Pear and Chocoalte Tart

Pear and Chocoalte Tart

Another of the recipes in the special magazine that I can highly recommend is the Pear and Chocoalte tart – it was so delicious that we “tested” it an extra time, just to make sure the recipe worked!  And each time we made it, it didn’t have time to get cold before it was all eaten.

So whether you decide to eat chocoalte as it is, or to use it in cooking – enjoy, with the excuse that it is chocoalte week.