“Look, there’s no metaphysics on earth like chocolates.” – Fernando Pessoa
I mentioned the Ktarian chocolate puff from Star Trek which is made from 17 types of chocolate in a previous post – and although not strictly from a children’s book – I couldn’t ignore this reference. I had to try and make it for all the chocoholics and Trekkies out there. I’ll just repeat. Its got 17 TYPES OF CHOCOLATE!!!
Its hard to describe the excitement you get from eating chocolate. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe chocolate – which is why Roald Dahl made up so many chocolatey adjectives and delicious sounding treats to do justice to this unique delight. Charlie Bucket sums it up as he gobbles a Whipple Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight as the pure “joy of being able to cram huge pieces of something sweet and solid into one’s mouth.” For me – it’s curling up on a sofa with a bar of Galaxy chocolate and a hot water bottle. Then, putting a single segment onto my tongue until the chocloate heats up enough to start trickling down your throat.
Good chocolate should melt on your tongue like butter and snap quickly and cleanly. I love the characters in the village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes in the book Chocolat – whose lives are turned upside down by the sinful delights of chocolate. Chocolate literally tortures them with pleasure.
Buying 17 types of chocolate is not easy. As Deanna Troi says “Its not just a matter of taste – its all about the experience. I never met a chocolate I didn’t like…relish every bite, make every one an event. Chocolate is a serious thing.” (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 5).
As I searched the delis and speciality stores, I quickly realised that there were hundreds of chocolates to choose from – ginger, lavender, honeycomb, deep dark and brooding chocolates and light and fluffy filled with whipped cream and truffles. I even found one with ‘Haggis spice’. The most exciting was the 99% from Lindt – which came with a warning – THIS IS DANGEROUSLY DARK, “Only try it once you have built yourself up to it through the 60, 70 and 80% varieties”. Not me – I went straight for 99% and nearly blew my head off. Marvellous!
The shop assistant in Valvona & Crolla deli in Edinburgh raised an eyebrow as I pushed my mountain of chocolate towards him. Why on earth did I want this amount of chocolate in the middle of a weekday. Surely, this was a woman in NEED.
The situation was not helped by my bank’s fraud department deciding to stop my card at this very moment. Brilliant, I looked like some chocolate frenzied shopaholic on a mad chocolate buying spree.
After I spent 10 minutes explaining to both the shop assistant and my bank why exactly I was buying 17 types of chocolate, I was eventually allowed to buy it on the proviso that both the fraud department and the shop assistant could try the results. Neither of course had heard of the Ktarian chocolate puff.
Anyway – for my final seventeen, I decided to go for the following selection covering a range of light and milky to the darkest of dark chocolate. (I ate some of the Galaxy in this photo – sorry).
The 17 types of chocolate I chose were:
- Belgian Fairtrade Dark Chocolate
- Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
- Galaxy Smooth Milk (half eaten – sorry – just had to test it. Its not poisonous)
- Green & Black’s Organic 85%
- Green & Blacks Dark 70%
- Grenada Organic 82%
- Jenners Organic Lavender Chocolate
- Lindt Excellence Milk
- Lindt Excellence 70% Dark
- Lindt Excellence 70% Dark Noir
- Lindt Excellence 85%
- Lindt 99% Dark Noir (this is jet black and pure evil. Mmmm)
- Peruvian Dark Chocolate 60%
- Prestat Intensley Dark Chocolate 80%
- Rococo Sugar Free & Dairy Free
- Green & Blacks Maya Gold
Now I had my chocolate, the next was what to do with it all. I did quite a bit of research about how to make the Ktarian puff. It needed to be a combination of a pudding and dessert. I looked at chocolate mousse cakes, light and airy chocolate souffles, dense truffles, brooding brownies, soft and silky chocolate frosting on dark and bitter cupcakes. I eventually settled on making a giant profiterole puffs and filling them and drenching them in chocolate. 17 types of chocolate.
Ktarian Chocolate Puff Recipe
These are choux buns are filled with chocolate ganache and Chantilly cream and then drizzled with chocolate sauce and a side serving of rich chocolate mousse. The choux buns are adapted from James Martin’s profiterole recipe (BBC Food). I’ve put a few images to help you make the choux pastry and a few gratuitous shots of chocolate.
Choux Pastry Recipe
7fl oz water
4 tsp caster sugar
125g/4oz plain flour
pinch of salt
3 free-range eggs beaten
Prepare all your ingredients before you start. Sift the flour into a bowl and then pour the flour onto some greaseproof paper. This will allow you to pick it up and quickly add the flour into the pan.
Make sure your oven is nicely heated to 200C/400F/Gas 6 before you start along with a baking tray (you will fill this with 1/2 cup of water when you put in the profiteroles). You need everything to be ready before you start.
Put your water, butter and sugar into a pan and bring to a rolling boil.
Take the pan off the boil and pour in the flour. Stir immediately. Your mixture will gradually come together and look like a roux.
Let your mixture rest for about 10 minutes, before beating in the eggs. Drop this in bit by beat and mix together. You are hoping to get your batter so it drops off a spoon – you may not need all your eggs to do this. Check out this great video on profiterole making to see what the consistency should look like if you are unsure.
When the mixture looks glossy and pilable, put into your piping bag. The trick is to put the nozzle between your thumb and forefinger and the rest of the bag draped over your hand – a bit like having your hand in a puppet!
Make sure you have no air in the bag and that the mixture is near the nozzle before you start piping. I piped mine about 2cm across to make the giant profiteroles. Swirl and end in a peak for each one.
Put into the oven. Also add in the 1/2 cup of water into the baking tray. This will make the oven nice and steamy to help your choux pastry rise. Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes. Have a quick peak – but watch out for the steam. If they are a deep golden colour and crisp looking take them out. Be warned – if they are too light in colour they will go soggy.
While they are cooling make up some Chantilly Cream, the chocolate sauce and the ganache. For the chocolate sauce simply melt a selection of chocolate pieces together over a pan of boiling water. Make sure the water does not touch your bowl.
Make sure not water gets into your chocolate. Chocolate are water are mortal enemies.
To fill four large choux buns
142ml of double cream
Half a vanilla pod or a quarter tsp of vanilla paste
1/2 tsp of icing sugar (powdered sugar)
Just whisk all these ingredients together until the cream starts to form pillows structures.
200g of chocolate (I had a piece from each of the 17 varieties with a bit more of the 70% variety of chocolates)
284ml double cream
Melt your chocolate again. Take off the heat and leave for 2-3 minutes before mixing in the cream. The mixture will immediately start to thicken. Some people add butter – but I think this is madness.
Smoosh the ganache into the underside air pockets of your choux buns. Pipe the Chantilly cream on the other half and push together.
Drizzle or splatter the chocolate sauce over your enormous puffs. Sprinkle on some beautiful bright blue 24th century edible glitter. Finally, serve on a plate with lashings of Patrick Stewart and some hot replicated tea. Computer… Tea, Earl Grey, hot. Make it so.
The results? Deanna Troi would be over the moon. These are insane. They are so big and fluffy and delicious I couldn’t wait for Patrick Stewart and ate them standing up with a wooden spoon. I got chocolate on my vintage Star Trek 4 book – oops!
Dark chocolate mousse recipe
(Taken from Elizabeth David’s classic recipe on The Guardian website)
2 medium eggs
60g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)
2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
Separate your eggs. Break up the chocolate into pieces and put into a bowl over a saucepan of gently boiling water. Take it off the saucepan once it starts to melt. The rest will melt off the heat.
Whisk your egg whites into soft peaks, adding the sugar bit by bit until you have soft peaks. (I’ve never seen a peak that is soft, but it always makes sense when talking about meringues). Put your egg yolks into the chocolate and quickly milk. Also add in about a third of your egg white and whisk. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites – keeping the air as much as possible. Put into glasses and chill in the fridge for a few hours.
My mousse turned out to be quite dense as I had loads of chocolate in it – I think I might turn them into truffles!
Some chocolately reading….