Chocolate – Food of the Gods
Chocolate made with extra cocoa butter to give a high gloss, used for covering sweets and cakes.
ORIGIN 1930s: French, literally ‘covering’.
Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%). The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with proper tempering, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavour.
This part, my part, of the Beho Beho blog is for food-loving people. People who have a natural inclination to gravitate towards any type of nourishment, people who feel, when they’re on vacation, they have the right (and rightfully so!) to let go of all constraints of their everyday lives, to forget their inhibitions and purposefully indulge their senses in every aspect concerning any kind of eatables. People who get up for seconds without hesitation and take pleasure in the art that is our daily bread. People who come to Africa, yes, to see hordes of strange and wonderful creatures, learn about nature from the best guides around and have a wild safari, but more so for those who want all that, and relish in a feast at every meal, to make it a complete, unforgettable experience. In essence, this is for people who love to eat.
And so my first foodie blog begins – and what else is there to start with, other than chocolate? The generic name for the Cocoa tree, Theobroma, is derived from the Greek words θεος (theos), meaning ‘God,’ and βρομος (bromos), meaning ‘oats’. It translates to “food of the gods.”
Take these divine viands, some of the highest quality chocolate on earth, and add more cocoa butter and treat it with passion & precision to make it velvet cream Couverture.
Imagine tiny treasured globules of the richest, creamiest, smoothest, most delectable chocolate on the entire planet, flown from Belgium to London to Dar-es-Salaam, and finally making it’s way to a small kitchen in the heart of the oldest and biggest protected game reserve in Africa; The Selous. Received with much thankfulness and glee, they are stowed away like precious jewels until inspiration hits and their time is right to unveil.
Now, while anybody who has ever eaten a piece of Belgian Chocolate knows that it is absolutely perfect in it’s own right, and doesn’t need much, if anything, to make it all that it can be (it already is), sometimes an ingredient or two can be added to amplify the gloriousness that is Couverture Chocolate. My choice to open: the Humble Peanut. Peanuts are grown in many African countries, and although it is considered a modest food, it is to be respected as it is used to fight poverty and starvation because of its high protein content, over 30 essential nutrients & relative convenience in cultivation.
Combined in this recipe are both these items; magnificent imported Couverture with the unpretentious local Ground-nut Paste (or Peanut Butter, produced in Tanzania without additives or preservatives – just pure peanuts, goodness from the ground), a rags-to-riches of sorts.
Here follows the recipe of this sacred alliance:
White Chocolate, Peanut & Milk Chocolate Swirl
450g white chocolate couverture, very good quality
400g crunchy peanut butter
450g milk chocolate couverture, very good quality
1. Line a 25x38cm pan with baking parchment. Set aside.
2. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering (not boiling) water, heat the milk chocolate until just melted and set aside.
3. On the same double boiler, heat the white chocolate & peanut butter together, stirring constantly until the white chocolate is just melted.
4. Dollop spoonfuls of the white-chocolate-peanut-butter mix in a checkerboard fashion, dollop the milk chocolate in the open spaces between. Swirl through with a wooden skewer to create a marble effect. Smooth over the surface with a palette knife and set aside to solidify for an hour – not in the fridge! It must still be quite soft to allow to be cut without cracking.
5. Once solid but still soft, turn out of the pan onto a smooth cutting surface. Cut diagonally into 1cm strips, and then cut perpendicular into 4cm blocks to form parallelograms, or just cut into squares.
6. Place on a dish platter and chill for a few minutes, then serve, or it can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Note: Both the milk chocolate and the white chocolate & peanut butter mix can be melted in the microwave oven – provided the setting is on the lowest watt possible, and it is stirred every 10-15 seconds. Take care not to overheat the peanut butter one as it will become oily.
Another Note: As the chocolate is still soft when it is cut & plated, it might melt and set onto the serving dish, so make sure the chocolates don’t stick to the serving dish before you present it!
This recipe makes about 25-30 portions; serve with coffee or liqueur after dinner, or perhaps at teatime, or just as a delectable dainty whenever the feeling takes you.
As chocolate is so rich a subject, so diverse in the myriad ways of use, I have an inkling that this will be the first of many entries on the heavenly topic. And that’s a wrap for the debut of the Foodie Blog.