Category Archives: Chocolate

September Cooking Challenge: Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprints

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The last recipe from my September Cooking Challenge is a dessert courtesy of food blog, Pass the Sushi. I did actually make these in September, just – so I successfully completed my September Cooking Challenge, go me! I probably shouldn’t have left this recipe until last, or I should have read the recipe more carefully as I didn’t realise that some of the ingredients couldn’t be bought at my local Tesco.

Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses for example are a Halloween/Thanksgiving themed seasonal American chocolate treat and are unavailable in shops around the UK. I spent a couple of hours searching the internet and finally found a UK-based website that sold American groceries and sweets, phew!

The recipe also called for chai concentrate which I’ve never seen in any of my local shops. I did a little Amazon search and found bottles of chai concentrate, but nothing smaller than a litre bottle which I thought would be a waste of money. I decided to improvise, I bought a box of chai tea and infused quite a few tea bags in water with some brown sugar to sweeten my concoction, I used this instead of chai concentrate.

The recipe was easy enough, mix everything together and leave to chill for an hour. Making the chai seasoning was fun and I had left-over for future recipes. The smell of the seasoning was gorgeous and filled up the kitchen, it did however make the dog sneeze! One thing I would say about the recipe is that when rolling out the cookies, be sure to leave large gaps between them on the baking tray. Mine mushed together a little and caused some of them to be oddly shaped, not the end of the world but just a little tip!

Also, after you place on the Hershey’s kisses after baking the cookies DON’T touch them at all for at least an hour. The recipe tells you this but I was curious and poked one which ultimately melted and lost its shape straight away. You’ve got to know your failures to know how to do it right!

So thankfully my final September Cooking Challenge recipe was a success and the cookies were spongy yet solid, spicy and sweet and the Hershey’s kisses added a lovely velvety pumpkin-flavoured finish. I’ll definitely be making these again, possibly for Halloween.

Thanks to all those who have been checking in to see my progress over September, hopefully one of the three recipes have appealed to you and inspired you to start your own cooking challenges! Please let me know if you cook any of the three recipes, I’d love to hear your experiences!

Brewdog Christmas Porter = Utter disappointment

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It’s finally getting cold enough to drink my favourite kind of beer. Dark, spicy and most importantly, Christmassy.

After a wonderful garlic cheese burger and raspberry milkshake at our beloved Bell’s Diner. Gav and I decided to check out the Vino shop in Stockbridge. We’d been recommended that they had an insane collection of beer, which they did.

They have a huge variety of flavoured beers (including Mongozo Coconut, yum), Scottish ales and a sweet selection of international craft beers. We went for a couple of old faithful Williams Bros beers, an organic cherry beer and excitedly Gav let me pick the Brewdog Christmas ale.

Reading the bottle, it sounds delicious. A cocoa, chilli and festive spice infuced porter, sounds ideal to me.I can’t tell you how disappointed I am. As soon as I took the first sit I knew something was wrong. The bottom line here (before I go on to tell you about my disappointment) is that I’m really hoping it’s a bad batch or… Yes it’s a bad batch.

I’ll sum up the beer as I tasted it in one sentence. It had an overwhelming taste of raw chilli (not in a good way), there was way too much ‘festive spice’, there was no cocoa to be tasted and it had a horrible bitter metallic aftertaste. The uncooked chilli flavour really was very unpleasant, so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to finish the beer. It lacked the richness that is usually present in a porter and had an uncharacteristic aftertaste. I also didn’t detect the sweetness that usually comes with a dark beer.

All in all an extremely sad drinking and reviewing experience. If anyone gets their hands on a bottle and has a different experience with it I’d LOVE to know, maybe my taste buds were being naughty?

Anyway I think I’ll just wait for Stewarts Cauld Reekie, that will never disappoint!

Chocolate Drops of Rain

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To celebrate my last hand-in for university, my boyfriend took me to the newly opened Edinburgh Brewdog Bar. Luckily I know the general manager and she lovingly recommended Choklat Stout by the Southern Tier Brewing Company  and can I say, well done Southern Tier, well done.

When describing this Choklat Stout, Southern Tier refers to the sacred book of Maya, which mentions a mystical beverage known as xocoati or ch-co-atle. It is thought that liquid chocolate was worthy enough to be drank by gods and goddesses. Today, chocolate is still thought of as a luxurious indulgence and what better way to celebrate its wonderful flavour than by putting it in an alcoholic beverage!

Southern Tier have created a drink that will ‘tempt your senses & renew the power & interrelation of history in every bottle.’ Let me tell you, it did the job.

Southern Tier Choklat Stout, Imperial Chocolate Stout 11%

Branding 

The stout comes in a larger bottle than usual, an almost wine-like bottle which happily fills two serving glasses like the two in the picture above. The American brewing company Southern Tier has very modern branding and labeling, using bold fonts and simplistic features. The label is decorated with four pieces of chocolate, emphasising this predominant flavour. The label includes serving suggestions and tasting notes which I’m not sure are relevant and I don’t like being told what I should taste but nevermind. The label also provides a explanation of what exactly is in this beer. 2-row barley, caramel 60 malt, barley flakes, chocolate malt, bittersweet Belgium chocolate and kettle hops: chinook and willamette to be exact.

Appearance

It is very, very dark, almost black in colour and has a viscous swirl to its texture. I would describe it as a muddy chocolate colour. It does not pour much of a head but that might have something to do with the glass it is served in.

Nose

It has an obviously distinct Belgian chocolate smell with notes of creamy latte-like coffee. The smell has some lovely layers to it and is sweet but bitter and strong yet light. The sweet Stout smell is also apparent although the chocolate is an overpowering scent.

Taste

Much like the smell, the taste of this beer comes in splendid layers. First is a bitter cocoa taste, like a dark chocolate bar with 80%+ cocoa, the beer is definitely a stout. This then softens into a lovely fluffy and sweet marshmellowy taste which coats the throat and pleases the tongue. After arrives that distinct Belgian chocolate taste, that came through so much in the smell and lingers on whilst sipping more. Lastly, the stout definitely hints towards a lambic style finish, ending again with a bitterness that balances out everything.

After a full glass I must admit I am rather happy (hic) and would say I wouldn’t like to finish the bottle myself. However this lovely bubble of marshmallow, Belgium chocolate, cocoa and caramel is something not to be missed and without a doubt is a gorgeous and memorable choklat stout.