Chatting with some ladies over lunch the other day, one of them mentioned Lucia Van de Post’s advice to all of us: “to create a welcoming house you need flowers, fruit and chocolate…” Just in case you are feeling bad about the chocolate side of this let me remind you that cocoa starts as a flower, becomes a fruit and then chocolate, so you can definitely add it to your five a day!
NOW flowers and chocolates are two of my very favourite subjects. I am an avid gardener, and a chocolatier with a cocoa farm in Grenada, as well as being a beekeeper. – Cocoa flowers are some of the most tiny, delicate and beautiful things you will ever see, if you are ever able to do this. One word of warning: most flowers are pollinated by bees but not cocoa. It relies on voracious midges of the “no-see-urn’ variety, and they are all too happy to feed on humans. So if you are ever invited to a lovely Caribbean island to walk the cocoa, do not forget to cover up and take your insect repellent too. The flowers are tiny, waxy and have no fragrance, with up to 10,000 of them on a single tree, of which about 30 will be pollinated and become cocoa pods.
It takes a whole pod to make one bar of chocolate, and a great many processes between the tree and the bar, from harvest, fruit extraction, fermentation, drying, and roasting.
That is all before the chocolate is made – by grinding, refining, tempering and moulding into a bar.
When it comes to flowers and chocolates combined. this subject is just like Marmite. love floral creams 01′ loathe them. They divide the most unlikely people into warring tribes.
Rose and violet creams are the old time classics made into fondants and hand dipped in dark chocolate, a, nostalgic reminder of maiden aunts and grandmothers, even grandfathers and usually associated with special Christmas treats.
There are literally hundreds of edible flowers, There are the obvious ones; rose, violet, lavender, geranium, orange blossom or neroli, honeysuckle and elderflower, as well as all the delicious herb and salad flowers such as borage, chive flowers, calendula, radish, runner bean, mustard and rocket flowers, Having lost much traditional plant lore, passed down from generation to generation, happily with the click of a mouse we can find out if something is or is not edible on the internet.
Perfume grade essential oils, which we use in our chocolate, for example the Rose Otto – a pure ‘organic rose oil. takes one ton of rose petals to make a litre of oil. It takes 1,200 rose petals to make one single drop, This means there are roughly 200 petals concentrated in each bar of our Rose Otto chocolate making it our most expensive ingredient by a long way – more expensive than gold ounce for ounce.
I adore the combinations of flowers and pure chocolate. We have a range of artisan bars made from dark and milk chocolate with rose, jasmine, violet, For all those who love fondant creams, we offer rose, geranium, lavender and violet – something for all flower lovers, whether of the sweet toothed variety or with chocophile leanings.
I hope that I have whetted your appetite for some delicious chocolate, floral or not, as your taste dictates. Remember cocoa is a fruit, good chocolate a treat, and a little bit every day really is very good for you.
Rococo: Mastering the Art of Chocolate by Chantal Coady, will be published in November 2012, £35:00, Orion Books.
If you want to make your own chocolate creams, here is a simple recipe for Floral creams.
Rococo: Mastering the Art of Chocolate by Chantal Coady, will be published in November 2012, £30:00, Orion Books.