They came home gift-wrapped as only Santa’s elves would be able to do: two kilos of intense Caffarel dark chocolate. They came home along with a shower of chocolate stars, wrapped in a shiny yellow and red paper. As you can see from my pictures, I was put in charge of the 20th of December in the Advent Calendar, a game started on December the 1st with Kja’s chocolate pudding, a festive treat you would’n miss!
I had more than a month to think about my chocolate recipe to perform my part on the 20th of December, and I was perfectly aware of what I was going to make with my two kilos of chocolate, a smooth chocolate spread.
A chocolate spread, especially if made with extra virgin olive oil, can be stored for some time and is a good idea for a gourmet Christmas gift. Make it precious with a beautiful handmade label drawn with old pencils in shades of brown, use a Christmas napkin to cover the lid of the jar and tie it with a velvet ribbon.
The simplicity of the recipe is redeemed with the high quality of the ingredients: choose a light and fruity extra virgin olive oil, a not too strong or pungent one as could be an olive oil from Apulia, fabulous with burrata and orecchiette but not in pastry. The cocoa powder I used is from a local chocolate shop and artisan confectionery, De Bondt of Pisa, so intense that it made me forget the love for the Dutch cocoa. The hazelnut cream is organic, made exclusively with blended hazelnuts, which means that, if you want, you can blend the same weight of shelled hazelnuts into a cream.
Despite my psychological and material preparation and the bags with the best ingredients arranged on the table, my chocolatier’s Apprentice thermometer abandoned me when least expected, so I went to a rule of thumb.
- 250 g of dark chocolate 60% of cocoa
- 250 g of organic hazelnut paste
- 125 g of light extra virgin olive oil such as the one from Liguria
- 200 g of unsweetened cocoa powder
- grated peel of an organic orange
Chop the chocolate into small pieces, more or less of the same size. It will not be difficult to do with a good knife and a cutting board firmly set on your working surface.
Melt the chocolate until it reaches a temperature of 45°C in bain-marie in a bowl that does not touch the water below, stirring frequently with a silicon spatula.
Remove the bowl from double boiler and mix all the ingredients with a whisk, sifting the cocoa to avoid annoying lumps.
In a mixer, temper the chocolate spread to 23°C and fill the jars. I mixed the cream in a bowl with a whisk until it reached more or less the room temperature, then I filled three jars.
Christmas is really close now, so take a few hours for yourself, chop the chocolate in a warm kitchen, inebriate yourself with its dark smell while melting it in water bath, indulge yourself in mixing it slowly with the hazelnut cream. Pretend to be Vianne Rocher for a night, lost among puffs of cocoa and dark chocolate flakes, you deserve it!
P.S. Try this chocolate spread on warm bread, then you’ll tell me what you think!