I wanted to welcome in the new year on the blog in style, and what better way to do that than with a decadent chocolate feast? We’re talking chocolate sponge cake, chocolate orange ganache and quality chocolate glasage. All topped off with, wait for it, silver glitter. Who said January had to be the month of diets and detox? If this is how the rest of 2012 is going to be then I’m definitely looking forward to it!One of my favourite Christmas presents this year was undoubtedly chocolatier William Curley’s debut book, Couture Chocolate. William Curley has two chocolate shops in London, one of which I’ve been to, and all his work looks so perfect. One of my foodie new year resolutions this year was to stretch myself in my baking and I know this book will help me do that. It has so many new ideas and techniques for me, with the majority of recipes having multiple components and steps. They’re the kind of recipe that require at least one whole spare day to complete – especially if you’re me! – but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to with several more recipes bookmarked. The only issue will be spreading out these chocolate adventures so my whole family does not balloon in weight!I had a difficult time choosing my first recipe. One problem with this book is that the recipes make large amounts – 80 truffles, a cake serving 16 – so I had to choose something more suitable for my family of 3-4. I was baking these for New Year, so there would be a few extra mouths to feed on this occasion, but also more likes and dislikes to be aware of. No coconut, no caramel, no toffee, no nuts – my options were drastically reducing. I was also wary of choosing one of the extremely complicated recipes as I wanted to start gently. In the end I went for the chocolate tarts – multi component but each one manageable. You can just about see the layers here – pastry, ganache, sponge disk, more ganache, glasage (like a thinner ganache, containing liquid glucose).
I used a different pastry recipe (there were ground almonds in the books recipe and I had a nut allergy to cater for) and that was actually where I had all my problems. The tarts took me most of the day and tons of washing up, but was finished just as my friends arrived. The results? Largely worth it. They aren’t anywhere near as beautiful as William’s, and my glasage sadly lacks shine but it was very satisfying to be finally finished. The tarts were rich, indulgent and a nice sparkly New Year treat. But…I’m not sure they were wildly better than this or this, especially considering the amount of work, and I’m not sure what the glasage added. It’s not the recipes fault, just my bad choosing and it certainly hasn’t put me off making more from this book, but it is something to bear in mind. The recipe is very long and complicated so I’d feel bad reproducing it here, but I’d definitely recommend the book or you could easily form your own with pastry, sponge and ganache recipes. Happy New Year!