Of all the themed days and weeks in the food themes calendar, my absolute favourite (apart from Mojito day) is National Chocolate Week, which is from the 9th-15th October this year. I mean…it is an official excuse to indulge in amazing chocolate all week! I can’t think of anything better. It also helps to promote fine chocolates from independent artisan chocolatiers and the fair trade of chocolate.
Fun fact : Chocolate Week is organised by the founders and organizers of the Salon du Chocolate all around the world, Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet.
Earlier this year on a nice sunny day in June, ahead of National Chocolate Week, I had so much fun at my favourite place in London, The Shard, home of the Shangri-La London, learning how to make a signature dish for autumn and winter, which will be available at the Ting restaurant at The Shangri-La London, using a special blend of Or Noir chocolate as the main ingredient. I just love it here – the views get me every single time.
Under the guidance of the fabulous executive pastry chef at Shangri-La London, Heather Kaniuk, and in our fabulous aprons, Girl Travels World, Emily Luxton and Luxury London and I learned how to make an Or Noir Chocolate Marquise paired with candied kumquats, hazelnuts and a sea buckthorn sorbet.
The Or Noir chocolates are very unique – the Shangri-La London team personally created the blends in France and they will be used for desserts, as well as the extremely delicious Shangri-La Hot Chocolate, which is to die for. These blends are slightly darker and perfect for the autumn and winter season. We were honoured to be the first to try these and I can confirm that they are utterly divine.
On the day I was so pleased that we could also indulge in the hot chocolate and the iced chocolate drinks to keep us energised for our chocolate masterclass. I am a little addicted to that hot chocolate and freelance life may see me sat in LANG with my laptop and a mug of that amazing hot chocolate over the next few months!
During the masterclass, we learned all the techniques required to prepare, make, assemble and plate this dessert and the best part is we got to indulge in it after! The dreamiest day!
The recipe used Kumquats, which are a citrusy fruit, and which pair fantastically with the Or Noir chocolate. We blanched and poached these in preparation for the dish and the aroma was just magical. It was my first time trying a Kumquat and I loved it.
We also prepared a flourless chocolate cake, the Or Noir Marquise Mousse, Cocoa Nib Tuille, Chocolate Crumble, Chocolate Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jelly – all important elements of the decadent dessert.
Caramelising the hazelnuts made me think of the autumn and winter season instantly and we got to eat some of these while they were still warm and they were so crunchy and sublime.
Chef Heather then showed us how best to plate a dessert and I have to say I truly appreciate how long and how intricate all the various details are and so now when I order a dessert in a restaurant I know the labour of love behind the beautiful presentation and appreciate it a whole lot more.
I think I made a good effort bearing in mind that desserts are not my actual skill!
The dessert was so decadent and definitely one to try for Chocolate week. It is available on the TING Menu so even if you don’t make it for Chocolate week you can still order it and enjoy it in all its delicious glory!
The Or Noir chocolate will be used for all the chocolate desserts and drinks at Shangri-La London over the autumn and winter months and so if you are having a chocolate dessert or drink you know you are having an extremely amazing and unique chocolate ingredient as part of it – one you will not get anywhere else in the world as it was especially made for the Shangri-La London!
If you do try the dessert or hot chocolate at Shangri-La London let me know. I would love to know what you thought. I had so much fun re-creating the dessert and learning from the best – Heather Kaniuk. Thank you Shangri-La London for such an awesome experience.