13 April 2013

Honey and Chocolate - A Sweet Combination!




Image by Brad Smith 


I recently was looking around the Web for a chocolate/honey combination recipe for this month's We Should Cocoa challenge and found this interesting article about honeybees and honey production. It explains how we, as consumers, can support local honeybees and beekeepers. I know the article is published by a British agricultural site, but the tips and information given are good for any and all, world-wide. Our bee populations are in trouble and the more we do to support local beekeepers, organic farming methods, and safe recycling methods, the more robust our local bee populations will be. Just a thought ...




Our neighbors have begun caring for bee colonies. Last year, they had two active hives and we noticed the increase in honeybees in our flower and vegetable gardens. They are so welcome!  I can't wait to see how their hives wintered and have started looking for the first bees to show up. This past week, I noticed the pussywillows beginning to put out their catkins and our crocus are finally beginning to blossom. The bees will be buzzing soon enough! Can't wait for warmer weather and the beginning of gardening season!




As for this recipe, I was intrigued to use honey in a chocolate 'block' recipe because I have several loved ones who are trying to cut processed sugar out of their diets, but still wish for sweet treats sometimes. The thought of being able to pass on an acceptable way of having a chocolate treat or glass of hot cocoa would be a nice kick. So here, I go! I am starting by making a small amount of this chocolate and will use it in another recipe ... this is an easy recipe, but it required more honey for my taste buds. I got it from Shannon over at Nourishing Days.  Her recipe creates very close to 120 grams of a soft chocolate paste.



I started by doubling the ingredients in the recipe and then SB and I began tasting tiny bits of the hot paste. It was far too bitter for us; we were looking for a chocolate that has a taste a bit less sweet than semi-sweet chocolate chips. We also wanted a bit more 'slipperiness' when the chocolate melted in the mouth, hence we increased the butter content. I think if I make this again, I will try to find cocoa butter to keep the fat consistent with the cocoa powder. Stay tuned ...

So here we have it, a block of chocolate that has no processed sugar ... now, to make some chocolate and walnut scones.




I love the marbled effect that the chocolate gives the scones!

Susan's Adjusted Chocolate and Honey Bar Recipe

Yield: an approximately 260 g. chocolate bar (what can I say, we nibbled to get the flavour we liked- you should do the same!)

Ingredients:

85 g. butter
100 g. honey
102 g. cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Making the Chocolate Bar:

1. Measure all the ingredients and have them beside the stove. Line a flat tin with parchment paper or waxed paper large enough to wrap a square of chocolate about 4 x 6 inches.
2. Melt the butter over very low heat and when it has melted, add the honey, stirring to melt it into the butter.
3. Add the cocoa powder a little at a time, stirring to make a smooth paste.
4. Finish the chocolate by stirring in the vanilla extract. 
5. Keep flipping the chocolate and smushing it until it cools slightly but is still very malleable.
6. Turn the chocolate onto the paper and fold the edges up and over the chocolate lump, shaping it into a rectangular bar that is about 1 cm thick.
7. Cool in the fridge to harden the bar.




I'm thinking that I have enough chocolate for one big batch of chocolate chip cookies or three more scones batches.




 Chocolate and Walnut Scones


Yield: 8 large scones

Ingredients:

2 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter – cut into small cubes
1 large egg, beaten and divided in half
about ½ c. cold buttermilk
½ c. chocolate chunks
½ c. chopped walnuts

Making the  Scones:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450° F and place the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor with a blade insert and whiz a few times to mix things up.
  3. Add the chunks of butter and whiz until the mixture is crumbly.
  4. Break an egg into a small bowl and beat it gently.
  5. Pour half of the egg into a ½ c. measure and then top the cup off with the buttermilk. Save the other half egg for a basting glaze.
  6. Pour the egg/buttermilk into the dry ingredients and whiz until the dough ball begins to form.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead ten times to form a ball.
  8. Flatten the dough out into a large rectangle. Dump the chocolate chunks and walnuts onto the dough and fold the dough over onto itself, as if you were folding a piece of paper for an envelope.
  9. Then push the dough together and repeat a couple times to distribute the chocolate and nuts. Do this briskly without having your hands linger on the dough too much. You don’t want your hands’ warmth to mush things too much.
  10. When the nuts and chocolate look distributed, sprinkle a tiny bit of flour below and on top of the dough ball.
  11. Roll the dough into a circle that’s about 9 inches in diameter and cut 8 wedges.
  12. Place the wedges on a parchment paper-lined pan. Chill the scones for 15 minutes in the freezer.
  13. Mix 1 tsp. cream with the remaining egg and get a basting brush out.
  14. Remove from the freezer, brush the tops of the scones with the egg glaze, and pop right into the hot oven. Bake for 15 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven when golden brown and puffed up, slide the paper onto a cooling rack and let the scones set up for a few minutes.
  16. Serve while warm with butter and a nice hot cup of tea or glasses of cold milk.


Mmmm! Bread and chocolate !




Haha! Imagine my surprise when I looked at this month's Bake Your Own Bread post and saw that Roxana has chosen a chocolate and buttermilk theme for another Chocolate Party blogshare that she hosts alongside her Bake Your Own Bread blogshare! She is one busy baker! 

Well, these scones fit the bill for both her shares! That was a happy accident, don't you think? I'm piggybacking this We Should Cocoa post to the BYOB and the Chocolate Party link too! Nothing like triple dipping! It's expected where chocolate is concerned, yes?






10 comments:

  1. What an excellent and informative post. I live honey and always use a local one if I can. So interesting that you sweetened the chocolate like that and those scones are stunning.

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  2. Wow, you MADE your own chocolate? That really is staying true to the We Should Cocoa cause. Our house is still awash with Easter chocolate, but I am dying to try making some as per your recipe. In the meantime, maybe I can repurpose some of our Easter haul into those scones (esp as a friend has just given me a bag of walnuts!)
    Hope all is well,

    Lucy

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  3. Well this is a cool technique Susan to reduce sugar. Who doesn't love something sweet and delicious now and again.

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    1. Yes, Val! It is a learning experience making chocolate this way! I read about emulsifiers (lecithin) that make the chocolate smooth by aiding in more uniform distribution of the fats, cocoa powder, and sugar ... this chocolate, lacking the additives, has a rough feel on the tongue,and a more chocolate intensity. I've been thinking about it all night off and on and thinking about making another batch and 'playing' with ingredients a bit more -

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  4. Wow, I'm impressed, making your own chocolate! I know my husband would like this, especially without all the sugar. He is diabetic and neither one of us like artificial sweeteners. I'm thinking that using a cranberry or blueberry honey if using those fruits in a recipe would add another subtle layer of flavor.

    I'm interested in learning more about using cocoa butter. Looks like you gave me a homework assignment! LOL!!!

    The scones look amazing!

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  5. Your chocolate scones look amazing! Great idea to incorporate the honey into the chocolate bar... chocolate honey sounds heavenly.

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  6. They look so delicious!

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  7. I love using honey in my baked goodies and love enjoying a scone with a hot cup of tea. Can't wait to try these!

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  8. Oh yes, it looks like you had a deal of fun Susan and what a result, making your own chocolate. I've used cocoa butter in the past and end up with a bar that is almost as hard as real chocolate. Next time, I shall try it using honey, because I love the flavour of honey and expect it would taste really good in a chocolate bar. Yours scones sound wonderful too and I love it that you've made them in a proper old fashioned round. Thanks for entering all this into We Should Cocoa.

    And what an amazing photograph of the bee.

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  9. How fun to make your own chocolate bar and with honey too! Coconut oil works well for this type of bar in place of the butter if you can't find cocoa butter. It sets up firmly but still melts in the mouth.

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