I gave a tiny Mason jar of caramelized white chocolate to my dear friend, Steph. She looked intrigued, but was a bit mystified.
“Umm, this looks fantastic,” she said, appreciatively regarding its golden depths and even the white marbling on top. “How do I eat it?”
A very good question. Being chocolate, it had of course, solidified at room temperature, and needed to be melted gently, over a bain marie or in the microwave, to get it out of the jar.
I had made it the day before, and hadn’t tried doing anything with it myself, although I had plans to temper it into bars. I mentioned its “biscuity” aroma and flavour, and I advised her to go for it and pour it on anything she desired, or even eat it straight out of the jar.
Steph, being an adventuresome sort, set to with great gusto, and although a petite and slender woman, managed to get through enough of the Mason jar, when next we spoke, to offer a couple of fantastic suggestions.
She’d been spooning it on Digestive biscuits and eating it with soft, dried apricots.
“Good?” I queried.
She looked blissful. “Oh, yeah.”
That got me thinking. I adore dark chocolate covered Digestive biscuits, and had thought about making them from scratch. Now was the perfect opportunity to try them with two kinds of chocolate.
I used this recipe, and I have to agree with the author – they are scrummy. I love that word – a portmanteau (another term I love) of Scrumptious and Yummy.
For those of us who live in North America, wholemeal flour is equivalent to whole wheat flour, but having made several batches of these biscuits, I found the whole wheat flour that provided the best flavour and texture and reminded me of British Wholemeal bread (not too grainy and slightly malty) was an organic whole wheat pastry flour. It seemed a little finer ground.
The biscuits filled the kitchen with a lovely buttery aroma, and I was a little afraid I would not have any left to dip, as they are quite delicious “naked”.
While they were cooling, I made a puree of organic dried apricots and orange juice:
Dip is actually not accurate, as I opted to pour the tempered dark chocolate on top of the biscuits, over a wire rack, and leave them to drip, as though icing a cake with ganache. I didn’t want to risk ending up with an awful crumbly mass of chocolate with bits of biscuit swimming in it.
I spooned a tablespoon of apricot puree over the other half of the batch of biscuits.
The caramelized white chocolate is so viscous when it is tempered, and sets up so quickly that I had no difficulty with it falling down the sides, but rather with getting a good cover onto the crumbly/puree top.
While not “shop quality” for looks, these biscuits tasted absolutely delicious, especially the combination of Digestive, apricot puree and caramelized white chocolate. Toasty, earthy, fruity – perfect with a cup of tea.
Very pleased with these, I wanted to take it up a notch, and try some bars.
I got out my bar molds and measured the cavities.
I then looked through my collection of tin cookie cutters, found a candy cane one close to the dimensions of the cavities, and eased it into a rectangular shape – I didn’t mind sacrificing the candy cane – I have never actually used it, preferring always to make fat little people shapes for Christmas shortbread cookies.
With my customized cutter in hand, I cut out and baked the rectangular shaped biscuits.
Once they were cool, I re-measured them against the cavities, and trimmed them to slightly smaller than cavity size. I then applied a thick layer of puree to the tops of the rectangles.
I caramelized another batch of white chocolate (I feel like I have never used so much white chocolate in my life) with the addition of a small amount of cocoa butter to increase its fluidity, and tabliered it.
Tabliering caramelized white chocolate is challenging, as you start to feel the “pull” of the chocolate thickening almost immediately. Once I had scraped it all back into the bowl and tested the temperature, it was still very warm, and required a good deal of careful stirring to bring the temperature down to 29 degrees Celsius, then slowly back up to 32 degrees. It is another reminder that you cannot be in a rush to do this – it goes at its own pace.
Once I had the chocolate in temper, I poured the thickening mass into the molds, eyeballing the halfway point, then pushed an apricot puree covered biscuit down on top, so that the chocolate edged up the sides. It proved quite challenging to get an even backing of chocolate on the bars, as the chocolate was setting up very quickly.
The bars all obligingly came out of the molds within a couple of hours.
As with the biscuits, these bars are not going to win any awards for eye appeal, but they snap satisfyingly into squares perfect for sharing and their taste and texture is deliciously rugged and “wholesome” tasting, with a good hit of tangy fruit and toastiness. Their rich maple colour and brown sugar aroma also adds to their appeal, and I really think even sworn white chocolate haters will find something to like in these. I think they would be an excellent treat to take on a hike.
And I think I have the perfect name for these bars. In honour of the friend who test drove the flavour combinations and inspired their creation, may I present – the Scrummy Steph.