Willie Harcourt-Cooze “transported” his chocolate factory from Devon to The Tabernacle in London for the day shortly before Easter. He gave a Bean to Bar talk, let everyone make their own Easter egg and hosted a reception with drinks and canapes from his new book ‘Willie’s Chocolate Bible’. Click here to see all the photos I took.
There were loads of people at the event. It was free and open to the public.
Willie started with his “Bean to Bar” talk. He is very passionate! He is the UK’s only independent grower and producer of cacao.
The talk consisted of him simultaneously telling us how he got into producing chocolate, the process of how it’s made and making a chocolate mousse cake all at the same time!
Beans grown in different regions will have different under tones. Just like with wine. Grapes grown in different regions will taste different.
We were tasting the different stages as Willie discussed them, which was fun. The raw cacao bean was not very tasty!
Willie made a chocolate mousse inside a chocolate case. He lined the tin with parchment paper and spread the chocolate all up and around so when it was removed it had a bit of a ruffled look.
We got to taste a sample. Willie bought the molds for the mousse from the old Terry’s of York factory after it closed.
And a hot chocolate sample
After that the Easter egg making, chocolate tasting and book signing began.
I bought a copy of the book and look forward to making the chocolate and porcini risotto.
There was a row of chocolate fountains with different types of chocolate to taste. Of the 6 there were two that I really loved!
The Indonesian 69 Javan Light Breaking – Sourced from the Island of Java, these bars are made from a highly prized strain of cacao. The beans are visually striking as they are exceptionally light in color and they have a slightly higher cacao butter content than usual. The beans produce a surprisingly light dark chocolate with soft caramel notes.
The Peruvian 70 San Martin – The beans are sourced from the Departmento de San Martin in Northern Peru in the foothills of the Andes in the lush Amazonian rainforest’s. The beans are grown by small farmers, who are part of a cooperative who provide them with technical and marketing assistance and credit to help increase productivity and profitability. The beans from this region are naturally fruity with tropical fruit flavor notes.
Giant Easter Egg for Great Ormond Street
The staff spent over five hours helping everyone make Easter eggs! They were still going when I left at 8.30pm. Chocolate is poured into the mould. The two halves of the mould are put together and closed with some pins and shaken vigorously. It was then popped into the freezer to set quickly.
It’s a little dark but you can see how the foil is applied to the egg.
Chili and Cacao Nib Tea while we waited for all kids to finish making their Easter eggs.
Malambo provided the entertainment by playing South American music.
Then came the cocktails! Chocolate Sloe Vodka.
The guy sitting next to me thought drinking 8 in one go was a good idea.
It’s not a party without some bubbly.
Willie’s Bloody Mary. I’ve never actually had one before and I loved it.
Cacao and Olive Bread with Smoked Salmon
Wild Mushroom Stew (this was fantastic)
Roe Deer with Chocolate Gravy and Spiced Red Cabbage
Mole Negro with Chicken Breast. The moistest chicken I have ever tasted I think.
This might have been White Chocolate and Orange Blossom filled chocolates. -
Willie’s Walnut Whip
Completely stuffed and happy I left and took my Easter egg home!
During Willie’s demonstration he also while making the mousse whipped up his favorite South American breakfast. I made it at home and it was pretty good!
Willie’s South American Breakfast
half an avocado
1 piece of bread
1. Toast the piece of bread and spread the avocado on top (it’s a healthier replacement for butter).
2. Fry the egg and place on top of the avocado and sprinkle with some chili oil. I used some chili infused olive oil from Waitrose.
I had to make one more batch of Easter cupcakes because I’ve been visited by the appliance fairy! The appliance fairy works at Appliances Online for her day job, but grants wishes in her spare time! She brought Helen from Fuss Free Flavours a mixer. I commented on her blog post and the fairy brought me Mini Cupcakes by Leslie Fiet.
If you would like a wish granted from the appliance fairy leave a comment below making a wish! One of them may be granted! Visit their website for some inspiration.
The frosting on these cupcakes are a little dark for Easter but I really wanted to do something with a Cadbury egg this year and I’ve already seen a lot of cupcakes with yellow frosting so I styled mine as a Twisted candy bar.
I made a vanilla cupcake and topped it with vanilla frosting mixed with the centers of cream eggs and twisted with some chocolate frosting.
Buttery Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Mini Cupcakes by Leslie Fiet (makes about 18)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg yolk
2 tbs vanilla
1 tbs vanilla paste
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1. Line a muffin tray or mini muffin tray with paper liners and preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C. In a large bowl beat the wet ingredients together with an electric mixer on low speed.
2. In a small bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat on low for a minute. Turn on high and beat for 30 seconds. The lumps should disappear.
3. Fill each case three quarters full and bake for 20 minutes (17 minutes for minis) and set aside to cool.
adapted from Cakespy via Serious Eats
10 Cadbury Cream Eggs (chilled)
Vanilla Frosting (homemade or store bought)
Yellow gel coloring
Chocolate Frosting (homemade or store bought)
1. Cut the cream eggs in half and scoop out the centers into a medium sized bow. Save the chocolate shells to eat later. Mix the centers with 1 cup of vanilla frosting. Add yellow food coloring if desired.
2. In a piping bag with a star tip place the yellow frosting in and push it to one side. Place the chocolate frosting on the other side. When your piping and squeeze the bag the two colors will swirl.
As it’s been so hot I put my cupcakes in the fridge so the frosting doesn’t melt. The cupcake recipe I used is very fluffy and not overly sweet due to the tart fruit puree. The super sweet frosting balances it out a little.
I’ve had these bookmarked since Thanksgiving. It was a recipe for a layer cake from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown! book. I decided to make them as cupcakes instead. White cake brushed with coconut sugar syrup, filled with coconut pudding, topped with coconut custard buttercream and topped with toasted coconut.
It was featured in the December issue of Food Network magazine. I’ve never seen Throwdown! as they don’t show it on Food Network UK, but I can get an imported copy of the magazine sometimes from the newsagent.
These definitely take a lot of work but it is worth it. The sugar syrup keeps the cake moist and the custard that goes into the buttercream gives it an amazing coconut taste and is really soft and fluffy.
These cases are from Wilton and are at most hobby stores in the US. I bought red ones like these at Jane Asher in the UK. They are very pretty but a little bit of a pain. They don’t fit in a muffin tray and have to be placed on a baking sheet. be careful not to overfill them otherwise the cupcakes will come out misshapen.
Toasted Coconut Cupcakes
adapted from Food Network Magazine and Bobby Flay’s Throwdown! (makes 12 cupcakes)
12 tbs cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
2 1/4 cups self rising flour
1 cup milk
6 large egg whites at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbs cornstarch/cornflour
2 tsp Malibu or coconut extract
Coconut Sugar Syrup
1 tbs sugar
3/4 cup flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup coconut custard
3/4 cup heavy cream/double cream, cold
3 sticks (345g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup icing sugar
3/4 cup coconut custard
pinch of salt
1. Make the coconut custard first by combining the milk, coconut milk and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Simmer over a low heat.
2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and cornflour together in a large bowl. Whisk the warm milk mixture into the eggs. Pour back into the pan and bring to a boil. Keep whisking until it becomes thick. Scrape into a bowl and add the Malibu. Let the custard reach room temperature and then cover and refrigerate until cold.
3. Make the syrup for the cake. Combine the water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the coconut and and remove from the heat. Leave for 30 minutes up to 4 hours. Strain the liquid into a clean saucepan, bring to a boil for 5 minutes and set aside to cool.
4. Make the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C and line a muffin tray with cases. Whisk together the milk, egg whites and vanilla into a medium bowl.
5. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix the butter in one cube at a time with an electric mixer on low speed until the batter looks like wet crumbs.
6. Add all the milk mixture except 1/2 cup and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the last 1/2 cup and beat for 30 seconds. Fill each cup and bake for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Make the coconut filling by beating the coconut custard and cream and whip until soft peaks form.
8. Make the coconut buttercream by beating the butter and 1/3 cup of icing sugar until light and fluffy. Add the coconut custard and salt and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the icing sugar until desired consistency is reached.
9. Brush each cupcake with a little sugar syrup and let it soak in a for a few minutes. Don’t use too much or the cake will get soggy.
10. Cut out a cone shaped hole into each cupcake and place one teaspoon of coconut filling in each. Pipe coconut buttercream on top of each cupcake and sprinkle with some toasted coconut.
11. Toasted coconut can be made by spreading some shredded coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes at 350/180 C.
After all that work sit down and eat one of these babies!
It’s my one year blogiversary today! Nearly 200 posts in one year! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. It’s been a blast.
To celebrate, inspired by the new cake pops at Starbucks I decided to make my own cake pops. The one I had was nice but had too much frosting mixed into the cake.
I made some really simple Easter cake pops with lemon cake. This is something that anyone can make. You don’t have to be a baker or expert decorator (for you fabulous artistic types check out April’s Nun Pops). I’ve just used some fun Easter sprinkles and some really bright yellow candy melts.
I went all the way to Gloucester Road to Partridges to get this cake mix (It’s probably in my head but I like the US ones better than the UK ones). I definitely think that cake mix has it’s time and place and for cake pops I give it the thumbs up. Especially as I’m still learning. I’d like to be able to make them a little more smooth looking next time. You can of course make any cake and frosting that you like for cake pops as well. I had fun making these so I think it’s time I get a Cake Pop book. Not sure I can wait all the way till June for this to be published though! -
As a quick aside, the day I had my laser eye surgery I came home to this from Dr. Oetker! It certainly cheered me up.
I haven’t decided what to make yet with all my goodies but I am in love with this little green egg timer.
Lemon Cake Pops
1 box Lemon Cake Mix
1 can Lemon Frosting
1 bag yellow candy melts
1. Make the cake mix according to the directions on the box and leave to cool completely.
2. Once the cake is cool crumble it to small uniform crumbs using a fork. Stir in half of the can of frosting and combine until sticky enough to form balls. Stir in a scoop of frosting more at a time as needed. Don’t add to much or the cake will go soggy.
3. Using a cookie scoop take two rounds of dough and form into a smooth round ball. Place on a cookie sheet and chill until very firm.
4. Place candy melts in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 30 seconds at a time stirring in between until melted. If you find the candy melts to thick for dipping add a tablespoon of vegetable oil at a time. Don’t go too thin though.
5. Take a Lolly stick and dip a small dab of candy melts on the end and stick it in the cake. Dip into the candy melts covering all the cake. Gently shake off any excess and cover with the sprinkles you’ll be using. The chocolate will start to dry quickly! Place in any make shift holder you can find to dry.
6. Store in an air tight container when all pops are dry. They also freeze well.
I bought some Easter candy and thought I should put it to good use!
Welcome to An American Cupcake in London! I'll be exploring the baking scene from an American point of view in London. You don't have to live in the UK to enjoy this blog! There's recipes and reviews galore for everyone to enjoy. Feel free to email me Kelly AT Americancupcakeinlondon DOT com