Somewhere between Fridge Crunch and Rocky Road with a dash of mendicant, those fruit-and-nutty chocolate discs purveyed by upmarket chocolatiers, this outrageous concoction rounds up the Christmas sweetmeat fallout. Like a traditional English breakfast, it's precisely as good as the quality of each of the ingredients. A modest slice will set you back at least 300 calories, more if you opt for lots of nuts, so make sure your waist is being sacrificed in a good cause by using top stuff!
A dessert grenache.
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- 250g dark/bitter chocolate, about 70% cocoa
- 200ml double cream
- a good pinch of mixed spice, or a smaller one of chilli powder (aficionados only)
- 75g icing sugar
- 250g textural interest, for example
- shelled Brazil nuts, almonds or pistachios
- chunks of crystallised ginger
- dried cranberries
- seeded Muscatel raisins
- Medjool or Deglet Nour dates, stoned and chopped
- pumpkin seeds
- good quality biscuits, roughly smashed (not crumbed)
Melt the chocolate in your microwave (4mins on High, covered) or in a bowl over a pan of hot water. Let it cool slightly. Warm the cream with the sugar and spices, and fold quickly into the melted chocolate. Lay down your spoon as soon as you have a homogenous mix.
Butter and line with clingfilm a small loaf tin, measuring about 16cm x 7cm at the base and at least 5cm deep. Scatter a layer of nutty, crunchy and chewy bits on the bottom and pour over some of the spicy chocolate cream. Repeat this process twice, smoothing the final layer of chocolate cream with a palette knife. Cover the tin with foil and refrigerate for at least two hours to set.
Remove from the tin, and use a large knife dipped in boiling water to cut to whatever size pleases. You can cut slices from the 'loaf' and slice diagonally to make stylish triangles, or cut into bite-sized squares, roll in cocoa powder and proffer in little paper cases. Or you can just hack off great chunks of it for blissful stuffing, while watching Miracle on 34th Street for the 34th time. Whatever takes your fancy, it's worth keeping this in a block in the fridge so you can cut it to suit whenever it's required.
Janet Wynne Evans