Chocolate dipped crispbread

One of the great things about working, in my day job, with people who make lovely food is that I get to taste it and also get to be a part of thinking about new products and new recipes.

What could be better?

So when the team at Peters Yard were getting together for our 2013 planning day I thought I’d try an idea I’d been toying with for some time.

Chocolate dipped crispbread. Yes really.

Now Peters Yard are no ordinary crispbread. They are made to an artisan Swedish recipe with sourdough starter and simple ingredients. The taste amazing. Watching people be wowed when they first taste them is great. They are the non plus ultra of crispbread, indeed of crackers in general.

So I decided to keep it all very simple and not compromise on ingredients. I melted some top quality chocolate (I used Willie’s Cacao Chefs Drops) in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Once molten and glossy I dipped mini crispbread in the chocolate and laid them out on baking parchment to set. I also drizzled some with the last of the chocolate to make squiggly patterns.

The team loved them with coffee. The fruitiness of the chocolate complimented the slight sourdough tang of the crispbread. The smooth texture contrasted well with the crispiness. All in all a success. The team suggested that additions of a little sea salt or finely ground coffee beans sprinkled over when the chocolate was setting would also be good. So I’ve done a second batch and I’m about to try them now.

I think they would make great end to a meal as ‘petit fours’ or as a gift to someone. They will last about two weeks or so in carefully sealed box or tin. Because they took about 10 minutes to make and only about an hour completely to set I also think they make a wow plate of indulgence at anytime.

For really good instructions on melting chocolate take a look at this article in the Guardian. I would say that because the crispbreads have a little coating of flour you are never going to get a super glossy result so go with the bowl over water or microwave option. If using a microwave be very careful and do short bursts and keep checking, if you overheat then the chocolate will go granular, it will taste fine but be harder to work with.

Disclosure: Peters Yard is a client of my business Bright Blue Skies. The crispbread had been provided for free. The chocolate drops I bought in Waitrose.


Fennel harvest (and fennel crackers)

We’ve a huge fennel plant growing in our garden….we didn’t plant it I think it self seeded from next door. Anyway we kind of ignored it but now its time to tidy the garden so I decided to harvest the seeds before we up rooted it and find a few uses for them.

A bit of googling told me that they aren’t really seeds they are teeny fruits, and that instead of taking nice photos of ladybirds clambering over the yellow flowers earlier in the year I should have been harvesting the pollen as this is the most sought after part. I didn’t but I’ll know for next year.

I’m only part way through collected all the ‘seeds’ and I have tons so I’ve been searching for ideas of how to use them so far I’ve got the following to try:

– spelt and fennel bread from Scandilicious cookbook

– meatballs

– beany sausage casserole with some fennel added to the cooking sauce

– fennel shortbread

– fennel (and possibly pear) ice cream or sorbet

– toasted fennel seeds to snack on

– sprinkled on salads especially ones involving cheese

– torta aciete

– crackers for with cheese (I tried these yesterday see recipe at the end)

– scandi style vodka (of course)

– simple fresh cheese with fennel

And I’ve yet to properly explore the section on anise in The Flavour Thesaurus. Still I think it’s going to take rather a long time to use them all so I’ve promised some to Scandilicious (as she loves them an they are big in Scandi cooking) and some to Northcore Brewery so thye can play with how they work in beer.

All further suggestions for how to use them welcome. Many thanks to the following tweeters for the list so far:

@scandilicious @urbanfoodie_net @leafhsetherapy @rentaquill @jamsmithsclub

Fennel biscuits/crackers

I found this recipe for seedy crackers by Hugh FW on the Guardian. I thought it looked good so naturally I read it and erm then fiddled with it. This is what I did:

125g strong white flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

20ml EV rapeseed oil


I mixed all the dry ingredients together, I added the oil and stirred it in. I added water a tablespoon at a time until I got a softish dough. I reckon it took 60ml water. I kneaded it gently. I rolled it out in one big piece direct onto some non-stick foil and cut about half way through in strips to make rectangular biscuits. Into a pre heated oven at R3.5 (oven runs low) and baked for the supposed 5 minutes, and another and another…and in total it took 25 mins and I still don’t think it was quite cooked. But it tasted good especially with some salty pecorino or robust cheddar. I probably didn’t roll it thin enough and I guess 1 large piece takes longer to cook than lots of neat biscuits.

Verdict: good, no way the cooking time is 5 mins (perhaps in a giant bakery deck oven?!) definitely one to try again and play with flours maybe spelt or some oatmeal next time.