I had the luxury last night of being able to watch a few television cooking programs, as David was out in the street with his wine club friends. A sign of the times - restricted to ten people and not in anyone's house or garden, so they met around a fire pit just outside one of our neighbours' gate. It's a very quiet street. Anyway I was at home and so I was able to sneak in a couple of cooking shows. And one of them was How to Cook Like Heston - Chocolate. And if you want to watch it here it is:
It was a fun program to watch and even though some of the dishes were very classy, actually you could have a go at all of them, although some were easier than others. And one of the most surprising things was to see him using shop bought custard in one of the dishes. Anyway I thought I would give a brief rundown of what he did with a couple of asides and variations I found.
I'm not actually a real fan of chocolate, although of course I would never refuse it. But I rarely choose a chocolate dessert when out for dinner. I'm more of a caramel or lemon girl I think. However, I have a chocoholic husband and sons who are also big fans, so every now and then I make something chocolatey - like the chocolate mousse I made with the grandkids recently. Besides it was what was on offer on the TV and I had no idea when I would have the chance again. And I have never watched Heston Blumenthal cook anything. Yes, sure I can download or record these things any time, but then when would I watch them? Because I don't like watching TV during the day - unless I'm sick. Too lazy even for me.
Speaking of chocolate mousse though. Let's start with his Magic one ingredient mousse. This wasn't actually featured in the program but I thought I would check out what else he had done with chocolate and this was one that came up. Yes it's basically just chocolate, and boiling water, whisked together, so all you need are those two ingredients and elbow grease, I'm guessing it's pretty rich. And also interestingly when he began his TV show he began with how to melt chocolate and was very clear that you shouldn't get any water in the chocolate or it would split.
And then like most genius types he later showed how water and melted chocolate are a good thing, with his recipe for Tiramisu, which has become world famous because of the trick that makes you think it is something quite different to tiramisu - I mean it looks like a flowerpot with some basil growing in it doesn't it?. This too was fairly simple. The hot water, was actually a sugar syrup which is mixed with the chocolate so that it crystallises and becomes chocolate dirt. The filling is made with cream and mascarpone and marsala and there is more chocolate and sponge fingers too. And even with the sponge fingers he does more than just soak them although only just - they are sort of pressed into a sort of mash rather than just put in whole. I suppose it's quite complicated in that there are several steps, but each one is relatively simple. And then it's just an assembly job. Watch the video of this one here. Yes really it helps to watch
So what else did he do? Well having showed us how to melt chocolate he demonstrated how to turn it into chocolate truffles as shown at the top of the page. Beautifully simple this one. As was hot chocolate. Actually I think he has a few versions of hot chocolate other than this basic one, one of which is the BFG hot chocolate - plain on the left and BFG on the right. Which is another demonstration of how the man is constantly innovating and evolving his recipes whilst inspiring others to follow his lead.
Another example of this evolution is his Iced chocolate wine, which is a kind of sorbet made from a mix of sweet red wine and chocolate. I believe this probably began with his invention of Chocolate wine which won him the Conde Nast Traveller Innovation Design Award in the gourmet section, beating people like Alain Ducasse to the prize. It's pretty simple to make - the only slightly scary and, I suppose flashy - literally - thing being that you set fire to the wine in the saucepan with a blowtorch.
Difficult to know what the combination would taste like really and probably not my thing as I'm not a huge fan of red wines, let alone sweet red wines either. But this is one thing that he is famous for - unusual flavour combinations. It's obviously one that other chefs have responded to as I found two variations without a great deal of searching: Red wine and chocolate tart from delicious magazine and Chocolate red wine cake from Food and Wine.
And last but by no means least is Heston's exploding chocolate gateau for which he uses popping candy. What on earth is popping candy you may ask? Or maybe you know. Well according to Wikipedia:
"It differs from typical hard candy in that pressurized carbon dioxide gas bubbles are embedded inside of the candy, creating a small popping reaction when it dissolves in one's mouth."
The patent for the idea was taken out in 1961 but initially it was not successful and it wasn't until the 80s, when they improved the production methods that it was taken up again, going through a range of owners until now it is made in Spain. And yes we have it here where it is called popping candy but I'm not sure where you can get it and whether you can get a neutral tasting one anyway. So this recipe may be out. Well you could make a less surprising version without the popping candy - it's in the base. It's a very rich cake, and it also required a very flashy way of getting that chocolate dusting over the whole of the gateau - he used a paint spray! He did offer other simpler versions of doing it. Nevertheless I think this particular recipe is for the experts.
Ditto for another Heston Blumenthal variation on a theme - Heston's spiced popping candy chocolate tart, which looks amazing and probably is as well as being amazingly difficult to make.
Perhaps it's appropriate to end up with something so fancy, so obviously haute cuisine. But honestly, I do think we ordinary mortals could probably have a go at the truffles, the tiramisu and the iced chocolate wine, not to mention the hot chocolate. It was a fun thing to watch. Different. I don't have any of his cookbooks. Maybe I should get Heston at Home, which is supposed to be simple.