Few things in life bring the sort of pure, unadulterated joy associated with lots of chocolate.
And with the Jubilee bank holiday fast approaching, there's no shortage of delicious treats on the horizon for those with a sweet tooth.
So in the name of chocolate afficionados everywhere, we've put together a selection of decadent afternoon teas and recipes for you to whip up as part of a DIY street party or enjoy when you're out and about in the capital.
Read on to submerse yourself in a world of gooey goodness...
1. Confessions of a Chocoholic afternoon tea
Featuring such delights as a white chocolate and cherry cheesecake and pistachio and Madagascar chocolate ganache macaroons, this is an afternoon tea like no other.
Forget your average scones and jam routine (although it does come with chocolate-chipped scones and a particularly rich brand of clotted cream), this truly sumptuous affair is all about intricate pastry design incorporating some of the most luxurious chocolate fancies imaginable.
Launched last month by the London Hilton on Park Lane - an institution famed for its luxurious, themed afternoon teas - it is an experience for the truly dedicated of chocolate fans. In the name of serious research, Stylist recently tried out the chocoholics tea in the elegant setting of the London Hilton's tea room and we can confirm it is every inch as good as it sounds...
2. Diamond Jubilee tea
This limited edition tea - also available at the London Hilton on Park Lane - is brimming with patriotic-themed and edible pleasures. Highlights include a dark chocolate picture frame featuring an image of the Queen’s coronation, an elderflower jelly diamond atop a purple cushion made of chocolate mousse and praline, and a crown-shaped sable biscuit iced with royal colours of purple and gold. All of this combines to create a tea that is less food and more spectacle - almost too good to eat (almost).
Click here to book (ends 10 June)
Add some extra sparkle to your luxury afternoon tea by quoting Stylist when making your reservation at Podium, London Hilton on Park Lane and receive a free glass of champagne per person per booking. Please see offer details: offer valid from 1 June to 30 June 2012 – Jubilee afternoon tea available from 28 May to 10 June inclusive and prices start at £32.50pp.
3. Spiced chocolate cake with macerated raspberries
This dreamy dessert, from Jason Atherton of acclaimed London restaurant Pollen Street Social, is guaranteed to bring the wow factor to any self-respecting street party...
Ingredients (makes 8-10 slices)
- 200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra to grease the dish
- 2 tbsp plain flour, plus extra to dust
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 200g good-quality dark chocolate, chopped
- 150g caster sugar
- 5 large eggs, separated
- 250g raspberries
- 3 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra to dust
- 3 lemon thyme sprigs, leaves picked
1. First, prepare the macerated raspberries. In a bowl, whisk the icing sugar with 3 tbsp warm water until dissolved, then add the raspberries and lemon thyme leaves and toss gently. Set aside to macerate for an hour or so.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Grease the base and sides of a 23cm Pyrex flan dish, 4cm deep, with butter and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
3. Sift the 2 tbsp flour with the spices and set aside. Melt the chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and spiced flour. Let cool slightly for a minute or two, then beat in the egg yolks until well combined.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold into the chocolate mixture, a third at a time.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish and bake for about 30 minutes until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre comes out with some moist crumbs attached. Leave in the dish to firm up a little, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. The cake will rise and the top is likely to crack in the oven, then it will collapse slightly on cooling.
4. Bittersweet chocolate tart
Richly satisfying and oozing with flavours, this tempting tart will bring a dash of sophistication to your bank holiday weekend.
Ingredients ( Serves 12)
- ½ cup/115 g unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 cup/115 g all-purpose/plain flour
- ½ cup/120 ml heavy cream
- ½ cup/120 ml whole milk
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 7 oz/200 g high-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 heaping cup)
- 1 large egg, beaten
Smoked sea salt
Taken from The Newlywed Cookbook by Sarah Copeland. Photographs by Sara Remington. Published by Chronicle Books, £22.99
5. Hand-rolled truffles
These delicious truffles with pink peppercorns are ideal as petit fours and are a great finishing touch for celebrations everywhere.
Ingredients (makes 20)
For the ganache:
- 200g wild strawberries
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 200g double cream
- 10g pink peppercorns, crushed
- 450g white chocolate, broken into pieces
- Cornflour or icing sugar'
- 300g white chocolate
- 10g pink peppercorns, crushed
1. Place the washed strawberries in a saucepan with the sugar and cook until puréed. Ideally, you want the mixture to reduce by half to concentrate the flavour. Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove lumps and fibres, then return to the heat with the cream and peppercorns. Simmer for approximately 2 minutes. Pour onto the white chocolate in a bowl and blend together until smooth. Cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
2. To roll the truffles, dust your hands with cornflour or icing sugar, take even teaspoonfuls of the ganache and rapidly roll into spheres. Place the truffles onto parchment paper and put in the fridge to set.
3. To coat your truffles: temper the chocolate (heat it until liquid and then cool again so it’s smooth but not solid), then dip the truffles into it, carefully coating them using your hands. Sprinkle with the crushed peppercorns immediately so that they stick to the chocolate. Place the truffles on baking parchment in a cool, dry place for 10 minutes to set. Serve with crushed peppercorns scattered around the plate.
From Adventures With Chocolate by Paul A Young (£14.99, Kyle Books)