Since it was published in 2002, Unwrapped: Green & Black's Chocolate Recipes has sold more than half a million copies. Its recipes for chocolate coffee and walnut cake, chocolate truffles, chocolate pecan pie, chocolate salted caramel tart, white chocolate cardamom mousse, chocolate flapjacks, chocolate ginger cake, chocolate brownies (is the word "chocolate becoming redundant yet?) have proved enduringly popular.
Much excitement has therefore greeted the sequel, Green & Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection, edited by Micah Carr-Hill, Green & Black's Head of Taste, especially since there is now a much-expanded range of Green and Black's chocolate to use.
Micah has asked for chocolate lovers to contribute their favourite recipes and has collated the best put forward by chefs, celebrities, food writers, bloggers, chocolatiers, bakers and cake-makers and competition winners. Just reading the list of contributors in the acknowledgement section at the beginning of the book made me lick my lips in anticipation!
The book covers a lot of ground, from cupcakes to cookies to cheesecakes to tarts to soufflés to pies to puddings to ice-creams to truffles… I had wondered whether the book could possibly offer as tempting a selection as the first book without covering the same ground again or providing more obscure recipes, but I shouldn't have worried. It's an excellent collection of recipes in its own right and definitely a worth successor to Unwrapped.
A few months ago, I was kindly invited to the book launch event at Great Queen Street, where we were treated to delicious savoury titbits from the restaurant's menu and lots of sweet treats made to recipes in the book. Even before being given my own copy of the book to take home, I had already picked out the first recipe I wanted to try - Chocolate Meringue Pie.
As well as being one of the recipes Micah wrote himself (which I wanted as it would be sorta, kinda, vaguely like having him cook for me – I cooked for him recently, after all!), it's also heavy on the eggs, and would allow us to use some of our goodie bag of Clarence Court eggs, received after a wonderful egg evening at Hix Soho. I've bought these eggs before, from Waitrose and they really are fabulous; the yolks in particular have a very good flavour (and colour). And if you think eggs are just eggs, I'd urge you to do a side-by-side comparison of Clarence Court against your supermarket's regular free-range eggs and any others you usually buy. You will notice the difference in taste!
Note: Micah advises that you need electric beaters or an electric mixer for this recipe as the meringue is a hot meringue, for which the egg whites are heated by the sugar whilst they are being mixed. He also suggests investing in a blow torch for browning the meringue, though we managed without.
Micah's Chocolate Meringue Pie
140 grams plain flour
30 grams icing sugar
75 grams chilled, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 large free-range egg yolk
4 large free-range egg yolks
45 grams caster sugar
20 grams plain flour
350 ml full-fat milk
70 grams dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, chopped finely
300 grams caster sugar
5 large free-range egg white
Note: This recipe is for a single large tart made in a 24 cm tart tin, to feed 6-8. As you can see, we made smaller individual tarts instead.
- To make the pastry, sift the flour and icing sugar together before rubbing in the butter to achieve a breadcrumb texture. Add the egg yolk and mix until the ingredients come together, adding a tiny splash of cold water, if needed. We did both steps in our food processor, as we usually do for pastry.
- Shape into a ball, flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and chill for at least an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C.
- Micah suggests grating the pastry into the tart tin and pressing it evenly into the base and edges. We stuck to the traditional rolling it out technique. Once the tart tins were lined, we cut some of the excess away but left the pastry flopping over/ above the edge a little to allow for any shrinkage.
- Prick the base and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Bake the tart shell for 10-15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the custard by whisking together the egg yolks and sugar, sifting in the flour and whisking it in. Heat the milk to boiling point then pour it onto the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to the boil over a low heat, still whisking. When it comes to the boil, continue to whisk constantly for another 5 minutes, still over a low heat. It will be thick and smooth.
- Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, whisking until fully melted and incorporated. Pour into a bowl, cover the surface with cling film to prevent a skin forming and leave to cool.
- To make the meringue, reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees C. Pour the sugar onto a baking tray and place in the oven for 7 minutes. Meanwhile beat the egg whites until stiff. Remove the sugar from the oven and quickly decant into a heatproof jug. We found this much harder than it sounds. Set the mixer onto a low setting and slowly pour the hot sugar onto the egg whites, taking a couple of minutes to do so.
- To assemble, pour the chocolate custard into the cooled pastry case and spread to form an even layer. We had made four pastry cases but had enough custard to fill three to a decent level. Pour or spoon the meringue over the custard. You can smooth it with a knife but we and Micah both prefer the natural mounds and peaks.
- As we had a lot of meringue left, we filled our leftover fourth pastry case wholly with meringue! If you make individual tarts like we did, you may want to adjust the ratios of custard to meringue. If you stick with Micah's one large tart, they'll presumably be just fine.
- Micah advises using a blow torch to brown the surface of the meringues but we found a short stint under a very hot grill worked very well.
The pastry was light and sweet and simple and Pete had rolled it super, super thin, which was fantastic.
The chocolate custard was a little too liquid though it tasted great. I'm not sure if this is how it is meant to be though, as the photograph in the book shows the finished pie – no chocolate custard in sight! Perhaps we didn't leave it to cook long enough after bringing it to the boil, as we didn't time the five minutes and it seemed to thicken pretty fast and you can see it looks like a pretty thick custard in the photos above.
The meringue was sweet and light.
I'd really like to use both the pastry and the chocolate custard in other recipes.
Can you suggest any ideas?
Green & Black's Ultimate Chocolate Recipes: The New Collection is currently available from Amazon for just £9.19 (RRP £16.99).