Sunday, 14 December 2014

Very Nice Chocolate Butter

Chocolate butter - eat it on scones, eat it with a spoon.

As I wade through the morass of tersely worded recipes in old Colonial Era newspapers, I find a lot of dishes that have died a natural death. Whether they include poisonous ingredients, unpalatable parts of various beasts, or truly unnecessarily convoluted processes, I am left with a clear impression of why they have not become an Australian classic.

But this recipe is different. When I read the delicious ingredients list and the simple method, all I could think was: Where have you been all my life, chocolate butter?

Now I wouldn’t have thought it possible for someone to not instantly warm to this dish, but my mum, Wild Colonial Grandma, is a tough nut to crack. She, like any good country woman, has strong opinions on every foodstuff, and to her, chocolate is rich.

When I presented her with some of my newly made gooey bounty, she cast a gimlet eye over it, and asked what one did with it. I replied, slightly stunned, that you put it on anything that you thought could do with a bit more butter and chocolate. She was unmoved. Eventually she conceded that it might go well in a pudding or tart. So if you’re looking for serving suggestions (other than “Spoon straight into mouth”) you could start there.

On a historical note, the 1860s was an exciting time for chocolate lovers. Although one might argue that with the caffeine content of chocolate being what it is, chocolate lovers’ are always excited. But in 1847, Joseph Fry – yes, he of Fry’s Chocolate – did something amazing when he added back in some of the cocoa butter that the Dutch had just worked out how to remove from coco beans. By mixing coco powder and coco butter, he created chocolate as we know it today – malleable and ready to be combined with all manner of yummy things in block form. No doubt for the Dutch this was jolly frustrating.

This was the point in history where coco powder and chocolate bars began to diverge, and it was an exciting time of culinary experimentation. And what better ingredient to experiment with than chocolate! Bars of pressed coco solids were still in circulation at this point, though, and from what it says in the recipe I assume that is what is called for. Coco powder (Dutch, if you can get it!) is the best modern equivalent.

Here is the original recipe, from 1865 (Predating Nutella by almost a decade!):

Chocolate Butter—The following is a German recipe, and will be found a very nice compound to eat with bread instead of plain butter. Stir a quarter of a pound of butter over the fire until quite soft and creamy; put two cakes of good Vanilla-flavoured chocolate on a tin plate, and sprinkle them gradually with milk until they become so soft that you can mix them with the butter, then stir them well into it. Serve it cold, in whatever shape you like.

RECIPES. (1865, March 25). The Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), p. 3.

 

Ingredients

3T coco powder (unsweetened – if you are using sweetened coco add less sugar)

3T caster sugar

1/4t vanilla essence

3T milk

110g (1 stick/ 4oz) butter

A dusting of coco powder for presentation

 

Cooking Time

15 minutes, and that was with a toddler helping. Make of that what you will.

 

Quantity

1 medium jar, or two small serving bowls.

 

Method

Put the coco, caster sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl. Add the milk, and mix until there are no lumps.

Put the butter into a small saucepan, and heat over a very low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted, and has a creamy look. You don’t want it to boil, as this will begin to separate the butter and clarify it. You will get ghee, and “Chocolate Ghee” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it.

Once the butter has melted, turn off the stove, and stir in the coco mixture.

Tip your newly made chocolate butter into the container you want to store it in (you will not need to store it for long, trust me!), and allow to cool. You might use a plastic Tupperware container, or a dish that will look nice on the table. Put it in pretty jars if you would like to give it as a gift.

You can make the top of this dish look prettier by dusting it with coco. To get an even result, shake it on through a sieve.

You can store chocolate butter in the fridge for a few months. I would love to hear from anyone who has resisted eating it long enough for it to go off.

Use on toast, crumpets, or wherever else you would like more chocolate and butter.

 

Note: If you like dark chocolate, add an extra tablespoon of coco. If you are a sweet tooth, add an extra tablespoon or sugar. If you like strong flavours, add an extra tablespoon of both.

 

What did you put your chocolate butter on? I’d love to hear how you used it.