Home Traditions: Chocolate

By Andrea Pavee

As a child, my constant delight rested in chocolates.

While the varieties we could savour back then was somewhat limited, whatever I managed to get my hands on did not last long.

Cadbury’s was a staple then, just as it is now.

Another popular brand was Van Houten’s chocolates which, back then, were imported from Amsterdam. My favourite, among the them was a three-variety chocolate tray containing rectangles of milk, white and my favourite, orange chocolate.

While I grew up, I never lost my fondness for orange flavoured chocolates, although they were not that easy to come by.

A few weeks ago, a dear, dear friend celebrated a 50th anniversary and, true to form, we threw her a (successful) surprise party. In addition to the sumptuous potluck, some who were not able to make it, decided to get her a flower bouquet.

We settled for a bouquet of 50 red roses, surrounded with baby’s breath, a timeless classic.

Then, Laura suggested a box of chocolates. I toyed with the idea of going out to get something but, having had a major surgery recently, I was at sixes and sevens.

Then, out of the blue, I had my lightbulb moment!

On the day of the celebration, I melted some Callebaut milk chocolate buttons from a bag sitting quietly in the pantry. To save time, and the effort of standing too long, I used the microwave instead of a double boiler. While the melted chocolate was still piping hot, I added in a teaspoon of orange (I use the one with alcohol), and vanilla essences.

The vanilla essence is optional but I have always found that vanilla adds a delightful depth to many dessert preparations, so investing in a good brand is the perfect choice.

The combined smell of milk chocolate, vanilla and orange essences brought those childhood memories back in a flash. Plus, it smelt heavenly.

Having previously invested into some silicone chocolate moulds, I immediately poured the mixture into them and let them set in the freezer. Conchi had a variety of shells and hearts to enjoy, afterwards.

A tip I picked up when working with chocolate – it is always best handled in a cold environment as tropical temperatures play havoc on them. If you do not have the AC (air conditioner) full blast, make sure fans are whirring about furiously.

On my travels, I also noticed in many parts of Europe a popular dessert of candied orange slices dipped in dark chocolate. As it rests on the tongue, it bursts into a delightful harmony of citrus, sweet and bitter flavours. Since they are sold in half slices, they are a delightfully light, and perhaps healthier, dessert.

Also, in the course of preparing this article, I did some research about Van Houten and, wonder of wonders, it has been acquired by none other than Barry Callebaut. My chocolate journey has come full circle.

Note from the Editor

Thank you Andrea for taking the time to share your gems with us.

I couldn’t agree with you more about the need for a cold environment for making desserts and sweets. I remember trying to make peppermint creams with some girls during a summer camp many years ago, and how the whole exercise failed miserably. We ended up with a gooey mess and little girls with their hand stuck to the table. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t roll the peppermint cream paste into a thin layer and cut it into round pieces, like I had done many times before. That evening when I watching the news, I heard that it was the hottest day in England in many years. It was so hot that the chocolate melted off the chocolate biscuits in a chocolate biscuit factory.


Posted by Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 6 May 2022

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