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Tuesday 1 October, 2013 01:25

MELT - The Modern British Macaroon

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by louise1254

 

 

 Direct from the Notting Hill kitchen, we have just launched a wonderful collection of modern British macaroons. All hand made by in-house chocolatier, Eiichi Sukegawa and his team.

 

 

 Inspiration came from the watercolour classes that I attend and this image of a typical colour wheel - a project was born - to create the most exciting, visually stimulating collection of macaroons. Brushing aside the traditional French creations with romantic, soapy fillings – We have painted a modernist canvas of bold, confident flavours and a sharp pop of colour. Less romantic overload - and more zing to your macaroon.

 

 

Cherry Love – Morello Cherry

Pink Blush – Rose, Raspberry & Lycee

Mr Jam - Apricot

Banoffie Pie – Banana & Toffee

Virgin Mojiti – Fresh Mint & Lime

Beach Dude – Maldon Sea Salt

Ultra Violet  - Violet & Lavender

 

 

 

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Tuesday 9 October, 2012 23:29

Mark Hix and Melt celebrate the seasons

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by louise1254

MELT CHOCOLATES COLLABORATE WITH

MARK HIX TO CREATE THE ULTIMATE

WINTER COLLECTION

Summer has passed, and the hedgerows are richly laden with fruits perfect for foraging. Melt have worked with Mark Hix to create a delicious collection of chocolates inspired by the hedgerows of the British countryside. Blackberries, rosehip, hazelnut, elderberries and sloes all intertwine to create an abundant and varied natural crop.

"Foraged autumnal fruits are the ideal match to chocolate and what a great time to deliver them for the beginning of the winter season." Mark Hix

            Melt founder Louise Nason moved from London, three years ago, and living in the countryside has made her extremely aware of changing seasons and how the hedgerows develop throughout the year.          

“I am fascinated with each changing day – from my first sighting of tiny hazelnut kernels emerging from their pointy green bonnets – to the very pretty, fragile blackberry flowers getting battered by the never ending rains this summer. I knew I wanted us at Melt to design recipes inspired by these ingredients, and who better than to collaborate with than British seasonal cooking expert and highly acclaimed chef, Mark Hix” says Louise Nason.

 

The Mark Hix Winter Collection includes:

Blackberry Bonbon - a tart, fruity blackberry puree in a dark chocolate shell, with a wonderful seedy texture.

Rose hip – a delicate rose hip and hibiscus jelly layered with vanilla ganache and dipped in dark chocolate.

Toasted Hazelnut bonbon rich and comforting, filled with salted caramel.

Elderflower  - a clean, bright elderflower pate de fruit, perfectly balancing the collection.

 

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Thursday 12 July, 2012 00:19

Summer Tart

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by louise1254

I tweeted a picture of my summer tart today and had such a drooling, salivating response from so many of you I decided to share the recipe.  It’s very easy and you can tart it up or dress it down with just one fruit – say strawberries.

For the sweet pastry:

175g unsalted butter

2 organic egg yolks

65g icing sugar

225g plain flour

15g walnuts

15g almonds

 

For the filling:

1 x tub mascarpone – 250g

1 x pot of cream – 227g (Yeo Valley is my favourite)

2 large spoonfuls of thick clotted cream

Icing sugar to taste – approx. 20-30g

Dash of Orange Blossom water

Drop of natural vanilla essence

 

For the top:

2 x punnets of raspberries – total 300g

2 x punnets of blueberries – total 300g

2 x punnets strawberries – total 880g

 

Pre-heat oven to 180 c.

 

Blitz the walnuts and almonds together until fine.

 

Make the pastry by combining all the other pastry ingredients in a food processor. Add the ground nuts. When the mixture comes together in a ball wrap in greaseproof paper and put in the fridge until firm.

 

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a couple cm's thickness.  Line a large tart tin with the pastry.  Repair and fill in any holes and cracks with pastry.

 

Bake blind in a pre-heated oven – or the cooler oven of an Aga.

When the tart is golden brown take out of the oven and leave to cool completely.

 

In a bowl mix all filling ingredients and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until silky and well combined. 

 

Fill a large tart case with the filling and spread out evenly.

 

Decorate with ripe raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and mint leaves to decorate.

 

Serve in slices.

Makes enough for 12

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Wednesday 11 July, 2012 19:42

Fifty Shades of Chocolate

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by louise1254

 

Fifty Shades of Chocolate

 

Erotica seems to be the theme of the moment with Fifty Shades of Grey leading the bestseller charts.  Melt believes chocolate is the most erotic of foods and is synonymous with seduction and sex.   After all, it melts at body temperature.  It is not just the team at Melt, which believes this - we also have the most famous lover in the world being a lover of chocolate – Giacomo Casanova.

 

Casanova is famous for his womanizing but his love of chocolate was also an important part of his life.  In Venice in the 18th Century hot chocolate was used as coffee is today. One would take chocolate with friends and drink it at society soirées. Even at the masked balls during the Carnival, chocolate would play its part in the seduction and entertainment for which this period was notorious.  In Casanova's autobiography you have many references to him taking chocolate with his friends - just as today we would take tea and Melt is keen to reintroduce chocolate as part of the afternoon social culture.   

 

Casanova reputedly called chocolate the “elixir of life” and had a legendary appetite for chocolate.  We think it is no coincidence that he had a legendary appetite for sex as well.  But the chocolate was very different - much stronger and more intense - not the milky insipid hot chocolate you receive today.  No, this intense drink was an effective inflamer of passions which Casanova, in his pursuit of women, used as a highly effective secret weapon.  His passion for chocolate was matched by his passion for lovemaking, as he often drank rich hot cocoa just before his lovemaking.  As an alchemist he must have been aware of chocolate’s reputed powers as an aphrodisiac.

 

Not convinced?  Then you should know that the Marquis de Sade in his letters from prison requested parcels filled with chocolate bars - and we know what he was famous for! 

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Monday 2 April, 2012 05:32

April 2012

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by louise1254

 

“I have this theory that chocolate slows down the ageing process …..It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?”  

“Chocolate makes everyone smile – even bankers” Chocolatier Benneville Strohe

“A new British survey reveals that nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person lies.” Robert Paul

 

According to that bible of news and information, the BBC, you can eat chocolate and lose weight.  A better description of heaven is harder to imagine. This super food could only be improved - if chocolate was also an aphrodisiac. Imagine eating chocolate, losing weight and having a good sex life all at the same time.  Montezuma, the Mexican king, thought this was possible as he reputedly drank fifty cups a day.  But what if chocolate also extended your life (it is packed with anti-oxidants) - so you could eat chocolate, lose weight, have good sex and live longer.   If that is not the "elixir of life" - I don't know what is. But what if this was not only true but you could do it all simultaneously?

 

Casanova must have achieved this state of affairs as he called chocolate the "elixir of love". He must have also discovered that chocolate is the only food that "melts" at body temperature.   A BBC report indicated that melting chocolate in one's mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.

Each nation's approach to chocolate gains insight into their national characters. The Germans, represented by Johan Francisas worried that chocolate was an "inflamer of the passions" and tried to suppress it.

 

The French and Italians saw chocolate as an aphrodisiac and positively encouraged it. When chocolate arrived at the French Court - it was like pouring petrol on a “bon”fire and it quickly became associated with fiery passions. Madame du Barry was reputed to encourage her lovers to drink chocolate to improve their stamina. The Marquis De Sade - well the less said the better!

The Spanish tried to keep it as a classified state secret, but then the papists classified chocolate as a drink - allowing their priests to eat (sorry drink it) during fasts.

The Swiss worried about exciting themselves too much, decided to weaken its powers by adding milk. After all they had more cows than cocoa - hence their invention of milk chocolate by a baby food manufacturer Mr Nestle.

The Brits approach shows the worst and best of their character. They were slow to recognise its worth: after robbing a Spanish galleon, they found to their horror cocoa beans, but no gold. So they burnt the lot - not realising that cocoa beans were worth their weight in gold.

The first cocoa cafe became a political hothouse -then an aristocratic hangout - eventually becoming that quintessentially English thing - a club - which is really an upper class pub - now known as Whites in St James.

Eventually the Brits, as a Nation of shopkeepers, couldn't help themselves and with the help of Quaker doctors set about making serious money - the Fry's and the Cadbury's being the most famous.

 

 Chocolate was also a currency. To the Mayans 30 beans would get you a chicken and 350 a wife. This dowry demonstrated you were a "man of means” or “beans".  Cocoa beans are what is called a hard currency and something our central banks can't just print more of.   So as Easter approaches – and our paper currencies become worth less and less, bear in mind that at least with cocoa beans they acted as a fixed medium of exchange and if they did become worthless, you can eat them instead.  By the way cocoa also disproves the theory that money doesn't grow on trees!

 

Have a good weekend.

 

 

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Monday 2 April, 2012 05:29

April 2012

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by louise1254

“I have this theory that chocolate slows down the ageing process …..It may not be true, but do I dare take the chance?”  

“Chocolate makes everyone smile – even bankers” Chocolatier Benneville Strohe

“A new British survey reveals that nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person lies.” Robert Paul

 

According to that bible of news and information, the BBC, you can eat chocolate and lose weight.  A better description of heaven is harder to imagine. This super food could only be improved - if chocolate was also an aphrodisiac. Imagine eating chocolate, losing weight and having a good sex life all at the same time.  Montezuma, the Mexican king, thought this was possible as he reputedly drank fifty cups a day.  But what if chocolate also extended your life (it is packed with anti-oxidants) - so you could eat chocolate, lose weight, have good sex and live longer.   If that is not the "elixir of life" - I don't know what is. But what if this was not only true but you could do it all simultaneously?

 

Casanova must have achieved this state of affairs as he called chocolate the "elixir of love". He must have also discovered that chocolate is the only food that "melts" at body temperature.   A BBC report indicated that melting chocolate in one's mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.

Each nation's approach to chocolate gains insight into their national characters. The Germans, represented by Johan Francisas worried that chocolate was an "inflamer of the passions" and tried to suppress it.

 

The French and Italians saw chocolate as an aphrodisiac and positively encouraged it. When chocolate arrived at the French Court - it was like pouring petrol on a “bon”fire and it quickly became associated with fiery passions. Madame du Barry was reputed to encourage her lovers to drink chocolate to improve their stamina. The Marquis De Sade - well the less said the better!

The Spanish tried to keep it as a classified state secret, but then the papists classified chocolate as a drink - allowing their priests to eat (sorry drink it) during fasts.

The Swiss worried about exciting themselves too much, decided to weaken its powers by adding milk. After all they had more cows than cocoa - hence their invention of milk chocolate by a baby food manufacturer Mr Nestle.

The Brits approach shows the worst and best of their character. They were slow to recognise its worth: after robbing a Spanish galleon, they found to their horror cocoa beans, but no gold. So they burnt the lot - not realising that cocoa beans were worth their weight in gold.

The first cocoa cafe became a political hothouse -then an aristocratic hangout - eventually becoming that quintessentially English thing - a club - which is really an upper class pub - now known as Whites in St James.

Eventually the Brits, as a Nation of shopkeepers, couldn't help themselves and with the help of Quaker doctors set about making serious money - the Fry's and the Cadbury's being the most famous.

 

This is a financial newsletter - so here goes - Chocolate was also a currency. To the Mayans 30 beans would get you a chicken and 350 a wife. This dowry demonstrated you were a "man of means” or “beans".  Cocoa beans are what is called a hard currency and something our central banks can't just print more of.   So as Easter approaches – and our paper currencies become worth less and less, bear in mind that at least with cocoa beans they acted as a fixed medium of exchange and if they did become worthless, you can eat them instead.  By the way cocoa also disproves the theory that money doesn't grow on trees!

 

Have a good weekend.

 

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Monday 21 November, 2011 20:18

The best hot chocolate...at Melt!

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by louise1254

Hot Chocolate and The Book!

 

 It’s always great to explore somewhere that has a really exciting food scene.  On a long weekend to Barcelona and it’s surrounding countryside recently I encountered some fabulous tapas, thick hot chocolate, wine, wow Priorat and even went to a Mushroom Festival in a tiny town in the Spanish hills.

A must see in Barcelona is the Museum of Chocolate, which has extraordinary chocolate sculptures.

 

Our hot chocolate area is now finished and looks super stylish.  In essence - a cosy Hot Chocolate Corner within the Melt store in the heart of Notting Hill. Sit at the wonderful wooden 70’s table, lit by a Venini chandelier, browse cookbooks and magazines while listening to the delicate sounds of fresh chocolates being made in the adjacent kitchen.

 

Even after the above-mentioned trip to Barcelona to try hot chocolate I am still confident that the Melt hot chocolate menu is probably amongst the best you’ll fine – anywhere!

 

Hot chocolates include:

 

'The Filthy Rich' made with dark chocolate and full fat cream - to keep you going all day and all night.

'Skinny & Rich' Hot chocolate made with water.

'Fluffy Bunny' - milky hot chocolate with a spray cream tail.

 

Even after the above-mentioned trip to Barcelona to try hot chocolate I am still confident that the Melt hot chocolate menu is probably amongst the best you’ll fine – anywhere

  

 

The long anticipated Melt book is now in bookshops – a book of chocolate by Louise Nason and Chika Watanabe, with photographs by Jean Cazals.

A lot of hard work by everyone involved has resulted in a beautiful, easy to use, informative book.  It was a joy to do and a privilege to work with the ever-energetic and talented Jean Cazals.

There are recipes to suit all skills. Detailed technical tips through to White Chocolate Brownies – something for everyone, a perfect Christmas gift.

Available from Melt, Waterstones, and other good book stores.

Published by Absolute Press.

 

 

 

 

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Friday 20 May, 2011 19:55

Tasting Chocolate and Wine

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by Louise


My sister is a wine writer, she tastes wine almost everyday of the year, just as I taste chocolate. 
We have each come up with our top 10 tips for tasting and choosing wine and chocolate.

Louise...
1. Check the ingredients, you want chocolate, not sugar. Although % of cocoa has no indication of quality, you should still generally choose 35% or over for milk chocolate and 60% or over for dark.

2. Eat little and often of the best quality chocolate you can find. Chocolate makes you happy and you deserve it every day.

3. There is no guilt to eating good quality chocolate.

4. Eat chocolate slowly. Use your tongue to push the chocolate to the roof of your mouth and let it Melt slowly – this will give you the opportunity to really detect the full flavour profile of the chocolate and is much more satisfying.

5. The only way to learn is to experiment. Try different brands of chocolate one after the other, and then again in the reverse order. Make notes.

6. Don’t be apologetic about liking milk chocolate – I love milk chocolate in winter and in the morning, dark chocolate in summer and evenings

7. Go on a mission to find fresh chocolates - those that have been made within the last week – they really are light years away from boxed chocolates in the supermarket. You will be overwhelmed!

8. Don’t buy cheap chocolate. Chocolate is not cheap, so what are you buying? or what does that mean for the farmer at the beginning of the chain?

9. Use good quality chocolate in cooking – it really does affect the end result.

10. Be informed, don’t be confused by the latest chocolate jargon. Pick up the basics of bean type, region, terroir. It is a fascinating subject and you will enjoy your chocolate even more. 

JENNY...
Louise couldn’t have said it better. Reading through her list, exactly the same principles apply to wine. To draw the parallels, I have followed her paragraphs closely, just to make the point! 

1. Check the ingredients. Sadly this is not yet the case with wine. Many people in the industry hope wine labelling will be mandatory as soon as possible.

2. Drink little and often, the best quality wine you can afford. Wine makes you happy and you deserve it every day!

3. There is no guilt to drinking good quality wine – release your inner geek. Follow approachable, highly knowledgeable writers like www.timatkin.com and www.wineanorak.com.

4. Drink wine slowly. Don’t just neck it back but think about it. It’s not sad to sit and sip on your own. I assess wine by myself then pass the glass to layman palate Hubs who is always annoyingly, effortlessly accurate in his one word quality assessment!

5. The only way to learn is to experiment. Try different grape varieties one after the other, or the same variety from different regions. Make notes. Don’t copy critics’ wine waffle. Just simple notes will do.

6. Don’t be apologetic about liking inexpensive wine – I love Portuguese, Argentine and South of France rosés for lunch and hot evenings. Yes, I’ll even drink pinot grigio – although from Trentino in Italy and pinot gris from Alsace.

7. Go on a mission to find different wines - those that have been made without chemicals. Visit the Natural Wine Fair this May at Borough Market www.naturalwinefair.com.


8. Don’t buy bogus discount wine. Wine is not cheap to make. It’s OK to buy some wine in the supermarket but support the independents more. One of the best in South Ken is www.thesampler.co.uk.


9. ‘Use good quality chocolate in cooking – it really does affect the end result.’ 
This is the only one I don’t follow! I have what I call chicken wines. Wines not nice enough to drink with but to tip onto a bird roasting in the oven. Pink wines work best. You can also cook with oxidised wine but not ‘corked’ ie TCA. To know the difference, you’ll just have to start some wine classes..

10. Be informed, don’t be confused by the latest wine jargon. Pick up the basics of variety, region, terroir. It’s a fascinating subject and you will enjoy your wine even more. Find courses at all levels at www.localwineevents.com

So, you see, wine and chocolate are so similar after all. To conclude, a favourite ‘pairing’ from each of us – for me, (as a Mackenzie) a malt whisky like Bowmore www.bowmore.com and Melt’s 100% is pretty close to heaven. Louise...Melt Sea Salt Bar with Merry Widows Samling.

Thanks for reading, find me and my consumer wine news at www.earlybirdwinenews.com and on twitter at www.twitter.com/ebwinenews

Read this far? you're in for a treat. 20% off any purchase in Ledbury Road or Selfridges, just show our lovely staff a printout of this newsletter or a version on your phone. Valid until end May!

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Sunday 27 March, 2011 19:34

Charity Chocolate - we want to help Japan

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by Louise

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Appeal

 

We were all shocked to hear news about the Tsunami in Japan that is estimated to have taken over 10,000 lives. Now people live in fear of leaking radiation.

 There are 4 Japanese working in Melt, and some have relatives in Tohoku where the massive earthquake happened. So this tragedy is very close to our hearts.  We get regular updates via text and email from our relatives and friends in Japan.

We just couldn't watch this devastating disaster and do nothing. 

 Melt owner Louise encouraged us to come up with a plan to help, so we put together a special Japan Charity Chocolate, to help raise money to help those in need. Proceeds from the sales of this product will go to Japan through the Red Cross.

 

These cute discs are made using a dark milk chocolate with 53% cocoa content, topped with pistachio, cranberry, hazelnut. Also discs with natural dried strawberry - which has the appearance of Japanese cherry blossoms.

 We are hopeful that our contribution will do something to help those in need, recovering from the Japanese Tsunami.

 

Chika

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Thursday 17 March, 2011 21:39

Easter with Chika Watanabe - Head Chocolatier at Melt

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by Louise

 

One of the specialities Melt offers at this time of year is our famous Giant Easter Egg. This monster £900 egg.

I challenged the staff to come up with something special for Easter, and the team came up with the idea of a monster egg that would put all others to shame.

 We decided on a shell of milk-dark chocolate; a wonderful mixture of House blend that melts in the mouth as soon as its eaten. This delicious chocolate is featured in our 90g almond bar and rose violet bars (our best selling products)  and which is one of my favorites!

The egg was then sprayed with a finish to make it shiny and, this is made from a one part cacao butter to two parts dark chocolate. This is something I really enjoy, as while the spraying is happening, the whole kitchen is filled with a fine mist and the most glorious taste of chocolate.

 

After its final-coat of spray, the egg is set aside to dry. Then we go about decorating it with chocolate rabbits, hens and small eggs. These are hand made in our kitchen in moulds – then attached to the main egg with melted chocolate. Our rabbits are attached by cutting round holes in the egg with metal cake ring, heated on the stove. These are just big enough to hold the rabbits, which look like they’re jumping out into the air.

Last year’s egg came in a huge bowl, but this year we decided to construct an all-chocolate 5 Kilo base.


The giant egg is finally transported to our Ledbury shop and Selfridges shop by a car, requiring two people to escort and carry it.  Then an accident happened on the way from our Notting Hill kitchen to Selfridge’s in Oxford street. One rabbit was damaged in the move and had to be replaces – however, it all came together in the end.

This year’s 2 giants eggs are on display in Selfridges and Ledbury road in Notting Hill. Also there are 2 other large size eggs for the special order which we will make to order.  Just pop in our shop to see them !!!

Chika – Head Chocolatier at Melt

 

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