Autumn Chocolate

I really wanted to call this one winter chocolate but that would be getting ahead of the seasons. Although today is one of those beautiful autumn days with the sun shining and the leaves bursting with colour, to me the temperature feels more like winter than autumn. The sunshine is a little deceiving, when I go out on the balcony I want to snuggle up in winter clothing.

I’ve been feeling a little wintery these last few days, maybe because time flies – last month it was still summer, and in two more months Christmas will be upon us. And I’ve also been having cold season food cravings, like thinking about pasta with a thick sauce instead of light summery dishes, and out of nowhere came this craving for roasted (burnt) almonds like you get at the Christmas markets.

Which made me think about an excuse to make some. I was thinking of the vending machine at work then, to which I sometimes sneak in the hope that a bar of almond chocolate is right in the front waiting for me to rescue it, and then I’m relieved when there isn’t any because I know I would inhale the whole thing within minutes. And that gave me the idea of making my own almond chocolate.

I actually wanted to add some things that would give me a more wintery feeling, like dried citrus fruit, but I couldn’t find any, so I settled for almonds, walnuts and dried cranberries, with a dash of ground cinnamon and cardamom.

While I’m typing up this post, I keep sneaking glances at the finished product, and I am so tempted to grab the largest piece and take a bite out of it. But so far I’ve managed to have only a few little scraps that have broken off, because I intend to give most of it away. Because I’m such a good and generous person. Not. It’s really because I definitely would inhale the whole thing within the next hour. Oh, just the thought of it, with a cup of freshly made black coffee… Guess it’s time to stop torturing myself and give you the recipe.

Autumn Chocolate

600 – 700 g milk chocolate
100 g dark chocolate
150 g almonds
50 g walnut halves
50 g dried cranberries
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom
approx. 100 g raw cane sugar

In a non-stick pan on high heat, dry-fry the nuts, shaking the pan or turning the nuts every once in a while, until they start giving off a subtle roasted aroma. Take out the nuts and put aside.

Using the same pan, reduce heat by half and add the sugar. When it’s liquid, add the nuts and stir well until they’re all coated. Add the cranberries and stir again. [I hadn’t intended to sugarcoat the cranberries, but there was enough liquid sugar in the pan, so I added them as well.] Pour onto baking paper, if possible – i.e. if your sugar isn’t too hard yet – try to spread it all out so it won’t end up in one big lump. [If it does, don’t worry, you can break it apart later, it’s just that a large lump is a bit messier to break up.]

Over a bain-marie, melt the chocolate, starting out with a few pieces and adding more as you go. Once the chocolate is completely melted, add a pinch of ground cinnamon and cardamom. [I used really very little, because I didn’t want it to be overpowering, but in the end I thought I could have used more. I did taste it in the molten chocolate, but in the finished product, it’s hardly discernible. Next time I’d probably use ¼ – ½ tsp of each.]

Line a baking sheet – I used a 33 x 23 cm / 13 x 9 inch sheet – with baking paper, arrange the nut-cranberry-mix on it, breaking up larger pieces and making sure the mix is well-distributed across the sheet. Slowly pour the molten chocolate all over the nut-cranbery-mix, evening it out with a spatula if necessary. Leave to cool, preferably overnight, until the chocolate has hardened completely.

To eat this chocolate, just break off pieces. To give away, wrap scraps of grease-proof paper around the broken off pieces, seal with masking tape, and place in cellophane bags.