Thankfully, people are rediscovering real chocolate and, for eating, it is even possible for the connoisseur to buy chocolate made from single-estate cocoa plantations, each with their own distinctive characteristics. These will be clearly marked 75 per cent cocoa solids and you will find just three ingredients listed: cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter.
Manufacturers usually use the words ‘cocoa solids’, and we need 75 per cent if we want an intensely chocolatey flavour, and if we are cooking with it and adding it to other ingredients (which will dilute it somewhat), it’s essential to get the highest-possible cocoa-solid content. It’s now easy to buy 75 per cent cocoa-solid chocolate, which will contain an emulsifier called lecithin and, sometimes, a flavouring such as vanilla.
Milk and white chocolate: With milk chocolate, the chocolate’s intense flavour is deliberately diluted to produce a creamier taste. This is achieved by adding whole milk solids, sometimes in equal quantity to the cocoa solids. White chocolate is not actually chocolate at all. It is made from milk solids, sugar and fat, with a little cocoa butter added, and has a bland, over-sweet taste. Neither are ideal for cooking as such, but are useful for coating or topping.
Listen to the snap: We had great fun, when I was filming the television series How To Cook, demonstrating how to tell good chocolate from not-so-good. The secret is in the snap. When you break off a piece of good-quality chocolate it makes a sharp, quite definite ‘snap’. With a lesser chocolate it is just a dull break – if you hear anything at all. We found the sensitive microphone picked up the snap superbly, so that none of us could be in any doubt ever again.
People search the world over for the very best chocolates, but there's no need. The very best of all are those freshly made at home. Just the thing to serve with the coffee after a very special meal.
There isn't a classic recipe for tiramisu as such, as there are many varying versions both in Italy and around the world, but the following one is, I think, the nicest I've come across.
This is an unashamedly fun recipe, great for special parties and at Christmas, or to serve instead of chocolates or mints at the end of a meal. But although it's fun, the choc ices are seriously good to eat...
Easy to make, these impressive creams are one way to get ahead at Christmas: make them up to six weeks ahead for hassle-free entertaining.
Made in moments, this trifle is a real treat for chocolate lovers. And even complete beginners can make this, as all it involves is a quick trawl round the supermarket and an assembly job.
Delia describes this classic chocolate recipe as 'not only one of the best desserts I've tried but also one of the easiest', so if you're looking for an indulgent dessert to impress, that can even be made ahead and frozen, this is it!
Extremely rich and packed with wonderful almondy amaretti flavours, this grown-up cake can just as well be served as a dinner-party dessert, with or without cream.
A 1960s' revival here which looks impressive but is actually very easy to make - Delia has a foolproof way of rolling the flour-free roulade and the chocolate curls are child's play.
Although this sublime chocolate dessert includes home-made (and very easy!) vanilla ice cream, if time is short you could always cheat and use a good bought one, then just add the hot chocolate sauce and toppings. Easy!
Wholemeal flour adds lightness to this stunning, classic cake - and of course you can kid yourself that it's a healthy option too! What could be better with a cup of tea?