Tuesday, 13 April 2010

How to win friends ...

Make chocolate and then share it around at work. Simples. As that bloody meerkat on the advert says.

During the Easter weekend, having failed (for reasons beyond our control) to bring some nibbles back from Venice for our colleagues, as is office tradition, I made chocolate bark: half with salt and half with candied Italian orange peel and stem ginger.

This went down a storm. And by the end of the week, I almost had colleagues begging for more – well, there were serious big hints, combined with questions about what flavours I'd ever considered and why didn't I try such-and-such, all of which I think pretty much translates into begging.

So on Sunday, I made more. And went a little bit further. I had a load of stuff in the cupboard that I'd bought for baking before Christmas – and then never used. I didn't want it to go to waste.

I took glacĂ© cherries and wrapped them in marzipan – it's really easy stuff to roll into a little ball. Then, when my chocolate had melted in a bowl over a pan, I dipped these little balls into it and then popped them on tin foil to set, sprinkling them with a little cocoa powder first. The remaining melted chocolate was simply spread on more foil as plain bark.

It really was as simple as that. Not that you'd have thought so today – I've had colleagues going completely bonkers with delight, amid suggestions that I could have an alternative career.

Not that everyone understands.

Chatting on the phone to my mother yesterday evening, she asked what I'd been up to at the weekend and one of things I mentioned was that I'd made chocolates.

"Why?" she asked, apparently at a loss to imagine why I would do such a thing.

"Well," I started. "Because I like finding out how to do things," and I explained, adding that I've made my own taramasalata, tapenade and humous before now for just that reason. In reality, I actually preferred the very pink (ie dyed) taramasalata you can buy in the shops and thought there was nothing to make my humous special (ie worth doing again), while the tapenade has been repeated a number of times since.

She didn't really seem to grasp this much either.

Then suddenly I added, almost as an afterthought: "Oh, and it's fun."

She didn't really seem to get that either, but it's true. It is fun.

Fun – and then good to taste afterwards. And as if that wasn't enough, I now have loads of very happy colleagues.


  1. That chocolate bark sounds glorious!

  2. What is stem ginger? I mean, it sounds really, really good and I want some, but what is it?

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  4. Thanks!

    Stem ginger is peeled, young ginger that has been preserved in sugar syrup or pieces of candied ginger, which was what I used, chopped, for the bark.