Baking with Bertinet

30 October 2009

bertinet-kitchen-pastry

The Bertinet kitchen is an impressive cookery school set in Bath. I signed up for the pastry masterclass and although a great food lover and sometimes cook I immediately felt overwhelmed by the sleek glossy interiors and pristine staff.

As everyone chatted nervously over coffee it soon became clear that I was the least skilled of the group but we all shared the same passion and enthusiasm for good food, luckily the course is designed for all levels.

Within minutes Richard‘s sense of humour and Gallic charm had put us at ease and even my butter fingers were sifting the finest flour. We were learning from scratch to knead and roll the pastry, stopping along the way to chat excitedly and taste the raw dough. As the smell of the baking wafted through the air we all relaxed and started to have fun.

The course is designed to be very hands on with practical help and advice combined with lots and lots of tasting. We were constantly dipping our fingers into the creams and comparing textures, scoffing all the mince pies before they could cool and cooing over the most delicious Divine hot chocolate.

The day ended with everything out of the oven and then the whole group sitting down to lunch. We proudly examined our hard work before sampling with a couple of bottles of wine. The quiche and pies were amazing, the Divine chocolate tarts were fabulous and the choux pastry swans were so elegant sitting to attention on the cake stand.

For both foodies and novices like me this course has something to offer. I left having had lots of fun and feeling truly inspired, I even bought a rolling pin on the way home!

Written by guest blogger Jane Boyd


Anthony Horowitz on: The Divine Poetry Competition

28 October 2009
Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz

Top children’s author Anthony Horowitz talks about being a judge in this year’s Divine Poetry Competition on his blog yesterday.  He says, “It was my friend, Anne Fine, who introduced me to the competition and I have to say I do absolutely love the chocolate” – glad you like it Anthony!  (Divine followers will know that Anne Fine was the judge last year).  He also says, “You have to write a poem (which can be rude, funny, sad, serious, whatever) called “If I owned a chocolate company” and the winners will receive large quantities of chocolate, book tokens and a recording of the poem by me. Since I have a stammer and a lisp, this may not be the best part of it, but I’d say otherwise it’s definitely worth a go”.  Read the full post here.

Anthony Horowitz is famous for his cult children’s series Alex Rider which has sold millions of copies worldwide.  His latest book, Crocodile Tears, is due out next month.  Perhaps less well known, Anthony is also responsible for creating television smashit series including Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War.

Divine runs the Poetry Competition in partnership with Christian Aid.  You can download a poster and a leaflet here which gives all the info you’ll need about the theme this year and instructions on how to enter.  It’s open to all ages and there are some great chocolate prizes up for grabs (as well as book tokens) so get those poetic juices flowing – closing date 21st December.   Good luck!


Comedians loving Divine

21 October 2009

We were delighted to see the cast of the fantastic play Comedians by Trevor Griffith celebrating Chocolate Week in style by chomping on Divine!

Described as a “stunning performace” by the Guardian, the play is showing until 14th November at the Lyric Theatre.

Matthew Kelly

Matthew Kelly

Mark Benton

Mark Benton

Reece Shearsmith

Reece Shearsmith

Michael Dylan

Michael Dylan


Sam Stern’s Chocolate Orange Recipe

19 October 2009

posted by Sam Stern

Sam Stern, the Teenage ChefMy self-catering flat at Uni is pretty small and basic. But every Tuesday, 12 or so mates come round for a slap-up dinner. Everyone chips in a couple of quid and we cook together. So far, we’ve had a couple of big roasts with all the trimmings, chicken curry, homemade burgers.  We’re usually eating late so pudding’s not the priority but there’s always chocolate.  To celebrate Chocolate Week, we’ll be making Chocolate Satsumas this week. They’re easy to shop for – take your choice of Divine 70% dark or milk chocolate bars and get hold of some lovely sharp tasting new season satsumas.

Here’s what to do.

Sam Sterns Chocolate Orange

  1. Buy one good Satsuma (or seedless Clementine) for each person expected.
  2. Peel.  Try to get as much of the bitter white pith off as you can but don’t go mad.
  3. Put a saucepan of water on to boil then reduce to a very gentle simmer ie the water is just about moving.
  4. Sit a bowl into the top of the pan. Don’t let it touch the water.
  5. Break up a load of Divine 70% Dark Chocolate and drop it into the bowl.  Judge how much you’ll need by making one for yourself ahead of the event.
  6. Let it melt very slowly without stirring.  Once it looks soft and malleable, take it off the bowl. Stir till creamy.
  7. Dunk one fruit at a time into the melted chocolate and turn to it’s coated. Maybe use a couple of large spoons.
  8. Sit the fruit on greaseproof paper/non-stick baking tray/foil, to set in a cool place.  Special occasion? Melt a bit of white chocolate as above to decorate/write messages.

Awesome.


Chocolate cocktails, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate canapés at The Gore Hotel

15 October 2009
Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Last night we hosted a cocktail evening for food bloggers and online friends to celebrate Chocolate Week. Held at the sumptuous Gore Hotel in Kensington, guests enjoyed Divine cocktails made by The Gore’s exuberant mixologist. A couple of days before the event Charlotte headed over to the hotel to meet the mixologist and try some of his Chocolate Week creations – the results were fantastic! A Divine Martini made with Divine’s dark chocolate bar, Baileys, Kahlua, Absolut Vanilla and vodka. The Strawberry Crush was a more fruity option made with fresh strawberries, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, vodka and Divine’s dark chocolate. Divine’s resident chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh had spent the afternoon creating some wonderful truffles. Guests were in for a surprise as David also showcased his new chocolate creation – chocolate-coated cherry tomatoes! Cupcakes were provided by the lovely Helena Corvin-Swahn of Mallard and Swahn – words cannot describe how utterly gorgeous these miniature morsels of choccy heaven were. She had even decorated some of the cupcakes with a beautiful golden Divine heart – the heart-shaped symbol in the centre of the Divine logo which is a traditional Ghanaian emblem meaning revival and learning from the past.

It was great to meet people face to face – representatives from Daisy Green, Ethics Girls, The Londonist, Netmums, The Culinary Guide, Mumsnet, Green My Style, Joanna Yarrow of Beyond Green with friend Natasha Kaplinsky. We hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as we did! Happy Chocolate Week everyone and thanks for joining us … we’ll be doing it again soon! To see photos from the event visit our Flickr page.

Choosing cupcakes

Choosing cupcakes


Fairtrade anniversary tea at 10 Downing Street

15 October 2009
Sophi Tranchell with Brad Hill of The Co-operative taking tea at Downing Street

Sophi Tranchell with Brad Hill of The Co-operative taking tea at Downing Street

Posted by Sophi:

What a delightful way to start the week! Tea in Downing Street to celebrate 15 years of the Fairtrade Mark.  A wonderful collection of everyday heroes who have made Fairtrade what it is today.  From Justino Peck from the Toledo Cocoa Growers in Belize, whose story has inspired consumers like Bruce Crowther who made Garstang the first Fairtrade town in the world, spawning a social movement across the western world.  There were three 15-year-old campaigners and people from Fairtrade Towns and Cities across UK, and of course Harriet Lamb, the head of the Foundation and lots of her lovely team. 

Sarah Brown hosted the event and announced that 10 Downing Street was now officially Fairtrade, a commitment that meant that when they host international dignitaries for events like G20  they will be introduced to the best of Fairtrade. In her speech she acknowledged role of Fairtrade companies like Divine and Cafédirect and described the impact on millions of smallscale farmers across the world.

There was tea, coffee, sandwiches, fruit skewers and a magnificent chocolate cake, but it was the selection of people that really made the event, a roll call for Fairtrade.  Representatives from founders’ organisations like Paul from Christian Aid which has a network of committed and active supporters, Deborah from the WDM which has continued to expose the causes of global poverty, Paul from Traidcraft whose network of Fairtraders continue to sell Fairtrade goods tirelessly through rain and snow, Kevin from CAFOD, Tammy for the Women Institute.  Louise from Comic Relief which has brought pzazz, celebrity endorsement and money to the party, Brad Hill who helped us get that first Co-op Divine bar on the shelf in 2000 and was part of Co-op brave move to be the first retailer in Britain to convert a whole category to Fairtrade; Chocolate in 2002, followed by coffee in 2003.  DFID who supported the establishment of Divine with a loan guarantee and have continued in their unstinting support Fairtrade though out the last ten years.  Harry Hill was strutting his stuff, he visited Ghana early on to promote Fairtrade banana, and has now leant his name to Liberation the Fairtrade Nut Company you can try Harry Nuts in Sainsburys

An finally the Innovators who were creative enough to think of a different way of doing business and were brave enough to take the leap; Martin Metyard from the Co-op, Andy Good from Equal Exchange, a fair trade workers co-op whose latest products include Palestinian olive oil available through Sainsbury, and Robin Murray from Twin which founded Cafédirect, Divine and more recently Liberation.

With a capacity of 50 you are never going to include everyone but congratulations to Sarah Brown and the Foundation for a impressive turnout and Happy 15th  Birthday!


My Chocolate Experience Day

13 October 2009

Photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

Making truffles, photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

Chocolate week could not have had a better start. On Friday 9th October, Divine organised a chocolate experience day for the lovely ladies and readers at SHE Magazine with the help from our friends My Chocolate, Tate and Lyle and FAIR Vodka. The day started with the wonderful Linda Collister, chocolatier and author of Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a Heart, who gave a demonstration with baking with chocolate. Rule number one, chocolate melts in the mouth and therefore at a low temperature so never put chocolate on a boiling pan, steaming is much better.

Photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

Linda Collister, photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

Linda was followed by Chocolatier Hannah, from My Chocolate. She gave a potted history of chocolate and made truffles with the readers. After lunch (and champagne!) it was time to get down and dirty with the chocolate and all the readers got their chance to make and decorate their own truffles. I have never seen so many happy women covered in chocolate (the gorgeous spotted pink aprons from Sarah Smith).

To finish the day, we were treated to a cocktail lesson from new Vodka brand FAIR Vodka. The orange chocolate cocktail was absolutely Divine as were the French mixologists who gave the demo…

Photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

FAIR Vodka cocktails, photographs by Caroline Molloy and SHE Magazine

It was a fantastic day, a follow up to the day will be featured in Januarys issue of SHE magazine, out beginning of December.

To see photos from the event visit our Flickr page.


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