A stylish flat in the heart of Shoreditch was chocolate heaven for the UK launch of US chocolate brand Guittard and scroll own for their gorgeous Chocolate Ginger Bark Recipe.
Guittard is one of the few remaining family run chocolate producers in the US, and has a long history: in the mid 1800s, Etienne Guittard ventured from Tournus, France to the Barbary Coast in hopes of striking it rich during the California Gold Rush.
He brought delicious chocolate from his uncle’s factory to trade for mining supplies but soon discovered that wealthy miners were willing to pay a premium for his treat.
Armed with the knowledge that there was another kind of “gold”, he sailed back to France to finesse his craft and in 1868 returned to San Francisco and opened Guittard Chocolate on Sansome Street. In addition to chocolate, Etienne also sold coffee, tea and spices.
Fast forward nearly 200 years, and the company is today run by the same family, out of Sacramento in sunny California. As the fifth generation joins the company, they continue to find ways to support, explore and grow with the extended family of customers, co-workers, farmers and suppliers.
They are now launching their celebrated world-class chocolate into the UK for the first time, particularly aiming at bakers, and their range reflect that. Collection Etienne of baking products, the premium line of chocolates, is crafted for the pastry chef, artisan chocolatier and chocolate lover. Made in small batches from the highest-quality cocoa beans in a centuries-old French artisan tradition, it delivers the same quality chocolate used by top professional pastry chefs to home bakers.
Foodepedia was invited to the launch event, held in a stylish flat just off Curtain Road in Shoreditch. A very festive display of chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate awaited us in the dimly lit lounge, where a Christmas tree was sparkling as much as the champagne.
We were also offered exquisite chocolate martinis before being introduced to the brand itself and the various products to taste on display. On the sumptuously decorated table, there were also a number of bakes made using the different Guittard baking range, all baked by well known bakers including Bake Off winners John Waite and Edd Kimber (who was in fact present at the event).
We hovered around the table waiting for anyone to make the first move, until we decided it was time somebody picked up the courage and we started the proceedings by first tasting John’s extremely delectable Salted Caramel brownie, made with Guittard dark chocolate, then Donald Wressel’s really indulgent and chewy chocolate chip cookies (in which he used Guittard chocolate chips), followed by Edd’s pretty original matcha Oreos, baked with Guittard cocoa powder and finally some very moorish and intense beetroot, turmeric and rum truffles made with the Guittard chocolate 58% wafers.
While we refrained from trying our hands at decorating cupcakes (the ones pre-decorated looked way too pretty to imitate them), we waited until the Yule log by Luci Bennet was cut up; it was served with fresh cream and berries which were a good match to an otherwise pretty rich sponge and chocolate butter cream cake, its delightfully smooth buttercream made with Guittard 66% chocolate wafers and cocoa powder.
The evening was a great opportunity to learn about a historic brand new on the UK market; apart from the cake bonanza which was a joy to taste, we felt the chocolate we tried was definitely of good quality, worthy of eating on its own but of course, used as an ingredients as we were able to verify. The quality of the brand is demonstrated through the endorsement of UK’s top chocolatier Paul A Young, who now uses their chocolate in a broad range of hiscreations.
Guittard chocolate is available from Lakeland, Whole Foods, M&S and Ocado. For some mouthwatering recipes such as the one below, Guittard have published a book too: Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books).
230g sliced almonds
30g icing sugar
2 Tbsp golden syrup
1 Tbsp warm water
50g candied ginger, cut into 2.5cm dice
340g Guittard 74% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking
Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a rimmed baking tray with greaseproof paper.
In a small bowl, combine the almonds, icing sugar, golden syrup and water and mix until the sugar
has dissolved. Pour the almond mixture onto the prepared baking tray and spread it in a thin, even
layer covering the entire tray. Toast the almond mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally,
until the almonds are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let the mixture cool in the pan on
a wire rack.
When the almond mixture has cooled to room temperature, add it to a medium bowl along with the
candied ginger and mix to combine. Set aside. Melt the chocolate using a hot water bath or the
microwave oven. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the water if you
used a hot water bath and cool the chocolate.
Add the melted chocolate to the bowl with the almond-ginger mixture and stir until the almonds
and ginger pieces are uniformly coated. Pour the mixture onto the prepared baking tray (re- line
with greaseproof paper, if necessary), and use an spatula to spread it out evenly, working quickly
so the chocolate does not set before an even layer can be created. Let cool at room temperature
for 30 minutes then refrigerate until the chocolate is hard, at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
Break the chocolate bark into pieces. Store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 2