Christmas ‘Baking’: Chocolate Rum Raisin Snowcups

rum raisin snowscapeYes, I used the C-word. Christmas.

It is a little early, but I really want to take some of the stress off my mother this year and, yes, show off a little. I went round to my mother-in-law’s last Friday for Shabbat (late to the party and baffled? I’m not Jewish, but my husband is) and she had made these plain chocolate cups by lining cupcake papers with melted chocolate. She then filled them with fresh whipped cream and strawberry slices and topped the whole mess of wonderful off with crumbled Flake. Gorgeous. And of course it got me thinking of what I could do. This is my first experiment.

As DiDi warned me, if you don’t coat the edges nice and thick, the cups fall apart when you peel away the paper. I was being a bit hasty so some of mine did fall apart. I was using petit fours cases and found that actually you could get away with a certain amount of crumbled edging if it’s small, cute and going to be filled to the brim. But perfectionists should be prepared to spend lots of time applying layers of melted chocolate onto paper cases with whatever implement suits you best (I used a grapefruit knife, my mother-in-law a plastic spoon).

Anyway, once they’ve fully set in the fridge, peel away the paper and get inventive with the filling. I put a handful of raisins in a saucepan with a healthy splash on rum on top, then simmered the contents of the pan for a couple of minutes. Then the heat went off, the lid went on and I gave them half an hour or so to soak up the drink. They then sat out (covered) long enough to cool down.

A heap of raisins went in the chocolate case and a little white chocolate was grated on top to make an artful, Christmassy snowstorm (at least that was the aim; if you think it looks more like Santa’s dandruff, you can leave it out).

Some other ideas I’ve thought of to experiment with:

  • Plain chocolate cups, blackberries smooshed into a lumpy, fruity syrup over heat with sugar and water, white chocolate curls
  • Any chocolate, mincemeat (as in what goes in mince pie, not lasagne!), crumbled cookie / oat topping
  • White chocolate cups, red berries in a little fruity syrup, decorated with holly leaves
  • White chocolate cups, crumbled up left-over Christmas pudding, a blob of cream
  • Layered cups – changing the colour of chocolate every time (after they’ve set in the fridge). Perhaps with a little hollow left for something crunchy – honeycomb?

I’m still thinking this through; I haven’t even got to the creamy or custardy fillings. The possibilities are endless provided you’re willing to spend hours footling chocolate around in paper cups. Of course you could do it without unpeeling them, leaving them in pretty paper cases but still getting the glorious choccy flavour, if you’re in a hurry.

Of gallbladders and film reviews

Well, I’m better. Stones have been whipped out (and man were there a LOT of them… as you can see from this grim picture tweeted from my hospital bed), stitches healed and removed and I am once again fit for human company. I checked with the doctor and exercise is fine so I’m back in the gym trying not to kill my admittedly pathetic but at least existing daily half hour workout habit.

It’s half an hour because I’m too unfit to do more than thirty minutes of cardio in one go, not because I don’t have time. But at least I’m going before work and being all virtuous. And then eating my bodyweight in chocolate and butter.

Anyway, other things that are not health-related have happened, and they were more fun. Here are three fun things:

– We saw Sam Mendes’ new film, Away We Go, for free, and it was ace. I have zipped a review over to Cate at BitchBuzz and will post when it’s actually on the site, with some extra thoughts that I had that were too waffly for the review.

– We went to a Susie Perring exhibition. I own one of her goldfish prints and would happily snaffle up her entire back catalogue. It’s on the When I Win The Lottery list, right after getting myself a green card and having a holiday at the Grand Floridian.

– I started baking again! Rachel Allen’s Sweet Potato and Pecan Loaf (except I used walnuts, not pecans) and it’s the richest, moistest, most wonderful use for a vegetable ever. And it was thrifty – I had three sweet potatoes that had seen slightly better days but that were still usable that went into it. I finished off the loaf experimentation with Nigella Lawson’s Banana Bread, full of sticky, rum-soaked raisins that are just gorgeous. The alcohol burns off, so they’re safe for kids. I’ve frozen most of that as Ash doesn’t do bananas and even I can’t finish it all alone.

To follow: posts about The Hen Do, with pictures, jam tarts, with recipe and stuff. Just as soon as I get round to it. Promise.