Please note that the deadline for ordering Easter Choctails is midday on Wednesday 12 April. Any orders received after this time will not be posted until Tuesday 18 April and due to holidays and events we will not be available for orders to be collected from Choctails Central.
It’s 10 years since my stepchildren Charlie & Mary lost their mum to breast cancer. Since then Simon has lost both his parents to cancer and we’ve also lost a number of good friends to the disease. On the plus side we’ve also seen a lot of friends and family successfully treated. Mary and I ran the race for life 10 years ago and raised almost £5,000 and this year Mary is running the Pretty Muddy Ipswich 5k on 24 June. As well as our personal donations, Choctails will be donating £1 from the sale of every Classic Cocktail Collection (the pink one) between now and the day of Mary’s race. This applies to all boxes sold via our website, other online retailers and show sales. If you would like to donate, click here for the link to Mary’s fundraising page.
We were happy to discover today is Chocolate Covered Caramel Day. And as we’ve a small number of our Six-Chocolate Caramel collections left, we’re currently enjoying a box ourselves. My personal favourite is the Passion Fruit caramel and I can vouch for the fact that the caramel fill makes an excellent Millionaire’s Shortbread. I don’t make this very often, as it’s my very favourite thing in the entire world, and I tend to eat way more than is good for me. Still, there’s nothing wrong with indulging yourself once in a while, so we might share another box later …..
When it comes to cocktails and drinks, I’m always on a voyage of discovery. Over the last few years the number of artisan distillers has increased dramatically, meaning there are new spirits to discover every week. Some are a subtle twist on an old classic and some make you really sit up and take notice. Just before Christmas last year I discovered Freya Birch Spirit, and was immediately intrigued. Named after the Norse Goddess of love, fertility, gold and war, Freya was a bringer of new life, protector of fallen warriors and the ‘most glorious’ amongst the Norse gods. She was wild, independent, natural and spirited (sounds like my kind of girl!) Freya is distilled from the sap of the birch tree, which grows in wild abundance across the northern hemisphere. Harvested once a year in early spring after the winter thaw, foragers have just three weeks to search the forests for wild birch trees and carefully and sustainably tap the trees drawing out the pure birch sap. The sap is frozen to retain freshness and its full flavour and the trees are left to continue their growth until the next year. The naturally occurring sap is fermented and distilled in hand made copper pot stills to a clean, pure spirit full of flavour and with the wild, natural character of the birch. Freya is the first ever ‘Wild Spirit’, truly unique and a natural wild alternative to Gin, Vodka or other white spirits. Freya has a lightly fruity aroma akin to fresh peaches. There are hints of natural green flavours reminiscent of a premium tequila and the woody notes of a young whisky together with a background of subtle vanilla and ending with lingering rye. It might be too subtle to work with chocolate, but I’ll give it a go and see how we fare. Keep you eyes on our Seasonal Specials page.
This week we launched our March special edition. We’ve developed some new flavours as well as bringing back a couple from last year which proved popular. There are six flavours in the collection which are available as either a six-chocolate stick box, or a twelve chocolate box with two of each flavour. We’ve been using Holy Lama Spice Drops to help to enhance some of the flavour blends. The Hot Cross Bun really came alive with the addition of the Cinnamon Drops. The six varieties are: Uthyr Pendragon – A celebration of St David’s Day. The red dragon is the symbol and flag of Wales and this powerful red cocktail also celebrates Uther, Chief dragon of the Celts. We have blended Vodka, Cointreau, Blood Orange, Raspberry and Orange Essence with white chocolate then covered it in dark chocolate to give a bitter-sweet balance. The Choctail is decorated with a daffodil sugar flower. Rose Petal & Lychee Martini – The white chocolate ganache is made by blending Rose Gin and Lychee Liqueur and a couple of drops of Rose Essence, then covered in milk chocolate and topped with a crystallised rose petal. Strawberry & Basil Margarita – A dark chocolate with a centre of white chocolate blended with Strawberry & Basil liqueurs, Strawberry Puree and Basil Essence. The Choctail has been decorated with drizzles of pink and green chocolate. Emerald Isle – A celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Based on the Emerald Isle cocktail, we have blended Gin, Creme de Menthe and Mint Essence with white chocolate to create a green-coloured ganache, then covered it in bitter dark chocolate and topped with a sugar shamrock. Elderflower Gin Fizz – A dark chocolate with a centre of white chocolate blended with Elderflower Gin, Lemon and Lemon Essence. The Choctail has been decorated with crystallised lemon peel. Hot Cross Bun – We marinaded a hot cross bun in rum for a week and then strained the juice to make the base of the dark chocolate ganache. The addition of Jack Daniels Spiced and Cinnamon Essence enhances the spice flavours. The Choctail is coated in milk chocolate and decorated with a white chocolate cross.
In a bid to compensate for the volume of chocolate I am required to consume, in May 2014 I took up running. This amazed many people, and I’m sure my school PE teachers would pass out at the notion that I had run my first mile one Sunday morning. I attempted a half marathon the following March – I completed the course but picked up an injury which saw me laid up and frustrated for 6 weeks. Since then I’ve been a lot more careful when it comes to niggles and strains and I feel I can now tell the difference between a little muscle stiffness which will run off after a while, or something more serious. Last year I set myself a target of running 1000km between 1 January and 31 December, and managed it with a few kilometres over. This year I’m trying to average 100km every month. Fitting regular runs in during October-December isn’t easy, due to the limited daylight and fact that they are our busiest months, so whilst things are a little quieter, I’m trying to get a few extra kilometres in. January was a good month, racking up 129km, and I’ve just completed my February target this morning, with 2 more days left of the month, so I’m currently well on track. I have to say, there were a couple of days when, had I not set myself a goal, I would have stayed indoors. Doris made last Thursday’s run a little challenging, for one! I find running incredibly cathartic. It’s an opportunity to let the mind wander and it often leads to flavour inspiration. My running route has a section along a riverbank, and there’s always plenty of wildlife around to spot, as well as some fabulous views. Of course, running isn’t for everyone, but I gain huge amounts of inspiration from reading the Parkrun stories and for me, it’s a great way to get in shape.
The Emerald Isle Cocktail blends herbal and citrus notes with a touch of mint for an unusual flavor combination. What brings it all together is three dashes of Angostura bitters. It was another discovery whilst researching ideas for our Spring Collection, and trying to find something suitable as a St Patrick’s Day celebration. The gin is very dominant in this cocktail as the recipe only calls for a teaspoon of crème de menthe. You need to like gin if you’re going to enjoy this drink, and it’s worth using a good one. Bombay Sapphire works particularly well. The Angostura bitters help to bring out the sweetness of the crème de menthe by providing a contrasting bitter spicy flavor. This drink is pretty similar to the Fallen Angel, which blends gin and a little bit of crème de menthe with lime and Angostura bitters. And it’s also not a million miles away from the Green Dragon, which adds Kummel to the mix. Both of those are fairly strong drinks, and this one is all alcohol. That’s why you could actually look at it as a type of martini. Emerald Isle Cocktail Recipe 2 ounces gin 1 teaspoon green creme de menthe 3 dashes of Angostura bitters Put all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice. Stir to chill, and strain the mixture into a cocktail glass.
I came across this little gem when researching ideas for our Spring collections and it instantly appealed to me. Having made the cocktail I knew it would make an ideal base for a Choctail, and so began the careful process of recreating the flavours in chocolate. Watch out for the Uthyr Pendragon in the March Collection, celebrating St David’s Day. But in the meantime, here’s the cocktail recipe: The red dragon is the symbol and flag of Wales and this powerful red cocktail perfectly recalls this symbol, which is also the symbol of Uther, Chief dragon of the Celts. According to Arthurian Legend, Uther, through Merlin’s help, tricks the wife of his enemy, Lady Igraine, and sleeps with her. Thus Arthur, “the once and future king” is born. Ingredients: Makes 1 Drink 1 & 1/2 measures vodka 1 measure cointreau (orange liqueur) 1 measure fresh juice from a blood orange 1 tbsp raspberry puree (see below) 1/2 tsp sugar syrup 1 fresh raspberry Raspberry Puree Large punnet of raspberries 60g (2oz) icing sugar (powdered sugar) 1 measure Cointreau (orange liqueur) 1 measure raspberry liqueur Direction: Make the raspberry puree: Place the raspberries and powdered sugar in a small blender with the cointreau (orange liqueur) and raspberry liqueur, and purée until totally smooth, sieve the puree through a fine mesh to clear any pips (this can be done in advance and kept in the fridge). Make the drink: Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with some cracked ice and shake very well. Strain into a cocktail (martini) glass, and serve garnished with a fresh raspberry or two.