Unless you’ve been living under a rock of late, you will probably have noticed that over the last week or so, Britain has been having a right good knees-up to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. A couple of weeks ago, I posted photos of my own Jubilee party (http://bit.ly/LkIrBq) and luckily for me, someone at the renowned chocolatier Charbonnel et Walker, saw it, liked it and consequently sent me an invitation to their very own Jubilee celebration!
So last Thursday, my friend Cassie and I arrived at their Old Bond Street store in London’s Mayfair and were warmly greeted with a smile and a glass of champagne.
The shop had been thoroughly decked out in bunting and Jubilee-inspired gift boxes…
And even a chocolate crown!
There was an infectious atmosphere of excitement and anticipation as everyone mingled together. With the champagne flowing and spirits high, the Old Bond Street Manager, Adam Lee, addressed the room and welcomed us all, giving us a bit of background information about the Charbonnel et Walker brand.
I already knew of the brand and have enjoyed their chocolates in the past, but I had no idea how rich the history was.
To give you a little of the history…Charbonnel et Walker was founded in 1875 and is one of Britain’s earliest chocolatiers. It is also endorsed by the Royal warrant as the official chocolate manufacturers to the Queen.
The company first formed as a partnership between Mrs Walker and Mme. Charbonnel, the latter from the Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris. Their original shop opened at 173 New Bond Street in Mayfair and has remained in Bond Street ever since.
Charbonnel et Walker’s exquisite chocolates are hand-made according to traditional recipes in their factory in Tunbridge Wells. Their hand-made boxes and satin ribbons are immediately recognisable and make an ideal gift.
Adam explained that their best-selling chocolate is the Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles. I have had these many times before and they’re incredible.
These consist of a milk chocolate, butter and Marc de Champagne centre with a white chocolate shell and a light dusting of icing sugar. Melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness.
We were also treated to the dark chocolate version although I preferred the milk version.
We also tried their classic milk truffles…
And their dark chocolates dusted in cocoa. I personally adore dark chocolate so the dark ones were my favourite. Intense, rich, smooth…perfect.
Then we moved onto their world-renowned speciality…English Rose & Violet Creams (apparently a favourite of the Queen and the Queen Mother!)
Decorated with a crystallised rose or violet leaf, the fondant creams are infused with rose or violet oil and coated in dark chocolate. As well as the fondant creams, we were also given rose and violet truffles…
I was surprised how much I liked the Rose creams. I’m not normally a fan of fragrant chocolates but these were so delicately fragrant, and so smooth, they were wonderful. I wasn’t as big a fan of the Violet ones but that is purely a personal thing. Everyone else seemed to love them. I’ve just never been a fan of Violet.
Next we were offered to taste some chocolates that are in development. Starting with the sublime Creamed Coconut encased in dark chocolate. I loved this one.
Next up was Passion fruit Cream. This was light and tangy and lovely, but not as good as the coconut. Again, this is purely a matter of personal taste.
Then…the grand finale. Clearly they had left the best til last…Sea Salt Caramel Truffles.
Wow! As you bite into the milk chocolate shell, you’re met with a liquid salted caramel centre. Bite into only half of it and you’ll end up in a mess, so this is best consumed whole. You can taste the hint of salt, which stops the caramel truffle from being too sickly sweet. I could have eaten a lot more of these, they were absolutely divine.
To round off the evening, we were all guided to the back of the store where we were greeted with tea cups of Pimms!
Whilst strawberries dipped in chocolate were passed around.
Cassie and I had a thoroughly wonderful evening. What can be better than an evening of chocolate truffles and champagne?! And we were even sent home with a goody bag containing the chocolate crown and a heart-shaped box of chocolate truffles! I went home feeling slightly queasy (in a good way!) from all the chocolate and champagne but extremely happy.
Thank you so much Charbonnel et Walker for the invite!
Charbonnel et Walker,
One, The Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London, W1S 4BT
Tel: 020 7491 0939
www.charbonnel.co.uk (for more information on stores and stockists)
* The top two photos are courtesy of the wonderful Cassie Bennitt (@Miss_Lola_Mae)
As you can see from my previous post (http://aspoonful-of-sugar.tumblr.com/post/23988253300/diamond-jubilee-party), I made a Union Jack cake for my Jubilee party at the weekend. I’ve had quite a lot of requests from people asking how I made it, so here goes!
For the sponge:
350g (12oz) soft margarine (I used Stork)
350g (12oz) caster sugar
450g (1lb) self-raising flour
1½tsp baking powder
6 medium eggs, beaten
600ml double/heavy cream
340g jar strawberry jam
Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries - the amounts really depend on what you can find. I think I used about 200g of strawberries, sliced in half, about 20 raspberries and a handful of blueberries but it really does depend on the size of the blueberries.
Start by laying out your weighed ingredients…
Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4. Line the base and sides of a 30 x 20 x 5 cm/12 x 8 x 2 inch rectangular cake tin (or roasting tin with the same base measurement) with a large piece of non-stick baking paper, snip diagonally into the corners then press the paper into the tin so that the base and sides are lined and the paper stands a little above the top of the tin sides.
Cream the soft margarine and sugar together in a bowl or food processor until light and fluffy.
Mix the flour and baking powder together then gradually mix in alternate spoonfuls of egg then flour until both have all been added and the mixture is smooth.
Spoon the cake mixture into the lined tin.
Bake for 40-45 minutes until the cake is well risen, golden brown and a skewer comes out cleanly when inserted into the centre of the cake. Leave to cool for a few minutes then invert the cake on to a wire rack, remove the tin and leave to cool.
Once the sponge has completely cooled, carefully slice the sponge in half. You need a flat top for this cake so I sliced a very thin slice off the top and made that the bottom, so the original bottom of the cake could be used on the top. (I hope that makes sense!)
Spread strawberry jam over the cake.
And top with the whipped double/heavy cream and spread it over the jam, making sure you reach the edges and the corners.
Place the other half of the sponge on top then spread the rest of the whipped cream on top.
Add the strawberries in a cross… (The English flag)
Then add the strawberries out to the corners… (to represent the St Patrick’s Saltire for Northern Ireland)
Then fill in the rest with blueberries… (to represent Scotland!) And Voila! You have the Union Jack which represents the United Kingdom.
I then added some amazing Royal pop tops that my mum sent me! (You can buy them here - http://amzn.to/LABrTF but you can get these in most shops at the moment)…
This is such a lovely cake. It tasted delicious plus its a great centre piece for a Jubilee party!