Gail’s Boozy Christmas Chocolate Cake

I’ve been rather smitten with the chocolate and almond croissants from Gail’s for some time now.  I’ve been known to go for a “jog” with the sole purpose of going past a Gail’s and picking up these freshly baked, warm pastries, filled with melting chocolate and almond paste, topped with flaked almonds and icing sugar. It makes the exercise worthwhile.

When Gail’s PR got in touch and asked if I would be interested in reviewing the Christmas range, well, how could I say no? Who could? My mum was due to arrive for an unplanned visit and she is, afterall, one half of where I inherited my chocolate obsession.  A package was delivered to my home. By the time I got home it was minus one brownie.  I had forgotten to warn my boyfriend it was coming to review. Cheeky. Luckily Gail’s sent two, along with two gingerbread reindeers and a beautiful Chocolate and Cherry Cake.

Gail's Christmas BrownieStudded with rum soaked raisins that just provide small hints of Christmas deliciousness, this could easily be sold year round. (Hopefully the chef is reading…) And, how good is that slogan? Man cannot live on bread alone. He needs chocolate too. Or maybe that’s just me…

The most impressive piece in my bag was the Chocolate and Cherry Cake, described as a “rich, dense, boozy chocolate and cherry cake, steeped with plenty of rum”. Oh yes it is.  Possibly the most alcoholic cake I’ve ever tasted. The plus side of this means that, along with its intense chocolate hit, you really will only need small slices to keep everyone happy.  I suppose if you give them big slices they will be very happy! It’s not a big cake but it will go a long way.  The downside of the fact that this cake might even be more loaded with alcohol than the uninvited Christmas guest, is that it’s really difficult to pick up on any cherry flavour.  In true Christmas cake or pudding style, there are also small pieces of almond throughout, something you may want to know before you buy.

Gail's Christmas chocolate cakeMy mum couldn’t even finish her slice in one sitting. That might be due to jet lag but I’d say fair testament that even a hardened chocoholic won’t be too offended by receiving a small slice once they take the first bite. It is truly rich, fudgy and pudding-like. Different, and delicious.

If you want to skip making dessert this year then get your orders in – last day is tomorrow (Dec 19th)!Gail's cake box

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Competition: Win Sir Hans Sloane Christmas Truffles

Update: This competition is now closed. Congragulations to our winners Sharon and Petra!

You can still help us grow the site and support your local chocolate shops by rating them on our map.

Bill McCarrick of Sir Hans Sloane is one of my favourite chocolatiers, so when I bought some of these warm and spicy Christmas pudding shaped truffles recently, I was delighted when he gave me another box to give away free to World Chocolate Guide readers.

These “Sloane Street” boxes contain ten deliciously Christmassy with a warm ginger ganache filling, perfect for sharing around at Christmas parties, or just keeping to yourself.

How To Win

If you want to be in with a chance of winning these wonderful chocolates, just leave a comment below, telling us what your favourite Christmas dessert is and why. Christmas pudding? Cake? A family tradition, or something more obscure? Let us know!

For the chance to win an extra prize (a random selection from our chocolate stash), find and rate your favourite chocolate shop on our map as well.

We’ll pick a winner of Sunday 18th December. Competition open to UK residents only, one entry per household.

Good luck!

Update: This competition is now closed

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Jonah’s hot chocolate sandwich

I first heard about Jonah’s hot chocolate sandwich at the Wolseley years ago, and went there soon after to try this delicious sounding pudding, with my equally dessert-obsessed friend.

SOLD OUT.

Nooooo… We tried three other desserts instead (yes, three, just the two of us) and whilst the Lemon Meringue Coupe (sundae) was pretty darn amazing (crushed meringue, lemon curd and lemon yoghurt ice cream, whipped cream and flaked almonds), we still walked away saddened. Our mission had failed.

Time passed. I even went to the Wolseley again, but my work lunch hour was over before I got to have dessert.

Finally, last week I returned with a two hour evening sitting and – hurrah! – Jonah’s hot chocolate sandwich was still on the menu and available.  Made with Valrhona chocolate, this is comfort pudding at its glammed up best.  If rumours are true, it was first made by the chef for his son.  I’d like to belong to that family.  Marbled chocolate brioche is toasted and oozing with rich chocolate sauce. Its intense delicious chocolatiness is perfectly offset by a side of creme fraiche. Happiness on a plate.  I love the Wolseley and I love Jonah for his hot chocolate sandwich.

jonah's hot chocolate sandwich at the Wolseley

Go for the people watching and the incredible historic beauty of the buzzing, cavernous yet cosy dining room. Relax and enjoy the hot chocolate sandwich (or the lemon meringue coupe if that’s more your thing). Impress a date.  All this glamour and deliciousness won’t even break the bank, it’s only £5.50 for this “sandwich” and big enough to let someone else taste it. If you must.

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Daintree Estates Chocolate Review

We don’t normally do chocolate reviews here on the World Chocolate Guide blog – primarily because I like to save that for Chocablog. But recently, Australian Chocablog writer Ashleigh wrote an in-depth feature on Daintree Estates, and now I’ve been lucky enough to get hold of some of the chocolate myself. Rather than repeat ourselves on Chocablog, I decided to write about it here!

What makes Daintree Estates Chocolate so interesting is that it’s the first commercially available Australian chocolate to be made from cocoa beans grown in Australia itself. Even the sugar used is grown in Australia.

It’s sold in 80g bars in a 45% milk chocolate and 70% dark chocolate version.

The first thing you notice about it is that the texture is very smooth, indicating a lot of added cocoa butter. A glance at the ingredients shows cocoa butter listed, but not prefixed with the word “Australian” in the way the sugar and cocoa beans are. Although it doesn’t say so, this leads me to believe that the added cocoa butter (something that’s needed to make chocolate) comes from somewhere else. This isn’t necessarily an issue, given the small harvest of Australian cocoa at the moment, but it would be nice to know where all the ingredients come from, just for the sake of transparency.

The flavour of the chocolate is rather unique. It’s very sweet and easy to eat, and there’s a lot of vanilla in there. Behind the sweet vanilla, there are notes of liquorice, toffee, caramel and red fruit that make it really quite pleasant. But for true 70% connoisseurs, it may be a little too sweet and confectionery like. The milk chocolate version is, of course, even sweeter, despite its hefty 45% cocoa content.

I shared both chocolates with a number of friends, and the opinion was generally positive. All found it a little sweet, but that’s probably just going to make it more approachable to the average consumer. I gave some to top chocolatier Paul A. Young and while his comments were also generally positive, his main issue was with the amount of vanilla. Paul thinks that should be cut back to allow the real flavour of the chocolate to come through.

But as a first batch of chocolate from Australian beans, I’m really excited by this. It isn’t perfect, but it’s a unique chocolate and I don’t think they’ll have any trouble selling it. I’m sure future batches will evolve as the farmers and chocolate makers learn how to get the best from the beans, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing more Australian grown chocolate in the future.

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Pinkberry comes to London!

Pinkberry frozen yoghurtPinkberry has arrived!

If you’ve been to the US and seen the queues, heard the Americans in London talk longingly, it’s finally here: Pinkberry has come to London.

London is already bursting at the seams with frozen yoghurt chains, Pinkberry arriving and opening a week before Winter “officially” starts seems quite a gamble. So, is it really so special?

Most of the frozen yoghurt outlets offer two flavours and some a rotating third.  Pinkberry ups that with SIX flavours: natural, watermelon, pomegranate, chocolate, coconut and mango. The staff are charming, if following a very forced script: “Hi, my name is X, welcome to Pinkberry. Have you ever been here before?” I was immediately offered tasters and sampled all except the natural and watermelon. Verdict? Miles better than Snog. I can never understand the queues there, it tastes so synthetic to me. I don’t think it’s quite as good as Yu-Foria. What I did love was the increased number of options. Then the possibility of mixing flavours for no extra charge. The cheapest option, the cone, still comes with two toppings (one at the bottom of the cone). Those toppings include the usual fruit and then the more indulgent stuff. Heath Bars! All-American candy! For European folk, this is like a Daim bar, toffee with pieces of almond, covered in chocolate. Mmmm.  There was also some very odd looking pieces of “crunch” swimming in a chocolate soup. That was a 75p upcharge I declined on this occasion.

My favourite was the coconut. It’s very subtle but a little more interesting than natural frozen yoghurt. The chocolate was a little harsh, but mixed with the coconut (as I did in this £2.50 cone) it was too easy to eat both. 

Will it last? Well, it’s in Selfridge’s Food Hall, where the Pieminster used to be, so it will definitely get lots of footfall. And this feet will be very well heeled as well.

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