While we’re on the subject of dinner parties…I often find I’ve run out of steam by the time I get to the dessert part of the evening. I’m not overly keen on a complicated dessert at any rate, especially if you’ve spent a significant portion of your day preparing a decadent meal. Sometimes all you need to round off a great meal is something small, simple and sweet. Dessert can often be the nail in the coffin of over-eating so I prefer to finish with a modest nod to sweet indulgence.
I stumbled upon the idea for these chocolate thins whilst watching a recent episode of Hugh’s Three Good Things. One of these three things was of course chocolate and Hugh presented a rather nifty and convenient means of creating a beautiful treat to end a meal which is very quick and easy to prepare.
The basic premise involves melting your choice of chocolate, adding your favourite flavourings and leaving it to set back into a solid block in the fridge. Simple! Some of his flavour suggestions included milk chocolate with raisins and roasted peanuts; white chocolate with dried cranberries and poppy seeds; and dark chocolate with toasted coconut and dried apricot.
My version combines dried orange zest with lightly toasted almonds and dark chocolate. The resulting chocolate thins are deliciously crunchy with a beautiful hint of orange. You could use fresh orange rind if you don’t have time to dry it but if you choose to do this don’t blend it up with the almonds as they will all clump together from the moisture in the rind.
Experiment with any flavour combos you can dream up such as cardamon and toasted pistachio or freeze-dried raspberries and lemon zest. With a bit of imagination the possibilities are endless. Super easy, super delicious, super beautiful…dinner party success on a plate.
Rind of 1 large or 2 small oranges (dried for 24 hours as per this method)
60g flaked almonds
150g of 85% dark chocolate (or whichever type of chocolate you prefer)
1. Line a tray with baking paper and set aside.
2. Prepare the dried orange zest the day prior as per my lemon zest method.
3. Lightly toast the almonds in a frypan until only just beginning to take on some colour. Remove to a plate and set aside to cool.
4. Put the dried orange zest into the bowl of a food processor along with 2/3 of the toasted almonds. Blitz to a slightly chunky powder, similar in texture to breadcrumbs.
5. Heat a large saucepan of water over a medium-low heat. Place a heatproof bowl over the pan so the base of the bowl touches the water (and comes halfway up the sides of the bowl) while the rim of the bowl sits slightly over the top of the saucepan (i.e. so it won’t slip completely into the saucepan).
6. Break the chocolate into rough chunks and add to the bowl. Leave to melt, stirring occasionally, until it is beautifully glossy and smooth.
NOTE: Dark chocolate is far runnier when melted than other varieties such as milk chocolate, so if you are using dark you will need to leave the melted chocolate to sit in the bowl for 10 or so minutes until it is slightly more viscous.
7. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared tray in as small an area as possible. Tip the ground almonds and zest over the chocolate and stir around gently with a spatula to incorporate into the melted chocolate. Spread out into a thin layer, about 3mm thick.