Category Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits

In recent years the market for biscuits in Britain has declined a little as people try to eat more healthily, but the nation still munches its way through around £2 billion worth a year.

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits from britinthesouth.comFor many Brits it is almost unthinkable to have a cup of tea or coffee without a Digestive or a Hob Nob to accompany it, sometimes on the side but often dunked. If the biscuit is chocolate coated, so much the better.

This British habit must have been on my mind the last time I was playing around with ideas for homemade chocolate bark, as the light bulb flickered on and I thought, why not put the coffee and biscuits in the chocolate?

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits from britinthesouth.comAfter a few experiments to get the coffee and biscuit ratio right this treat was born.

 

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits

6oz dark chocolate

5.5 tsp finely ground coffee

4 digestive biscuits, crumbled

 

Line an 8×8″ baking tray with parchment paper.

Gently melt the chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Once it is melted, stir 4.5 tsp of the coffee and 2 crumbled biscuits into the chocolate and stir to combine.

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits from britinthesouth.comPour this mixture into the parchment lined baking tray and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining coffee and crumbled biscuit on top before the chocolate starts to set.

Chocolate Bark with Coffee and Biscuits from britinthesouth.comAllow the chocolate to cool a little and then place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm (about an hour).

Break the chocolate bark into bite sized pieces to enjoy.

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Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream

Summer has definitely arrived. Here in the South the days are long and both the temperature and the humidity levels are firmly in the 90s.

Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream from britinthesouth.comAcross the pond the last couple of weeks have seen the tennis at Wimbledon when my thoughts automatically¬† turn to the vast amount of strawberries and cream that would have been consumed during the two weeks of the Championships, washed down with copious amounts of champagne and Pimm’s.

Strawberry season is long gone in the South but I can still temporarily transport myself back to the English summertime with a traditional cream tea of scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Like many English food traditions the exact origins of the cream tea are lost in time and the south western counties of Devon and Cornwall both argue that their versions are true and original. They even disagree on whether the jam or the cream should go on the scone first (cream first in Devon, jam first in Cornwall).

For the uninitiated, clotted cream is another creation of south west England, a delicious spreadable cream, rich in fat, made by gently heating full fat cow’s milk and then skimming off the thick creamy crust that forms on top as it cools. It is commercially available in the UK but can be hard to find in the USA. Luckily you can make at home with a little patience.

Scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream. A wonderful trinity of delicious ingredients and when thinking about cream teas I couldn’t resist the thought of transforming them into a bite sized treat. The English summer in a single truffle.

First you need to assemble your ingredients. For scones, my go-to recipe is this one from River Cottage. River Cottage is also the recipe source for the jam I make every strawberry season, from their excellent book, “The River Cottage Preserves Handbook”.

Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream from britinthesouth.comYou can make your own clotted cream by gently heating cream and scraping off the thick crust that forms on top as it cools. The key is gently heating it without boiling it, so it can be done in a low oven, a slow cooker or on a stove top in a double boiler. I went the double boiler route, using this recipe for guidance.

It is then simply a case of combining the scones, strawberries and clotted cream with chocolate to give you a delicious taste of summer.

Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream

3oz scone

2oz clotted cream

2oz strawberry jam

3oz white chocolate

6oz milk chocolate (to coat)

Crumble the scone into a bowl. Add the strawberry jam and clotted cream and stir to combine.

Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream from britinthesouth.comGently melt the white chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Once melted add it to the scone / jam / cream mixture and stir together. When cool, place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Cream Tea Truffles with Scones, Strawberries and Clotted Cream from britinthesouth.comMelt the milk chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set before enjoying.

Yield: 18 truffles

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles

It’s peach season here in the peach state and I’ve already knocked out a batch of jam from some of this year’s crop.

Although the jam is fantastic generously spread on hot buttered toast I couldn’t resist having a go at a batch of chocolate truffles, trying another twist on my favourite recipe for alcohol infused truffles.

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.comMy inspiration was the classic Italian Bellini cocktail, a mix of prosecco sparkling wine and peach puree. The truffles just need chocolate, peach jam and a little bit of prosecco, so you’ll have some left to sip as you eat the truffles.

It’s a pretty simple recipe and the results are delicious.

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.com

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles

8oz white chocolate

8oz dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60%)

4oz Peach Jam

4 tsp prosecco

Georgia Peach Bellini Truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the white chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler (or use a glass bowl over a pan as I do).

Once melted add the jam and prosecco and stir to combine. Allow to cool and then put in the fridge until the mix is firm.

Use a teaspoon to scoop walnut sized balls from the chocolate mix and roll into balls. Put the balls on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Melt the dark chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler and then coat the chocolate balls. Once again place them on a parchment paper lined baking tray for the chocolate to cool and set before enjoying.

Pistachio Dukkah Chocolate Bark

Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix, typically made from nuts, herbs and spices which are dry roasted and then pounded together. In the last couple of years it has cropped up increasingly in food magazines, TV shows and on restaurant menus. The ingredients can vary but typically include cumin, coriander seed and sesame seeds. The nuts used are often hazelnuts or peanuts but almonds and pistachios make fine dukkah too.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.comI first discovered dukkah a few years ago thanks to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and his brilliant 2011 book and accompanying UK TV series “River Cottage Veg Everyday“. My copy of the book is so frequently used that it is in danger of falling apart. His version of dukkah uses pistachios, and I always have a jar of it on hand in the kitchen. Hugh recommends the classic serving method of dipping bread first in olive oil and then in dukkah. That is a delicious way of eating it but I sprinkle it on all sorts of dishes to add a burst of flavour.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.comIt only recently occurred to me to try mixing dukkah with chocolate. In recent years I’ve had chocolates laced with all sorts of spices and chili and they have always been delicious so I’m not sure why it took me so long to think of this.

I’m glad I did. The spicy mix works brilliantly with dark chocolate and the result is quite addictive.

Pistachio Dukkah Chocolate Bark

Pistachio Dukkah:-

6oz shelled, roasted, salted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1.5 tbsp cumin seeds

1.5 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp sesame seeds

2 tsp chili flakes

0.5 tsp sea salt flakes

Gently toast the cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat in a small pan until they are aromatic. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn easily. Place in a pestle and mortar and lightly crush.

Gently toast the sesame seeds in the same way and then add to the pestle and mortar along with the chopped pistachios. Bash them until the nuts are broken into small pieces, then add the chili flakes and salt. Transfer to a jar where the mix will keep for a few weeks.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.com

Chocolate Bark:-

6oz dark chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli)

8″ x 8″ baking tray lined with baking parchment

3oz pistachio dukkah

Gently melt the chocolate using a double boiler or by placing a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. Once the chocolate is melted add 1oz of the dukkah to it and stir to combine. Pour this mixture into the baking tray and spread into a smooth layer with a spatula.

While the chocolate is still molten, sprinkle the top with the other 2oz of dukkah.

Place the tray in a fridge to set for about an hour before enjoying.

pistachio dukkah chocolate bark from britinthesouth.com

 

 

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Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

The shops were full of the usual array of seasonal chocolate goodies for Easter, but I fancied the fun of making my own, and what better than a dark chocolate egg, with a luscious home made salted caramel filling finished with a dusting of shiny edible gold dust for a final sparkle.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comI have to admit they were rather good. Although tempted to eat them all myself I did share some with friends and got an unanimous positive response.

In reality they were half eggs. I used a mold to make them and didn’t have time to stick the two halves together. Something to work on for next year.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comThe whole project was useful to practice a number of chocolate and candy making techniques, such as tempering chocolate, using molds and making caramel.

Tempering chocolate is heating and cooling it in a controlled way that ensures the crystals of cocoa butter that are produced are of a consistent size. This results in chocolate with a shiny finish and a snap when you break it, rather than a dull appearance with a white bloom and a crumbly texture. There are different ways of doing it, which include splashing out a few hundred dollars on a tempering machine to do it for you, spreading melted chocolate around on a marble slab or using what is known as the seeding method as I do below.

If you want an extra shiny finish you can spray the finished eggs with edible luster dust. Look for FDA approved edible dust which is available in a wide range of colours from cake and candy making supply stores or online.

Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

15oz Dark Chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli): chips, pistoles or chopped into small even pieces

I cup granulated sugar

3oz unsalted butter, cut in pieces

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

2 tsp flaky sea salt

Gold edible luster dust (optional)

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. The water should not be simmering or boiling. The aim is to melt the chocolate slowly and gently. Place 10oz of the chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt slowly (around an hour).

As you wait for the chocolate to melt you can make your caramel sauce. Put the granulated sugar in a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally as the sugar slowly starts to melt but do not stir it at this stage. Like the chocolate, patience is the key. Keep a close eye on it and when the sugar has melted and starts to turn golden in colour add the butter and stir well to incorporate it. The sugar mix will bubble a lot but just keep stirring and make sure you don’t spill any of the hot mixture on yourself.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comRemove from the heat and add the cream, again stirring briskly as you do so to incorporate the cream. Make sure the cream is at least at room temperature. It could even be slightly warmed. I once made the mistake of adding cream which was too cold and the contents of the pan almost immediately seized into one solid lump of caramel.

Once the cream is mixed in add the sea salt. Set the sauce aside to cool.

Once the chocolate has melted and is smooth, remove from the heat and add the remaining 5oz of chocolate, stirring until it melts. Keep stirring until the chocolate cools down to around 88-89 F.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comPour the melted chocolate into the egg molds. Fill the molds, and then invert the mold over the bowl to allow the excess chocolate to drip out. Place the mold into the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Remove the tray from the fridge and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess chocolate from the bottom of the mold leaving you with neat chocolate egg shells.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comCarefully spoon some of the caramel filling into each egg, ensuring you leave room at the top for the final layer of chocolate. Return to the fridge for another 10-15 minutes to set once more.

Remove from the fridge, and add the final layer of chocolate to each mold, ensuring the caramel is completely covered. Use the offset spatula to wipe the excess chocolate from the mold.

Return to the fridge for another 15-20 minutes before gently releasing the chocolates from the mold. Lay the mold flat over a sheet of parchment paper and with just a little pressure the chocolates should pop out. If needed you can tidy any rough edges with a small sharp knife.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comFor extra sparkle, lightly spray the finished chocolates with edible luster dust.

Yield: 24 chocolates.

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs

I’m a big fan of Christmas and part of the enjoyment for me is planning our menus ahead of time and making sure our fridge and store cupboards are well stocked, especially if people drop by unexpectedly or we find ourselves wanting to make a list minute edible gift.

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs from britinthesouth.comEven with the best planning I inevitably end up with leftovers and surplus items and part of the fun of the days between Christmas and New Year is finding interesting things to do with all the goodies we have on hand.

I love traditional British Christmas pudding but invariably end up with spare pudding each year. It is great crumbled and then sauteed in a little butter and slathered with cream, or stirred into vanilla ice cream.

Assessing the contents of my fridge I found not only leftover pudding, but half a tub of mascarpone and an open carton of heavy cream. My store cupboard revealed an open bag of ginger snap cookies and a container of cocoa nibs that I hadn’t been able to resist. Trifle seemed to be the obvious answer.

I crushed the ginger snaps, crumbled the Christmas pud, whipped together the mascarpone and cream with a little sugar and brandy and then it was simply a case of layering the ingredients to make an eye catching and delicious seasonal dessert.

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs from britinthesouth.com

Christmas Pudding & Ginger Snap Trifle with Brandy Whipped Mascarpone Cream and Cocoa Nibs

12 fl.oz (1.5 cups) Heavy whipping cream

4oz Mascarpone

1 tbsp Sugar

1 tsp brandy (optional)

6oz Crumbled Christmas pudding

2oz Crushed Ginger Snaps (Ginger Nuts)

Whip the cream and the mascarpone together until the mixture starts to stiffen. This can take a few minutes so it is easier if you use a stand mixer as I did, although you can do it by hand.

Add the sugar and brandy to the cream and mix for another minute to incorporate.

To assemble, place alternative layers of ginger snap, cream and pudding in your serving dish. I made four small trifles but it could be done in one larger bowl.

To finish, sprinkle the top of the trifle with cocoa nibs. If you don’t have cocoa nibs, grated chocolate would be a great alternative.

These are best if enjoyed immediately but if not they can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days.

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Panettone Truffles

For longer than I care to remember I’ve been a lover of Italian food, wine and culture and when I lived in London I regularly flew over to Italy for a taste of la dolce vita.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comAs a result, the Christmas shopping list for my household always includes a panettone, the famous Italian sweet bread that is an increasingly common sight in shops as Christmas approaches.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comPanettone is delicious just as it is, but is also great toasted and liberally spread with butter or mascarpone, and also makes a great bread and butter pudding. A few years ago I experimented with making truffles from some leftover panettone. I loved the results and after sharing some of them with friends I now have to make increasingly large batches every year. They are pretty easy to make but are an elegant and delicious Christmas treat.

The recipe is loosely based on a recipe for “Syrup Sponge Nuggets” from Hope & Greenwood’s “Sweets Made Simple”, an excellent book for those wanting to make chocolates and candy at home.

Panettone Truffles

8oz Golden syrup or agave syrup

2oz Unsalted butter

8oz Crumbled panettone

8oz White Chocolate

12oz Dark Chocolate

Put the crumbled panettone in a bowl. Melt together the syrup and butter over medium heat and then add to the panettone and stir to combine.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comGently melt the white chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Once melted add it to the panettone and syrup mixture and mix together. When cool, place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set before enjoying.

Yield: 38-40 truffles

panettone truffles from britinthesouth.com

 

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Chocolate Stout Ganache

Young’s Brewery was founded in Wandsworth in south London in 1831. When I lived in London I enjoyed sampling their fine ales whenever I encountered them.

Sadly, their old Ram Brewery in Wandsworth was closed for redevelopment a few years ago and production of their beers moved to Bedford, over 60 miles north of the original brewery, although the old building retains a small microbrewery, enabling the location to still claim to be the oldest site of continual brewing in Britain.

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.comOn this side of the Atlantic the only Young’s beer I find with any regularity is their “Double Chocolate Stout”, which not only offers distinct hints of chocolate on the nose and palate from the use of roasted dark malts, but for good measure includes real chocolate and chocolate essence. It is a distinctive and flavourful beer, and with the holiday season upon us I couldn’t resist adding yet more chocolate to it to come up with a unique dessert.

Ganache is usually made by combining chocolate with cream but I substituted the chocolate stout for cream, and instead of rolling into balls to make conventional truffles I poured it into shot glasses to form the basis of a mini “pint”. I used 60% bittersweet chocolate which combined with the beer to make a rich, velvety layer which was then topped off with a white chocolate and cream ganache to form the head of the beer. The sweet creamy top layer contrasts beautifully with the dark chocolate and beer combination, and eaten with a teaspoon from the shot glass it is just the right size for a decadent little dessert.

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.com

Chocolate Stout Ganache

8oz bittersweet chocolate (I like Ghirardelli 60% or Guittard 74%)

1 cup (8 fl.oz) chocolate stout

6oz white chocolate

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream

 

Chop the dark bittersweet chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.

Heat the beer over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Do not boil.

Pour the hot beer over the chocolate and stir well to combine. Transfer the mixture to a jug and pour into glass or plastic shot glasses (I used 1.65 fl.oz (50ml) glasses). Leave space at the top of the glass for the white chocolate “head”.

Put the glasses into the fridge to set (about 1-2 hours).

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.comTo make the white chocolate ganache break the white chocolate into pieces and melt over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Meanwhile gently heat the cream in a small pan. Do not boil. When the chocolate is melted remove from the heat and gently stir the warm cream into the chocolate. When combined, transfer the ganache to a jug and gently pour on top of the dark chocolate layer in the shot glasses.

Return to the fridge to set for at least an hour or two before enjoying. Will keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Yield: 10 x 1.65oz glasses

Chocolate Stout Ganache from britinthesouth.com

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Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles

This idea came to me as I was trying to think of a little something to take along to a Halloween party.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comEvery year as Halloween approaches the beer shelves in local stores seem to groan under the weight of an ever increasing selection of pumpkin beers. One local brewpub even serves a draught version straight out of a giant pumpkin.

I have to confess that I’m not a huge fan of drinking pumpkin beer as it comes but I thought it would make a great ingredient in pumpkin bread, adding moisture and flavour. I could then use the beery bread as the basis for an autumnal chocolate treat.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com
I used this recipe to make the pumpkin bread although you could simplify things by just buying some. I tweaked the recipe a bit. I had an abundance of butternut squash from my CSA box so roasted that and used it instead of pumpkin puree, and I reduced the amount of cinnamon used as I can find it overwhelming in many desserts at this time of year. It is easy to adjust the cinnamon and other flavourings as you make the truffles to get just the right amount of pumpkin spice goodness.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com
Luckily I didn’t need all the bread for the truffle recipe and enjoyed a few slices for breakfast this week. A recipe I will definitely be making again.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles

8oz pumpkin bread

2oz agave syrup

1oz unsalted butter

0.5 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Salt

8oz dark chocolate

Nutmeg (optional)

Crumble the pumpkin bread into a bowl. Melt the agave syrup and butter together in a small pan over medium heat.

Pour the syrup mixture over the crumbled bread and mix well to combine. Add cinnamon if required and a pinch of salt.

Melt 4oz of the dark chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water. Add the melted chocolate to the bread and syrup mixture and stir to combine. At this point you can sneak a little taste to check if any adjustments to the seasoning is required.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comWhen cool, place in the refrigerator for an hour or two until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.comMelt the remaining 4oz of dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set.

You can enjoy them as they are or sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg or whatever takes your fancy to get another burst of flavour.

Yield: 25 truffles

Beer Infused Pumpkin Bread Truffles from britinthesouth.com

 

 

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Sticky Toffee Pudding Truffles

Sticky toffee pudding is considered to be a British classic. A sponge cake studded with chopped dates and drizzled with toffee sauce, it is a staple on many dessert menus across the pond.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.comIt is in fact a relatively recent invention, with a number of claims and counter claims as to who exactly came up with the recipe. It first came to prominence in the 1970s at the Sharrow Bay hotel in the Lake District, who declare their version to be the original. According to this article by English chef Simon Hopkinson their recipe may have actually come from a Mrs.Martin of Lancashire whose recipe appeared in the 1971 book “The Good Food Guide Dinner Party Book”, and there is conjecture that she received the recipe some years earlier from a Canadian source. Another Lake District location, the Village Shop in Cartmel, also claims to be the birthplace of the pudding.

Whatever the origins of sticky toffee pudding, I thought it was a perfect candidate for turning into a bite sized truffle. Obviously I needed to start by making a sticky toffee pudding. Thankfully there are no shortage of recipes; it seems that almost every British chef or food writer has at some point published their own version. I opted for this version from Nigel Slater.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.comHaving produced my pudding and separate toffee sauce it was then a case of combining them with some chocolate to form the truffle centres and then coat them in yet more chocolate to finish. I was delighted with the result. The dark chocolate coating balanced with the sweetness of the centre to make a delicious treat.

Sticky toffee pudding truffles from britinthesouth.com

Sticky Toffee Pudding Truffles

4oz toffee pudding (from this recipe)

4oz toffee sauce (from this recipe)

4oz milk chocolate

6oz dark chocolate

Melt the milk chocolate over medium heat in a double boiler or a glass bowl over a pan of water.

Crumble the pudding and place in a bowl. Add the toffee sauce and the melted milk chocolate and stir to combine. When cool, place in the refrigerator until the mixture is firm.

Taking a teaspoon full of the mixture at a time, roll into balls to form the centres of the truffles. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then return to the fridge to firm up again.

Melt the dark chocolate for the coating in a double boiler. Dip the truffle centres in the melted chocolate to coat and place on baking parchment to set before savouring this bite sized British classic.