Pick up the ingredients for these 10 unusual chocolate creations on your travels around the UK. They’re all inspired by Roald Dahl and his ‘revolting recipes’, and are surprisingly delicious…
2016 marks 100 years since the birth of Roald Dahl, Britain’s master children’s storyteller. The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory creator loved including weird and wonderful foods in his books, from the BFG’s dreaded snozzcumbers to Willy Wonka’s chocolate river. Inspired by Dahl’s ‘revolting recipes’ we’ve come up with 10 surprisingly delicious chocolate creations (we’re calling them ‘disgustilicious’), all using ingredients that really shouldn’t work together… but do.
Wherever you’re staying in the UK this summer, you’re bound to discover a foodie gem nearby, if you know where to look. As well as farm shops and delis, we’ve unearthed more unusual places like lavender farms, vineyards and even a chilli farm, all near 10 classic hotels.
No trip to the Lake District would be complete without a few foodie treats: sticky toffee pudding from Cartmel, or a trip to a gorgeous gastropub like The Drunken Duck. Cumbria also has a rich tradition of quality butchery. Pick up a packet of dry-cured Cumberland bacon from RB Woodhall, an 8th-generation family butchers in Waberthwaite. Use it to make chocolate bacon. Yes, really. These two foods might seem like they shouldn’t cross paths but in fact the salty, umami hit of the bacon is an excellent partner for creamy choc, which is why you’ll find recipes for chocolate bacon all over the internet.
2. The hotel: Chase Hotel, Wye Valley (Forest of Dean)
The Wye Valley and Herefordshire are Britain’s blackcurrant growing heartlands. Most of the berries end up in a famous drink beginning with R but, for something different, seek out the fragrant cordials made by Pixley Berries. Take a bottle home and use it to make a chocolate, blackcurrant and liquorice cake – an eccentric combination championed by Nigella Lawson in Simply Nigella. Matilda’s Bruce Bogtrotter wouldn’t be able to resist a slice or three of this one.
3. The hotel: Dartington Hall Hotel, South Devon (River Dart)
Planning a stay at Dartington Hall? Don’t miss a trip to the nearby South Devon Chilli Farm, a favourite of Jamie Oliver. The farm grows around 200 varieties of chilli plants, including the infamously fiery ghost chilli. Buy some fresh or dried chillies to take home and use them to make a tongue-tingling cup of chilli hot chocolate.
A glass of red wine and a square (or three) of dark chocolate is an established combination. But surely mixing them together is madness? Not necessarily. A splash of red wine adds depth to chocolate cake, or try hot chocolate with red wine. You’ll find decent reds made in England these days, too – pick up a bottle of Dedham Vale reserve from its vineyard near the Stoke by Nayland Hotel.
5. The hotel: Imperial Hotel, Llandudno (Promenade), North Wales
White chocolate with cucumber? It’s enough to make the BFG spit out his frobscottle. Yet chefs have been using white choc with savoury ingredients for years now, like this white chocolate mousse with dill and cucumber. It’s also an unlikely flavour combination in one of chocolatier Rococo‘s limited-edition Roald Dahl bars. Pick up a bar of quality white chocolate from Maisie’s Chocolate Shop in Llandudno.
6. The hotel: Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, Salisbury (City Centre)
Take a trip out of Salisbury into the nearby New Forest and visit one of its more unusual attractions, a lavender farm. As well as the hazy blue fields at the New Forest Lavender Farm, there’s a tea room and a nursery. Take some edible lavender home to make chocolate lavender shortbread – a weird yet wonderful combination worthy of Willy Wonka himself.
Gliffaes Hotel in the Brecon Beacons is a short drive to foodie favourite, Abergavenny. This charming market town hosts one of Britain’s best-loved food festivals each autumn, and is also home to Marches Deli, where you can pick up a bottle of Manoli extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle this peppery Cretan olive oil over scoops of dark chocolate ice cream and sprinkle a little sea salt on top. Many chefs and gelato shops use this disgustilicious combination to enhance the flavour of the ice cream.
8. The hotel: Hintlesham Hall Hotel, Suffolk
You’ve probably heard of Nigella’s chocolate Guinness cake, but quality beer works just as well with chocolate in a bake (Tom Kerridge is a fan of this combo). If you’re staying in Suffolk, don’t miss a trip to St Peter’s Brewery. Take a tour of the brewery to learn more about its traditional-style bitters and ales, or dine in its beautiful restaurant in St Peter’s Hall. The building dates from 1280 and has its very own moat. Don’t forget to leave space in your car boot to take some of those beers home.
9. The hotel: Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, Kent Coast
Hythe is only a short car journey away from Rye, one of England’s prettiest towns. Its cobbled lanes are home to a variety of coffee shops, quality restaurants and the excellent Rye Deli. Pick up dried chillies and cinnamon sticks from its spice selection to make the classic Mexican dish mole poblano. This dark, rich sauce is often served over chicken or as the base for a stew, and it’s full of – guess, what – chocolate. Sceptical? The chocolate helps moderate the heat of the chillies and adds flavour depth to the sauce.
10. The hotel: Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Lake Vyrnwy, Mid Wales
Here’s a dessert that George (he of the Marvellous Medicine) would love: exploding chocolate cakes. Pick up some popping candy from sweetie mecca Mollie’s Sweets of Welshpool, near Lake Vyrnwy. Hide ½ tsp in the centre of cupcakes, using a recipe like this one for exploding cakes. Bite into them for an unexpected fizz.
Why not take home some quirky British produce as a souvenir of your stay, and use it to make an eccentric chocolate creation that Willy Wonka himself would be proud of…
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