Friday, 19 June 2015

Chocolate Arancini, Raspberry Coulis, Chantilly Cream

Chocolate's always a crowd-pleaser.  It's evocative of childhood, of innocent indulgence and simple pleasures.  It's funny when you think about how much consolation a bar of chocolate brings to a child.  My father used to give me chocolate whenever I was sad and I remember vividly that at that precise moment, when the chocolate was handed to me, nothing else mattered.  My watery eyes would dry and I would just be happy.  It was all so uncomplicated.  And this feeling can be carried onto adulthood and maybe that's why chocolate's always so popular as a dessert option in restaurants.  There always needs to be a silly calorific chocolate pudding on the menu -- be it a chocolate fudge cake, a soft-centered fondant or a dark chocolate pie.
 I recently read a Jay Rayner review on a restaurant where he was blown away by a dessert arancino. He was blown away by the idea of it, and I thought... I'm sure I've had a sweet version of it before, it can't be a novel idea.  So then the next week in school, in a class where we were given the liberty to make any dessert we wanted based on chocolate,  I made arancini.  It's very straightforward, you make a sweet vanilla risotto, then you form balls and you stuff chocolate inside.  I don't have a photo of it cut open but it was a thing of beauty - the anticipation and satisfaction was equivalent to cutting through a chocolate fondant and finding all the chocolate ooze out of it.  I do regret not getting photographic evidence of that. 

Makes about 6 small arancini 

Chocolate arancini
80g arborio rice
2 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla pod
150ml milk
35g dark chocolate, chopped

To fry
100g panko bread crumbs
100g flour
200g water

Chantilly cream
100g whipping cream
1/2 vanilla pod
50g icing sugar

Raspberry coulis
100g raspberries
1/2 tbsp icing sugar
lemon juice, to taste

Mint leaves

Chantilly Cream
Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla pod and whisk into the cream along with the icing sugar.  Whisk until medium peaks and leave in the fridge until ready to plate.

Raspberry coulis
Put all the ingredients into a pan and cook at medium heat until the raspberries break down.  Put in a mixer to blitz. 

Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds.  Put in a pot with the milk and sugar and bring it to a boil.  Add the rice and turn the heat down. Stir regularly then just let it cook until tender - about 10-20 minutes. Add more milk/water if it becomes too dry.  Then leave to chill until cool.

Whisk the flour with the water until smooth.  In a bowl, set out the panko bread crumbs.   When the rice is completely cooled, take about a large tbsp of it with your left hand and cup your left hand so that you form a small mold of rice. Put about half a tbsp of chopped chocolate and put it in the middle of the rice in the dent. Pick up more rice with your right hand, also cup it, and lay your right hand onto your left hand and press. It should be just slightly bigger than a golf ball but you can make them bigger if you wish.  Now just squeeze gently and roll it around until it’s firm.  Repeat with the remaining.

Roll each rice ball in the flour-water batter, get rid of excess, and place on the plate with breadcrumbs. Roll around until well coated and repeat with the rest.

Heat the oil until about 180C. Test by putting a wooden spoon inside, and it should start fizzing around it. Place the balls inside, not too many at a time, don’t overcrowd it and fry until golden – just a few minutes. Then dry on paper towel and serve right away. 

Make quenelles with the chantilly cream using teaspoons.  Smear raspberry coulis onto the plate, place the arancini and the quenelles of cream around.  Decorate with fresh raspberries, mint leaves, the quenelles.

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