Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Chocolate Violet Creams For Christmas

Chocolate Violet Creams are an old British favourite that have made a come back in recent years. Sarah Lawrence tells us that when the demand for violets surged Bill Keeling of Prestat's told her that: “Twice in three years, the world-wide supply of crystallised violet petals ran out.” Prestat started making violet creams in the early 20th century and actress Sarah Bernhardt commissioned an inverted Violet Cream from them, sadly a long lost recipe. I'm not sure when Violet Creams were invented but Fry's sold the first Chocolate Cream Bar in 1866 – but violet was not one of the fondant centres. They were certainly popular in the early 1900s - one of Agatha Christie’s victim’s is poisoned by a box of Violet Creams! Jean Neuhaus invented pralines in 1912 and crystallized violets are used as one of the decorative toppings.

Violets have been used in cooking as far back as the 14th century as a flavouring for desserts, salads and in stuffings for poultry or fish. When Napoleon married Josephine, she wore Violets, and on each anniversary Josephine received a bouquet of violets. Following Napoleon´s lead, the French Bonapartists chose the violet as their emblem, and nicknamed Napoleon "Corporal Violet". In 1814, Napoleon asked to visit Josephine's tomb before being exiled to the Island of St. Helena and when he died, he wore a locket around his neck that contained violets he had picked from Josephine's grave site.

The French are also known for their violet syrup, most commonly made from an extract of violets. In the United States, this French violet syrup is used to make violet scones and marshmallows. Viola essence flavours the liqueurs Creme Yvette, Creme de Violette, and Parfait d'Amour. Parfait d' Amour is a liqueur and appears to have several forms - exactly who invented it remains unclear but the House of Lucas Bols in the Netherlands claims to have originated the liqueur but so does France . The colour is a magenta and violet hue and it is flavoured with orange peel, rose petals, vanilla and almonds. It was very popular in the 19th century and was once served in French brothels as an aphrodisiac!

It is also used in Parma Violets confectionery. I must admit I have a secret love of Parma Violets and found out recently that they were launched in 1946.

I have a recipe for making my own Chocolate Violet Creams which I have yet to try but it seems fairly straight forward so I thought I'd share it with you:

3tbsp double cream
Purple food colouring
2tbsp violet syrup
275g icing sugar
200g dark chocolate, broken into small bits
1tsp groundnut oil
20 crystallised violet petals, to decorate

Put the cream, a drop of the purple food colouring and the violet syrup in a bowl and mix. Sift the icing sugar over the cream mixture and stir to combine. Tip the mixture out onto a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar and knead the fondant with your hands until it all comes together in a firm ball. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Using your hands, roll 20 teaspoon-sized lumps of mixture into balls, then flatten them slightly and place on a plate. Heat 5cm of water in a pan. Place a heatproof bowl on top, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Place the dark chocolate and the groundnut oil in the bowl and warm until melted. Remove from the heat and cool for 10 minutes.

Line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment. Take a fondant ball, one at a time, and, using two forks, dip it in the melted chocolate until coated all over. Be careful not to melt the fondant. Place the coated fondant ball onto the baking parchment. Top each chocolate with a crystallised violet petal and leave to cool and set in a cool place.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Could you tell me where you could buy the voilet essence in the UK as I cant find it anywhere.

Sue said...

Hi,

You can buy it online from:

http://www.jellybeefoods.com/flavour-oils/violet-flavour-oil.html

Hope this helps!

Emilie said...

If you'd like, please check out the online specialty foods retailer called "Woodland Fairy Acres" (http://www.woodlandfairyacres.com). They have a line of Violet-flavored scone mixes and a Violet marshmallow mix, too! Their floral scones and marshmallows are absolutely wonderful!

Sue said...

Thanks Emilie - Woodland Fairy Acres looks lovely! I love the White Jasmine Flower Sweet Cream Scone Mix :-) They look truly delicious!