Chocfest 2017: A Retrospective

I’ve begun planning Chocfest 2018, otherwise known as my birthday weekend, in earnest.  My birthday is on a Thursday this year, but hey, I’m not going to concern myself with such minor technicalities.  With planning for this year’s activities well underway I thought now would be a good time to reflect upon the success of last year’s Chocfest.  From humble beginnings a year ago, the newly formed festival was attended by a select few (a very select few in fact), and I was limited to creating whatever I could in a regular household kitchen using regular household equipment.  Now, one year later, 2018 sees Chocfest graduate to continued humbleness, probably the same number of attendees and the same kitchen and equipment.  In fact, the only difference is that I’ve another year of cooking experience under my belt so can embark on more adventurous chocolate creations with confidence.  Well, that’s the theory anyway.  

Back in 2017 I could never have imagined how well Chocfest would be received.  After the success of last year I spoke to the organiser about making it an annual event and she agreed it would be a brilliant idea.  I mean, c’mon!  It’s my birthday, who’s going to argue with me?  The premise is simple.  Over the course of the weekend, I incorporate chocolate in one form or another into as many meals as I can.  Snacking on chocolate based treats in-between meals is perfectly acceptable, nay, it is positively encouraged.  There was initially some resistance to the concept from The Husband.  So, let me get this straight; you want to eat chocolate for every meal?  For the whole weekend?  Well, you’re on your own with this one. I believe it, from the man who said ‘I’ll have a piece of cake every now and again…….but I don’t want cake every day’.  OK, then.

I’m sure every festival goes through something similar during the early inception phase.  Let us consider the evidence:

Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts: you want to open up the farm for people to wallow in mud, see a bit of live music and put up with less than adequate personal hygiene facilities?  Don’t be ridiculous!

Burning Man: you want to put an effigy of a man in the middle of the desert, set it on fire and invite people to come and watch?!  No one is ever going to come to that!

Hay Festival: you want to get together in the middle of the Welsh countryside to talk about books and do some serious thinking? BOOKS?! Pfffftt!

You get the idea.

So, I’m looking back through the photos I took last year.  Bear in mind this was pre-blog so I wasn’t thinking at the time that my pictures would be seen by tens maybe hundreds of people all over the world.  They are obviously not of the same high calibre of the photos I produce these days…….

Chocfest 2017 Day 1

Admittedly, Day 1 was mostly about making the food and less about eating the food.  It was a bit of a slow and disappointing start to festivities if I’m honest.

Brunch: Chocolate hazelnut spread with sprinkles and peanut butter on toast

Inspiration: Joy the Baker Homemade Decadence

I know.  I actually got the idea for this from a cookbook! I like Joy.  She brings fun and frivolity into cooking.  Not that I don’t find it fun to start with.  She makes it more fun.  This initially seemed like a bit of a cop-out but I’d decided that I wanted chocolate for breakfast with sprinkles and that’s what I was going to have.  A great way to start the day!

Pudding: Chocolate fudge cake

Inspiration: Lola’s forever

Chocolate fudge cake

I made the cake on Day 1 and then finished it off with the frosting on Day 2.  I was a bit disappointed with this cake.  It wasn’t as moist as I would have liked and there also wasn’t enough frosting for my liking.  I like an almost equal thickness of frosting to cake.  Actually, now I think about it, there was a problem with the frosting (ganache so of course problems, isn’t there always?) and I think I ended up with less than I should have.  Because The Husband only eats cake ‘every now and again’ I ended up eating most of it myself which took some time, during which it became dryer with each passing day, which obviously made it harder to get through with each passing day.  I’m hoping this year’s finale chocolate pud will be a wondrous sight and taste to behold.  Also, I had to reschedule my hair appointment the day I made the cake.  It was either that or rely on The Husband to take the cake out of the oven.  There really was only one option.

Tea: Dining out

I don’t remember what I had for starter or main course (uncharacteristically I did not write this down) but I do remember pudding.  I had a chocolate fondant dessert (which is still on the menu!).  You are not taking a picture of it.  But, but look at the middle, all oozing out. Just eat it!  I was very full when we left and I think there was fog on the way home (we don’t go out often so these kinds of things tend to stick in my memory).

Chocfest 2017 Day 2

Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Inspiration: Gu chocolate cookbook

If the recipe tells you to do something which goes against your instinct like putting pancake mix into the pan without first melting some butter ignore it.  Definitely ignore it.

Chocolate chip pancakes

Tea: Pork Mole with avocado and banana cream

Inspiration: Gu chocolate cookbook

This kind of reminded me of a recipe I watched Robert Rodriguez make in a special feature short film on the ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ DVD.  So, I watch the whole film of him making Puerco Pibil and took notes, pausing the DVD after each instruction so I had time to write it down.  I still haven’t made Robert’s version.  And the main reason for that I think, is because I don’t have ready access to banana leaves.  Yeah, it must be the banana leaves.  You’ll have to watch it.  The Pork Mole I made was very rich and delicious.  The avocado and banana cream was, well, unusual.

Pork Mole with avocado and banana cream

Looking back I see that chocolate offerings for 2017 seemed quite modest and not at all the grand chocolate fest I was hoping for.  Chocfest 2018 has a lot of work to do.  I have very high expectations of myself.  I just hope I can deliver otherwise I will be making a complaint to the management.

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