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'Chocolat' - the movie and the Chocolate that made it Famous
If you are passionate about romance and chocolate, then you will love 'Chocolat'.
The city where I live, Portland, Oregon, is rife with Chocolatiers. It’s a wonderful thing.
There is Moonstruck Chocolatier where you will find dainty pyramids topped with gold, truffles laced with liquors, and during Christmas season, tiny white chocolate snowman adorned with the requisite hat and scarf. Alma Chocolate is a tiny, tiny little chocolatier that offers to “nourish the soul” with its’ chocolates. They are known for their icons, chocolates like the ‘Virgin Mary’ which is made from dark chocolate embellished with 23k gold leaf. They have twenty-one icon chocolates in all, my favorite being the ‘Laughing Roly Poly Buddha.’ Then, there is The Meadow, oft visited by me, primarily because it is within walking distance of where I live and it sells the oh so coveted (by me) dark chocolate bar in about every variety one could imagine. It does not make its’ own chocolate bars, but sells bars from all over the world. My personal everyday favorite, one of which I have stashed in my freezer right now, is from Belgium. A ‘Dolfin’ chocolat, it is infused with Earl Grey tea, and as you can imagine, goes quite well with Earl Grey tea. I have sampled many of their chocolate bars, including one with tobacco which is smoky and dense. Not my favorite, it still aroused memories and feelings.
Dark chocolate stirs my imagination and my passions. Both were also stirred by my third favorite cooking movie, none other than Chocolat. Starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Lena Olin and Judi Dench, it is the story about the arrival of Vianne and her daughter Anouk into the small village of Lansquenet-sous-Tames in France, and how that arrival stirs the pot and the senses of the populace. Vianne, is not devout. She is brought by ‘the wind’, a metaphor for her ancestral beliefs and way of life, and for a personal alchemy that has kept her from committing to place and person and settling down. She rents a storefront and apartment from the diabetic and cranky Armande Voizin (Judi Dench) and woos her with her Hot Chocolate. Days after her arrival in this village, Vianne opens her chocolaterie during the forty days of lent, which is perceived as a personal assault by the mayor, a repressed and lonely man whose wife has deserted him. In the days to follow, he watches her every movement as if she was involved in serious espionage and sees every sale of chocolate as an act of treason. Vianne mesmerizes the villagers with her chocolates, rescues Josephine (Lena Olin) from a brutal marriage, and ignites love into a marriage with her aphrodisiac chocolate bites with cayenne. Her talent is to guess the favorite chocolate of every person that enters her shop.
When a band of river gypsies camp on the outskirts of the village, and Vianne’s own passion is ignited by Roux(Johnny Depp), a literal and metaphorical combustion takes place as the Mayor leads a final offensive against all that chocolate and Vianne represent. I won’t spoil the end, but I will say that Chocolate saves the day.
The basis for all of the recipes in this movie, is a dark chocolate ganache. To this, Vianne adds ingredients to make everything from Nipples of Venus, to Chocolate Seashells and Bitter Nips.
200 gm couverture / dark semi bitter chocolate
125 ml cream
- Boil cream in a thick based pan and remove from the heat
- Stir in the melted chocolate (add any essences etc at this stage) and stir until blended and thickened
- Place in chiller to cool and set before use
For simple truffles, roll by hand into balls and roll in cocoa powder
For truffles with almonds etc, press some ganache around the nut and roll by hand into balls, then roll in the cocoa powder
The ganache may also be pressed into moulds or shaped delicately by hand and then dipped into melted chocolate.