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Uncensored Chocolate:
Petits Pots a la Bergamote

October 1995

Many writers skirt the line between food and sex. Never did I think that I would be accused of doing so: perhaps primly, I think that each has its (important) place and should maintain a cordial distance from the other. But while writing this month's article, on a visit I made with a group of pastry chefs to a cacao plantation and chocolate factory, I clashed with my editors over describing one of the trip's most memorable moments.

Which chocolate lover hasn't harbored the fantasy of being drenched in liquid chocolate? None that I know, and while we were touring a factory with many vats of swirling warm chocolate one of our group, the wonderful writer Flo Braker (The Simple Art of Perfect Baking, Sweet Miniatures), made her fantasy known. And it was gratified--if not exactly as people fantasize it, enough so that we could all surreptitiously participate and cheer her on.

Here is the forbidden paragraph:

Flo Braker, for instance, found herself unable to control her lifetime urge to be dipped in chocolate. Although actual immersion in a vat was ruled out, several women working with pails and ladles coated Braker, who stripped to her underwear, with warm liquid milk chocolate. In her brown coating Braker looked like a George Segal sculpture. "It feels fabulous," she told us, and why not? Cocoa butter is, after all, the basis of many expensive skin creams. (She rejoined us after using a shower for the workers; we were too decorous to ask if anyone licked the chocolate off.)

How did I know that this would unleash a firestorm? Two editors whose opinions I value inordinately thought it struck a terribly off-key note. The word "kinky" came up, and not with admiration. "My thoughts about food," said one, "stop short of wearing it." Describing the incident would only repel people who might be drawn to the idea of tasting the chocolate I so admire, the editor said--the opposite of the desired effect. A second editor was offended by the idea of the women workers being hauled out of their job and forced to oblige some visiting poohbah.

In fact the workers had something of a holiday painting Braker with chocolate, and we all found her very attractive. Granted, at least in my case I didn't want to have the same thing done to me, or particularly want to lick anyone's chocolate-coated fingers. But I think I'm in the minority.

What do you think? I think we should conduct a poll on whether being dipped in chocolate is a fantastically sexy, delicious answer to a lifetime of fantasies or a turnoff.

While you're deciding, here's a recipe from an excellent little book, Chocolate: The Food of the Gods, by Chantal Coady, an Englishwoman whose tiny Chelsea shop Rococo is chocolate central for all London. Coady sells the best truffles in London, and has just finished a lavishly illustrated, similarly small and invaluable guide to the world's chocolate truffles and other filled chocolates, The Chocolate Companion: A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Finest Chocolates, published by Chronicle.

Pots de creme are fancy individual cups of pudding, and look terrifically elegant for the very small amount of work they are to prepare. Don't let the request for orange-flower water throw you off. You can easily substitute vanilla. For chocolate lovers this is a fantasy-inducing way of consuming smooth, nearly pure chocolate. I won't make any suggestions involving how and where you eat it. I already got into enough trouble.

    -- Corby Kummer

Petits Pots a la Bergamote

From Chocolate: The Food of the Gods, by Chantal Coady.

This is the simplest and most delicious chocolate pudding recipe I know. The scalded cream cooks the chocolate, and the tea adds a delicate perfume. The texture is sublime, and forms the basis of the "ganache."

Serves 6

4 oz (125g) best-quality bittersweet (dark) chocolate, such as Valrhona Guanaja, preferably with 70% cocoa solids (if less concentrated chocolate is used, increase the quantity to 6 oz. [175g])

1 1/2 cups (12 fl oz/350 ml) light (single) cream

1 tbsp of bergamot-flavored tea leaves, such as Earl Grey or Pelham Mixture

1 tsp orange-flower water

Finely chop the chocolate and put it into a heatproof bowl.

Boil the cream with the tea leaves for about 1 minute. Strain the cream into a jug, then stir in the orange-flower water. Slowly pour the hot, flavored cream over the chocolate, stirring with a spatula, until smooth. Pour into small coffee cups or ramekins and chill for at least 2 hours.

  • More by Corby Kummer in Atlantic Unbound

    Copyright © 1995 by Corby Kummer. Recipes copyright © 1993, Chantal Coady.
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