Creamy Cardamom Scented Cocoabutter Morsels

Somewhere about the second week of this new verdant culinary life I am now leading, a box arrived in the post. Shuffling to the door in my turquoise sequinned slippers, fuchsia tights and well-worn apron, I accepted the parcel with a look of puzzlement that made the delivery chap laugh. Or maybe he was laughing at my get-up? Hmm?

See the last few weeks have felt like a couple of months compressed down like liquid nitrogen; some days have emerged frosty and swirling, extending into long dream like patches of mist, whilst others stay compressed, slipping through my fingers in a stream of barely conscious moments until bedtime arrives and I lay my head gratefully down again.

I ordered this box before eschewing grains and it had taken a few weeks to reach me. What with all the clearing out of the old and bringing in of the new, I had completely forgotten the order. I had intended the contents as a sort of birthday present to myself, and now I felt forlorn, my torn party hat and disappointing party bag a stark reminder that I was a long way from celebrating. I knew that the joys contained in this box were entirely unavailable to the new grain free me and considered putting the whole thing in a cupboard unopened, in case I wept freely over the contents once opened. But like Pandora, or a moth, or countless masochistic souls who have gone before, I fetched a knife and broke the tape.

The box contained a pouch of pure cacao liquor (forbidden) the base for all hand made raw chocolates, a bag of raw unroasted cocoa powder (forbidden), pale and interesting looking, a bag of unroasted sweet carob powder (forbid...yes, you know the rest) a bar of supercharged luxury raw chocolate and a 500g tub of pure raw cacao butter. Now I would be lying if I said that not a tear sprang to my eye and not a wince of regret was felt at the arrival of so much forbidden fruit - ordered by me! But in the midst of my self pity, I realised that cacao butter was not forbidden and pretty soon a little spring of excitement bubbled up as I packed away the offending items for a much, much later date and put a bowl over a pan of steaming water to melt some cocoa butter.

These little cardamom morsels are the result of my tinkerings. They have an eastern quality, faintly redolent of halva and those Indian milk sweets that are a little fudgy and perfumed. The texture is a little like chocolate, but slightly softer, due to the high quantity of almond meal added. I'd like to try again with some finely ground cashews, as they grind to a very fine light powder. I guess they are what they are, not aiming to replicate white chocolate in anyway, but satisfying that urge for something sweetly creamy that melts in the mouth, without ever involving either cream or sugar. Try varying the flavours, use agave instead of honey if you're not on my particular diet where only monosaccharides can be consumed.

Milky Bar Kid - step aside, there's a new sheriff in town.....

Cardamom Cocoabutter Squares

You can make this in a small square box and mark into squares when it is half set, use an old chocolate box tray (like me) or purchase beautiful molds for making individual shapes. Measurements are a little approximate I'm afraid as I was just tinkering.

1 Lump of cocoa butter about the size of 2 pocket matchboxes

3-4 tsp runny honey

6tbs finely ground almonds (or cashews)

1-2 green cardamoms, seeds ground to a powder

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Zest of 1 clementine (2 if they are tiny or hard to zest - or use orange)

1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

2 tsp almond butter or cashew butter

Chop the cocoa butter into small chunks and melt gently in a bain marie (bowl over boiling water). Don't let the water boil away under the cocoa butter, just bring to the boil uncovered and then take off the heat and place the bowl over the hot water. That way you won't scorch the fat, or introduce any steam.

When the butter has melted, take the bowl of the pan and place in a sink filled with about an inch of cold water, so that it just comes a little way up the side of the bowl. Stir in all the other ingredients, but go easy on the cardamom if you don't like it strong and taste to see if the mixture is sweet enough for you or you want to add more of anything.

Beat (by hand or preferably with an electric hand whisk) until the mixture looks a little more opaque and starts to thicken slightly - only a few minutes. Then spoon into your mold and put into the fridge or freezer. Unmold when they have set and keep in an airtight box on some waxed paper or greaseproof. I kept mine in the freezer as you get the most snap that way, but they were just as delicious on a long car journey at car temperature.