Chocolate tart

Great British Bake Off – inspiration and tips for Chocolate Week

by Great British Chefs 25 September 2015

As Chocolate Week looms large on the Great British Bake Off, we were only too happy to turn our minds to all things chocolate and pull together some inspirational ideas. With the notoriously tricky soufflé lined up as the technical challenge, read on for top tips on how to make yours perfect every time.

View more from this series:

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews as well as access to some of Britain’s greatest chefs. Our posts cover everything we are excited about from the latest openings and hottest food trends to brilliant new producers and exclusive chef interviews.

Hurrah! It’s Chocolate Week on the Great British Bake Off and we are already drooling in anticipation. It’s also back to familiar territory with tarts and soufflés rather than flaounas and mokatines which is somewhat of a relief. The most challenging element of this week’s show appears to be the showstopper which is an architectural chocolate centrepiece that must taste as good as it looks. With a place in the final at stake, we imagine the temperature in the tent will be hotting up which is the last thing you want in Chocolate Week . . .

The chocolate signature is for a chocolate tart but with a slight twist in that the pastry must be chocolate too. We like the sound of double chocolate tart very much, but adding cocoa can make the pastry drier and more difficult to handle. The semi-finalists would do well to study Victoria Glass’s Double chocolate raspberry tart for perfect chocolate pastry. In terms of filling, plenty of inspiration can be found in our collection of chocolate tart recipes from Anna Hansen’s Chocolate and caraway tart to Paul A. Young’s Sea-salted caramel tart with Javanese milk chocolate. Chocolate goes brilliantly with a wide range of ingredients, such as nuts, spices, some herbs, sharp fruits, chilli, bananas and treacle so we are expecting some really special combinations to come out of the tent this week.

This week’s technical is for a perfect chocolate soufflé – a technical challenge that we’ve heard of? Extraordinary! We can already see the contestants on their knees peering into their ovens looking for that all-important rise . . . Soufflés have a terrible reputation for being difficult to bake, and though the GBBO semi-finalists should be more than capable of producing successful, light-as-air bakes, there’s no telling what effect the pressure and tension in the tent will have on the finished results. We don’t envy them but we like to think that our top tips below will help you keep your cool at home.

Soufflés can be flavoured with many different ingredients such as fruit, nuts, cheese or alcohol (we have versions as diverse as Banana bread, Gruyère and bacon and Prune and Armagnac), but a chocolate soufflé is the ultimate in sophisticated indulgence. For a traditional chocolate soufflé look at Daniel Clifford’s or Xavier Boyer’s versions, but for a twist try Bruno Loubet’s Hot chocolate soufflé which has whisky and orange zest folded in or Steven Smith’s Black cherry soufflé which is dusted with grated chocolate and served with a hot chocolate sauce (as if the soufflé itself wasn’t indulgent enough).

Tips for successful sweet soufflés

  • Always use room temperature eggs for better volume

  • Make sure the egg whites are properly whisked before folding them into the base – air trapped in the whites is what makes the soufflé rise in the oven.

  • Fold a third of the whites into the base before adding the remainder and use a very light hand while folding so as not to beat any air out of the mixture.

  • Coat the inside of your ramekins with melted butter and then dust the surface with cocoa powder or caster sugar to help the contents rise.

  • Always give the ramekin a tap on your work surface to ensure an even rise.

  • Run your finger around the edge of the mould to create a lip on the soufflé – this will prevent it from sticking to the mould as it rises.

  • Make sure the oven is hot before you put your ramekins into the oven (at least 180˚C) and use the top shelf which is hotter than the lower ones.

  • Most importantly, resist all temptation to open the door while the soufflés are cooking as this can cause them to sink.