Comedian, writer and actress Jo Brand seems to be a woman after my own heart: “Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate,” she once said.
I couldn’t agree more, which is why I was excited to spot this Choc Chicos kit in the lovely treats that Freya was sent by Holland & Barrett for her holiday (you can read about that here). I haven’t been asked to write about it but I liked it so much I thought it deserved a review.
First thing to say is it is free-from “dairy, gluten, eggs, soya, additives, e-numbers and processed sugars”, which is perfect for Freya. While I have never been that bothered about her not having chocolate at this age – if she is anything like me she will more than make up for it when she is older – family and friends have occasionally sent her bars but they have always contained something she can’t have (soya, mainly). To be able to make it almost from scratch puts my mind at rest plus it was something fun to do on a dull day.
I got started by melting the cocoa butter using a bowl sitting above a pan of water which I now know is called Bain Marie (see, chocolate is good for the brain!). While waiting for that I brought Freya into the kitchen and let her see it before we sat down and arranged the cases on the tray. Thankfully they give you more cases than you need (at least the way I made it) because Freya decided to lick a few (she said “mmmm, cake” so they can’t have tasted too bad).
I popped her out of the kitchen again (because the minute I turned my back I know she would be resetting the washing machine or emptying the freezer) while I added the cocoa powder and Sweet Freedom syrup to the now melted cocoa butter. I whisked it, adding a little more of the syrup to sweeten it a bit and then, after taking it off the heat, poured it into the cases. Simple as that.
While you can add nuts or dried fruit at this point, I’m a purist when it comes to chocolate so left it alone and popped it in the freezer which, for some strange reason, made Freya cry. After explaining that it was just for a little while, I distracted her by making lovely hot (warm) cocoa with the mixture that was left.
I also let her hold the thoughtfully included cocoa beans and took her through the chart which explains where chocolate comes from. I actually thought this was really interesting and I can imagine, if she was older, that we could turn this into a project and perhaps find out more about the process.
At 20 minutes on the dot I took the chocolates back out and turned them out of their cases on to a plate which I then showed Freya. As you can see, she was more than keen to give them a try. I quickly popped her painting overall on and let her have three in a bowl. Naturally I had to sample one (or five) and they were divine.
While she liked the taste, I think she liked the mess they made as the chocolate started to melt on her hands better and especially the “painting” she was able to do on the table. Not only did we make chocolates, she got a messy play session thrown in!
It was a lot of fun but I think, if you’re doing it as an activity rather than just for the chocolate at the end, it would suit an older child to really get the benefit. The inclusion of the beans and the information about where chocolate comes from really made the kit for me. I can see us buying one when she is older, even if she can have dairy, and making them.
* The Choc Chicos (Cheeky Chocolate Kits for Kids) is available, priced £9.99, from the Holland& Barrett website.