But what a book to come back on! Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl is a classic children's book - a wonderful fantasy with a good dollop of the macabre and some none-too-subtle moralising. Just the way I like them really.
It's a great book for the food lover. From the painfully austere, watery, cabbage soup that the Bucket family lives on, to the small, tantalising luxury of Charlie's birthday chocolate bar and then the unimaginable abundance of the chocolate factory itself, it is all described with an acute ear for language and a beautiful sense of timing.
My favourite bit is when the children first enter the factory, and go into the room where everything is edible. It always concerned me a bit that the chocolate river had to be untouched by human hands but there were no barriers to eating the mint sugar grass or anything else. I thought briefly of trying to make an edible garden, but quickly discarded the idea as being far too much hard work.
I decided to do something straightforward and absolutely fundamental to making chocolate. Tempering it.
Apparently chocolate contains several different types of crystals, and to get the best chocolate-eating-experience, you have to line them all up in the same direction. Or something. Anyway - tempering is the controlled heating and cooling of chocolate which gives it a professional gloss, a crisp snap and stops the fats from blooming out of it and making it look patchy.
I followed these instructions, from Hope and Greenwood, using the "Middle ground for people with a social life" version.
As you can see - for the dark chocolate I was tempering, I got it to precisely the right temperature. That's 31.5C, in case you can't see the decimal point.
I used my tempered chocolate to line two of my silicon rose moulds. Once it set, I filled the moulds with chocolate mousse and chilled them to set.
They turned out beautifully! The perfect snap, the perfect smooth texture and a lovely glossy finish. Willy Wonka would be proud of me!
Deb is hosting this round of Cook the Books, and the closing day is tomorrow, so check back in a few days for her round-up of the entries.