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28 October 2014

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Chocolate cook-off at Wimpole!
Lorna and Steven
Lorna Dowell and celebrity chef Steven Saunders

The air at Wimpole Hall, usually awash with the smells of the farmyard, was filled with the sweet aroma of chocolate as cooks from around the country battled for the title of Chocolate Cook of the Year!

  see also  

Win a luxurious Green and Black's organic chocolate hamper!

1st place - Chocolate Sausages

2nd place - Chocolate Stollen

3rd place - Chocolate Brazil Biscuits

Runner up - Chocolate, Chilli and Lime Bread

Runner up - Pets des Nonnes Biscuits

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  Wimpole Estate

Green and Black's

National Trust

Sheene Mill

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Facts from BBC Science:
• Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree
• Research suggests chocolate may have health benefits
• Chocolate cravings may be a symptom of addiction
• Chocolate contains the same 'happy' chemicals found in some recreational drugs

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Win a scrumptious Green and Black's organic chocolate hamper!

Display stand
A year's supply of choc and an aga for the winner!

What a tough assignment this was - a day spent in the kitchens of Wimpole Hall restaurant reporting on the National Trust/Green and Black's chocolate cook-off competition.

Ah well, someone's got to do it, I suppose. Hang on a minute while I finish another bar of choccie...

The competition, launched in the National Trust magazine resulted in over 500 entries and those poor Green & Black's people had to cook and taste more than 50 of the best chocolate recipes submitted in the search for the five finalists! Now that's another tough job, me thinks.

Judging the results
Judging the results. Left to right: Keith Goodwin, Micah Carr-Hill, Caroline Jeremy, Dawn Roads, and Steven Saunders.

Green and Black's treated the finalists to dinner and an overnight stay at Sheene Mill, owned by young Steven Saunders, Cambridgeshire's very own TV megastar. Steven and his staff concocted a special menu for the evening, with, surprise, surprise, chocolate featuring heavily in all courses.

Friday morning saw the five finalists taking their places in the kitchens of Wimpole Hall's 17th century restaurant. The task was simple - recreate your best chocolate concoction with the assistance of Wimpole's very capable chefs, whilst trying to ignore the flashing cameras and microphones of the county's press people. Easy, really. A piece of cake, you might say.

Win a scrumptious Green and Black's organic chocolate hamper!

Barry Alcock
Barry prepares his recipe

Runner up on the day, Barry Alcock from Northampton, was pleased to show us his light-as-air meringue biscuits, Pets des Nonnes (now, I'm not allowed to translate that for you because this is a BBC site, but let's just say this - the name refers to a nun with a slight wind problem). Barry assured us that his biscuits were also known as Cailles sur L'herbe (this one I can translate - Quails in the Grass). Nothing to do with little birds, his delicious biscuits are meringue-based with chocolate, walnuts and angelica.
Make Barry's Pets des Nonnes >>

Roger and his loaves
One loaf or two, vicar?

Runner up Roger Slater's a bit of a baker, when he isn't kicking a ball around as Director of Wealdstone FC in London. "It's a lot of fun," he said, "and it definitely beats work." On the day, he prepared his own recipe for Chocolate, Chilli and Lime Bread.

Make Roger's Chocolate, Chilli and Lime Bread >>

Lorna Dowell
Lorna preparing her biscuits

Third prize winner, Lorna Dowell, a poet from Surrey, was busy baking her second batch of Soft-Baked Chocolate and Brazil Nut Biscuits when we arrived. "Just in case the first batch fails," she said, "But don't tell the judges that..."
Make Lorna's Chocolate and Brazil Nut Biscuits >>

Liz Usher
Liz wants her own commercial oven now...

Liz Usher won second prize with her recipe for Maya Gold Stollen. Liz, from Farnham in Surrey said it was going so well, she's decided she now needs to install a commercial oven in her own kitchen.
Make Liz's Maya Gold Stollen >>

Zena takes the top prize
Zena with her winning sausages.

First prize winner Zena Leech-Calton, from Norwich, stole the top accolade with her Spicy Organic Pork & Herb Chilean Chocolate Sausages. Zena said she was a bit worried at first, but added that "once you get into it, it's fine. I went a bit sausage-crazy when I first got my sausage machine. I read a bit about chocolate in Mexican food, and I thought I'd give it a try."
Make Zena's Pork and Chocolate Sausages >>

The recipes were judged by celebrity chef, Steven Saunders, Caroline Jeremy and Micah Carr-Hill from Green & Black's, Dawn Roads from Aga and Keith Goodwin, head chef at Wimpole Hall.

The overall winner was Zena Leech-Calton of Norwich, for her dish, Organic Pork and Chocolate Chilean Sausages. She receives an Aga cooker, worth £5,900, a year's supply of Green & Black's chocolate, and her recipe will be printed in the summer edition of the National Trust magazine.

All of the recipes featured here, plus everything you could ever want to know about chocolate, will also be published in a new Green and Black's chocolate cook book available in September.

Win a scrumptious Green and Black's organic chocolate hamper!

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