Chocolate Christmas Tree

From our ‘Meet the Expert’ Rachel Allen

Ingredients

  • 500g (1 lb 2 oz) dark chocolate
  • 100g (3 and a half oz) almonds, peeled and roasted
  • 100g (3 and a half oz) hazelnuts, peeled and roasted
  • 45g (1 and three quarters oz) raisins
  • 4 ozs (110g) dark chocolate for assembling the tree

For the decoration you will need:

  1.  A little icing sugar for dusting
  2.  Christmas cake decorations, e.g. Santa, Robin, Holly etc.

Instructions

  1.  Prepare the trays to make the branches of the tree.
  2.  Cover 3 baking trays or large Swiss roll tins with parchment paper.
  3.  Draw out crosses on the other side of the paper. Leave 5 or 7.5 cm (2 or 3 inches) between each cross.The measurements of the crosses are: 7cm (2 and three quarter inches), 9 cm (3 and a half inches), 11cm (4 and a quarter inches), 13cm (5 and a quarter inches), 14cm (5 and three quarter inches), 15cm (6 inches), 16 cm (6 and a half inches), 17cm (6 and three quarter inches) and 18cm (7 inches).
  4.  Prepare a serving plate for the tree: it must be rigid and absolutely flat.
  5.  When the nuts are all peeled and toasted/roasted, allow to cool and chop roughly.
  6.  Mix with the raisins.
  7.  Next, place the chocolate in a Pyrex bowl sitting over a saucepan of water.
  8.  Place on the heat and bring the water up to the boil (with the bowl sitting on top) then once boiling turn the heat off under the pan and allow the chocolate to melt really slowly.
  9.  Once it’s melted stir in the nuts and the raisins and mix well.
  10.  Using a couple of teaspoons, drop small teaspoons of the chocolate mixture in an 18cm cross (as well as the one that you’ve marked out on paper) directly on the plate, I find that having this base cross, stuck to the plate really helps to keep it steady and upright.
  11.  Then, still using a couple of teaspoons, drop small teaspoons of the chocolate mixture along the ‘cross’ marked lines – do the base cross on the plate first and put in the fridge to set while you do the others, in order of size from the biggest to the smallest.
  12.  If you don’t have space in your fridge for the crosses to set just place them in a cool part of the house.
  13.  When all the crosses have set absolutely firmly (30 minutes approximately in the fridge) melt the remaining chocolate over a low heat in the same way as before.
  14.  Put a teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the centre of the cross on the base board, and stick the next largest cross on top so that the points are in between the points of the previous cross.
  15.  While that is setting (supported with a matchbox or something similar if necessary), drop another teaspoon of chocolate on top of the second cross to form a basis for the next layer. Once the next later is on pop it in to the fridge to chill for a few minutes.
  16.  Meanwhile stick the remaining 8 crosses together in pairs in the same way and allow to set.
  17.  Add another teaspoon of melted chocolate and put the next largest pair of crosses on top, angling them so the branches are arranged alternately
  18.  Continue to assemble until the tree is finished, however do it gradually: it is essential that each section is completely set before topping with another layer.To serve: Decorate the plate with Christmas decorations and dust the tree lightly with sieved icing sugar.Please note for the Rice Krispie Tree use 250g (9ozs) of chocolate and 110g (4oz) Rice Krispies. Melt the chocolate, fold in the Rice Krispies and proceed as above.

Recipe courtesy of Rachel Allen.