I’m going to be really honest and tell you I’ve been relishing the time I’ve taken off from this blog the past few weeks. It’s been wonderful to head to bed early or watch a movie at night instead of researching and writing after a long workday, and I admit the further I’ve gotten away from it the less I’ve thought about this blog.
That is, until a few days ago. That was when I saw somewhere on Twitter that this week…THIS WEEK, you guys…is Chocolate Week in the United Kingdom. I think this is worth exploring. I think this is also a great week to knock out the remaining contender in the chocolate category. Cadbury UK Limited holds a royal warrant from Her Majesty the Queen as “Cocoa and Chocolate Manufacturers.”Cadbury dates back to 1824, when John Cadbury opened a grocery store in Birmingham where he sold cocoa powder and drinking chocolate. Seven years later, Cadbury opened a manufacturing facility that produced cocoa products for mass consumption. By 1879 it had moved its factory to Bournville and had begun creating a model factory community for its workers. The Bournville factory had so much green space it was called the “Factory in a Garden.” There were ample fields for workers to enjoy a leisurely game of cricket, and all children in Bournville were encouraged to learn to swim in company pools. Workers could participate in morning devotions and Bible readings. Dressing rooms at the factory were heated so that workers wouldn’t have to change in the cold. Cadbury also scheduled outings to the country to allow for socialization and relaxation. As the Industrial Revolution pushed many companies to exploit their workers, the Cadbury family took the opposite approach. This gem of a film from 1953 gives a closer look.
Cadbury launched its popular Dairy Milk chocolate bar in 1905 to compete with Swiss chocolate makers. The company continued to create new and popular products throughout the decades, including Flake (1920), Crunchie (1929), Fudge (1948), Skippy (1960), the Crème Egg (1971), and Twirl (1987). In 2003 Cadbury Schweppes purchased the world’s second largest gum company, Adams, making it the largest confectionary company in the world.Here in the States, Cadbury invokes images of Easter, specifically Cadbury cream eggs and those iconic Cadbury bunny tryouts commercials.
It’s a little rarer to find a plain Cadbury chocolate bar or the Green & Black’s bars that Cadbury also sells in the UK. It’s nearly impossible to find Cadbury drinking chocolate, a powdered concoction that you stir into hot milk to make a creamy hot chocolate.
To get the full experience of this royal warrant holder, I’ve selflessly sampled Cadbury drinking chocolate (very nice, and I like that the directions tell you to use milk—not water—and to stir in as much chocolate powder as you want until you get it the way you like it). Nathan and I made an expedition to Treasure Island one afternoon for a vanilla white chocolate Green & Black’s bar, which was awesome, and a Caramello bar, which was so-so. We used our plain Cadbury milk chocolate bar to make another Jamie Oliver recipe, velvety chocolate pots (recipe below). These little individual servings are super-rich and sort of an amped-up chocolate mousse without all of the eggs.
Cities all over the U.K. are hosting their own events for Chocolate Week, including afternoon chocolate teas in hotels across London, screenings of that great Johnny Depp movie Chocolat, chocolate tastings at department store John Lewis, and London’s hosting of the Salon du Chocolat, the world’s largest chocolate show. Until the U.S. catches up and hosts our own Chocolate Week, sampling these Cadbury treats seems like the closest we can get from across the pond.
Where to Buy: I bought my Green & Black's and Cadbury bars at Treasure Island. I found Cadbury drinking chocolate at Spencer's Jolly Posh Foods.
Velvety Chocolate Pots(adapted from Jamie Oliver's Great Britain)
8 1/2 oz. Cadbury milk chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 T amaretto
7 oz. cherries, raspberries, or strawberries
Chop up the chocolate and place it in a large heatproof glass bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water until the chocolate has melted. (Oliver warns not to let the water touch the bottom of the bowl). Remove the chocolate from the heat and set aside to cool for five minutes.
Whip the cream and sugar together with an electric mixer until very soft peaks form. Use a whisk to stir in the amaretto. Be careful not to overbeat this mixture, which will make it impossible for the chocolate to be folded into it completely. Slowly pour the cooled melted chocolate into the cream and fold it in with a whisk until just combined. Again, do not overmix it.
Pour the chocolate mixture into small glasses. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. To serve, top with fruit.