Chocoholic Maddie indulges her love for the sweet stuff on a workshop at the Community Kitchen in Bristol…

In the heart of Bristol’s Cultural Quarter, Stokes Croft, is a vibrant creative hub that has played an important role in the recent transformation of the area. Once known as a notorious street-drinking zone, it is now a trendy hangout for students, artists and social entrepreneurs.

Since opening to the public in 2010, Hamilton House has endeavoured to provide a safe and inclusive space in which all members of the community can come together to cultivate and share their skills through workshops, meetings, exhibitions and events. Powered by Coexist – a social enterprise dedicated to empowering the local community through active engagement – Hamilton House accommodates over 200 residents, ranging from writers and musicians, to health activists and fashion designers. Also on the premises is a large community kitchen, complete with four induction hobs, a six-hob gas range and convection oven, four fan ovens and a selection of kitchen appliances and utensils. The Community Kitchen can be hired for all food-related events and activities, from pop-up banquets and private parties, to educational workshops and charity fundraising events.

My husband and I recently attended one of Coexist’s popular cookery workshops, led by award-winning artisan ice cream maker, Harriet Wilson – founder of Jolly Nice Ice Cream and Events – and children’s author and food enthusiast, Alan Snow. Using the pastry skills she acquired during a period of training at Whatley Manor’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant, combined with Alan’s knowledge of cutting-edge flavour extraction technology, Harriet has developed a series of ice creams that incorporate the pure essence of the ingredients used, thus providing a remarkably intense flavour experience.

Harriet’s Jolly Nice range incorporates over 20 luxurious flavours, including Madagascan vanilla, salted caramel, honey and lavender, and rhubarb crumble, all of which can be purchased from the Jolly Nice Farm Shop and Pitstop Café, located in Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. Harriet also owns a vintage 1965 airstream, from which she runs the Jolly Nice Diner, serving rare-breed burgers and ice cream milkshakes. For more information visit the website, or search for Jolly Nice on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Passionate about all things chocolate, Harriet focussed her workshop on the vast array of tasting notes that can be derived from cacao, and the ways in which chocolate can be incorporated into both sweet and savoury dishes: from truffles and jellies, to hot chilli sauce, the uses for chocolate are seemingly endless. There was, of course, ample opportunity to sample a selection of Harriet’s own chocolatey treats – a welcome indulgence for a group of chocoholics.

We were welcomed to the class with a slice of chocolate and pear cake flavoured with cardamom and bitter almond, made by Harriet following the recipe from The Ethicurean Cookbook – from that moment I knew I had landed in chocolate heaven. After a brief introduction to the class it was time for a lesson in chocolate tempering, which came in handy when making Harriet’s passion fruit truffles and walnut whips, which were finished with a splendidly shiny chocolate coating. The walnut whips were particularly delicious, made with a luxuriously smooth cider brandy caramel, and wonderfully light and fluffy marshmallow, flavoured with cardamom, vanilla and honey – a truly irresistible combination of flavours.

Next on the agenda was a taste of Harriet’s homemade chocolate, damson and star anise jellies, which were made following the recipe from Willie’s Chocolate Bible – a cookbook including over 150 mouth-watering delights devised by chocolate connoisseur, Willie Harcourt-Couze. Also from Willie was a delicious chocolate harissa recipe, incorporating roasted red peppers and chilli, and a selection of aromatic herbs and spices. Adding 20g of 100-per-cent cacao to the paste gave a wonderful richness to the flavour and texture, and worked perfectly to balance the heat from the chilli.

To finish, we enjoyed a taste of Harriet’s Jolly Nice dark chocolate ice cream, which had been quietly churning away in the ice cream maker for the last half hour of the workshop. Incorporating high-quality dark chocolate, fresh milk and cream procured from the dairy farm where Harriet grew up, it was magnificently smooth and rich, and actually not as difficult to make as I thought it would be. Whether you own an ice cream maker or not, this luxurious treat can be easily achieved at home by following Harriet’s easy recipe.

Harriet’s Jolly Nice Dark Chocolate Ice Cream


225g double cream
350g whole milk
4 large egg yolks
110g white sugar
25g dark muscovado sugar
1 tsp 100 per cent dark cocoa powder
4g sea salt
125g 100-per-cent high-quality dark chocolate (chopped)

To make with an ice cream maker

1    Place the milk and cream in a pan and slowly bring to a simmer.
2    Whilst waiting for the liquid to heat, put the egg yolks, salt and sugar in a bowl and whisk until pale and fluffy.
3    When the milk and cream has reached simmering point, whisk the liquid into the eggs and sugar until fully combined.
4  Return to the pan and heat gently whilst stirring until the mixture has sufficiently thickened (82C is perfect if you have a thermometer). Be careful not to boil the liquid, or you’ll be in danger of scrambling the eggs.
5    Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until well combined.
6    Churn in an ice cream machine for 30 minutes before serving.

To make in the freezer

1    Dissolve the sugar and salt in a medium saucepan with 120ml boiling water. When clear, bring to the boil and place a thermometer in the pan.
2    Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with an electric mixer until creamy. When the sugar syrup reaches 120C, remove from the heat immediately.
3    Continue to mix whilst drizzling the sugar syrup into yolks, then beat on full speed for 3-5 minutes until a firm yellow foam has formed.
4    Next, melt the cacao in a bain-marie and then whisk into the egg and sugar mixture.
5    Whisk all of the milk into the mixture.
6    Whip the cream to soft peaks and whisk a third of it into the mixture until fully combined.
7    Fold in the remaining two thirds of cream, pour into an ice cream tub and place in the freezer for at least four hours.

Visit the Hamilton House website for more information about Coexist and other courses available at the Community Kitchen.

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