Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A Chocolate Cream Tea – Revolutionary or just plain wrong?

On New Year’s Day I ventured up North and went back to my university city of York. I had been indulging in calorific foods since early December (refer back to previous post for the gluttony of the Christmas period. I feel that now something is in writing about the pressures of Christmas eating that I am somehow absolved of any responsibility for my greedy  ways) and yet still was up for trying “A Chocoholic Heaven” as Bullivants of York named it. This consisted of a hot chocolate with cream, marshmallows and a flake, a chocolate chip scone with clotted cream and a nutty chocolate spread as jam replacement.
Now, I do enjoy chocolate but I am not a chocolate fiend like a lot of people I know. I tend to be drawn towards the chocolate pudding option on a menu but often because this is the most decadent looking choice. When I eat a pudding I want to feel full, slightly sick and like I couldn’t possibly have eaten anymore. That is the feeling you get with the chocolate options. The fruit, or god forbid the cheese option, leave me feeling far too healthy and somehow cheated. So, chocolate I do enjoy but I wouldn’t say I am an addict. I can’t remember the last time I had a chocolate bar infact. Therefore the chocoholic heaven was a little daunting. I feared it would be too rich or too sweet and I wouldn’t enjoy. There’s a fine line between the too-full-slightly-sick (content) feeling and the too-full-very-sick (ill) feeling.

The chocoholic heaven was a thing of absolute beauty. Not necessarily aesthetically. As you can see from the pictures the nutty chocolate looks decidedly like melting rabbit droppings and the odd pale brown of the scone isn’t altogether inviting. But when I bit into that scone it was a moment of perfection, I was overjoyed. I had my doubts and people had been quite vocal about their suspicions of a chocolate cream tea. Most people said it was just “wrong”. They feared change. If something is broken don’t fix it… right? Well, wrong. This is the malady of British. Compare us to the Americans who constantly strive for bigger and better. In England a chocolate cream teas raises eyebrows, shocked sighs, very few establishments even have the courage to put this on their menus. I think it is fair to say that if cream teas took off in America then they would have all fanciful forms of cream teas…. Jams from the most obscure of fruits (Sharon fruit cream tea anyone?), green tea cream teas for detoxing, bubble-gum cream teas for kids, alcoholic cream teas for boozy dinner parties. They would take the original concept, play with it, advertise it, make it trendy, and give us all the variety we could ever imagine. Britain, in contrast, if it likes something then it keeps it. Not to say this is altogether a bad thing but sometimes change is good and the chocolate cream tea is an example of truly scrumptious change.

Bulivants of York, 15 Blake Street, York, YO1 8QJ
Appearance – 5/10. Unfortunately the colour of chocolate being brown doesn’t lend itself to looking pretty. Not in comparison to the classier cream and the lusty coloured berry based jams. Something about the red and white together on one plate (just missing some blue to recreate our flag). Whereas the chocolate cream has that odd looking scone which looks like a bun that’s been left in the oven too long and the dubious looking chocolate spread (which I love the taste of being a fan of all things praline).

(me so full and overwhelmed)
Quantity – 8/10 – Although there is only one scone, this was more than enough. The richness of the chocolate meant even I wouldn’t have been able to eat two of them. Only problem is not enough chocolate spread. I wanted to spread without rationing. You can never underestimate the contentment that spreading without rationing provides to a foodie.  
Taste – 10/10. Amazing. Made all the more amazing by the fact I was at first dubious. That first bite won me over. I was bowled over. I slumped onto the table groaning with pleasure. I looked at my companion with eyes glazed with food lust. He was slightly taken aback by my reaction.. Infact he looked at me like a non-smoker who encounters a chain smoker whom has been in stressful meetings all day and is greedily inhaling their first drag in hours. I was in too much ecstasy to feel embarrassed by my moans and groans.
Price – 9/10 – I can’t remember the exact price, £6.50 I believe. Which I thought was very reasonable considering portion size, the drink that was included and the quality of the food.
Ambience – 6/10 – This is what let the place down. From the outside it looks sort of oldie-world, quaint and honest. But inside was a stale atmosphere, uninspiring d├ęcor and it was too cold. I wanted open fires and sofas I could sink into.
How I felt – 10/10 – setting aside. I felt bloody great. I did at one point think it could be game over. The last few bites became daunting and I felt a sheen of panicky sweat form on my brow. But I finished it and it was amazing. So amazing in fact I then baked my own chocolate chip scones with a friend (see below). She is now also a convert.

Overall score 48/60

Recipe for the above


Serves: 12
  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 5 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 100g (3 3/4 oz) chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice, or as needed

Preparation method

Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 15 mins
1.Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (gas mark 6). Lightly grease a baking tray.
2.In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough.
3.Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat or roll into a 23cm circle about 1cm thick. Cut out 12 6cm round scones, pushing the dough scraps together for the last few, if necessary. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.
4.Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.