Sunday, July 15, 2012

Currant Affairs - Jammie Dodgers

For this month's we should cocoa challenge I have attempted a rework of the old favourite, the jammie dodger. The challenge was to combine blackcurrants and chocolate and my initial inspiration came from Marcus Wareing's book Nutmeg & Custard which has a fine looking recipe for Chocolate and Blackberry jammy dodgers. In his version the shortbread type biscuit base is sandwiched together with a layer of milk chocolate and blackberry jam and then decorated with a drizzle of milk chocolate.

I was planning to pick the blackcurrants from the garden but on Thursday when I had the time to make these it poured with rain all day. So I rummaged in the freezer and found some currants I had picked and frozen last year and not yet used. I am ashamed to admit there are often quite a few vintages of home produce lurking in my freezer.

The weather was so bad on Thursday that the chickens all stopped inside their covered runs and only my mucky ducks were delighted with the mud they could spend the day playing in. I was just happy to have a fun kitchen project to take my mind off the weather.

As I was thinking about the recipe in 'Nutmeg & Custard' I was wondering how I could get a bit more chocolate involved, after all this is a chocolate themed challenge, and I don't like to be mean with the chocolate.
 My thoughts turned to the oh so popular macaroons that are in every patisserie window in many a colour and flavour so I started planning a chocolate ganache filling for my dodgers and it wasn't long before the nuttyness of the macaroon idea had also translated into a hazelnut sable biscuit for my dodgers instead of plain shortbread. I then went one step further and changed the chocolate ganache filling to a chocolate and hazelnut praline centres as I had some hazelnut praline paste left over from Easter chocolate making.

So the final combination was from the bottom up:

  Hazelnut sable biscuit base round
  Layer of milk chocolate and hazelnut praline
  Layer of home made blackcurrant jelly
  Hazelnut sable biscuit top with centre hole to reveal jelly
  Decoration of piped milk chocolate

and here they are in profile:

So to make:

Blackcurrant jelly

If you make your own I would cook the blackcurrants gently until they are soft enough to sieve (this is a messy business but if you want silky smooth jelly a necessary evil).

Add an equal quantity of sugar to the puree and simmer gently until the jelly reaches a setting point. This is often determined by the wrinkle test on a cold plate. David Lebovitz has a good picture of that towards the end of this jam making post on his blog wrinkle test. Blackcurrants are high in pectin and the jelly should set easily.

I would go for a slightly softer set next time as my jelly was quite hard to spread evenly and certainly have the jam at room temperature when you use it.

Sable Biscuits

The sable  recipe came from the epicurious web site, a site I use quite a lot, but I halved the proportions and did not use toasted hazelnuts. I always have trouble with hazelnuts over browning in biscuit baking so I just use ground fresh hazelnuts and so far they have always tasted good and nutty once baked up. 

I chilled the dough for about an hour before rolling out and as I was trying to get the biscuit layers a little thinner than normal I rolled the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. I also used a nice heavy marble rolling pin that I recently found in a local charity shop for the bargain price of £1.50 and it worked very well. You will need a small round cutter to take out the inner circle for the top biscuit layer but if you do not have one any other small shape such as a heart would do. An old fashioned apple corer would possibly also work.

Hazelnut & Chocolate filling

Have the biscuits baked and cooled before you make the chocolate filling as it will be much easier to spread while freshly made, once the ganache or praline has set you could break the biscuit layer trying to spread it out evenly. The chocolate filling can be warmed very gently in a microwave if it firms up too quickly. It will set quickly once spread.

I made a milk chocolate praline with one quarter melted milk chocolate and three quarters hazelnut praline paste but praline paste is not widely available so you could use a good quality bought hazelnut chocolate spread (or make your own nutella spread), or make a firm chocolate ganache using  2 parts melted milk chocolate to 1 part double cream.See notes below on rations of chocolate to cream. I would always go for a firm ganache for a biscuit filling as the softer ratios are wetter (obviously) and will soften the biscuit layer far more rapidly than a firm ganache.

To build the biscuits

Spread an even layer of your just made chocolate filling over the flat surface (side in touch with the baking tray) of the base biscuit layer.

Cover this with a layer of milk chocolate filling as evenly as you can manage. A small palette knife is good for this.

Once the chocolate layer is set cover with a generous layer of blackcurrant jelly and quickly place the top biscuit layer firmly down onto it to push some of the jelly into the centre hole.

To decorate melt milk chocolate and pipe or drizzle across the top layer of the biscuit.

Make a good pot of tea and enjoy!

This blog post is being submitted to Chocolate Log Blog for the July  we should cocoa challenge. Check back to the hosting blog at the end of the month for a round up of chocolate and blackcurrant creations.

Ratios for Ganache
soft ganache: two weights of cream and one weight of chocolate
medium ganache: equal weights of cream and chocolate
firm ganache: one weight of cream and two weights of chocolate


  1. Oh I think you get the star of the show so far - making your own blackcurrant jam (or jelly in your case) is always so much better than buying it from a shop IMHO anyway! The biscuits sound delicious and are so much more adventurous than the ones I've just made for the challenge. Thanks for playing along.

    Talking of playing, it's good to know the ducks at least are enjoying the wet summer!

  2. I couldn't read your Ganache rations BTW - too pale, it's very hard to see.

    1. Thanks Choclette, I hope it is fixed now, I am having trouble with formatting, need to improve my Blogger knowledge.

    2. Thanks, that's really useful.

      It seems to be a constant learning curve with this blogging lark!!!

  3. Wow, they sound great! I love the idea of adding all the layers sequentially - and your photos are fab too - I always like to see inside the final product!

  4. What a nice idea. Grown up and very pretty jammy dodgers

  5. I agree with Choclette! You should get an award for both the effort and the result. Great combination!!

  6. Oh my. A++ for effort. And they look gorgeous too.