Chaps, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: January is not the time to punish yourself. It’s cold and rainy and horrible, the evenings are dark, the days are gloomy, and the long uphill climb to summer seems impossible. Why is it that the minute Christmas is over, winter goes from cosy self-indulgence to bleak endurance? Spring will be here soon enough, filling us with hope and energy and motivation to go out for a jog. Until then, this is the time to be a little nicer to yourself while the dregs of winter drain away.
|Cioccolata calda: the cure for January|
With that in mind, I’ve been hanging out with the folks at Swoon Gelato (you might remember them from this post before Christmas), trying a few of their incredible Italian treats that are guaranteed to banish the January (and February) blues. We started, naturally, with a mugful of their incredible cioccolata calda, traditional Italian hot chocolate that’s rich, dark and thick enough to eat with a spoon, topped with frilly swirls of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chopped nuts. For a quick pick-me-up, this is absolutely unbeatable – although bear in mind that you’ll never be able to go back to the pathetic powdered stuff that passes for hot chocolate in most of the UK…
|Chocolate Hazelnut Orange sorbetto: totally dairy free and utterly delicious|
Next up, Swoon’s fabulous new collection of vegan sorbetto – dairy-free fans of their legendary dark chocolate sorbetto have been rejoicing all month as a few extra flavours were added in honour of Veganuary. My personal favourite is the Chocolate Hazelnut Orange, which is packed with fabulous flavours and would knock Terry’s socks off, but the public has spoken and their choice is the Peanut Sorbetto, which is so fabulously rich and creamy it’s hard to believe there’s absolutely no dairy involved – instead, it’s all down to a combination of gorgeous almond milk and a long, slow churning process. Swoon threw it out to a Twitter vote and since the Peanut Sorbetto is the winner, it’ll be staying on the menu for the next month – if you want to try the others, you’ll need to be fairly quick and pop in before the end of January.
|Incredible pistachio gelato cake|
Finally, lovely owner Pat sent me home with one of Swoon’s confectionery creations to try – a gelato cake (above and top image) layered with pistachio and vanilla, studded with chocolate chips, and covered with a glossy chocolate glaze and a sprinkle of pale green pistachios. I’ve lusted after such beautiful creations in the Swoon chiller cabinet before but never had an occasion special enough to try one – little did I know that ‘Wednesday’ was the only occasion I needed. Amazingly, this stunning cake tastes even better than it looks – the textural combination of thick, creamy gelato with fluffy sponge and crunchy chocolate chips, and the classic flavour combination of pistachio, vanilla and chocolate, make for a dessert that’s utterly irresistible (I had two slices in one go). Whether you too are celebrating a Wednesday or you have a slightly more exciting something going on, you can pop in for one of these beauties straight off the shelf, or order a custom flavour combo ahead of time. For birthdays, congratulations or, dare I say it, Valentine’s Day, brownie points are guaranteed.