If I was the sort of person who did things by the book, I’d be planting my garlic today. But after the failure of last year’s crop – I’ll never know if it was too much rain at the wrong time, the wrong sort of compost, or just bad luck – I’m a bit reluctant. Serves me right for being so smug and getting it in on time last year, I suppose. Traditional garden lore says it should be planted on the Shortest Day, but apparently it can be planted any time from May until the end of July. That’s especially useful information for people like me, who don’t fancy going out in the dark tonight to get the job done.
In the meantime, I’m indulging in some extremely moreish black garlic grown and cured in Marlborough. Black garlic, or ‘garlic noir’ as it’s sometimes called, is fermented for a month to create a kind of super garlic that has double the antioxidants of the ordinary stuff. The fermentation process also changes the texture and flavour profile – black garlic is soft and almost chewy, with a sweet and smoky flavour that reminds me of molasses or fresh dates. It’s extremely moreish and I often find I have eaten a couple of cloves while slicing it up for something else.
The clever people who make it at Marlborough Garlic suggest using it as part of an antipasto platter, but I’ve also been adding it to vinaigrettes, or as a last-minute flavour boost to risotto, as it doesn’t need to be cooked. They also suggest dipping it in dark chocolate, which I was unsure about until a recent lunch at the sublime Wharekauhau Lodge where pastry chef Yannick Beaurienne devised a gorgeous black garlic chocolate mousse with kumara and pear brunoise, kumara ice cream and garlic caramel, as seen below.
Yannick’s version was beautiful, elegant (and extremely labour-intensive). Here’s my much-simplified version for the home cook.
Black garlic chocolate mousse with black garlic toffee
Don’t be afraid – the black garlic just deepens and enriches the chocolate flavours. This was a huge hit in my household, to the point that there was barely any left to photograph.
For the mousse:
200g dark chocolate
2 cloves black garlic (about 8g)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
For the black garlic toffee:
3-4 cloves black garlic, finely sliced
4 Tbsp caster sugar
20ml (4 tsp) water
A little extra cream, for drizzling
Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a heatproof bowl. Put half the cream into a small pot and heat to nearly boiling point. Pour over the chocolate and set aside for five minutes.
Mash the garlic to a paste and stir through the chocolate and cream until the mixture is smooth.
Whip the cream and vanilla to soft peaks. Fold through the cooled chocolate mixture, then pour into a large bowl or divide between six small serving dishes (I use Great Aunt Shirley’s whisky glasses). Cover and put in the fridge to set for at least two hours.
For the toffee, spread the sliced garlic on a piece of non-stick foil or baking paper. Put the sugar and water in a small pot and set over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar, then let it bubble away for five to 10 minutes, until it turns a dark golden colour (don’t wander off, this will happen sooner than you think!) Pour the toffee over the garlic and leave to set.
To serve, remove the mousses from the fridge at least 20 minutes before serving. Break the toffee into pieces and use to decorate each one. Drizzle a little cream over the top and serve.
Are you planting garlic this winter? Do you have any top tips for failed growers?
Bookmarking, bookmarking this to try. I was hoping to pick up some black garlic on my next trip to the city for anther recipe, but now i have two recipes to try. this really sounds delicious, I wonder if I could veganize the recipe?!. This sounds wonderful and I agree the flavour is like molasses with an almost hush hush balsamic kick
This looks so interesting – I am not sure I have had black garlic but would love some – and would love to try out if it would be a hit in my household (not too confident but I guess it would be more for me)
As someone who's failed to get a decent crop of garlic from several attempts I can't offer much advice. I've taken a different approach lately and just become very good at shopping for garlic. Black garlic is a wonderful thing and I love it in savoury dishes but I've never tried it in sweet dishes. I think I'm wasting my life and I'll shop for more black garlic at the earliest opportunity.
It’s all to do with the soil I reckon Phil. On our old plot, our garlic was very flakey and produced pathetic sized bulbs. The very same garlic (we’ve been saving it for about 14 yrs now) grows amazingly in our new (read 8 yrs) plot. The soil is much richer and quite clayey.
I’m completely intrigued by this. I’ve still not really tried black garlic, but I’m now dying to try this. Thanks for sharing with We Should Cocoa, though a link and mention would be nice.
Our garlic crop was the only thing that didn’t get eaten this year. Gardening can be a very frustrating business.
Sorry, it’s been such a long time since my last WSC entry I had totally forgotten what was involved. Will update!
What an unusual recipe, I’ve never tried black garlic and not thought of mixing it with chocolate, I would be very interested to give this a try!