Dark and bitter or milky and sweet - there's nothing like chocolate to make a bad day better, especially in times of economic doom and gloom.

Perhaps that's why this year's Chocolate Week (October 13-19) promises to be bigger and better than ever before, with events planned across the country.

Kathryn Hawkins, author of new book Just Chocolate, claims nothing else comes close to matching chocolate's magical properties.

"In my experience you either love it or you really love it," she laughs.

Just Chocolate has a dizzying spread of treats - from child-friendly cookies and muffins to more adult tastes like cheesecake and gateaux spiked with liqueurs. The difficulty will be stopping at making - and eating - just one!

Kathryn shares two recipes from her new book, while diet-conscious chocolate lovers should check out Antony Worrall Thompson's low-sugar treats using Splenda sweetener.


(Serves 12)

150g/5oz unsalted butter
500g/1lb milk chocolate, broken into small pieces
180g/6oz chocolate chip biscuits, crushed into small pieces
60g/2oz glace cherries, chopped
60g/2oz seedless raisins
60g/2oz mini marshmellows
125g/4oz Maltesers, lightly crushed

Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with clear food wrap.

Place the butter and chocolate in a saucepain over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile put the remaining ingredients together in a mixing bowl and stir well, making sure that all the pieces are thoroughly coated. Transfer to the prepared tin, press down well, cover loosely and chill for at least two hours until firm and set.

Remove from the tin and discard the food wrap. Using a large sharp knife, cut into 12 slices to serve.

Keep refrigerated.


(Serves 10-12)

250g/8oz unsweetened or 85% (or above) cocoa dark chocolate 125g/4oz unsalted butter, softened
180g/6oz icing sugar
150ml/5fl oz double cream, at room temperature
1 tsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2 tsp boiled water, cooled 1 tbsp cocoa powder
Fresh sweet pineapple and Coffee Cream Sauce (recipe follows) to serve

Line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with clear food wrap, allowing it to overlap the sides and ends. Break the chocolate in pieces and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water until melted. Remove from the water and set aside.

Put the butter in a mixing bowl and sieve in the icing sugar. Gradually mix the two together and then beat until soft and smooth. Gradually beat in the melted chocolate. Stir in the cream and coffee mixture.

Pour into the prepared tin and smooth over the top. Cover with clear food wrap and chill for at least four hours until firm.

To serve, invert on to a serving plate and remove the food wrap. Stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving.

Dredge all over with cocoa powder and accompany with fresh pineapple and Coffee Cream Sauce.


Makes approx 300ml/10fl oz
60g/2oz unsalted butter
125g/4oz caster sugar
125g/4oz golden syrup
2 tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot, boiled water 150ml/5fl oz double cream
Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until melted and the sugar dissolves. Stir in the coffee and cream and reheat until hot - do not allow to boil. Serve hot or cold.


(Serves 6)
50g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g ready-to-eat pitted prunes, chopped
2 tbsp Cointreau, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur 250g good-quality dark chocolate, broken into pieces 6 eggs, separated
4 tbsp Splenda granulated sweetener
cocoa powder, for dusting
200g raspberries
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line the base of a 20cm loose base cake tin or springform tin with greaseproof paper.

Put the prunes and liqueur in a small saucepan with 1 tbsp water and heat gently until bubbling around the edges. Remove from the heat.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until melted. Alternatively, melt in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes at maximum power.

Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl with the sweetener for 2-3 minutes until slightly thickened. Whisk the egg whites in a grease-free bowl until they hold their shape. Stir the melted chocolate mixture, the prunes and any unabsorbed liqueur into the yolk mixture. Immediately fold in a third of the whisked egg whites using a large metal spoon, then fold in the remainder.

Scoop into the tin, spreading the mixture gently to the edges. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cake has risen and forms a soft crust. The cake should still feel wobbly underneath when the tin is shaken.

Leave in the tin for 10 minutes, then carefully transfer to a serving plate. Dust with the cocoa powder and scatter with the raspberries.


(Makes 15)

250g plain chocolate, chopped
175g unsalted butter
3 eggs
25g Splenda granulated sweetener
60g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g walnuts, roughly chopped
Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Grease and line a shallow 27 x 18cm baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Put the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and rest it over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Leave until melted, stirring frequently. Alternatively melt in the microwave for two minutes at maximum power.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl, gradually whisking in the sweetener until combined. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl. Add the walnuts and stir the ingredients together until just combined.

Turn into the tin and spread the mixture into the corners. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the surface is set but the mixture feels very soft underneath. Leave to cool in the tin. Cut into squares and store in an airtight tin.