A CHOCOLATE lover’s heaven is being created at the Wivenhoe House Hotel.

All things cocoa are going into its special afternoon tea which will form part of celebrations across the country to mark National Chocolate Week in October.

Its traditional, and much-loved, afternoon tea will step aside for just one week only and be temporarily replaced with a chocolate-themed variation.

Louise Rowland, pastry Chef de Partie at the popular hotel, is behind the culinary creations which will be served up from October 10 to 17.

She says National Chocolate week is a major date in the culinary calendar, embraced in a big way by the top London hotels.

“It’s a really big deal and they create huge displays and really go all out.

“At Selfridges they have a full chocolate exhibition.

“It has been that way for a while but now it is trickling out and into other parts of the country and that is why we really wanted to do something to mark it this year.

“Chocolate is so popular and baking is even more so these days with everyone watching the Great British Bake-off.

“It has made people want to get in the kitchen and create things themselves and also want to go out and enjoy pastries and cakes other people have come up with,” explains Louise, 30.

Having trained at Colchester Institute Louise worked in and around Colchester before heading to London and then America where she was an intern working at the Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Studios.

“It was extremely hard work but once we had finished for the day we had free passes at the theme park, which was amazing.

“I was 19, had never been away from home before and I was in America for 15 months, so it was a massive learning curve but really worth while,” she says.

having already decided to specialise in pastry Louise completed her diploma in the art and began to forge a career in this direction.

“I like the prettiness and precision of it. It takes effort and often the result amazes people and I really like that,” she explains.

She has spent hours coming up with the ultimate plate of delights for chocolate and cake lovers which even includes a chocolate spread sandwich.

“Even if you love to bake like I do, things made by other people are often nicer.

“I still prefer to eat my mum’s cakes to my own. So I hope people will want to come and try the tea,” she says.

Diners will get a three tier tea stand which has that Nutella sandwich, cut into elegant fingers, as well as cucumber, ham and mustard, salmon and egg.

All of the bread served at Wivenhoe House Hotel is baked and delivered fresh from the Blackberry Bakery in Colchester.

And this is pretty much where the savoury ends and the sweet treats begin.

Next, along with a choice of teas from English breakfast right through to Earl Grey, there is a chocolate scone and a traditional scone served up with a pot of chocolate spread and another of clotted cream.

“My scone recipe is based on the ones my gran used to make for us.

“You definitely pick things up along the way and scones are a very important part of an afternoon tea,” adds Louise.

On the bottom layer of the display plate is an array of carefully chosen patisseries including a snickers macaron, with a salted caramel peanut butter filling which helps settle the debate between that and a macaroon.

“People get confused and think maybe a macaron is just the French way of pronouncing it but actually the macaroon is the flat Scottish cake with the cherry on top, which is coconut based, and the macaron is a flat biscuit.

“It was originally just eaten as one biscuit on its own and then someone in France put them together with some ganache,” says Louise.

Alongside this are a milk chocolate tart in a pastry casing, finished off with a raspberry on the top.

“A raspberry goes best with chocolate, better than strawberry actually,” explains Louise who has also created a choux bun with a chocolate and coffee filling which she says again are a perfect pairing.

“They bring out the best in each other.

“I have also got a lime green white chocolate mousse, with a lime sponge on the bottom and a mirror glaze which is something that has been around a long time but has really enjoyed a resurgence with people sharing images of things they have made on social media.

“I think it is because it looks so impressive.

“It is a glaze made with glucose syrup. The trick is to always apply it to a frozen cake.”

Completing the chocolate bonanza is a pot au chocolat created with rich dark chocolate and served with a wafer.

The chocolate afternoon tea, costing £24.95, will not be the only cocoa based offering during the week-long celebrations from October 10 to 17 as there will be a themed cocktail and special dessert platter also being served up on the brasserie menu.

* To find out more or book one of the teas contact the hotel on 01206 863666.