Recent research from Ph.D. candidate Pase out of Swinburne is that dark chocolate creates a sense of calm and contentedness. Obviously, we like where the research is going, but hope he will expand to some insights and empirical good news beyond the obvious that thirty straight days of drinking excellent cocoa makes those who do feel better than those who don’t.
A step back from such a Dr. Obvious statement are results MORE…
11 May 2013
Out of Office, Out of Mind ChocoTravels
When the forecast calls for rain foretelling fractionalized foot traffic, our forebrains focus on the foreign. In other words — and without f’ing around anymore — maybe it’s time to take a choco-themed trip? An imaginary one (in case it doesn’t rain or there’ll be more business tomorrow) to Europe.
Let’s start with a quick stop in the land of blarney. Famed Irish potato chip creator Tayto has gone where no one would ever previously considered to dare. They introduced a limited edition, crispy chocolate bar, a flavor with odd appeal worldwide described as “an unusual taste — crunchy chocolate and then a lingering taste of cheese of onion,” consumed faster and by larger quantities of people than common sense would ever suggest. Could there be an odd — and, yes, we do mean, odd — bar left for us to pick up and consider?
Next, it’s southeast to France. There, we’re torn MORE…
While often thought of — at least by most of its ahistoric northern neighbors (quiz here if you want to test yourself — as a celebration of national independence, the day actually honors the Mexican army clobbered invading French troops on 5 May 1862. The French would come back stronger, establish an Austrian as the country’s ruler, but cacao seeds were sewn and Europeans would be tossed out and Mexico create lasting independence in 1867.
Cacao foods are the perfect foundation, of course, for celebrating MORE…
1 May 2013
National Chocolate Custard Month, Believe It or Not
If for whatever personal perversity you wanted to test the chances of being able to grow tired of chocolate custard then today is the first day of the rest of your life (well, month really). They — again, who gave these proclaimers such power — deem May National Chocolate Custard Month (although there is a minority opinion that with some merit suggests celebrating not the whole month, but just the third day).
It’s not clear why “they” didn’t declare this (at least in America) as Nat’l Puddin’ Mont’ since most of our countrymen can’t explain or even tell the difference. (It has to do with ingredients and a preference for eggs in the big C and cornstarch or similar thickener in the little P.) But “they” didn’t so we get 31 days to play with the ideas inspired by eggs mixed with milk or cream, sweetened with honey, flavored with chocolate and maybe vanilla and then heated with a low flame until stiff. MORE…
27 April 2013
Skimming Chocolate Headlines
Chocolate is good. Wonderful. Marvelous. Sublime, even. But even though cacao has hundreds of years of history, what becomes chocolate isn’t yet perfect every time, partly explaining why it still holds fascination. Everybody who does something new with it may take it (us) one step closer to #cacaonirvana — if there be such a place. So, on an April day when winter and spring struggle for weather domination in a way that seems to be keeping most people at home, we went internet browsing to seek out chocolate news.
Somehow the news seemed to facesmack us in pairs. MORE…
The iconic figure‘s bakery results in a melange a bit fruitier than brownish: the reason why is somewhat complicated. However, if those are the treats you plan to ingest as part of today’s faux-celebration (and by that we mean the annual 4/20, marijuana smoke-out, silliness masquerading as political protest, we recommend you at least reconsider the recipe and double boil up a few ounces of fine chocolate to blend and enliven the brownies. MORE…
16 April 2013
Questions and Answers with JoAnna Carl, author of the Chocoholic Mystery series
Cozies, the mystery subgenre, are how Grammia takes her attention away from worrying about whether there will be enough money next time she rings open the cash register. She recently delighted in the combination of fine chocolate and taxidermy while knocking off JoAnna Carl’s The Chocolate Moose Motive, the author’s most recent tale of murder, mystery and fine chocolate.
Whenever Grammia (a conglobulation of Grandmother and Mamma Mia with roots lost to time) updated everyone back of the Cupid Alley shop with the latest from Wegan Pier, the resort town on Lake Michigan where Texas beauty Lee McKinney seems regularly to stumble upon a little bit of death and a whole lot of intrigue while managing Aunt Nettie’s TenHuis Chocolade shop, we began to think (too gruesomely and probably too glibly) MORE…
9 April 2013
Should Today be Chocolate Fast Day?
Nine April’s 24 hours might best be used contemplating and balancing the idea of good that comes from evil. In other words, deal with the question of (how?) can one enjoy Belgian chocolate (arguably the world’s best while also knowing that historically evil guy, King Leopold II — born today, in 1835 — played an integral part in making that happen. (For the full, horroracious story, brilliantly and memorably told, take a look at Adam Hochshild’s King Leopold’s Ghost.)
Shortcut: no answers here; talk among yourselves, as Linda Richman would say.
Desirous of an empire of his own, Leopold manipulated European opinion into letting him take over the Congo on “humanitarian grounds” and then used his rule to plunder its resources, making money mostly from rubber plantations, but also building an important culinary bridge for his chef by exploiting the cacao resources. MORE…
4 April 2013
No Chocolate Mousse Droppings Today
To celebrate the serious and silly, make sure to take part in today’s celebration of National Chocolate Mousse Day, while not quite letting go of Easter — or for extreme frivolity, 6 March’s National White Chocolate Cheesecake celebration.
Voila! From the hallowed halls of the Smithsonian, or at least its magazine’s blog comes a recipe for Chocolate Mousse Peeps, with their truly faint echoes of Easter (available as cats, reindeer,or teddy bears):
- Melt Peeps with heavy whipping cream in a saucepan.
30 March 2013
Easter Chocolate Hot Cross Buns Making More Sense Than Chocobunnies
We love the celebration and tradition, but know we do so out of ignorance. No matter how much we try to make sense of it all, there isn’t much that correctly adds up with the sum of making baskets for rabbit (Really? Rabbits laying tie-dyed…) eggs as part of a celebration of the resurrection and eternality of the son of God — all of which is part of the traditional and most reverent Easter.
But maybe it’s just all the chocolate, much of which will never be eaten, that’s so distracting?
For instance, there’s this chocolate Easter egg MORE…
26 March 2013
Chocatzo (chocolate matzo) 2013/5773
This year grumps brought in a slightly different take on his chocolate matzo, his annual tribute (last year’s version) to the Passover observance of the Sjokoladsteins’s, neighbors of his family while he was growing up.
Why did he do it differently this year? We’re not sure. If after trying his chocatzo you still have questions for Grumps you are welcome to ask, four questions seem appropriate for the season (explanation via Rabbi Baum at OurJewishCommunity.org), although we don’t expect him to satisfy you with the answer — he’s a curmudgeonly grandfather and never satisfactorily explains even the quirkiest of behaviors.
Despite no understanding, we can recommend this MORE…
24 March 2013
#Chocolate: Sense and Taste, Not Just Tastebuds
A canyon separates chocolate taster wishing to pleasure his or her soul from self-medicating inhaler attempting to fill psychological divots (or potholes) with the immediate pleasures of cured cacao. A thinner line separates the informed taster from the off-putting snob. (Fair warning: read further, learn, taste and talk elegantly and intelligently of what you imbibe at your peril.)
Every bit of chocolate has its unique flavorprint, reflecting lineage, topography, weather, soil, processing, and post-production care. To get a sense of just the beginning of those complexities, consider the infographic created by artist Sean Seidell (h/t to Pop Sci.)
To try and puzzle all that might mean to you — to turn you into your own cacaommelier — you will have to suffer through the tasting a lot of chocolate. To put a little bit of science into it do your tasting MORE…
21 March 2013
Questions and Answers with ihearttruffle.com’s Judith Antelman
While “follow your nose” is the better known advice, around the store you’ll hear a lot more urging to “follow your mouth.” The idea is to taste, and not in haste, until you track down the elusive flavor with some oomph. We don’t want to proscribe ignoring the other senses in seeking out the best in chocolate, but following just that bit of advice as part of her own lifelong quest for the perfect truffle — those cocoa dusted or otherwise coated bites of ganache — led assistant baker Valentina Quetzl to I Heart Truffles of Montclair, N.J. and trufflemeister Judith Antelman
Antelman, a writer with credits ranging from the 2001 New York Giants Media Guide to corporate presentations with names like Global Structured Products Strategy (and a whole bunch of stuff in between), transformed a lifelong passion for dark chocolate that first began to germinate while making ‘smores with her sister in their family kitchen into her current business of artisinally crafting truffles and bark featuring fair trade organic dark and milk chocolate complemented by other organic ingredients and flavors from pumpkin to mint to lemon to peanut butter to amaretto to lemon zest to wherever else imagination and inspiration take her.
What struck Valentina when she finally tracked Antelman down was the chef’s self-described search for “the pure truffle.” And so, after she also agreed to the courtesy of answering a few questions, it was about that we first wanted to know:
Cupid Alley Chocolatieres: Can you describe how truffles snagged your heart? MORE…
19 March 2013
Questions and Answers with Madeleine Begun Kane, Limerick Laureate 2013
We know National Chocolate Week is a silly, marketing-driven week of obligation with a non-pedigree provenance. However, that doesn’t mean we’re letting it escape unnoticed. So, with due respect and honor to this third week of March, 2013, please allow us to introduce CAC’s Limerick Laureate, the bard and babe of Bayside (Queens), Madeleine Begun Kane.
A former oboist prodigy and career-change lawyer, Kane is also a national award-winning writer whose work appeared in numerous national magazines and in Mad Kane’s Political Madness and The Journal Of Bloglandia, Volume 1, Issue 2. She also sprinkles humor throughout the internet, on her humor blog, Facebook page, Twitter account and political blog. She’ll also turn up elsewhere serendipitously.
And, serendipitously is MORE…
16 March 2013
St. Pat’s Celebratory Liquor/Chocolate Brown/Brown Cake
We probably should think about snakes or the wonders of religious belief or most anything else that would abet our soul’s salvation … or even business. Instead, our attention during the annual celebration of St. Patrick turns to chocolate and liquor. This doesn’t mean “chocolate liquor,” cacao transmogrified into a pure, liquid mode. It means specifically considering interesting ways to combine chocolate and liquor — explored this year, as every year by assistant baker Theo Pandero (see discussion and recipe below).
Not wholly coincidentally, the internet recently coughed up a post by Belgian Chef Eddy Van Damme (tri-author of the college text, On Baking).
10 March 2013
Chocolate Bark and the Tale of a Chocolate Mouse
Something about the time change and imminent vernal equinox (Wednesday, 20 March, if you want to mark your calendar) has us thinking about bark, chocolate bark. The thoughts go bad for business and good for writing stories.
Chocolate bark is the lazy man’s (or woman’s) perfect gift to him/herself or others. Buy a bar of good chocolate; melt it slowly so it doen’t burn or turn (putting it in a soup bowl and then the bowl in a post of simmering water on the stove will work); lay out some nuts or dried fruits on a piece of wax or parchment paper; pour the melted chocolate over them (or spread the chocolate first and then sprinkle the fixin’s and maybe even a few grains of sea salt); keep flat and refrigerate for 20 or 30 minutes; divide the chocolate and conquer the audience. More specific recipes can be found here, here and in a low-sugar, somewhat crunchy granola form, over here.
It’s so simple and sometimes. MORE…
6 March 2013
Chocolate Banana Dinner Menu Fantasy
There is something about a chocolate covered banana that is always decadent, ever-titillatiing to particular sites in the mind. Sadly, that particular stimulation is not always equaled by the gustatory pleasure.
The report that the Philippines is encouraging its banana farmers to diversify their lands with cacao tree plantings encouraged a consideration of the pairing’s limits. If something is good enough for the grower, shouldn’t it be equally providential for the baker (a sauce, goose and gander sort of thing)? And if it is good in one combination, shouldn’t many combinations be even better?
In other words, can you create a whole banana–chocolate meal that might possibly take in all the new production of the Filipino multi-farmers? Turns out we couldn’t, MORE…
We figured (at first) that since we are testing public interest in the product every day, maybe, with a few hints of what traders are thinking it would be pretty easier to pick up enough coin to open a second store … or maybe even buy ourselves a cacao plantation … or perhaps just retire to a hammock and the fanning by giant leaves. More…
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