Start with Breakfast Chocolate

heart on chocolateDon’t listen to anyone who says beginning your day with chocolate is [pejoratively] indulgent. Scientists at Syracuse compiled research that a breakfast slice of peanut butter frosted, cauliflower infused chocolate cake should probably be an essential mind and body kickstart. Actually, you probably currently do worse by not rousing yourself from sleep with an offering (to your body, the temple) of a nibble or more of chocolate. It is probably even worth your time to consider consuming even more dark chocolate throughout the day, and proselytizing — albeit not to the point of being annoying — that friends and family do likewise.

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely read again and often how eating chocolate (usually dark and with less sugar and lead than the drugstore varieties) has extraordinary benefits. Research indicates that eating it will make you happier; keep you calmer; add to your intelligence; could make you smarter; and, if your mother had cared enough about you to eat more, even added to your neo-natal development. It is helpful before and after a workout, should be a part of a general program of health, and, paradoxically, can even be eaten all day as a diet aid, with the caveat that a diet solely based in consuming chocolate and making incredible claims to solve all your problems is likely a hoax.

Think before you eat! As with all things cocoa-based, and most things generally, enjoy in moderation so as not to lose enjoyment of the flavoring in a misguided, maniacal quest toward some out-of-reach goal. In other words, eating chocolate all day should not become a life where you eat ONLY chocolate all day: doing so has been proven to make you sick, fortunately a reversible predicament. An aside, in Midas-myth form, the problem of “too much” is told by Patrick Skene Catling’s 1952 children’s book, The Chocolate Touch.

Summarizing: no surprise, we’re pro dark chocolate. Eat it all day, but never as the only thing you eat. Remember, science and scientists!

What Could Make 2015 the Winter of Chocolate Poetry?

child google doodleWinter’s chill, somehow, seems the perfect weather for thinking about the intersection of poetry and chocolate. The elaborating wordplay of the genre, its ability to suggest so much in content while hacking away at excesses in form, should be a perfect match for the sublime sensuality of creatively developed and enhanced cacao.

Sadly, often it is not.

There is the oft cited Rita Dove’s Chocolate noted in previous posts, but given how beloved the subject, there is surprisingly little chocolate poetry of note. A recent Google found a quasi-epic from Michael Rosen as he blended childhood joy and disappointment at its passing with his Chocolate Cake

as well as the surprisingly sensual Chocolate Poem by filmmaking poet Tehut Nine

Beyond that, there are random groupings (with the expected variability) such as the one at Poetry Soup and a recent news posting of second graders taking part in a “Hot Chocolate Poetry Hour

Clearly, given the pleasures of chocolate and possibilities of poetic expression this is not satisfactory. Suggestions as to what it will take to inspire the deserved more are now being accepted.

#chocolate #poetry

Beginning with Charlie and Chocolate

chocolate booksA new Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book cover appears gratuitous, not least because the book biz is hurting enough without shooting itself in the face with artwork.

But maybe it is genius?

Perhaps it’s a diabolical plan to spend a bit for a new, outrageous cover in the British market that is so off-putting as to inspire worldwide publicity and drive book buyers to pony up for other copies of Charlie? It may be the fiftieth anniversary of the title, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a bit of push to get off the shelves. (Maybe instead of the ugly cover they should have made more of the lost chapter?)

In that spirit, our rose-colored-glasses, glass-half-full selves are inspired to note a few more books about chocolate that deserve their own push as holiday buying season opens up. Having started with Charlie, we’ll note that piggybacking on the anniversary celebration is Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, a miscellanea of information on how the book came about.

On the subject of books for kids, there is a new picture book for young (to be) reader, The Cookie Catastrophe, and a new title for libraries and schools, Chocolate (Explore!), as well as a young readers’ mystery, Secrets at the Chocolate Mansion .

With any luck for embattled publishers, readers of that Secrets will age into exploring further the niche chocolate has in the mystery genre. Current queen of the genre, Johanna Carl (who kindly answered questions here) is newly represented in her Chocoholic Mystery series by The Chocolate Clown Corpse. Also new is the initial “Chocolate Covery Mystery,” Death Is Like a Box of Chocolates], which situates bad happenings in a small chocolate shop in Maryland.

Regarding small and unexpected things, there is a recently released chapbook of well reviewed poetry built around a rhapsody on chocolate, This Is Belgian Chocolate: Manifestations of Poetry.

Not last. Never least. There are words to be read about chocolate as food. Consider sharing Chocolate: 90 Sinful and Sumptuous Indulgences, which includes a particular coffee-chocolate cake celebration. Recipients will also be grateful for The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book, which includes background on the Toll House Cookie creation myth; a print adaptation of lessons from the Ecole Grand Chocolat Valrhona in Chocolate Master Class: Essential Recipes and Techniques; a recap in pictures, notes, chef profiles and recipes of the 2011 World Chocolate Masters Competition in A World of Chocolate; and a revelry of mini-masterpieces to bring to life at home that comes with its #foodporn…

as trailer for celebrichef Will Torrent‘s new book, Chocolate at Home.

From controversy to food porn via chocolate-inspired poetry. Honestly, publishing has seen worse days.

#chocolate #books #foodporn

Chocolate for Breakfast, the Summer Meltdown

chocolate chip pancakesChocolate for breakfast is the sort of brilliance that occurs when you think too much … or when summer suffocatingly swelters and you just can’t think at all. It is a flash, a vision, a great soundbite whose endgame is often one of disappointment — why else are there unfinished Nutella jars?

So, despite whatever future regrets the rest of this post may offer, we’ll note that CforB does backstroke languidly through the zeitgeist. To enter into the swim, just dump chocolate chips into pancake or waffle batter, do the “chocolate” spread thing on toast, or ignore the edibles altogether and start your day with a bump of chocolate shooter

If you wish to be a tad more selective in chocolatizing your morning, consider the words of Oprah (presumably the heavier version, although her editorial staff does make mention of research into cacao’s slimminging properties). She who shall be named by but one letter hath weighed in with her collection of “healthy” chocolate breakfast recipes.

Non-caloric cultural variants of this foodie trend (at least occasional trend include Chocolate for Breakfast, the mostly forgettable USA Network 90-minute movie knockoff of a Sex and the City episode, and Chocolates for Breakfast, a 1950s novel that literary history claims shocked contemporary sensibilities, as it was penned by an eighteen-year-old Pamela Moore, who fictionalized based on her life in ways teens were not supposed to think about,much less read or write about; sadly she would go on to commit suicide in her 20s, months after giving birth to her son.

More recently, a Nashville group trying to gain some noise for a young singer in the Inspirational Christian God Country (anything left out there?) category took up the CforB — not to be confused the hallowed TCB line — and tossed out to YoutTube a Chocolate for Breakfast ditty recognizably owing much more to the concept of a Hannah Montana than the tradition of a Kitty Wells.

Wandering a bit further afield, there is Bill Cosby getting his way with his wife by feeding kids a Chocolate Cake for Breakfast, which is only another way of starting the days with the breakfast basics of milk and eggs and flour.

If hunger has built from having traversed the internet so, perhaps it is time to return to the original idea. As a recommended, occasional indulgence, consider a “perfect chocolate pancake,” this one courtesy Cupcake Jemma.

Choco-Click Here

no pregnancy - chocolateChoco click bait. Chocolate porn. It’s not the only thing driving traffic to Huffington Post (or as enormous as sin such as not paying writers even as they rake in enough Benjamins that they could without sweat put one in a writer’s g-string instead of so many more stuffing into Arianna’s designer bags.

It’s admittedly a small and personal crusade. And not that we’re necessarily jealous (okay, we would like the traffic), but what the Cupid Alley Chocolatieres website probably needs is a regular series of posts featuring lol cats with Hitler mustaches explaining how eating chocolate guarantees eternal fabulous love and sex, while [stereotype alert!] ladies lose weight in the wrong places and gents gain muscle in the right ones.
Maybe it would help to regulary add some Justin Bieber and Amor de Chocolat

or info on One Direction like news of their Candy Bar

or some food porn with a celebrity spin like a chocolate almond cherry cake coated in a cherry cream cheese buttercream added to an almond cake with a toasted almond cream cheese buttercream slathered in white chocolate fondant that was hung upside down for Kaley Cuoco’s wedding to tennis pro Ryan Sweeting.

Anyway, we’re working through ideas. Suggestions welcome.

Chocolate News Ramble

chocolate head_phrenologyIt’s science and health morning at CAC.

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 proffered by health/nutrition/cacao(?) expert Doctor Janeth Aidee Perea, Director of the Center of Research in Food Science and Technology of the Industrial University of Santander (Colombia). Speaking at the Fifth Latin American and Caribbean Meeting on Cocoa and Chocolate, now wrapping up in Havana, Perea sends out to the world the pronouncement on the health benefits of cacao ingestion that, the bitterer the betterer (it’s an antioxidant thing).

In addition to reading the report and realizing we missed out on what could have been a great trip to Havana to hang out with Perea and a few thousand of his nearest and dearest, there is also an envy-inducing article making the rounds by a journalist feasted, fattened and flattered for a few days at the Hotel Sacher [earlier: , that makes the point that chocolate outside the system — as in the hotel’s spa treatment au chocolate also promotes calm and contentedness.  (Maybe we could post a video at Kickstarter to study this?)

As for things we would enjoy seeing, we end the morning’s ramble with the headline grabbing announcement that a beautiful woman (model Petra Němcová in this case) announces she likes chocolate as a daystarter as a way to keep herself looking beautiful. Although, not to be too cynical about it could all just be a PR product placement as she does mention favorite line “>her favorite line. …not that being so jaundiced will keep us from being encouraged by the reality and fantasy that constantly delighting in dark chocolate can calm and content us, could get us an invite to Havana or may even provide an out-of-body Viennese experience as we return to work.

Skimming Chocolate Headlines

chocolate shreds balls sticksChocolate 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. There was the most genteel of thoughts with the romance of the Vienna Ritz-Carlton’s chocolate sommelier pouring his warm criollo cacao bean brew afternoon to early evening. Oddly, that news mashed-up with the announcement that syrup producer Bosco is expanding its “chocolate” palette by introducing a “mocha,” as its first new flavor in almost 10 years.

Regarding introductions, there were notes about the upcoming London opening of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory musical [see earlier: Charlie and the Chocolate Novel]

and its sorta real-life corollary with the May opening of Hershey’s Great Chocolate Factory Mystery, a “4-D experience” created with Jim Henson’s Muppet factory workers.

Both of those are aimed at mass audiences, hile those who aspire to an experience a bit more elite will probably be more enthusiastic with the outsized in price and snobppeal, Rabot Estate Marcial 70 per cent dark chocolate bar and its reported notes of shiraz wine, antique oak, roasted cocoa and stewed spiced plums and hyper-marketing of terroir. Perhaps the cacao aficionados who want to take the next step with the bar will be to revel in it on the way to or from an event and stay at the recently opened Chocolate Boutique Hotel in in Bournemouth, a B&B with 13 chocolate-themed rooms?

As for news that might suggest an interesting future for chocolate there is an attempt to patent 3D printing of chocolate suggesting all sorts of patent, copyright and technological squabbling. Putting some oomph into our optimism there was an agreement by megachocohemoth Mondelez (think Kraft/Cadbury) is bowing to Oxfam and other pressurers in promising to try and do right by women working cacao plantations.

Finally, we came upon folks tracking the “holy grail” of all chocolate thinking folk. Researchers think they might be on the trail of all goodness, low- or no-calorie bliss with a fruit-infused chocolate.

Which somehow signals that it’s time to get back to work. Enjoy!

Woes of Too Many Travel Choices

TO travel in order to learn about chocolate or to savor it? That is the question currently plaguing (?) the darkest-of-night worries of our assistant baker (and scrub down fool) Theo Panadero.

On the one hand there is the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Chocolate: The Exhibition, which has among its online educational resources their Chocolate Challenge. The exhibit tself, a traveling one originally organized by Chicago’s Field Museum, is both historic and fun.

On the other, there is this past Sunday’s inspiration from The New York Times Travel Section of A Chocolate Tour of the Caribbean. As if the idea of traveling between islands and from cacao highlight to chocolate-consuming decadence wasn’t enough to make it seem like a trip to take, the online feature has its own online picture gallery to tempt just an over-the-line little bit more.

Of course, if Theo should decide to venture a bit further afield (and on his own money — just to be clear and upfront so he doesn’t get any ideas from reading this), we did just see the press release from Brooklyn, New York’s Madécasse Chocolate Company, a former Peace Corps members’ idea for promoting great chocolate and helping to encourage greater peace in Madagascar, talking up their “discovery” of some “extinct” criollo gene. The release and some of the claims may be a bit hyperbolic, but it’s for a good cause and we do still hope it works to draw attention to the chocolates and Madagascar cacao farmers.

Anyway, Theo, we’re sorry you’re up so late/early with such worries … but they are also worries that we wish were all that consumed everyone.

*Image is from a vintage” Chocolat Poulain, a company that successfully aimed its mass market chocolate at kids that was founded by 23-year-old Frenchman August Poulain in 1848 and now owned by Cadbury Schweppes.

Chocolate Not (Exactly) Key to Nobel Prize and Election Win

IF only headlines were content and content was always accurate there would be no reason to consume anything that didn‘t start life in a cacao pod.

Recent reports that eating chocolate is all you needed to win a Nobel Prize, according to scientific analysis, and that President Obama has a mega lead in predictive poling turn out to be a bit less than met the eye, or tongue.

Alas, the idea of choco-chomping your way to a Nobel is based on an outsized number of Swiss who have gained neighborly Swede Alfred Nobel’s financial legacy and attention. As for the election results, the poll is self-selected from folks in France buying a box of Paris Chocolate commemorative chocolate images of the Democratic and Republican nominees before clicking their American presidential preference. Company owner Eric Montserrat says it is highly accurate because it worked in a recent French election; we remain dubious, although do note that if you feel differently and care enough there is still time to order your box and vote.

Do the headlines propose the absurd? Yes. Potentially delicious? Yes, as well.

Dark Before the Light

If you could fix a sad situation with a hilarious (seemingly absurd) headline then there would be great medical power in Dark Chocolate Good for Those with Advanced Heart Failure. The story itself is an academic abstract of a clinical trial of five patients given a little bit of dark chocolate and some additional epicatechin — a flavonoid in dark chocolate that supports healthy heart function. Long story short: they’re better than they were, but the only bananas they should be purchasing in chocolate should continue to be green ones.