Savor the Small Chocolate Bites

SwirlsOne small chocolate taste is never enough. No matter the hype, no Platonic Ideal of the cocoa morsel has yet found its way from the mind of a master chocolatiere to taste buds of the supplicant. No satisfaction is found at the spectrum’s other end either: Those who worship the common prejudice that chocolate satiation can only come through quantitative consumption also want for satisfaction.

In the middle of the gamut — albeit, on a path searched with no guarantee of bliss — is the succession of small bites. Each tiny, delicate nosh of chocolate to be judged for the value it alone and through complement with the other bites adds to the overall aim of satiated pleasure.

How best to follow?

Opt from flight after flight of chocolate sampling as it is nearly impossible to keep the individual bites straight … and this is well before you try something like pairing them with wines at a marketing concept in search of a restaurant niche like NYC’s Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar. Swallow bite after bite of drugstore candy bars and see if you don’t get sick. Nibble upon bean-to-bar after bean-to-bar and see if you just don’t end up confused.

As glorious as it may be to do your tiny bit grazing with a tiny mushroom shaped, chocolate dazzled funghetto, or as dark (and not in the chocolate way) as it might make you feel to swallow tiny chocolate feet, or as endearingly cutesy as you think you look while ingesting eensy-teensy chocolate hamburgers, courtesy Japanese vending …

… the most joy to be had is following the small bite path through your own kitchen.

It is always worth the effort to try, even if enough energy is invested to result in dreams about a tiny chocolate frog invasion, like the ones in @SweetOlenkas salted caramel brownies. Make yourself chocolate fudge micro-cakes, dwarfed chocolate chip cookies, or even tiny chocolate wine cakes. Bake and savor small.

Because, if you disdain the delicate and want to go big or go home when putting mouth to chocolate, you risk comparison to UKFA, gourmandizing his way through what look like four supermarket eclairs in eight rather indiscriminate gulps … with bits of abdominal-vicinity foreplay.

Your choice.


#chocolate #recipes

Too Much Chocolate?

woman biting chocolate barPortland bean-to-bar maker Woodblock announced that 24 January will be the date when it holds the championship of chocolate chomping. Possibly a world record may be at stake.

As a public service (?) for potential contestants they posted training videos

 

It seems undoubtedly a good publicity stunt, but a contest that celebrates cacao quantity over quality does beg the question: can anyone eat too much chocolate? “Too much chocolate” might make for a cute cookie advertisement, but it’s also pretty much an absolute truth that too much of anything kills the enjoyment, and in this case also can threaten the overindulger’shealth. To unbeg the question: yes, it is possible — as well as stupid — to eat too much chocolate.

Oddly, people brag about their overindulgence. There is even a recipe jetsamming about internet seas for Too Much Chocolate Cake that has as its base a pre-mixed devil’s food cake recipe, raising with flares an objection including the irony of there not being enough real chocolate in the TMCC.

Obviously, the Chocolate Chomping Champion will have bragging rights, but those rights come with an overly eerily similar to the fish from Spongebob who really, really, really gets excited that chocolate bars are for sale:

Perhaps there should be a contest to discover how much is the right amount of chocolate to eat, to find that moment immediately prior to eating too much. Maybe it has something to do with types of chocolate or percentages.

Probably not …


#chocolate #businessadvice #marketinghype #recipes #contests

Funeral Cakes, Death, Chocolate & More

chocolate skull cakeOctober is National Dessert Month, and also in its build up to Halloween, a celebration of death in various but still appetizing forms. What could be a better time than to talk about the choice between cake and death, as Eddie Izzard does,

or a touch more soberly to discuss (Chocolate) Funeral Cakes?

Not yet completely soberly. We note that serving a chocolate skull cake might work for some, but is for most people a goober of bad taste at funerals.

Funeral cakes are traditional, and traditionally quick and easy to construct: death is not something for which one is supposed to prepare. Generally, they also aren’t the most sophisticated taste fusions, as there should not be that much time to make them, and, presumably, the baker has more imposing thoughts hanging above his or head. That said, they do come in a multitude of varieties, ranging from the out-of-the-box ordinary to the out-of-the-bottle versions such as Coca-Cola chocolate funeral cake with Coca-Cola icing.

None of this should be confused with Day of the Dead cakes — often, surprisingly enough, baked for weddings. That holiday, blooming from Mexican roots is celebrated post-Halloween, over November’s first two days.

Back to funeral cakes, which also (in hopefully the final tangent) are also not to be confused with the popular restaurant dessert, “death by chocolate,” which is usually an excuse for a junior, so-called,”patissier” at a chain restaurant to see how much chocolate s/he can cram into a dessert at an appropriate for the owner price point.

While death by chocolate is not related, food studies Ph.D. candidates will surely be able to trace the links between funeral cakes, funeral biscuits, funeral cookies and journal cakes. All of which is apparently within the domain of knowledge required of your average funeral director.

For most non-funeral directors, however, all the knowledge of funeral cakes usually required is that it be relatively easy to make and that it mostly arrives as a sheet (or half sheet) cake in the spirit of what The Pioneer Woman calls The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.

One last (promise!) side note, while name-brand chefs have recipes for almost everything, none seems to have put their name on a funeral cake concoction. It’s not clear at all why. Would it really be that bad for their brand? It’s not like they would likely be dragged into a bit of funeral cake and workplace noir (as envisioned by Team Action Seal for the 2014 Austin 48-hour film project), featuring stolen break room swag and the may-it-live-forever-online quote, “My [funeral] cake was gone and my life was over. Things couldn’t get any worse. Then things got worse …”


#chocolate #halloween #dayofthedead #foodhistory

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.

Awaiting America’s Great Chocolate Soap Opera

woman biting chocolate barThomas Marshall, America’s 28th vice president and one-time Indiana governor, may be remembered for nothing except for stating his belief that “what America needs is a good five-cent cigar.” But he is remembered.

In that spirit, let the CAC suggestion go forth unto the interwebs that “what American needs is unlimited segments of a good five-minute chocolate-themed soap opera.” Hopefully it will get us remembered, or, more importantly, spark some quality entertainment for those downtimes between choco-bites. This is not to ignore the work already done in this area from the beginning of telenovela Dame Chocolate (Give Me Chocolate)

to the end of its too-short life.

We also do not want to ignore the Brazilian competition, Chocolate com Pimenta (Pepper Chocolate), revolving around work and dreams at a chocolate factory, instead of Dame’s chocolate shop.

It’s just that we’re haven’t found what works for our customers. (Admittedly, there was a 2009, weak-tea, LA-themed attempt: Google if you must.) Taken as we are with the faux behind Broadway scenes Submissions Only and with the concept of free-video possibilities ever-changed by Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog — discoverable, too, in free versions — it just seems like the time is right, now and for the foreseeable future, for a comedy-drama celebration of the fruit of the cacao tree and how some particularly melodramatic acolytes can be imagined to behave.

C’mon content creators!

We’ll take the time awaiting this breakthrough to create some appropriate snacking and adapt The Great British Soap Opera Cake. This recipe was whipped together as part of a British reality-show cooking competition. Its French-Joconde-cake-inspired ingredients and directions provide intriguing twists and turns (e.g., five eggs and five additional egg whites in the cake base with the remaining yokes saved for the icing) as will, hopefully, make their way into the The Great American Chocolat-Themed Soap Opera.

Let’s get inspired.

St. Pat’s, Excess and Chocolate 2014

St PatrickThis year we are wrestling over what and how to celebrate with chocolate on St. Patrick’s Day. It has always been one of our favorite holidays, and we have long known that the American version embraces the ridiculous over the serious — with effect great enough to change how the holiday is observed in Ireland.

Part of why we love the holiday is aspirational. It would be great to be able [somehow] to  trace our roots to the out-of-work, immigrant Irish chocolate-maker John Hanan, who in 1765 imported cocoa beans from the West Indies into Dorchester, Mass., to refine them with the help of American Dr. James Baker (of BAKER’S ® chocolate). Another part of our feelings for the holiday is loving the idea of a guy who can chase the snakes away (even if some say there never were any), and who Arthurian scholar Norma Lorre Goodrich believes was also Merlin of the Round Table.

The issue we wrestle with is the level of our complicity in the whinge of the ever-increasing debasement of the holiday. In thinking it over, we assume the safe side of the issue includes adding chocolate stout to a slow-cooked corned beef. However, the line is likely nearer to being crossed when complementing the corned beef with a chocolate cabbage sheet cake.

It is even closer an unitdy linking of food and excess and St. Pat’s when fixing up Green Velvet Cupcakes. And most likely the line is in the rear view mirror when adding to the celebratory menu a drink/dessert like the Drunken Chocolate-Covered Grasshopper Tiramisu, where you soak the cookie crust in a grasshopper and then build a personal-sized tiramisu.

Finally, while the result is tasty and the name sounds safe, you should probably take our word for it that the demonstrators creating this Chocolate Guinness Cake are what puts total fear into the true believers

Anyway, whether or not you celebrate like us with a tinge of guilt, Happy [chocolate] St. Patrick’s Day!

Chocolating Mardi Gras

galette-rois-chocolat-02For too many people chocolate is only about excess. Even though they refuse to consider subtleties, we still feel compelled to dedicate to them a few words of advice on celebrating Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, and the IHOP co-oped National Pancake Day) with caloric cacao celebrations.

We note that many of this ilk also consider the Mardi Gras parade as an excuse for personal excess. They will do anything to collect a few more plastic beads. However, everyone will be much happier with focus on perfecting a holiday-appropriate Chocolate King Cake, perhaps whipping a fancier sounding (to American ears) Galette des rois au chocolat

Consideration can also be given alcohol infused chocolate covered strawberries, a bit more overt decadence idea courtesy comic/chef Donnie Stykes)

The point is, after midnight Tuesday, it’s forty days of religion-inspired deprivation, although you can spend that time looking forward to the treat of a Chocolate Jesus — a recipe we are avoiding controversy by not messing with — and a miraculous confection on Easter

PS — Remember to leave the chocolate coated drugs at home. Strangely, police are on the lookout.

German Didn’t Invent “His” Chocolate Cake and Was an Englishman

German's Sweet Chocolate pkg.Sam German got swallowed by his cake. A southern belle lost her name altogether. And a cake was given origins not its own. Happy National German Chocolate Cake Day!

History (with editiorializing) and recipes.

Sam German is credited for a sweet chocolate unveiled 1852 for the company of mid-18th century chocolatiere John Hannon and financier James Baker (and, yes, we notice whose name stuck). An Englishman who worked first holding Walker Baker’s horses, he rose to “senior chocolate maker,” and German’s Chocolate became a hit first with younger kids and then women of (most often) Southern kitchens using it in a particular style of chocolate cake. One such lady of the kitchen (now known to culinary history only as “a homemaker in Dallas, Texas” … honestly: google around if you don’t believe it) submitted her recipe version of “German’s Chocolate Cake” to the local paper … and General Foods (owner then of Baker’s, currently Kraft has the honor) took the cake viral, providing pics and the recipe for papers nationwide.

Naturally, since punctuation is hard (?), the apostrophe was soon as lost as the name of the Texas baker. That has led to the general assumption that the cake has Teutonic origins, making it a perfect dessert complement for Oktoberfests. It is all quite the odd deconstruction of sweet history.

Anyway, recipes in case that this is how you wish to honor the day. There’s Kraft’s posting of the original buttermilk-based recipe. However, as much as we honor kitchen innovator German and an anonymous Bluebonnet Belle, we have to admit being a bit more inspired in our own kitchen by the slightly baroque take of Brown Eyed Baker (@browneyedbaker), who recommends the cake for Father’s Day (Sunday) in case you’re looking for a “ ‘man’s man’ cake”; an “Inside-Out” version highlighted in a March 2000 Gourmet from Waitsfield, Vermont’s Mary Laulis’Bridge Street Bakery and Mary Laulis; and a mini version, layered and with a chocolate ganache courtesy of A Farm Girl’s Dabbles (note the apostrophes).

Genießen sie die Deutsch schokoladenkuchen!

St. Pat’s Celebratory Liquor/Chocolate Brown/Brown Cake

St PatrickWe 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).

It is an easy to follow primer on creating little chocolate cups of liquor with the potential for double pleasure as chocolate affects many people in the same pleasurable way as alcohol. Turns out,chocolate is sometimes even used by alcoholics in recovery as a replacement for the more damaging vice.

All of which is a long path back to what we are actually doing to combine chocolate and liquor in the store. Basically, we’re constricted by law from offering something too thoroughly alcoholically infused, although Theo tried again (as he did in 2012, recipe here to change hearts and minds. In the spirit of his 2012 St. Pat’s black/white cake, he shared with the back room his black/black (and recommended white ice cream) cake, which is heavily infused with chocolate in the cake and icing — making it more factually a brown/brown (and recommended vanilla ice cream, which could also be an Irish liqueur infused vanilla frozen yogurt).

Of course, just because you won’t find it in our front of the store cases do we want to keep the pleasure all to our selves. For those playing along at home, this is what Theo is willing to share in terms of recipe:

The St. Pat’s Black/Black

For the Cake

  • 1 ½ cup stout
  • 1 cup (two sticks) butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa power
  • 1 ½ cups blue agave nectar
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ cup stevia
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ cup tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

For the Icing

  • 7 oz. dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. light (or light whipping) cream
  • 4 tbsp. Irish cream liqueur
  • 1 tsp. espresso

1) Preheat over to 350 degrees and butter/spray bundt pan.
2) Simmer stout and butter. Add cocoa and agave when simmering.
3) Whisk together flour, stevia, baking soda, salt.
4) Beat eggs.
5) Slowly mix dry ingredients, wet ingredients, eggs and sour cream in one large bowl.
6) Pour into bundt pan and heat 35-40 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.
7) Transfer to cooling rack and await icing.
8) Use double boiler to melt chocolate.
9) Stir in cream and liqueur and, when blended, espresso.
10) Drizzle, pour or spread over cake.

If by chance you should also require a melancholy song to add to the chocolate and liquor buzz peer pressure often requires in celebration of the day, there’s always Tom Lehrer’s Irish Ballad.

Making Money Hard, Baking Money Easier

franklinsHey, let’s make some money with cacao … we thought.

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.

So we took a look at a past post, It Can Melt in Your Wallet, Not in Your Mouth, and thought about throwing money at the big players, Nestle (OTC: NSRGY.PK),
Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) and Barry Callebaut AG (OTC: BYCBF.PK). There’s also the path of letting people who know what they are doing (or at least get money for knowing, which is not the same thing) invest for us in a fund devoted to the chocolate biz like iPath Dow Jones-UBS Cocoa Subindex Total Return Sub-Index Total Return (NYSE: NIB) or iPath Pure Beta Cocoa ETN (NYSE: CHOC), which is where our eyes began to glaze over, our brain began to hurt and the realization that we could also lose everything we invested set in.

The better idea, we recognize is to make money the way we know how. With a chocolate money cake — basically any baked item with a money inside … paper money not recommended. So, to the lab to work on an adaptation we take from an adaptation we found with thanks to the Food Librarian and are turning into

Cinnamon Chocolate Bundt Money Hungry Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup stevia
  • 1 t baking soda
  • Sprinkling of confectioners sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup honey
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt – Whisk together until no lumps remain.
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • coins
  • wax paper

Instructions

  1. Get new coins or scrub up old ones until they shine. Wash thoroughly and soap and, when dry, wrap in wax paper.
  2. Mix together water, oil, butter and cocoa in a pot over medium flame until it starts to simmer, remove from flame and add vanilla and honey.
  3. Whisk flour, salt, cinnamon stevia, baking soda
  4. Mix together milk and yogurt until thoroughly combined and stir together all wet and dry ingredients in one bowl.
  5. Stir in eggs.
  6. Pour ½ batter into greased Bundt pan Drop coins in. Pout in remaining batter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes (but check before and after timer goes off to see if interior allows for an inserted instrument to slide out cleanly.
  7. Dust with confectioners sugar.

Enjoy and we hope you’ll be richly rewarded.