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 Trendy Data Foodie Frenzy

chocokeyboardThe current IBM ad campaign highlights a chocolate, soybean, apricot burrito concoction. Its conceit is that taste is just the sum of correctly connected data points, in this case via the company’s “Chef Watson,” not yet out of Beta and available primarily to foodie sites like Bon Appetit.

However, is concocting the counter-intuitive recipe using chocolate something that needs to be left to Big Data? This, after all, is still a collective that can’t seem to define itself without confusing a goodly portion of its audience.

Is this the cabal to which we want to leave the all-important task of mouth-pleasuring?

After all, chefs using just their own taste buds seem to be doing just fine coming up with mind- and palate-expanding chocolate preparations. For example, we’ve recently come across Chocolate Shawarma, Avocado Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Cake with Zucchini, and Chocolate, Peanut-Butter Covered and Prosciutto-Clothed Grilled Bananas!

Chocolate in a burrito is certainly no more imaginative than that. Maybe this big data and chocolate thing can be written off as some sort of “trend” that will hover those beginning of 2015 looking-forward (?) lists and then mostly disappear. (By way of review here are PopSugar trends to look out for in 2014, and those on this year’s horizon according to mega chocmeister Cargill, which did not include price increases or that, thanks to it, we would see the trend of the consolidation of big chocolate.)

Or maybe it’s not even worth noting once, just another ephemeral result of corporate thinking, which as an example of where that track can lead to has somehow given us microwavable chocolate chicken curry from Iceland.

Take the chocolate burrito for what it’s worth. The moral of the ad, apparently: There’s no accounting for taste, even when it comes to chocolate.


#chocolate #recipes #advertising #bigdata

Chocolate and Cheese, If It Please

chocolate & cheese adIt seems there is a day to celebrate nearly everything chocolate (Thursday was National Chocolate Chip Day; see the Almanac for more). But ’tis untrue. There are still chocolate and cheese combos to honor.

Actually, there are a host of chocolatish delectables more , but this particular un-embraced celebration is brought to the forefront by the recent announcement from British grocerpalooza Tesco that they are expanding their chocolate-cheese offerings. The first thought is “why?” The taste of a good chocolate is distinct with undertones and subtle aroma notes. That taste of heaven makes for an unlikely fit with a delicious bit of cheese, often a standout highlighted by esters and overtones on display like the new girl trying to stand out and drum up a bit of business in Amsterdam’s Rossebuurt. Of course, the answer turn is easily discovered with a quick Google (as most answers are): lots of folks love this sort of thing — whether it is the idea or actual flavor will not be argued here, today.

Particularly when you are trying to steer a few piastres into the till it seems worthwhile to accept that since people like chocolate and people like cheese — not necessarily the same people for both categories, but with enough overlap — there will be experimentation. Folks with enough biz-smart will pimp some of the results despite a culinary natural selection process un-guaranteed to bring about best in breed(ing). Consider, for example Philadelphia Dark Chocolate Cream Cheese spread courtesy of Junk Food Guy.

There will be Frankencheeses you can make at home like the chocolate cheese ball or outlier indulgences such as Paula Deen’s chocolate cheese fudge or Trader Joe’s chocolate cheddar, which appeal to some tastes or others.

Anyway, while it isn’t our cup of cocoa, kudos to everyone who embraces the idea of chocolate and cheese (and that other “c,” Capitalism), with a particular shout out to the Wisconsin dairy industry. On the soft-sell side they offer a a guide to chocolate/cheese pairings and for the harder sell they market their Valentine’s Day chocolate cheese delights (?!).

Back to Tesco’s announcement. We sympathize with why you might not want publicly to own up to such taste. However, for those at home with tastebuds stirred to the point of yearning, consider tossing together a chocolate cheese sandwich or batch of parmesan chocolate cheese crisps to quiet them down.

Was the Golden Ticket Really Necessary?

How Are Today’s Chocolatieres Promoting Their Products?

Ryan Bennett, Guest Writer

By now, everyone is familiar with Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and whether you saw the original movie from the 1970s or the 2005 remake, or enjoyed the book that’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, you probably fell in love with the idea of owning your own chocolate factory, too.

You’re probably familiar with the premise of the story: Mr. Willy Wonka, “the most amazing, the most fantastic, the most extraordinary chocolate maker the world has ever seen” came up with the stellar idea to release Golden Tickets in Wonka chocolate bars. These Golden Tickets would grant five children access to his chocolate factory, and, in a surprise twist, one of the children would be invited to join him in running the company.

The Golden Tickets proved to be a clever marketing strategy, boosting Wonka’s sales tremendously. “And now the whole country, indeed, the whole world, seemed suddenly to be caught up in a mad chocolate-buying spree, everybody searching frantically for those precious remaining tickets. Fully grown women were seen going into sweet shops and buying ten Wonka bars at a time, then tearing off the wrappers on the spot and peering eagerly underneath for a glint of golden paper. Children were taking hammers and smashing their piggy banks and running out to the shops with handfuls of money.”

But we don’t have any Golden Tickets in the real world, and manufacturers and chocolatieres need to find other ways of promoting their products. While the appeal of chocolate as a delicious treat is already enough to entice consumers everywhere, manufacturers are in a race to see who can come up with the most ingenious and innovative ads.

While most chocolate advertisements follow the general example shown by Carre de chocolat above, showcasing the breathtaking and euphoric effects of chocolate, some seek simpler methods to promote their products.

Product developers know that packaging comes first and foremost. After all, when a consumer walks into the chocolate aisle, they 1) approach familiar brands, and 2) reach for brands that have attractive packaging. A common trend seen in the packaging of chocolate products shows simple, minimalistic design, in which the word “chocolate” remains the star. Colors remain neutral, with shades of brown varying based on the type of chocolate being sold.

Most manufacturers, however, have begun adding a touch of elegance to their products. Sleek silver and gold line the packaging of chocolates and chocolate products, and on the off chance that a chocolate bar is decked in a color other than brown, black or cream, you can be sure that the colors remain elegant and sophisticated, if not seasonal.

Many manufacturers have also begun turning to stranger combinations of flavors for their products. Following the Kit Kat craze that saw dozens of strange chocolate combinations enter the market, now other companies have also started relying on less conventional chocolate flavors, tying these into crowdsourcing and charity events. Anyone for chocolate-covered sun-dried tomatoes? Everything from broccoli to sweet potatoes and even squid has been paired with chocolate.

This has inspired desserts from around the world to be created. Chocolate éclair hotdogs, chocolate and cauliflower cakes, and even mayonnaise chocolate cakes have been developed. 2012’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning saw Chocolate and Orange cakes being sold by M&S and raising thousands of dollars for Macmillan Cancer Support. Renowned chef Jose Garces also sold specialized chocolate cakes in his restaurants to raise money for his charity foundation, offering flavors like spicy chocolate cake and passion fruit sorbet and chocolate.

Of course, all this is just the icing on the cake. Chocolate remains a malleable market, and it’s going strong. Studies show that 91 percent of females and 87 percent of males still love chocolate, and the sales of seasonal and boxed chocolate products are expected to expand by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015.

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.

Commerce Destroys Perfectly Wonderful Chocolate-Peanut Butter Marriage

nestleSome days it feels like promoting chocolate is a crusade. And on those days we can’t help thinking how ridiculous that sounds. The point is, we woke up feeling a bit ambivalent talking up and wishing everyone a HAPPY National Milk Chocolate Day (tomorrow) while feeling ambivalent about how we often run down a perfectly good chocolate, because of how much sugar is larded with it in so many recipes.

Fortunately (?), we had our mind redirected by a horrible, horrible article. Oddly, it was while John Lennon’s Imagine played in the background on the radio that we read a glowing review for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pop Tarts. The first amendment is all great, all powerful and all good, but …

No real excuse for such faux-bakeried products. Interested in a chocolate-peanut butter breakfast to start the day Consider both the not-quite-as-convenient-but—sooooo-much better Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart from Indianapolis’ Annie Eats, or the relatively quick and easy (and delicious) Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pancakes from Recipe Boy (or one or more parents trying to create a foodie “star”).

The beezelbub-conceived Pop Tart does tie into a lot of what gets called milk chocolate in that it is the processed #crapchocolate doing a disservice to what could be. (“Imagine if there were no crapchocolate, it is easy if you try ….”) Anyway —

Perhaps the best way to bring this rant to a close is to recommend scrubbing the review from the imagination. On a day when peanut butter and milk chocolate have been melded, get Jon Krampner‘s Creamy & Crunchy out of the library and work through the history of peanut butter, or just peek at the index to find where to peek in on the history of Joseph Rosefield’s Choc-Nut Butter and its much more successful successor (by about five years) Harry Burnett Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

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!

Easter Chocolate Hot Cross Buns Making More Sense Than Chocobunnies

bunny cartoon2We 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 being constructed by 30 Argentinian kids, the majority with Down Syndrome. Their hard at work in 68 degree temperatures hand-making a projected 19,685-foot-tall, 9,920 pound, record-setting chocolate egg in a warehouse in Miramar.

Then there are the 20 sculptures — a pig to a wave rider — Brazilian master chocolatier Diego Lozano has created for an Easter celebration on display in a Rio de Janeiro mall.

British news is reporting a 56-year-old chocolate egg just hanging out as a family heirloom, which flows into a stream of thoughts on the history of how John Cadbury did a sort of pre-internet viral thing with his chocolate eggs, letting him commercially vault above the German and French competition in chocolate egg creativity and production

At least those eggs are being eaten, which somehow brings us back to the seemingly ridiculousness of bunnies and eggs that begin life as cacao and the extraordinary fertility of even chocolate bunnies, which in Germany are multiplying to the point where they are vastly outselling chocolate Santas.

And not to exhaust the point of why so much doesn’t make sense, but given the chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs that are a part of this celebration, why is there no push for chocolate crosses? The closest culinary confection we’ve come up with — and an idea for some counter-culture in future Easters — is the chocolate hot cross bun. (Outpacing the old chocolate egg is the extant and still uneaten 1821 hot cross bun.)

Given the tradition involved, we expect that we’ll be riffing off Cadbury and the Cadbury Kitchen’s Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.

Ingredients

Buns

  • 4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 x 7g sachets dried yeast (2¼ -2½ teaspoons per sachet)
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 350ml lukewarm milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 3/4 cup CADBURY Milk Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 1/4 cup currants

Crosses

  • 1/2 cup plain flour, extra
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water, extra

Glaze

  • 1/4 cup sugar, extra
  • 1/4 cup water, extra
  • 1/2 teaspoon gelatine

Directions

  1. Combine the sifted flour and mixed spice with the yeast and sugar in a large bowl. Add warm milk and eggs to flour mixture. Use a flat-bladed knife to mix until dough almost comes together. Add fruit and chocolate. Use clean hands to finish mixing to form soft dough.
  2. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Return to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Knock back (punch down) dough to its original size. Knead until smooth then divide into 12, shape each portion into a ball, then place onto a greased tray about 1 cm apart. Cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until buns double in size.
  4. For the crosses: Mix extra flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth, adding a little more water if paste is too thick. Spoon into a small resealable bag. Snip off 1 corner of bag. Pipe flour paste over tops of buns to form crosses. Bake in a moderately hot oven 190°C for 20-25 minutes or until cooked when tested. Allow to cool on a wire rack.i
  5. For the glaze: Combine extra sugar, extra water and gelatine in a small saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer for minute, then brush warm glaze over warm hot cross buns. Serve warm or at room temperature.

And eat and consider the mysteries of the day … or give in to some toy manufacturer Mattel marketing madness:

<iframe width=”350″ height=”225″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/sXww1B–8tk” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Not So Special Delivery

chocolate trainAPPARENTLY, someone got the midwinter blahs and so a new company, Good Cacao, threatens to take all the fun out of chocolate by selling le gran cacao as just a delivery system for other nutritional products. The basic pitch is that they throw a lot of healthy crap into some good chocolate and all bites are super-wonderful-food-functional chocolates. Consider yourself warned.

We’re not knocking chocolate as a delivery system. It’s raison d’être, after all, is to deliver mouth pleasure. We also have recently found ourselves pleased that ye olde brewmaster Samuel Smith brought the buzz with his Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout a valuable contribution to both the beer and chocolate families. Still, there is something cynical about using chocolate to deliver an eyelid jolting dash of caffeine in Awake Caffeinated Chocolate or even as a tourist delivery system to York, England.

We get it. Chocolate is a marketing tool (another word for delivery system) and that is why there is going to be a flood of chocolate-themed junk in the run-up to Valentines Day showing up on tv, in the email inbox, throughout social media and on screens everywhere in between). It just shouldn’t get out of hand.

Although it probably already has.

Chocolate Around the World May Keep You at Home

chinese chocolate soldiersBABY IT’S cold outside … and so time for some choco-tourism news. First catching our attention is Florida’s recently opened Chocolate Kingdom. Featuring five (Five? Really? That’s a “kingdom?”) cacao trees amid its 8,300 squ. ft. (Not to beat up this dead horse too much, but 8,300 squ. ft. as a “kingdom?” Are the citizens amoebae? Does the king moonlight as Horton Hears A Who! Mayor of Whoville?) Admittedly, it may seem, at least at first if you’ll pardon the mangled pun, a bit cheezy:

Next, we turned to the second annual Shanghai Chocolate Dream Park
scheduled to run from 18 Jan through 24 Feb., and showcasing what a massive state can proffer when marshalling effort on behalf of choco-tourism and featuring chocolate sculpture and samples from folks around the world, as well as the finals of the International Chocolate Talent contest.

Ambitiously, chocolate is also being used to sell winter trips to Wales, Abu Dhabi, and in fact everywhere from (at least) Brussels to Belize (and as long as we’re thinking “B”‘s there’s Nicole Basaraba’s in-depth tourist hints for Belgium chocolate enjoyment). Quirkiest of all, there’s even the possibility for Valentine’s Day travel plans and an opportunity to escape the winter blahs in “southern” Ocean County, N.J. between 9-18 Feb. for their “chocolate week.”

If none of this appeals, we encourage you to vacate your current space and drop in for some hot chocolate — based on recent research we are trying to scrounge up some orange cups to make it taste even better, and until then are providing blindfolds or tinted glasses to help you go — and a slice of some chocolate something-else, as well as the warmth of friends.