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

Someday It Won’t Be Thanksgiving Without Chocolate

chocolate turkeysTurkeys be damned, or at least brought down a peg. Thanksgiving turns out to be a holiday of a lamb … as in Mary Had a Little Lamb …

As in, we don’t have the 1621 Pilgrims and Wapanoag (who together likely savored venison, and certainly not the pictured chocolate turkey) to thank for the upcoming onslaught of overdoing both food and shopping. We should actually thank Godmother of Thanksgiving, Sara Josepha Hale, who is more famed as progenitor of the rhyming tale of the young miss and her wooly pet.

Hale, an editor of early 19th century magazines for New England gentlewomen, made it her mission to lobby for a national holiday for giving thanks, which President Lincoln decided in 1863 would be a useful way to mark the third year of America’s Civil War.

Regrettably, we can’t also thank Hale much for anything in the way of chocolate. Additionally a cookbook author, she seemed to think of it mostly as a drink and gives very chocolate short shrift in her very long-named 1856 work, Mrs. Hale’s new cook book. A practical system for private families in town and country; with directions for carving, and arranging the table for parties, etc. Also, preparations of food for invalids and for children.

Given the mythmaking that has been part of its history there is no reason that just because Godmother Hale wasn’t a proto-chocolatista that chocolate should not in future years play a prominent place in the T-Day story and traditions (chocolate-loving mythmakers wanted).

It would be nice for a full cornucopia of cacao creations to be a central place in the holiday’s mystique, but the fruit of the cacao tree does already have a small place among the day’s desserts, although that place is primed for expansion.

Perhaps the holiday’s prandial delights could be made even more robust with a post-meal palate cleanser such as chocolate cabbage leaf cups for vanilla ice cream, or chocolate pudding shots to accompany viewing television or touch-football-in-the-backyard. (If the thankful spirit moves you so, feel free to thicken up what is billed as a “health” recipe libation with another chocolate-based liqueur.)

Ultimately, the history and traditions and myths of the day don’t matter. Life is about mouth (and soul) pleasing. To insure some pleasure, one can always rely on genius chef Michael Symon and his newly developed Chocolate Pumpkin Pie. As likely everyone already knows, with the right chocolate added and no matter whether there is or isn’t turkey on the menu — or even if its journey to the the table was a disaster — the day and meal will be the stuff(ing) of family legend as well as national myth.

#chocolate #Thanksgviving #recipes #foodhistory #history #myths

Halloween & National Chocolate Day DIY

chocolate skull cakeWhy is today National Chocolate Day? It just is, so have a bite (or two, at least) and celebrate! And consider this your three-day warning to Halloween, which also is celebrated with something of a chocolate patina.

Regrettably, H-Day is filled with tricks on kids, provided “alleged” treats that are “fun sized” drugstore chocolate bars. The adult who cares about kids — and we don’t imagine any other kind of reader — is caught between Scylla and Charybdis, either knowingly pandering with choco-crap or not satisfying kids, who don’t know better.

Admittedly, Cupid Alley Chocolatieres does not exist or aspire to anyone out of that moral conundrum. So, let us first distract with the elation-inspiring mash-up of JPop, deathmetal, and #GrlPwr that is Babymetal’s Give Me Chocolate!

… which is vaguely Halloweenish, given the subject matter and a skeleton drummer.

Then let’s get to what you can do to make things better. Ignore stupid myths about how kids are poisoned by unwrapped offerings. You may still decide to offer kids what they think they want, but at least consider aiding young (and old) in rethinking creative ways to enhance the day (again, with its onset heralded by today’s National Chocolate Day huzzah).

Perhaps the right way to do this would be with chocolate skulls made from dark chocolate, or chocolate dirt cupcakes topped by gummy worms, or the seasonal pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. For the ambitious, who wish to span a cultural abyss by engaging T-or-Ters with homemade versions of drugstore chocolates, the Today show offered a short session for DIYers. Just wrap and serve.

While there is little as pleasing as making kids happy with chocolate (preferably good, but if they want lesser then ….), there is that imp of curmudgeonliness within that says come Friday the best thing may be to forget the kids. Put “fun sized” chococrap outside for the taking and cloister behind the door with like-thinking adults to enjoy better chocolate and other delights of a oldster’s life.

Finally, if by chance for today’s “National Chocolate Day” or Friday’s Halloween you find yourself in the mood to initiate a holiday tradition, you can certainly do worse than — in the spirit of the Christmas cookie swap — invite over friends for a [fill in the holiday] chocolate creation exchange.

#chocolate #Halloween #NationalChocolateDay #deathmetal #JPop #recipes

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

Labor Daying with Choc, Veg & Fru

broccoli dipped chocolateUnsuccessful is the search to find a natural connection between Labor Day and chocolate,which is as good a reason as any to create one. But why shouldn’t work be honored and summer’s end commemorated with a chocolate themed repast featuring vegetables and fruits despite this being a day most people (boringly) think has to be only about charred meat?

It is the season for a sort of [vegetative?] thinking. Vegetables and fruits are ripe in stores and on farms stands, making it the perfect time to clear up the confusion that seems often to exist when parents and young children deal with chocolate and vegetables … assuming you need another reason to eat well.

On the subject of confusion regarding chocolate and vegetables, it is also worth pointing out to veggie-phobic adults and children that sadly for them there is no truth to reporting from satirical site, The Onion, “… that many vegetables, including carrots, eggplants, and zucchini are evolving rich, creamy chocolate centers in order to ensure their survival as a species.” Dear Veg-Phobes, you need to find the recipes that bring the flavors together, not misplace faith with Frankenfood manufacturers!

To help all along with feeling better about their veggies, why not begin the Labor Day feast with chocolate frozen cocktails? If you’re feeling particularly adventurous and want something non-alcoholic kids can put something non-alcoholic in consider Bakerella’s chocolate cups. Maybe even throw onto the table some OurBestBites’ Chocolate-Strawberry Nachos.

If more convenient to stay inside during the preparation and before taking the party al fresco, keep in mind the somewhat finger-foody Sweet Potato and Tofu Enchiladas courtesy OhMyVeggies; Cara’s Craving’s Mole Tofu Tacos; or combining a slow cooker roasted veggies with an Americanized mole.

On the other hand, if you prefer bringing naked veggies to perfection on the grill consider dressing them with a luxurious chocolate port sauce.

Maintaining the party theme, chocolate notes are well savored when mixed with grapes and grains so check labels or just see what stores offer (or track down the particularly unlikely such as Dogfish Brewery’s surprisingly savory Choc Lobster brew.

For dessert, it’s hard to disappoint by mixing a quality chocolate sauce with fresh watermelon, strawberries or any other in-season fruit as a drizzle prior to serving or with a dusk to darkness fondue. To step the fancy up a bit for guests, there is also a chocolate espresso mousse with strawberries option.

All making the labor for this holiday very well worth it, indeed.

#chocolate #recipes #vegetarian

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-Tour 2014

cacao poulain posterLike chocolate itself, vacations are a recipe of ingredients both fantastic and real. Getting away, or just thinking about it, should taste of a dreamy unreality that rewards the mind for the body’s slogging through dog days of sun-blanching, humidity-drenching summer or cat (?) days of icy, sleety stormy soul-freezing winter.

This being the time of year when people take their summer or dream of their winter retreats, it seems right to consider traipsing from the more traditional path of choco-tourism (admittedly a naif travel niche) to span the cavernous divide between chocolate consumers such as a few Dutch captured-on-film, who have never seen the cacao fruit

and cacao farmers, who never tasted the “fruit” of their labors (in a report-gone-viral with something of a staged feeling to it)

Let this be a start for your vacation — the one taken or just planned. Consider the variety of options between enjoying the first world comfort of a Hotel Chocolate, a plantation servicing the British chocolatiere celebrating it’s tenth anniversary, that lets you wander the fields and going hyper-native in Brazil, exploring the romance of cabruca farming (an old-fashioned and ecologically sensible style, planting cacao under old growth forest) .

There’s also the socio-politico-economic-historical version of a world choco-tour exploring how the recent world market price increases are creating new market niches, including making specialty cacao a possible Haitian benefit and a causing an ironic turnaround that now has previously dismissed Ghanaian beans smuggled into the Cote d’Ivoire

Not last, not least consider an online or in-person visit taking in something like China’s Chocolate Happy Land

However, if your imagination and wallet can only take you so far and you need something real in your life (and real as in now), fight the dog days of summer (and think about the frozen, sleety winter of 180 degrees on the calendar) by taking a chocolate vacation, courtesy of the classic Serendipity3 Frozen Hot Chocolate recipe, courtesy of ABC’s Good Morning America.

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
4 tablespoons of different cocoa powder
Pinch salt
1 cup milk
3 cups ice
whipped cream and semisweet chocolate (to taste and encouraged excess)

Combine the sugar, dry milk powder, cocoas, and salt. Blend mix, milk and ice until smooth Pour the milk into a blender. Add the dry mix and ice. Blend until all the ice is crushed and the drink is smooth. Top the drink with whipped cream and shavings from a semisweet chocolate bar.

Ice Cream Done Right with Chocolate

chocolate ice creamJuly is National Ice Cream Month and today, 20 July, is National Ice Cream Day, which is an easy excuse to offer a quick primer on making chocolate ice cream at home as the perfect summer day activity.

Subjectively adding to the newsworthiness of the idea is a recent press release from downmarket ice creamer Baskin Robbins. Their research found that chocolate is the best at bringing the happy. While BR doesn’t bring any real science establishing the dominance of chocolate ice cream, there is enough anecdotal evidence to ease the acceptability of glomming on to this bit of news puffery.brhappy

There is a googleplexplus of chocolate ice cream recipes, but a couple to highlight are the David Lebowitz Easiest Ever, which is used with an ice cream maker, and Beyond the Stoop’s Banana-Peanut Butter-Chocolate No Ice Cream Maker version

A quick summary for using other ice cream recipes without having the slurry meet its maker is to: Chill completed mixture in a pan filled with ice. When chilled pour into freezer-safe stainless steel bowl which has been in freezer for at least a half hour, cover and return to bowl to freezer. Combine the ingredients for your ice cream mixture following the recipe. Every 30 minutes for three hours stir it up vigorously (if it has become too hard then soften it briefly in refrigerator). Give it at least another hour before eating.

A marvelous demonstration for using a contraption is outlined by the New York Times’ Melissa Clark as she showcases her basic recipe by taking on strawberries, although it is easy enough to use chocolate instead (switch strawberries puree, with seven-ounces shaved 70-75 percent dark chocolate, an additional quarter cup honey, and two teaspoons vanilla extract all eased in during mixing).

And while it is probably too late for starting Chocolate Mint for use this year, consider growing it in the garden or a windowbox as a great add-on for dishes of chocolate ice cream, among other uses.

Chocolate Pudding One and All, 2014

chocolate puddingCelebrate National Chocolate Pudding Day with a contemplation (and, soon enough, with the chocolate pudding itself). Alone, pudding can mean nearly anything

Its dictionary definitions are a bit more (well) definitive, but not much more. Basically, it can be almost any dish someone finds delicious [i.e.,edible, for some] but is usually soft, sweet, creamy or thick and served as a dessert … unless it has some sort of protein baked in.

And even pudding’s history is a bit murky. However, where we’re talking “chocolate” pudding, and will ignore the history and meat and fish versions. Which still leaves an enormous amount of room for improvisation.

For a few bites with extra “good” fats — also offering an easy vegan version with a maple-syrup/agave-for-honey trade — consider bacon chocolate guinness challah bread puddingthis Chocolate Avocado Pudding. Or, going whole hog (so to speak) in the other direction, there’s a land out yonder where Bacon Chocolate Guinness Challah Bread Pudding  can run wild.

You can also go southern or secular, as is your want. There’s enough time left in today’s celebration to whip up some Chocolate Banana Pudding with Louisiana flair, or inspire some Jewish guilt in others by serving a Chocolate Babka Bread Pudding.
As the Marketplace podcast [] punningly pontificated, the goal of this whole contemplation is to be “pudding you in the mood for chocolate.”

DO NOT, we repeat DO NOT end up with some store-bought pudding style cup. While, yes, we did start out by saying almost any comestible could qualify as a “pudding,” you definitely deserve better. And we’re positive of that even though we may not know you.

Chocolate Wealth Vs. Taste

$1 million chocolateThe focus of much of the world’s attention — at least in terms of chocolate billionaires — is on newly sworn-in Ukrainian (and Roshen’s chocolates) President Petro Poroshenko. Noteworthy: he is not in a financial/taste-satisfying class all his own. Other chocolate billionaires populating the Forbes list of the world’s richest include Italy’s (and Nutella’s) Michele Ferrero, with an estimated $27 billion collection of chocolate moolah, and the Virginia sibs John, Forrest Jr., and Jacqueline Mars (as in Milky Ways,Snickers, M&Ms, etc.) who weigh in collectively at about $60 billion.

Other than making us big-bucks-envious, however, those aren’t the most interesting chocolate billionaires… or based on much of what they have built their fortunes on the ones with the greatest taste. Those with the greatest attraction are usually small blobbish balls of (usually but not always milk) chocolate, caramel and crunch (various nuts, rice cereal); they can also be brownied. There is a bit of tradition that they not just be inflation-adjusted, but actually differ from “chocolate millionaires” in that the millionaires get their crunch with shortbread cookie and not nuts. However, inside “the Google,” recipes for the millionaires and billionaires are all mixed up (something we can never imagine happening on a Forbes list), with pretty much anything involving caramels and chococolate and some kind of crunch .

Oddly, and with what we can only assume is an unintended slight at either very wealthy people (or a particular order of shelled reptile), to some these billionaires/millionaires are also turtles.

Anyway, we’d be happy to be the subject of the generosity of the people, but are currently working on some new recipes … and, of course, the correct naming.