Respect the (Chocolate) Bar

nestleWhy is the chocolate bar a drugstore staple and not a bakery highlight? That was growling-ever-louder debate earlier today between Swiss intern Hans Subebraune, our assistant baker Theo Panadero from Honduras and the all-American (as in Archie Bunker American) Grumps that at one point nearly frightened a couple customers out the door before picking up their cakes, worried that fisticuffs were likely to break out and spill out beyond the display cases.

None of the three tell the same story of what started the argument-to-the-death that ended in a draw, at day’s end. Maybe it was just all the recent chocolate bar “news.” A British journo declared the winner of his “chocolate ‘world’ cup” competition was Twirl Chocolate. There was the heart-warming story of a Giant Gourami — which maybe should be renamed a Giant Gourmet-mi — being raised on KitKat Bars in a London aquarium. And one of the her majesty’s 25-year-olds, Aneesh Popat, created chocolate mouth-pop-em, with 20 calories, featuring flavoured waters in a cocoa-rolybit.

In news away from HM’s realm, Mars introduced a vegetarian bar (no eggs, but still milk) into India, M&M debuted its new multicolored mini-M&Ms milk chocolate bar, and pundits weighed in with ideas like Hershey chocolate bar sales could serve as a stock market indicator and that bingeing on dark chocolate bars can sunproof skin.

Probably the only item that was all-positive was that Denver emporium Hammond’s Candies sent six new chocolate bars out into the world this past year and one, Red Velvet Cake, was named “Most Innovative New Gourmet Product of the Year” by the National Confectioner’s Association. (The five Hammond runners-up are Pigs n Taters, Chocolate Crisp, Double Truffle, The Cookie Jar and Caramel Mocha.)

As the argument was raised, maybe our concern should be that instead of continuing to be thought of as drugstore crapchocolate, barred chocolate concoctions are on their way to winning more respect. So, we’re inspired to try and come up with a few Cupid Alley Chocolatieres bars. We like the path Hammond’s Candy (factory tours available) is taking and are also inspired by the idea of a healthy Nestle-Crunch-like bar substituting dark chocolate and toasted quinoa put together by the folks at Diets In Review.

Maybe we should combine a marshmallow/bittersweet chocolate/pomegranate or hazelnut/chia/honey/semi-sweet chocolate bar? Trying to get those recipes right might just result in the taste success we’re looking for, although it will also likely get everyone yelling again.

Chocatzo (chocolate matzo) 2013/5773

chocolate matzoThis 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 either for the second seder when the pressure of getting everything right for the first night’s dinner is off, or given the somewhat experimental nature of it, saving it for the last day (2 April, this year) or later, if the house is still stocked with boxes of matzo that might not get eaten prior to being thrown out next year when the new boxes are purchased.

Chocotzo 2013/5773

Ingredients

  • 3-4 unsalted matzo sheets
  • 1 cup unsalted margarine (or olive or canola oil spread)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (check to see if kosher, if that is important to your preparations)
  • 5 oz unsweetened (100% cacao) chocolate
  • 2/3 cup agave
  • 1 tbsp. stevia
  • 1/3 cup crushed pistachios
  • 1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place matzo over foil on baking sheet, breaking up, If necessary, to fit.
  3. Melt margarine and brown sugar over medium heat. Add vanilla and spoon and spread or brush over matzo.
  4. Bake matzo for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Double boil chocolate and agave. When completely melted mix in stevia, pistachios and cardamom.
  6. Remove pan from oven, spread chocolate blend evenly over all pieces and refrigerate for at least an hour before breaking and eating (or storing in an airtight container).

As always there is the option to mix in cut up dried fruit, or crystallized ginger, or foregoing the pistachio and cardamom and sprinkling sea salt before refrigerating). Enjoy.

Questions and Answers with ihearttruffles.com’s Judith Antelman

trufflesWhile “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?
Judith Antelman: I was looking for a pure truffle, which is dark chocolate and cream. I couldn’t find anything made without a combination of butter, egg, oils, corn syrup, glucose, etc. So, I experimented in my kitchen, reading and researching until I perfected the original French truffle. From there, I started infusing the truffles with pure fruits, herbs, coffee beans, liqueurs; using fresh organic ingredients only.

CAC: Why were you looking for a pure truffle? Was it a personal quest or a followup to your Wall Street career or had you already decided to start up the business?
JA: Everything I tasted was mixed with added ingredients, thus the pure taste of cocoa was lost. Many truffles tasted like plastic, or were too buttery, or just weren’t right for any number of reasons. I like clean food; I wanted a clean pure chocolate tasting truffle; not a mush mouth of sugar and butter. Thus, I experimented. The business was purely a whim initially. I love making chocolate truffles and bark, and was encouraged by friends who loved my truffles.

CAC: What was your specialty on Wall Street and what led you there first, instead of to the world of chocolate?
JA: Wall Street was an accident. I previously had worked as an editor in publishing and academia. Through a friend, I fell into a freelance editing gig in the mid 90s at a Wall Street bank. It was flexible, lucrative, and I enjoyed the other editors, so I continued as a freelance editor until the credit crisis. I worked for a few different banks until the recession.

CAC: What was the process like in putting together your business and why do you think it has found a niche?
JA: It is a small business, and mostly word-of-mouth and my website, ihearttruffles.com. I started plying friends and then parties with truffles, until friends encouraged me to try selling them. It took off slowly, and is still in the baby stages. The niche I found is a result of individuals like me desiring a pure cocoa truffle. Using high quality chocolate and ingredients are crucial to garner a clean smooth truffle. My demographic is usually the foodie with a sweet tooth, but not a sugar addict.

CAC: Is there something in particular that you have learned as an artisan that can help the at-home truffler?
JA: Practice. Practice. Practice. One must love crafting truffles as it truly is laborious, thus it is a labor of love in the greatest sense. It took many years of practice, a few chocolatier classes, and experimentation, which still continues.

truffle plateCAC: What are some of your favorite current and can you share the secret of truffles you are working on for the near future?
JA: Without sharing truffles secrets, some of my favorites are: maple-cinnamon; coconut; and mocha.

CAC: Are there one or two aspects to truffles that you wish your customers knew more about before or when ordering from you?
JA: I want customers to know I combine the highest-quality ingredients, fair trade chocolate, and a whole lot of love in every small batch of truffles and chocolate bark.

CAC: What other projects are near to your heart and what is to be expected from I Heart Truffles?
JA: I hope to open a small chocolate shop at some point in the near future. Location still unknown. Currently, I am crafting orders for Easter, Passover, weddings, and Bat Mitzvahs. I sell to the NJ/NYC area. When I start shipping, I will sell nationwide. Interested customers may refer to: ihearttruffles.com for further information.

Questions and Answers with Madeleine Begun Kane, Limerick Laureate 2013

Madeleine KaneWe 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 how she came to our attention. Swiss intern Hans Suberbraune said that meeting Kane and her husband, Mark, was the one redeeming feature to an otherwise horrible date — that he claims was part of an inglorious St. Pat’s Day weekend, although he isn’t always believable and we aren’t ruling out that he was actually doing some corporate espionage to inform some of the culinary experiments he runs in the lab at the back of the shop.  She let him know about her weekly limerick-off — all are invited to participate — and also turned him onto some of her chocolate limericks, including  …

Chocolate Limerick
Dear candy shop, leave out the filling.
Those rich, creamy innards ain’t thrilling.
I like choc’late that’s pure.
Milk or dark? Both allure.
Must I choose? Okay, dark gets top billing.

Acrostic Limerick Treat
Though desserts can be very enticing,
Remember — beware of the pricing:
Ended up with a bill
Awf’ly high — bitter pill.
Thanks heavens for chocolate icing!

Healthy Complaint
Dark choc’late, caffeine, and red wine
Might harm us, or may be just fine.
Ev’ry news item muddies
My mind with new studies.
Please make up your mind: What’s benign?

Limerick for National Chocolate Day
Oh, no! Did I make a mistake
While baking that chocolate cake?
An ingredient doubled?
Or tripled? I’m troubled!
I should have bought something from Drake.*

and

Yet Another Excuse To Eat Chocolate
If you want yet another excuse
To engage in some chocolate abuse,
It seems eating those sweets
Will create smart elites
And can Nobel Prize winners produce.

She was also kind enough to agree to answer a few questions:

Cupid Alley Chocolatieres: What were your favorite chocolates growing up and are there particular shops or chocolates that are particularly special treats today?
Madeleine Begun Kane: I can still almost taste those delicious Loft’s Chocolate Parlays of my childhood. They were relatively pricey, so my parents rarely bought them. But once in a while, guests would show up with a candy box packed with Parlay bars wrapped in foil. Alas, our dog loved them too: One day she managed to climb on the table and eat an entire box. But she generously left us the wrappers.

When I was a kid, Krisch’s in Massapequa Park, Long Island, New York was my favorite place for post-concert chocolate ice cream sodas. And to this day, they’re still selling wonderful ice cream and chocolates.

But my favorite chocolatiere is Lazar’s Chocolate, in Great Neck, Long Island. Their milk chocolate turtles and butter crunch are irresistible.

CAC: Can you explain what ties together all the different aspects to your personality: oboist, lawyer, and now award winning humor writer?
MBK: Many writers, especially humor writers, have a music background. After all without rhythm, it’s very hard to be funny. And of course it’s tough for a lawyer to survive without being a pretty good writer.

Nonetheless, such a trio of professions is challenging to explain. But I do summarize it in

What Will I Be When I Grow Up?
Ev’ry decade I change my career.
The first used my musical ear.
I tried lawyering second,
Till humor scribe beckoned.
What’s next? I just can’t wait to hear.

CAC: Do you find any connection between your interest in chocolate and limericks?
MBK: No, but I’m open to suggestions.

CAC: Do you have favorite chocolate recipes?
MBK: I suspect that kitchen implements are involved. So, no.

CAC: Was there a particular inspiration for your limerick contest?
MBK: My weekly limerick contest evolved almost organically: Many years ago, people began to sometimes respond to one of my limericks with their own. This gave me the idea to invite people to write their own limericks using my line. Finally, just over two years ago, I formalized my Limerick-Off challenges into a real contest with Limerick of the Week and other awards.  I now run it both on my humor blog and on my Facebook page, with a new limerick contest posted every Sunday.

CAC: Regarding inspiration, how did you come to write the poems about chocolate?
MBK: I’ve written thousands of limericks about nearly every imaginable topic. So it would be more surprising  if I didn’t occasionally write about something so tasty as a good chocolate.

CAC: What current and future projects are you particularly excited about?
MBK:  Speaking of those thousands of limericks, my plan is to publish several topical books of my limericks: Money Limericks, Marriage Limericks, Legal Limericks, Technology Limericks, Political Limericks, Travel Limericks, etc. I confess that I’ve started this project several times, but something else keeps bumping it. I’m hoping that this year I’ll finally find enough time to put at least a couple of those books together.

Have a happy and ever-delicious National Chocolate Week.

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.

Seriously? Chocolate and Avocado Delectables?

chocolate and avocadoSome might say that even a momentary obsession with chocolate and avocados is about as useful as selling rhinocerous dung for charity. However, wondrous taste can emerge from what might seem silly — think bug like thingy in the ocean (i.e., lobster) or globby food processing innards (i.e., duck liver/foie gras). There are limits of course, one of which was certainly discovered by the Food Network Caporegime Bobby Flay with his chocolate, bacon, lobster, but pretty much everything is worth a try as long as someone might be willing to try at least one bite.

Searching the path true to her native Mexican roots and combination with a pursuit of baking solutions ever more healthy our assistant baker, Valentina Quetzl, began a back room exploration of chocolate and avocados the other day. Admittedly this is not a novel idea as the fruit most people think of as a vegetable has a fat and silkiness that can substitute for butter and oil from recipes and has been combined all over the internet. For example, there’s the Chocolate Mousse from The SweetestVegan.

There’s also a Chocolate Mint Avocado Cookie recipe pulled together by Ashley of The Unintentional Vegan and the three ingredient Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse from the Earth Diet Folks, among many others.

The Haas avocado folks have a bunch of recipes, with highlights including an Avocado Cinnamon Pecan Chocolate Chip Valentina adapted and experimented with:
Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup stevia
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 medium, ripe, avocado
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cups dark chocolate (small) chunks/shavings
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or almonds)
  • 2 tbsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Stir together all dry ingredients in large bowl
  3. Mix in all other ingredients (chocolate and pecans last) until smooth.
  4. Scoop out ½-inch cookie rounds and drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for seven minutes to ten minutes or until golden brown on edges.

She also reported she taking a look at a Tropical Chocolate Avocado Pie and Chocolate Avocado Pistachio Cake recipes, but hasn’t gotten the bugs (so to speak) worked out on the changes she would like to make to enhance the dark chocolatiness of either so won’t share with us where she is … although we are sure it is delicious even now.

Anyway, it is a seemingly dumb idea — that of avocados and chocolate — but it’s got roots and history and great possibilities so after that one day we have decided to send Srta. Quetzl back into her “lab.”

2013 Welcome with Traditional (?) Feast of Many Chocolates

chocolate pudding cookingShould you have an interest in what goes on when the doors are locked, we’re celebrating the onset of 2013 with our Feast of Many Chocolates Techno Chocolate Baby Style.

Actually, we’re not going all TCBS even as it sparks our imagination somewhere. Family and friends will be gathering in a tradition started a few years ago in the spirit of the pre-Christmas Feast of the Seven Fishes. The idea is to create something similar and chocolate-themed as a great way to begin a new year. It’s all young enough an idea that there are no hardened traditions — other than trying to make sure the meal is filling, fulfilling and fantastic. In case you want to follow us (in the prehistoric, non-social media way), here’s the outline for this year’s shopping list (fortunately, almost complete).

Drinks
The aperitif will be Mozart Dry Chocolate Spirit (vodka with cacao lilt) and our dinner imbibes will include champagne (no red wines with chocolate notes this year) and stores of beer from the local gourmet distributor (a few lighter ones for those who will be focusing on the fish, and bottles of stout or maybe Sam Adams Chocolate Bock if nothing else looks right for those taking on the chicken mole). ur reference in store is the crowdbrained Beer Advocate.

Appetizer
Surprisingly, we found our source for the meal’s beginning while poking around the Hershey site, stumbling onto Cocoa Seared Scallops. With much to come, we recommend to everyone at the table they start with just one or two.

Primero
Similarly, we’ll scoop out smallish portions of a Chocolate Pasta with a Light Cream and Chiles Sauce (h/t to the Healthy. Delicious. Blog), although as with every course, there is always a willingness to let the interested partake in seconds while others gab, sip, digest and prepare for the next course and new year. (For simplicity of serving we will make the sauce the day prior and swirl it in the pan once the pasta has been heated and water drained.)

Segundi
More and more of the gathered are choosing fish over meat most days, so there will be more portions available of a Tilapia with Macadamia Nuts and White Chocolate adapted and improved from a Red Lobster concept we found a while ago at Emily’s Gourmet Recipes. Also, early in the day we’ll be doing most of the work, leaving just the final broiling until just before serving of an easy to follow chicken chocolate mole (although in year’s past it also worked on pork chops) recipe.

Spicy Spinach Salad with Chocolate Dressing
The palate cleanser, digestion improver and healthy-thoughts inspirer is a salad we credit to a cruise on Anna’s Cool Finds a few years ago.

Digestive
Before the usual festive meal intermission that includes the split of the gathered into those who do and don’t work the dishwashing crew, we’ll serve a Sambuca with three floating cacao beans. The procedure is to set it aflame for two or three seconds and then sip or slurp, followed by slowly chewing the beans.

Dessert
For the boring-among-us we’ll have chocolate-dipped strawberries, but most favored (we expect) will be a take on the traditional holiday Turrón recipe featuring chocolate nibs we’re working the end of this year in preparation when we get it right for next year:

Ingredients
1 3/4 cup almonds
1 1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
4 egg whites
1/2 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup stevia

Instructions
Soak almonds in water (although we are toying with the idea of using orange liqueur)for about 10 minutes.
Roast almonds at 325F for 15 minutes mixing them up at about 10 minutes.
Process almonds, cacao nibs and stevia into a crunchy blend.
In a medium sized saucepan; gently heat honey to a slow boil; remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Whisk egg whites to a meringue and fold the meringue into the honey. Add vanilla. Return mixture to medium heat constantly stirring for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly mixed and perhaps a burnt orange color … try not to let anything roast on pan’s bottom, but don’t panic if it does.
Cool in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Coffee
Beans medium roasted, malty and with hints of cacao, and then mixed with Kahlua or another coffee liqueur, for those who continue to partake.

All of which will be accompanied by a discussion of how in 2013 we resolve to eat more, ever better tasting, and healthier chocolate and take us pretty close to the final countdown and chocolate-flavored kisses to welcome the (hopefully) healthy, happy and prosperous new year.

And that is what we wish for you as well. Thank you for your patronage this year and (with your feedback) we so much look forward to finding ways to please palates even more in 2013 and beyond.

 

Make/Buy/Drink Chocolate With a Holiday Kick

We’ve never checked the legality — so please don’t rat him out — but every year around now Grumps uses his little corner of one of the back rooms, his “lab/office,” to create his own holiday chocolate cheer. We mention this not just because of the season (and the beginning of the annual squabble over the subject between Grumps and Grammia, or more recent tradition of needing to keep an eye on Hans to see if he might be sneaking into the fluid stash), but because of a customer coming in with a question about chocolate liquor.

For bakers, chocolate liquor is not alcoholic, just the pure chocolate melted into its liquid form.

We’re not fooling ourselves or anyone. For most people chocolate liquor is the delectable combination resulting in a sweet buzz. In that spirit(s) — and we’re not endorsing any of these or promoting drinking and driving or drinking in general or suggesting to you anything that could upset our attorney (or yours) — we mention that we recently came across and recommend for your consideration and possible consumption in the spirit of the season an 86-proof Double Chocolate Bourbon; a Top 10 Chocolate Beer List; and the scintillating DuClaw X-1 chocolate porter (14th on Draft Magazine‘s non-ranked list).

Anyway, back to Grumps. Each year the result is a bit different (and he’s not sharing any secrets) based on whims and what he finds, but having done a bit of online searching, we can say that the foundation of his holiday cocoagrog is similar to the Serious Eats DIY Chocolate Liqueur.

DIY Chocolate Liqueur Recipe

Ingredients
• 2/3 cup cacao nibs
• 1 1/3 cup vodka
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 cup water
• 2 teaspoons real vanilla extract

Steps
1. Combine the cacao nibs and vodka in a sealable glass jar. Shake and then let steep for 8 days.
2. After the initial steeping period, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Let this syrup cool, then add to the jar along with the vanilla extract. Let steep for an additional day.
3. Strain out the nibs through a sieve and then filter through a coffee filter into the bottle or jar you’ll use for storage.

Of course, if you don’t want to wait or want something a bit heavier on the chocolate or needs to give a gift with a lower liquor to chocolate ratio there are always

or or

for you to liven up your season.

Chocolate to Chocolate In, Ashes Out

IN honor of 2 November and El Dia de los Muertos we’re working on a new view of the circle of life. Let’s replace the dreary “ashes to ashes” with a concept of chocolate to chocolate.

The idea is that you start life with potential and a slightly bitter taste (the violence of birth), add interesting ingredients (gain life experience, always looking for how you can improve) to flavor and enhance and finish having tasted the best amalgam your imagination lets you imagine. So far it might be a bit hokey, but it is what we are put in mind of as this year’s Day of the Dead approaches.

While we are always ready to take special orders, we haven’t really worked up anything front-of-the-store-wise to mark the celebration. However, if you happen to stop in during the afternoon you might see a bit of ritual that started a few years ago — nobody can remember exactly when or why — thanks to one of our assistant bakers, Valentina Quetzl, who embues the shop with a bit of the spirits of her native Mexico. At 3:13 we clear the “foyer” and offer our take on the Dance of the Little Old Men

One of the particularly attractive aspects to the holiay is the idea that death works up an appetite so ancestors return to walk the earth and dine with their family. Celebrating should start with Day of the Dead Bread. We’re not big fans of the sort of supersized, holeless donut, but our Dia de Los Muertos backroom catering is likely to borrow. There will be a version of David Lebovitz’s hot chocolate; a fiesta of mole (a savory, chocolate sauce) wittake on RealFoodAllergFree’s Sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with mole sauce and (maybe) a quick whip-up of a simple a Mexican chocolate pecan pie recipe.

In recounting the planned staff menu it is obvious that there should definitely be more under the front glass that celebrates the day. To that end, we’re considering stealing for next year the basics of a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookie we found thanks to blogger Sweet Jumbles, who credits the Busty Baker, who gives her nod to Martha Stewart.

Perhaps by 2 November 2012 we’ll be able to come up with something for Martha Stewart to knock-off and thus complete the cycle of baking: baker to borrower, chocolate to chocolatiere.

We’ll Be Celebrating Ixcacao-Ween

HALLOWEEN is a holiday of cheap chocolate and the heartache (and headaches) it brings. Admittedly not fair, but we blame the great pumpkin.

Well, not actually Linus Van Pelt’s wonderful vision. We love him.

The blame falls to the distorted vision of what Halloween and pumpkin and chocolate could be. This should be the perfect holiday to celebrate the great Mayan goddess of chocolate, Ixcacao [http://www.angelfire.com/nc2/cybertemples/Ixcacao.html]. In that spirit, the folks in the back room are working on the The Goddess Ixcacao Cake we’ll be featuring while everyone else is running around in silly superhero and princess costumes in pursuit of dark, empty calories.

Although there will be no post of the final recipe (come on in for a piece or a whole cake), but an on-the-way-there prototype was composed as follows:

CAKE

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup stevia
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate melted.
  • 2/3 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup crushed pecans (optional glazed with cinammon)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

ICING

  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectionary sugar

Cake
Pre-heat the oven to 350F .
Grease nine-inch cake pan.
Whisk eggs in mixing bowl.
Pour in sugar and continue beating.
Continue mixing and slowly add oil
Add pumpkin.
Add melted chocolate
In separate bowl mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and pecans.
Fold in chocolate mixture.
Pour into cake pan.
Bake 70 minutes. Between 50 and 60 minutes check to see if top is becoming crusty and needs an aluminum foil hat to keep from burning.

Remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes. Ice.

Icing
Mix hot water and cocoa powder.
Beat the butter and slowly add sugar.
Add cocoa paste, beat until well mixed.
Let sit at room temperature until ready to ice.