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Entries in chocolate (15)

Friday
Mar122010

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Chocolate Facts for American Chocolate Week

Guess what? March 14 marks the start of American Chocolate Week. Like you needed a reason to eat chocolate, right? So, inspired by a list sent to me by Ask.com featuring 10 facts about chocolate, I've added to the list so that you've got a baker's dozen of sweet factoids about the dark and dreamy stuff:

Who invented chocolate? While Nestle and Johnny Depp would lobby for Willy Wonka, history awards the honors to the ancient Aztecs and Mayans of Mexico and Central America.

What is the bestselling chocolate bar? Snickers!

How is chocolate made? Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which are roasted and then ground into a powder. The cocoa powder is then mixed with variations of sugar, milk and cream to make different types of chocolate.

What was CakeSpy's first word? If you believe my mom, the first word I ever uttered, aside from "ma" and "pa" was "chocolate".

Why can’t dogs eat chocolate? The long answer above has something to do with methylxanthines. The short answer involves diarrhea and your new shag carpet.

How can I melt chocolate evenly? Size does matter. Chop the chocolate into uniform pieces to ensure that all the pieces melt at the same speed in a glass bowl over boiling water (double boiler).

Why is fair trade chocolate good for the environment? Fair trade practices can vary in their environment benefits, but it does empower farmers and farm workers to lift themselves out of poverty by developing the business skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace.

How do I make chocolate mousse? Pretty easily actually - all you need is finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, unsalted butter, coffee, heavy cream, eggs and sugar.

Why is dark chocolate good for you? It is packed with flavoniods that keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. 

Should you eat chocolate after working out? Per Wikipedia, A study from James Madison University, presented at the American College of Sports Medicine annual meeting, showed that post-exercise consumption of lowfat chocolate milk provides equal or possibly superior muscle recovery compared to a high-carbohydrate recovery beverage with the same amount of calories. 

Which came first, the cookie or the chocolate chip? Chocolate chip cookies were invented before the morsels. The cookies were invented in 1933 when Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in the town of Whitman, Massachusetts added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. The cookies were a huge success, and Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar's packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars, but in 1939 they started selling the chocolate in chip (or "morsel") form. 

Who doesn't like chocolate? Jesse Breytenbach, who did a graphic novel on the subject. But we'll forgive her, because she's awfully clever.

Chocolate is deadly: In that famous shower scene in Psycho, it's not blood running down the drain--but chocolate syrup. Guess that was easier to get away with when filming in black and white!

Friday
Oct232009

Batter Chatter: Interview with Sarah Leoni of Coco & Co. Fine Chocolates

Photo used w/Permission from Coco & Co
My mother claims my first word (other than, you know, ma and pa) was "chocolate". While I have no memory of the incident, why would she lie about something like this?

This is all, of course, to say, that I have had a lifelong relationship with chocolate--as a consumer. And while my tastes may not be so refined that I can calculate cacao percentages upon a single bite, I do know what I like. And I definitely like Coco & Co., a Portland-based chocolate company specializing in a variety of truffles, barks, and mendiants (fancy chocolate medallions). Want to learn more? Here's a brief interview with Sarah Leoni, the owner and head chocolate girl, who developed a deep love of chocolate in Lyon, France:

CakeSpy: What did you do before you started this company?
Sarah Leoni: I've done lots of odds and ends jobs, everything from being a barista to working in a Microbiology lab to teaching French and Italian and most recently as manager of a salon and spa. Each one taught me a little about what I wanted to do with my life and how to start a business.


CS: What took you to Lyon , France?
SL: I had always dreamed of living in Europe, so when I was in school I gravitated towards languages. I studied French and Italian and was able to spend a year abroad in both Italy and France. The majority of that year was in Lyon.
Photo used w/Permission from Coco & Co
CS: You cite Lyon as the place that really sparked your interest in chocolatemaking. Did you study chocolatemaking there?
SL: If you count eating chocolate all the time, then yes, I studied chocolate there. But no, not formally. I was there to study French language and culture.

 

 

CS: So then, was it just the culture?
SL: In part, I think the inspiration for me to start a business has been there all my life and my love of chocolate was innate. But being in France definitely guided a deeper appreciation for savoring life's pleasures - for taking the time to really enjoy what we eat and drink and do. Also, the chocolateries and the patisseries in France felt like home for me - I could see myself behind their counters. Going into them wasn't just about buying a sweet, it was a way to daydream about the future.  

CS: How has chocolatemaking affected how you look at other chocolate? Has it deepened your appreciation, made you more critical, etc?
SL: Making my own chocolates has made me more critical and more appreciative. I have less tolerance for chocolate that is mass-produced, over-flavored and too sweet. I can notice subtle nuances in chocolate that I couldn't before, so I'm very happy when I find chocolate that is obviously made with care.

Photo used w/Permission from Coco & Co
CS: What is your ultimate chocolate dream?
SL: In terms of chocolate, my dream is to participate in the growing, harvesting and hands-on production of the cocoa beans. I want to make my own chocolate from bean to bar. I want to see that the people growing the trees are getting paid a living wage - I want to connect with the birth of chocolate, the rich history, the cultures it comes from and the lives it supports.

Photo used w/Permission from Coco & Co
Excited? Well, you should be. If you want more, Coco & Co. will be selling chocolate at the following upcoming events in Portland, OR: 
  • November 7: Hip Happening, from 11am-5pm at the Sellwood Masonic Lodge, 7126 SE Milwaukie
  • November 20: Handmade NW Holiday Market, from 10am-6pm at the World Trade Center Plaza, Downtown Portland
  • November 24th: Moreland Holiday Farmer's Market, from 3PM-7PM at the Boys and Girls Club at 7119 SE Milwaukie 
  • December 6: Handmade NW Formal Holiday Artisans Fair, from 11am-6pm at The Chelsea Ballroom
  • December 13: Crafty Wonderland Super Colossal Holiday Sale, from 11am - 7pm at the Oregon Convention Center, Exhibit Hall D, 777 NE MLK Jr. Blvd.

Online shopping is forthcoming; in the meantime, check out what they have to offer (and marvel at the gorgeous photography, largely by Ryan Nowell, at cocoandcochocolates.com.

 

Monday
Nov052007

The Land of Bread and Chocolate: The Bread and Chocolate Bar by Theo Chocolate (Via Cakespy Seattle)

 

What is it about bread and chocolate? Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don't Get Fat and French Women for All Seasons) cites them as her biggest weaknesses. For Cakespy? More like biggest pleasures. And we've found a great way for carb lovers to combine these desires into one taste experience: The Bread and Chocolate Bar, a 3400 Phinney Chocolate Factory imprint of Theo Chocolate.

We first learned about this bar while taking the tour of Theo Chocolate on a Sunday afternoon. Well, to be more specific, Mr. Cakespy, Danny, learned about the bar; our head spy Jessie, who couldn't take the heat, had to leave the tour after nearly fainting. Not the chocolate company's fault; she hadn't eaten lunch and that much of a chocolate smell wafting in the air would probably make anyone swoon.

However, the Bread and Chocolate bar was just the thing to bring her back to life: a rich dark chocolate bar with little buttery bits of toasted bread and crunchy cocoa nibs. Sound weird? Well, not really. Just think of it like the crunch of a Nestle Crunch bar, but much, much higher quality. Take a bite, and stop doubting altogether.

Total carb heaven.

These bars, as well as several other flavors and chocolate products, are available for purchase at theochocolate.com, as well as at several nicer grocery stores; you'll recognize the
unique packaging.

Are you in Seattle or visiting soon? Public tours are available seven days a week at 1pm and 3pm, with an additional 11am tour on Saturday and Sunday. The tour is $5 per person ages 5 and older. Reservations are recommended. To make a reservation please call (206) 632-5100.

Friday
Oct192007

Sweet on You: Pumpkin Truffles by Sweet On Chocolate in Syracuse

Lucky Danny: He said “See ya” and went off to live the dream by going on tour with his band Speaker Speaker. However, he’s redeemed himself (somewhat) by spying out some excellent sweets on the road. While we will be publishing a full update of what he ate on tour upon his return in November, one find was simply too good to wait: Pumpkin Truffles by Sweet On Chocolate in Syracuse, New York.

Sweet On Chocolate has been making handmade chocolates since 1993, and features a wide variety of hand-dipped chocolates, hand-made truffles, and novelties such as dipped potato chips. While they say the latter is one of their bestsellers, at the moment of truth, Danny went for the pumpkin truffle, perhaps owing to the chill in the October air (or perhaps an employee’s suggestion). The choice was a good one: the dark chocolate shell broke open perfectly, and the consistency of the filling was a soft cascade of chocolatey-pumpkiny-carmelly goodness; an ideal mixture of sweet and savory, and deeply satisfying.

Kind of like Halloween candy all grown up.

Cakespy Note: Although it is not advertised, Sweet On Chocolate will ship orders pretty much nationwide via UPS; however, they will not ship during the warmer months or to warmer climates.

Available at Sweet On Chocolate, 208 Walton Street, Syracuse; online at sweetonchocolate.com (splash page only). To inquire about having chocolates shipped, call (315) 478-0811.

Sunday
Sep302007

This is Your Brain on Chocolate: Recipe Notecards by Greg Clark

Is he a wannabe boyfriend, or a stalker? Is she a cat enthusiast, or a creepy cat lady? Hey, sometimes cute vs. creepy can be a hard call indeed.

In the case of recipe notecards by Greg Clarke, while the struggle is there (strangely surreal pastry and beverage-headed characters wearing their party best), ultimately cute wins. Strange heads or not they're charming, and the sentiment wins us over: each notecard is imprinted with a chocolate-themed recipe like Triple Chocolate Brownies or Overly Indulgent Cupcakes; they'll make your letters or thank you notes that much sweeter.

While still being just a little bit creepy.

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