Chocolate Sunday – a bit of decadence

This is my first Chocolate Sunday post in a while. After my blogging hiatus in the summer, I found it hard to get back in gear. I also realized over the ensuing months that I preferred a looser blogging schedule, at least for a while, so that I could post four days a week if I liked, or less often if it suited me.

But I’ve been hoarding ideas, and I’ve got three chocolate-related items on my desk that have been begging to be blogged about – reminders of why I like to blog about chocolate in the first place.

These are real treats. A bit of decadence, even to read about.

hedonist chocolates1. My son brought me some coconut curry bark from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates in Rochester, NY, last year. What a great mix of flavours! And not too much heat. Delicious.

 

 

flagrants desirs2. A few months ago, at a Montreal dépanneur, I discovered French chocolate bars called Flagrants Désirs. The name just hints at the description on the package, which promises “a sensuous gourmet moment in every bite.” Dark Caramel & Sea Salt was especially tempting. But I think it sounds more decadent in French – Caramel et Fleur de Sel.

 

chocoMe3. I was at Toronto’s annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in November, and swooned over ChocoMe chocolate, a high-end brand with unusual and quality ingredients. I took home a square of dark chocolate topped with crystallized rose petals and freeze-dried sour cherry pieces, and another with crystallized violet petals, pistachio, and freeze-dried sour cherry pieces.

I’m enjoying them all vicariously just writing about them.

 

 

Chocolate Sunday – Chocolate Show in Toronto/Chocolate Fun in Niagara!

Toronto’s fourth annual Luxury Chocolate Show is coming up November 2, and I probably won’t get there. Sigh! I enjoyed it so much last year. It’s the final event of a larger chocolate festival, which includes chocolate high tea at the King Edward Hotel.

There are also coupons available if you click on “Chocolicious” (under events) on the chocolate festival page. One of the coupons in particular caught my eye – the one for Criveller, in Niagara Falls, Ontario – because it ties into what I wanted to write about in this post.

Last Sunday, my husband and I rented bikes in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and planned to cycle the wine route.

We added an extra stop to our route when we learned that there’s a chocolate factory in St. David’s, about a 12-km ride from where we started. It opened in 2005. How did I not know this before?

Much to my chagrin, my husband – who was leading the way – overshot the chocolate factory. Pretty much everyone I know cycles faster than I do.

chocolate f:x factory

If you don’t want to go right past Chocolate F/X like we did, this is what it looks like.

I caught up with him near the entrance to Ravine Winery, and we decided to check it out before heading back to Chocolate F/X.

We had a light lunch (soup and a sour cream/chive muffin), and after tasting a couple of wines, headed to Ravine’s “grocery” store to try an oversized, over icing-sugared doughnut.

chocolate mousse doughnut ravine winery

Ravine Winery’s chocolate mousse-filled doughnut – decadent!

I wasn’t particularly tempted by it until I found out that it was stuffed with… wait for it… chocolate mousse. Whoa! It wasn’t just a doughnut; it was an experience! Messy, fun to eat, and more than enough for two people. We got lucky with the chocolate mousse, because they rotate fillings.

While we were waiting in line, we spoke to a local woman, who recommended Criveller. We’ll have to check it out next time we’re in Niagara Falls.

At Chocolate F/X, we took a 20-minute tour. More fun, and a variety of samples. We bought some milk chocolate maple walnuts and two dark chocolate peanut butter cups. We were advised to hold the peanut butter cups upside-down to eat, because the chocolate top is thicker than the bottom. Delicious!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Sunday – Be choosy about chocolate!

This week, the news about chocolate was kind of disappointing. This article from The Globe and Mail says that health benefits are “unlikely,” because the amount of resveratrol is not high enough in a typical diet to create the kind of benefits that have been hyped. Resveratrol is a compound found in chocolate, which is thought to be linked to reduced inflammation and reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. Sigh.

But another article in Forbes ends on a more positive note, saying that a little bit of chocolate and red wine “may do you good.” It also says there may be other substances in chocolate that are beneficial.

The good news is that nobody is saying to avoid chocolate. Just have it in moderation. Which we knew, anyway.

But it got me thinking. If you’re going to consciously limit your chocolate intake – and maybe limit it further – what is the very best chocolate? The most decadent?

I think if you’re going to have just a small amount, it should be a chocolate you can savour. Something rich and maybe expensive, so you won’t be as tempted to overindulge.

The first two chocolates that come to my mind are Valrhona and any high-quality chocolate truffle, the kind you buy one-at-a-time because they are so rich. Like the truffles at Cocolat in San Francisco, circa 1984. But they were so big that I’m not sure they qualified as something to eat “in moderation,” unless you shared one with a friend.

What comes to your mind? Is one chocolate enough, if it’s perfection?

Hmmm.

 

Chocolate Sunday – Mother’s Day treats!

I wasn’t going to post anything new specifically for Mother’s Day, even though I searched through my recipes to find a special chocolate dessert. Instead, I ended up using my tried and true (and easy!) recipe for flourless chocolate cake.

ecuadorean chocolateThe other night, I tried some Ecuadorean chocolate that we received as a gift. Milk chocolate with passion fruit was a special treat, because I’d never tried it before.

Another treat – a little Mother’s Day present – some organic dark chocolate. I’ll try it later.

It’s definitely a Chocolate Sunday.

Chocolate Sunday – Toothpaste?

Um, yes. Chocolate toothpaste. My son brought me a tube of Crest’s new Mint Chocolate Trek toothpaste when he returned recently from a trip to the U.S. It’s not available in Canada, as far as I know.

chocolate mint toothpasteI was skeptical. Toothpaste isn’t a product I would go to, or maybe even want to go to, for a hit of chocolate.

But I liked it better than I expected. It tasted chocolatey, and the mint flavour is fresh.

Mint Chocolate Trek is part of a new Crest line of toothpastes called “Be.” More info here on crest.com. The other flavours are Lime Spearmint Zest (Be Dynamic) and Vanilla Mint Spark (Be Inspired), while the chocolate version is called “Be Adventurous.”

Hmm. Will it make me feel more adventurous every time I brush my teeth? Am I adventurous because I tried it in the first place? Someone had fun coming up with this campaign. I had fun just reading the box.

But it’s a serious (i.e. flouride-containing) toothpaste. It’s also part of an effort by parent company Procter & Gamble to “spur growth in developed markets” in a year that has seen net revenue fall, according to this article in Canadian Business.

If you’re a chocolate lover, it’s a novel way to… explore outside your boundaries, to use the phrasing on the package.

If you try it, enjoy! And, chocolate or not, remember to brush 🙂

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Sunday – Muffintashen!

When I blogged on Tuesday about baking Alice Medrich’s chocolate hamantashen, I had only used about half my dough and less than half of the chocolate filling.

hamantashen x2 close-up

“Muffintashen” and hamantashen – same ingredients, different dessert. Mmmm!

Two days later, the filling was still begging to be used, but the dough, if anything, was even harder to work with. I gave up after making seven little hamantashen. But it would have been a shame to let the chocolate filling go to waste.

Light bulb moment – I realized there was no need to roll the dough if I used it to sandwich the decadent filling in mini-muffin tins.

So easy! And I think the end result was even better than the hamantashen, partly because the filling-to-dough ratio was higher. Sometimes it’s all about the chocolate.

We sampled some hamantashen Friday night for dessert, and also the confection made from the same ingredients. My son dubbed them “muffintashen.” In terms of symbolism and a holiday food, they don’t replace hamantashen, but I was pleased that I could use up the ingredients, and enjoy a decadent bite-sized treat.

Chocolate “Muffintashen”

1 recipe for chocolate hamantashen filling

1 hamantashen cookie-dough recipe

1. Oil mini-muffin tins.

2. Put dough in muffin tins to cover bottoms, and press down.

3. Spoon generous amount of filling, and press down.

4. Sprinkle crumbled dough on top of filling, and press down.

5. Bake at 350 about 10-12 minutes, until done.

Enjoy, and Happy Purim!

Chocolate Sunday on Tuesday – Chocolate Hamantashen, part 2

The approach of Purim this weekend is pre-empting my usual Tuesday blog post about writing, journalism and/or life after being downsized. But I suppose finding time to bake hamantashen on a Monday afternoon, when I would otherwise be working, is part of life after being downsized.

chocolate hamantashen

My chocolate hamantashen didn’t look perfect, but the chocolate filling is probably the best I’ve ever tasted.

I had high expectations when I set out to recreate chocolatier Alice Medrich’s recipe for chocolate hamantashen. I blogged about it here on Sunday, but didn’t have time to bake until yesterday.

My first thought was that I owe Alice Medrich an apology for not doing her recipe justice. I cheated a bit by melting the chocolate and butter in the microwave, not over hot water. I also substituted coconut sugar for regular sugar in the dough, because I didn’t have enough white sugar. And I suspect my butter wasn’t the right consistency (“softened but not squishy”) – or maybe coconut sugar just wasn’t a good option – because I found the dough hard to work with.

That said, the chocolate filling is divine. The recipe is definitely a keeper. And my kitchen smelled deliciously buttery while the hamantashen were baking.

Enjoy, and Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!