Posts tagged ‘chocolate’
In the city there are plenty of places to pay top dollar for chocolate but I refuse to drop the big bucks for anything other than La Maison du Chocolat. They have two stores in Manhattan and more in France, London, and Tokyo. When I went to Paris a few years ago, I didn’t go looking for them; instead I was totally infatuated with Fauchon, which had wonderful pastries but their chocolate wasn’t quite up to par.
The first time I had tasted their chocolates I was in college. My wise and most tasteful friend Tamaki bought and shared a Coffret Maison box and some cake from La Maison (I say cake but it was mostly ganache) with me and some classmates. At first my taste buds were out of tune from copious amounts of the much sweeter Lindt truffles earlier that day (it was college, chocolate was often a meal replacement). I was in a bit of a taste shock, unable to take in the flavors at first, but the texture was undeniable. It was the smoothest airy creamy chocolate I’ve ever had, and I was soon an addict for life before the day was over. The chocolate flavors were so rich but not bitter and did not have the cloying sweetness that I was accustomed to. I couldn’t go back to the way things were, every chocolate confection I taste would be compared to them.
My personal favorites are their macarons, fruit infused ganaches like the Salvador (raspberry) and Valencia (orange), and their truffles are the gold standard for me. After one Christmas when I treated myself to a large coffret and gaining 8lbs, I learned to enjoy in moderation more (and only a few times a year). So I stay away from boxes, except for the boxes of mini macarons (which are a bargain compared to the chocolates). The shells are perfectly delicate, crisp and chewy, and are filled with their amazing ganache. Flavors include dark chocolate, milk chocolate, raspberry, vanilla, caramel and coffee; a flavor I normally dislike but they made it great.
I don’t klnow what it’s called. It’s a 2 inch wide ball, with a hazelnut filling, rolled in hazelnuts and praline and coated in dark (milk?) chocolate.
I won’t be receiving my Valentine’s chocolate till this weekend, so I decided to make a little something to hold me over. This is the first time I’ve made this since I was a Girl Scout, oh the memories. My Girl Scout leader would buy solid chocolate bunnies during the post-Easter sale. Then we would melt them and pour over mini marshmallows, nuts, and coconut; rolled in plastic wrap, cool till solid then sliced up to share. I basically followed the same principles but with dark chocolate and vegan marshmallows.
Marshmallow Chocolate Bar
7oz of chocolate (dark or milk)
3/4 cup of mini marshmallows or cut up larger marshmallows
1/3 cup of toasted slivered almonds (or any nuts you have, chopped)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Melt your chocolate, either by stove or microwave. To toast up your nuts (if they aren’t toasted), heat up a dry pan on medium high for a minute or two, add in nuts, gently stir for a 2mins or when they start to turn brown. Pour out the nuts and then toast your coconut in hot pan for a minute, stirring, till you start to smell it (doesn’t have to turn colors). Mix everything together, and then add chocolate. Place piece of plastic wrap in a bowl (or large butter dish, would work better) you may need to divide into two logs, spread out mixture along the length of the wrap. Carefully pinch the ends of the plastic wrap, folding over itself and forming a log (might not really be log shaped), twisting the end close, leave in bowl or container and cool in fridge or freezer till solid.
No, not a bar of chocolate, but a bar for chocolate. I first visited The Chocolate Bar ( 1835 W Alabama St., Houston, TX 77098) a few years ago when a friend of mine mentioned it to me. Since that one time, I have absolutely loved the place and take anyone who hasn’t been there yet. So, when an out of town friend told me she liked chocolate, I thought what better place to go than The Chocolate Bar.
This place has its own chocolate shop adjacent to the “bar” area where you can find an assortment of chocolates, from seasonal designs to your chocolate covered bon bons. But, I must say my favorite area is the bar area. The walls are a bold purple, adorned with candy inspired movie type posters and randomly placed disco balls hanging from the ceiling. There’s plenty of seating, although it doesn’t seem like plenty on a busy Friday night.
So since we were full from dinner, we decided to share a slice of cake. Do you see how gigantic that happy slice of heaven is? Do you see the bottle of milk behind it? You’ll surely need it to get through your decadent dessert. We decided on a slice of Uncle Darryll’s chocolate cake. This moist, 4 layer chocolate cake had the richest, yet lightest chocolate filling. It was covered with what seems like a chocolate ganache and then topped with toffee bits. It was fantastic. Between the two of us, we still couldn’t finish it.
Besides their different varieties of cakes, they also serve their own home made ice cream. I’ve had it in the past, and I think the one I’ve deemed my favorite is the one with white and dark chocolate bits in it. It was just all sorts of yum, and if it wasn’t so chilly, I probably would have had some tonight. I have yet to try everything on their menu, but one of these days I will. There is also fresh brewed coffee and a killer hot chocolate. The staff has always been friendly and helpful and my trips have always been pleasant. I believe the desserts are moderately and reasonably priced, anywhere from $6.95 and $9.95, for the portion of cake/pie you get. Others may disagree, but I have no problem throwing down for some good old chocolate cake.
The Chocolate Bar is a place “Where every hour is happy hour” (yups, that’s their motto). It truly is. Sitting there and enjoying good chocolatey desserts and good company makes a cold Friday night feel remarkably warm.
1 cup cocoa powder
1 cup powder sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp mint extract
3/4 cup melted organic shortening
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp salt
5.3oz bittersweet chocolate (for melting)
For a change of pace from all the recent eating out entries, here’s something homemade.
On Amazon I bought some baking items in bulk. I got 4 containers of Spectrum Organic Shortening, 4 bars of Green Black Organic 72% Baking Chocolate, and 5 canisters of Ghiradelli Cocoa Powder. With these, I can start my own chocolate truffle business. But instead I’ll be baking chocolate goods for months to come. I was going to go all organic but they didn’t carry Green Black Cocoa Powder and the other organic brands weren’t ones that I’m used to baking with. The Ghiradelli was great price for the quality and quanity, I gave one to my cousin (also an avid baker).
I mainly use Spectrum Organic Shortening for my baking because the hubby refuses to eat butter. Sometimes I like to use Earth Balance Whipped Spread for a buttery flavor or as a ghee alternative in curries. Here’s a quick brownie recipe I threw together to use some of that cocoa.
1 1/4 cup organic shortening
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup hazelnut flour
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
These are moist soft fudgey dense brownies, so you don’t have to worry about leavening agents. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cream the shortening and sugar till smooth then add in one egg at a time incorporating fully before adding another (using a mixer). Then gently fold and stir in the cocoa powder with a spoon or spatula (it can fly everywhere using the mixer). Mix in the vanilla and pinch of salt, then add the flour and hazelnut flour and finish mixing with mixer. Pour and spread out the thick batter evenly onto a greased 8×8 inch pan. Bake for 20-25mins, test with a toothpick after 20mins and determine if it’s done or needs another 3 or 5mins. It shouldn’t come out completely dry and clean when you poke it. After taking it out of the oven, let cool for 10mins and you have warm brownies.