Le Flour Bakery, Amazon in UK and Kickin’ Chocolate Barbecue Sauce

Today as I write, I’m enjoying some French macaroons, one of my favorite treats, from Le Flour Bakery.  For those of you in the Chicago area who haven’t been to Le Flour, you really have to go.  Nicole, the owner, attended the French Pastry School in Chicago, so she really knows what she’s doing.  I got a “tube” of French macaroons which contains 6.  Today’s flavors were pistachio, chocolate, strawberry and lemon.  I’m a huge fan of the pistachio and the chocolate. You can buy them individually too.  The tubes are great hostess gifts, for someone in the hospital or just to brighten up someone’s day.  Don’t forget that someone can be you!

Le Flour French Macaroon Tube

Le Flour also offers lots of other chocolate treats including cakes, chocolate chip scones that are simply brilliant with some butter, cupcakes, tarts and cookies.  Their tea breads are huge.  They are tender and moist. A shmear of the almighty cream cheese and you’re set for any meal.  Since you should probably eat something before hand, they always have a homemade soup and my favorite…the ham and cheese on a brioche roll.  As them to heat it up…trust me.  When you’re done eating and buying desserts to take home, buy a few veggie tarts.  They are the perfect lunch or dinner with a salad and a glass of wine during these dog days of summer.  Bring the kids too!  They are very kid friendly.  Everything is down low so they can see and feel the love too.  Le Flour Bakery is located in the Edison Park section of Chicago at 6701 N. Olmsted Avenue.

Chicagoans (and those of you with satellite)…This weekend, the Edison Park neighborhood will be featured on CLTV on Saturday, August 14th @ 9:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. and on Sunday, August 15th on WGN @ 11:00 a.m.  Host Rochelle Vayo-Adkinson meets with local business owners, highlights the neighborhood’s attractions, and the other benefits of living in Edison Park!

Just want to remind everyone to keep on voting for me in the Anthony Bourdain contest.  You can vote daily and I sure wish you would.  Tell your friends too! Click here to vote.

For those of you living in the United Kingdom, or anywhere in Europe for that matter, you may now purchase my books through Amazon.co.uk in either paperback or Kindle form. Thank you for your support!

Tomorrow’s guest blogger is Carmen from Chocri Chocolate.  Don’t forget!

I had a hard time picking the recipe for today. Could be because I’ve been eating French macaroons and chocolate since just after breakfast.  The answer?  Summer barbecue.  How about a Kickin’ Chocolate Barbecue Sauce?  Yes, kickin’!  In case you haven’t tried it this way, chocolate is not only good in the sweet department, it’s marvelous in the savory sector too.  This barbecue sauce has the richness of the chocolate with the sweetness of brown sugar, the tang from apple cider vinegar and just when you thought you tasted everything…pow! A nice burn in your throat.  Works on chicken, turkey, veal, beef, pork and shrimp.  The kids like to dip their fries and veggies in it too.  My nephew swears it’s the best on his corn on the cob.  You have to believe him.  He did say chocolate is the most important meal of the day! Why not?

Kickin' Chocolate Barbecue Sauce

Kickin’ Chocolate Barbecue Sauce

1 tablespoon salted butter, soft
4 each garlic cloves, minced
½ each Spanish onion, small dice
2 each Roma tomatoes, stem removed, small dice
1 ½ ounces dark brown sugar
4 teaspoons ancho chili powder
4 ounces apple cider vinegar
8 ounces organic ketchup (you don’t want the corn syrup in it)
14 ounces vegetable stock
¼ teaspoon cumin, ground
¼ cinnamon, ground
1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (80% or higher cocoa content)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon pepper, fresh ground

Melt butter in small sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, sauté 5 minutes until golden brown. Add tomatoes, stir, and sauté an additional 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and chili powder, mix well, and cook for 5 minutes. Add vinegar, reduce for 5 minutes, mixture should have a paste consistency. Add ketchup, stock, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper. Mix well. Bring to a boil and reduce to a slow simmer for 30 minutes.

Add chocolate and cilantro; allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Puree sauce, transfer to a clean container and cool. For best results, refrigerate for 12 hours before using. Jar your own if you want!

Pork shredded with more sauce for sandwiches!

Storing Chocolate Bars and Chocolate Fudge Half-Pound Cake

I recently had a question from someone that was having problems with a recipe for chocolate bark.  She was putting it in the refrigerator to set and was having problems with “sweat” once she took it out.  I thought we’d talk about chocolate bar packaging and how to store it today since there are so many old wives tales out there about it.

Chronicle Books Chocolate Bar Wrapper Wall (I have a box, but like this idea!)

All chocolate is temperamental.  Chocolate bars are no exception. Packaging of chocolate bars is in transition right now.  The issues are that if the chocolate bar is wrapped in foil, it will remain fresher longer, but it can also pick up the metallic taste of the foil.  Waxed paper and parchment paper are being used more frequently, but the shelf life is much shorter.  A few companies are also using waxed lined foil which solves both of the problems. Some chocolatiers are started to use clear plastic to package their chocolate bars.  Chocolate needs protected from the light and the plastic bags can become little hot houses for the chocolate bar, which are not recommended for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. They don’t like it.

Foil Chocolate Bar Wrappers

Perfect Temperature

Chocolate should be stored in a cool dry place in its original packaging.  Chocolate does not like the temperature and humidity to vary from the high-end to the low end either.  Chocolate likes a cool, dark place. A low shelf in your pantry if it’s away from the appliances is perfect. The room temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees, although some say 55 to 60 degrees.  Chocolate is happiest and stays in the best condition between 55% to 65% humidity. Any higher or lower temperature will cause the chocolate to bloom.

Chocolate Bloom

Bloom is a grayish white film on the surface of the chocolate bar.  This means that the cocoa butter has separated.  It will still taste okay, but won’t have that beautiful color and shine.  A higher temperature will also cause melting. Once the chocolate melts and then hardens, the chocolate will look like nothing but a blob.  Chocolate is like a fine jewel.  It should be taken care of to maintain its beautiful color, texture, shine and taste.  If you do open a chocolate bar and only eat part of it, first wrap wax paper or parchment around the chocolate bar and then add a foil layer around the bar to keep it fresh.

Chocolate (Photo Courtesy of Madame Chocolat)

Never store chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer.  Many people do, but chocolate just doesn’t like it.  Chocolate should never be stored near items with a strong odor.  A chocolate bar place next to an onion will take on the aroma, smell and even taste like an onion.  Dark chocolate will keep for up to three to five years if stored properly, milk chocolate for up to eighteen months and white chocolate for up to five years.  Most chocolatiers now put expiration dates on their chocolate bars so their individual shelf life may differ.

Bonbons in Madrid

Chocolate that can go into the refrigerator are chocolate cakes or cakes that have some form of chocolate in them, brownies and chocolate buttercream icing.  Chocolate bon bons (aka chocolates, pralines), truffles, chocolate bars, ganache and fudge should never be put into the refrigerator because it changes the chemical make-up of the chocolate.

You spent good money on your fine chocolate and the chocolatiers creating it for you have put in time, love and money to make it for you.  Make sure you give it the love and respect that it deserves and enjoy it!  If you’e not sure where or how something chocolate should be stored, drop me an email!

The recipe today is for Chocolate Fudge Half-Poundcake.  It’s called half-poundcake, because there is not the traditional pound of each ingredient and it is made in a bundt pan.  This is great for breakfast (I’ve made French toast out of it before.  Plan on a nap after! It’s good toasted under the broiler too.), it’s a nice afternoon snack with shmear of cream cheese or you can serve it for dessert.  You may make it with or without the glaze.  If you’d like, you may substitute agave for the honey in the chocolate glaze recipe.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Fudge Half-Pound Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Serves 8

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons brandy (You may substitute with water.)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

Chocolate Fudge Half-Poundcake Without Glaze Made in a Fancy Pan for the Holidays

Chocolate Fudge Half-Poundcake Without Glaze Made in a Fancy Pan for the Holidays

Chocolate Glaze (optional)

8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heavily grease a 12 cup Bundt pan; set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To make the cake, place chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in chocolate, vanilla and brandy. In a small bowl stir together flour, salt and baking soda. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour in fourths and buttermilk in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour into prepared pan. Bake in center of oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove to rack and cool 10 minutes. Invert to remove from pan and cool 20 minutes before frosting.

Meanwhile make Chocolate Glaze, if desired, melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly.

When cake has cooled, pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.

Chocolate Fudge Half-Poundcake with Chocolate Glaze

World Chocolate Masters and Texas Sheet Cake

Happy Hump Day!  I have to tell you something…I just met someone who works for Barry Callebaut in Spain and he asked me if I followed the World Chocolate Masters.  I was embarrassed to say that I had no idea what this was.  He sent me the link.  The World Chocolate Masters is the only competition in the world devoted completely to the art of chocolate!  Pre-selection for the 2011 competition starts this fall with the US and Belgium .  The theme of this years competition asks participants their works and the spectators to the mystical origins of cocoa in the distant history of Aztec civilization. The finals happen in Paris 17-20 October 2011. Finalists have their expense paid to get to the event and while they are there.  The top three winner for the finals receive a trophy and share 100,000 euros worth of prizes. Looks exciting!

Here’s the information if you want to participate:

The World Chocolate Masters is open to entry from any practicing chocolate professional from the worlds of confectionery, pastry, bakery or gastronomy. Should you wish to take up the challenge to achieve the title of your countries Chocolate Master, and qualify for the opportunity to become World Chocolate Master 2011, please use our site to access rules and application forms. Applications should be sent at the latest 3 months before the competition.

Today’s recipe is something that we used to eat a lot of when I was growing up.  It seems to have disappeared.  I guess it’s a retro dessert! Let’s bring it back!  It’s the Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s easy, it’s tasty and it’s rich.

Texas Sheet Cake

Serves 12


For the Cake:
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

For the Icing:
6  tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 375°F. To prepare the cake, coat a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set prepared pan aside.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (2 cups flour through salt) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Combine water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; pour into flour mixture. Beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake at 375° for 17 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

To prepare the icing, combine 6 tablespoons butter, milk, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and gradually stir in powdered sugar, pecans, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Cool completely on wire rack.

Note: You can also make this recipe in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 375º for 22 minutes.

Texas Sheet Cake

Chocolate News and S’more Brownies for National S’more Day

Snake and Butterfly Chocolate

Lots of chocolate news today! I’m excited that I just received some chocolates and chocolate bars from Snake and Butterfly Chocolate.  Look for a review in the next few weeks.  I also received the best book ever.  It’s called Chocolate: History, Culture and Heritage.  The chocolate book is full of wonderful information.  It’s almost like a text book.  At almost 1000 pages, I should have a review for this book done in about a month.  I want to take my time.

Chocolate- History, Culture and Heritage

The 4th Annual Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon returns to Pasadena, California on October 10, 2010 from 10am-5:00pm.  Tickets purchased in advance are $20.  Even better, early bird tickets purchased before August 31 are only $17.95.  They are $25 at the door.  Expect to see and taste samples from over 35 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries and other culinary artisans.

Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge Chia Chai Caramel

Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge in Anchorage, Alaska just released a new item called Chia Chai Caramel.  Ch-ch-ch-chia!  Just the name alone makes me want to order a box!  This yummy treat’s caramel center is infused with chai, a spiced tea, dipped in decadent 65% dark chocolate, and topped with organic Chia seeds. What are Chia seeds? Chia seeds are rich in omegas, fiber, protein, amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, iron, and calcium (to name a few). So not only does it taste good, it’s good for you, too!

William Curley Pastry

William Curley Patissier Chocolatier announces that to celebrate National Chocolate Week, 11th – 17th October, they will be collaborating with Claridge’s, London’s most iconic hotel to provide a week full of chocolate inspired tastings and events. The main offering will be an exclusive William Curley Chocolate Afternoon Tea, adding to the famous, award-winning English Afternoon Tea for which Claridges are so well renowned. During the week William will host tastings and master classes at Claridge’s.

They will also be celebrating quite a few Japanese heritage  in September including ten incredible days of Japanese inspired events, tastings and master classes.  The will be conducted two Japanese inspired truffle making classes, tea and chocolate pairing and sake and chocolate tastings.  Sounds like a lot of fun, not to mention lots to learn.

World Cocoa Foundation

The World Cocoa Foundation invites you to attend their 18th biannual Partnership Meeting & Roundtable Sessions on October 20-21, 2010 in Washington DC, USA. Click here to register. It looks like an interesting event and they even have cocoa breaks scheduled in! If you have any questions, you may contact Clementine Leahy at 202-737-7870 or clementine.leahy@worldcocoa.org

Truffle Truffle's Black Truffle S'More

And if you didn’t know it already…today is National S’More Day.  I used to love spending nights on our beach with a big fire roasting marshmallows and making s’mores.  Times have changed and people now make all kind of different s’mores for you.  Have you tried Truffle Truffle’s S’mores? So many to pick from!  They offer Orange Tarragon S’More, Root Beer Float S’More, Chipotle Peanut Butter S’More, Chai S’More, Coconut Key Lime S’More, Black Truffle S’More, Strawberry Basil S’More, Mocha S’More, Banana Cream S’More, Lemon Rosemary S’Moreand Mint S’more.  How’s that for taunting your tastebuds?  They have  a sale going on today to celebrate.  Enter SMORE at check out and receive 20% off your entire order!

And our recipe today?  S’More Brownies, of course!  I made these last summer for a party and people went nuts over it!  The nice thing is that you can make it in the cold months to get that by the fire feeling when you’re freezing your parts off!  Hope you enjoy the S’More Brownies!

S’More Brownies

Serves 24

10 whole graham crackers,broken crosswise in half
3/4 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used 90%. You can use baker’s chocolate.)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semi-chocolate (I used 70%), measurement should be after chopping into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending beyond sides of pan; grease foil. Place 15 of the graham squares in bottom of pan, overlapping slightly. Break remaining 5 graham squares into large pieces; set aside.

Place butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over low heat.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Remove from heat. Stir in sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in flour until well blended. Spread over graham squares in pan.

Bake 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.)

Sprinkle evenly with marshmallows and chocolate chunks. Bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes or until marshmallows begin to puff.  Cool in pan on wire rack. Lift out of pan onto cutting board using foil handles. Cut into 36 bars.

For a real show, torch the top of the brownies so they get a nice warm brown color.  Kids love the torch!

S'More Brownies

Cocoa Pasta with Vanilla Sauce, Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli, and Chocolate Ravioli with Strawberry Tempura and Whipped Malted Cream

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of chocolate pasta recipes.  The reason?  I had it once.  That’s all it took.  One time and I was hooked.  You see, if you’ve never indulged in chocolate pasta, it’s not sweet and overpowering.  It’s subtle and gentle to your taste buds.  There are some places that you can purchase pre-made chocolate pasta.  I’m not at all opposed to using that.  I’m bringing you the mother load of recipes today.  Three of them.  In advance, I apologize for not giving credit where credit is do.  I don’t remember where I found these recipes.  There are more, but you have to start somewhere.  The first is a recipe for Cocoa Pasta with a Vanilla Sauce. The Vanilla Sauce is fabulous served over sliced fruit, on toast or really any other dessert.  It’s even nice on oatmeal! The second isn’t an Italian pasta, it’s a Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli made with wontons.  The last recipe is a huge surprise!  It’s time consuming and has a lot of ingredients, but fantastic for a special occasion!  Chocolate Ravioli with Strawberry Tempura and Whipped Malted Cream. You could omit the malted cream, but why would you?  Who does love cream? These are all considered dessert pastas, but I don’t think you’ll hear any objections if you serve any of these for a starter course or even lunch.  Just balance it out with a salad with a salty cheese and you’re good to go!  Enjoy!

Cocoa Pasta

Serves 4

2 cups semolina flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs, beaten
Ice water, if needed

Sift together the flour, cocoa and sugar. Mix the vanilla with the eggs. Add flour slowly to the eggs. Knead into a smooth ball (add small amounts of ice water if required). Roll and cut dough as desired.

Chocolate Pasta

Vanilla Sauce

6 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup sherry
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (more if needed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fill the bottom of a double boiler or a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium.

Put the egg yolks in the top part of a double boiler or in a copper or stainless steel bowl that will sit on top of the saucepan. Whisk the eggs vigorously until they turn pale yellow. Whisk in the sugar and salt. Set the eggs over the boiling water and whisk constantly as they increase in volume. Turn the bowl frequently to avoid hot spots.

Whisk in the sherry, lemon juice and vanilla extract and continue to beat the mixture until it has doubled in volume and is smooth and glossy. Be sure to beat too long. If the sauce begins to deflate stop immediately and remove from the heat.

Vanilla Sauce

Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli

Serves 8

16 wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 cup Nutella
Vegetable oil, for frying ( I used macadamia nut oil)
16 fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Place 1 wonton wrapper on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg. Spoon 1 tablespoon of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal.

Place the ravioli on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wonton wrappers, egg, and chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Add enough oil to a heavy large frying pan to reach a depth of 2 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to the hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Then, transfer the cooked ravioli to another baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven while frying the remaining ravioli. (The fried ravioli can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cool them completely, then cover and refrigerate.

Before serving, place them on a baking sheet and rewarm in a preheated 375 degrees F oven just until they are heated through, about 7 minutes.)

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray. Working with 1 leaf at a time, dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Arrange 2 fried ravioli on each plate. Dust the ravioli with powdered sugar. Garnish with the sugared mint leaves and serve.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ravioli

Chocolate Ravioli with Strawberry Tempura and Whipped Malted Cream

Serves 12


For Ravioli Dough:
3 cups flour
½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 Tablespoons kosher salt
6 eggs
4 Tablespoons olive oil

For Ravioli Filling:
3 cups milk
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
½ pound bittersweet chocolate (I used 80%)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup tequila

For Tempura Batter:
24 ounces sparkling water, cold
1 ¾ ounces baking powder
24 ounces flour
4 Tablespoons dried ginger

For Chocolate Ganache:
½ quart milk
1 ½ quart heavy cream 40%
1 pound unsalted butter
6 pounds semi sweet chocolate, chopped (I used 70%)
½ cup tequila

For Malted Cream:
½ cup granulated sugar
1 quart heavy cream
4 Tablespoons malt powder

To Serve:
2 cups granulated sugar
Peanut oil
12 long stemmed strawberries


For Ravioli Dough:

Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Turn out onto work surface and form gently into a mound. Make a well in mound and add eggs. Using a fork, whisk eggs into mound and make a dough, adding olive oil. Knead with hands for a few minutes, then cover with plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Roll into thin sheets using a pasta machine. Keep the sheets covered to prevent drying and cracking.

Chocolate Pasta Being Made

For Ravioli Filling:
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape insides into medium pot. Add pod and milk to pot and bring to a boil. In a separate bowl, combine yolks and sugar. Whip until fluffy. Slowly temper the egg mixture with the hot milk. Cook over medium heat until it coats the back of a spoon. Refrigerate. Melt the chocolate and whisk in the butter and tequila over a double boiler. Fold into chilled milk mixture.

Making Ravioli Filling

For Ravioli:
Working with one sheet at a time, pipe the filling into 1 ½ – inch rounds. Lay another sheet over and form raviolis. Cut out and freeze until service.

For Tempura Batter:
Combine all ingredients mix gently. Do not over mix. Chill until service.

Tempura Batter

For Chocolate Ganache:
Bring milk and cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate and butter. Mix, gradually adding tequila until cool. Hold at room temperature for service.

Chocolate Ganache

For Whipped Malted Cream:
Whip all ingredients together until stiff peaks are formed.

To Serve:
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add sugar. In a separate pan, add peanut oil and bring to 375°F. Place three ravioli per person in the boiling water. When they float to the surface they are done and can be placed (after draining any excess liquid) on warm plates. Dip strawberries in tempura batter and deep fry in peanut oil until golden, drain and place one strawberry in center of each plate. Drizzle ganache around and garnish with whipped malted cream.

Chocolate Ravioli

Sorry I don’t have a photo of the finished product.  I made this about two years ago and wasn’t taking photos of my work at the time.  I’ve made it once like it is and once without the strawberries and tempura which I think is a lot of work.  I sliced strawberries up and arranged them on top of the ravioli before adding the cream.

Chocolate Pairings and Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Dark Chocolate and Brownies

In the world of chocolate, there are many ingredients that you may pair with it not only in truffles, bonbons and chocolate bars, but also in cooking, baking and dipping.  There are five primary classifications for food pairing with chocolate.  They are vanilla, nuts, fruits, spices, and spirits and wine.  The chocolate with these ingredients compliment each other.  The chocolate compliments the ingredients and the ingredients compliment the chocolate.

Vanilla Beans

When pairing vanilla with chocolate, you may use Bourbon or Tahitian vanilla.  Vanilla may be added to chocolate couverture or used in the centers of bon bons, in truffles or any baked goods.  There  is a synthetic form of vanilla called vanillin which is not recommended.  It is made from the sap of a pine tree and has a terrible aftertaste.  It is frequently used in commercial, mass produced chocolate bars as it is significantly less expensive that pure vanilla.  If vanilla is used as the primary flavor, only dark chocolate should be used.  If using vanilla as additional flavoring, it may be added to milk chocolate too.  Vanilla is wonderful in dark chocolate truffles, chocolate cake and added to hot chocolate.


There are a wide variety of nuts including almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pistachios and walnuts to name a few.  They are used with chocolate in bon bons, marzipan, pralines, chocolate bars and baked goods. Nuts may be paired with milk or dark chocolate.  When using marzipan, it is best paired with very dark chocolate and pralines are best with milk chocolate.   The United State’s favorite nut is the peanut with chocolate and Europe’s number one flavor is hazelnut with chocolate.


Most all fruits can be paired with chocolate.  The most popular are mangoes, strawberries, oranges, raspberries, blackberries and cherries.  Fruit is fantastic in chocolate baked goods as well as being used as a garnish. Fruits are also amazing as a flavor added to chocolate bars, in centers of bon bons or to enhance truffles.  Fruit often accompanies chocolate fondue.


Some of the common spices used with chocolate are ginger, anise, chilies, cinnamon and pepper.  These spices may be used in chocolate bars, for bon bon fillings, in truffles, added to baked goods and as a garnish.  Crystallized ginger is often dipped in dark chocolate for a wonderful taste explosion.  Spices work best with dark chocolate, although more and more chocolatiers are started to find fabulous combinations that work with milk chocolate.  In baking, all spices work particularly well.  Anise, cinnamon and chilies have been used in a hot chocolate drink since the Aztecs and Mayans invented it.

Spirits and Wines

Spirits and wines are becoming more and more popular when making chocolate, conducting tastings and pairings, and in cooking.  Some of the more popular spirits used with chocolate are sherry, brandy, cognac and rum. More recently, red wine, dessert wine, white wine and champagnes are being added to chocolate.  Chocolate and beers/ales have become in fashion over the past year.  Spirits and wines are great for use in chocolate desserts, in bon bon centers and in truffles.  They work equally as well with both milk and dark chocolate.

Although these are the more common pairings of ingredients with both milk and dark chocolate, chocolatiers and pastry chefs are constantly testing our palates to bring us more unusual and unique flavor combinations.  It is always nice to think out of the box and try new things.  Who knows what you might be missing!

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Serves 12

1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons butter, room temperature (reason for odd amount  is  the original recipe called for Crisco at 1/3 cup which you may still use if you’d like)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup blackberry jam
2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
1 cup raisins (I used dried, unsweetened mixed berries.)
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts.)

Mix flour, soda, salt and spices; set aside. Mix milk and juice. Cream butter, beat in sugars until fluffy. Add egg yolks and beat well. Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture. Beat after each addition. Fold in jam, nuts and raisins; also fold in cooled chocolate.

Beat egg whites to peaks, then fold mixture into beaten egg whites. Bake in greased and floured 10-inch bundt pan at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream and fresh blackberries or as shown in photo heat up blackberry jam and slowly add powdered sugar until you get the consistency you want and pour over the cooled cake.

Blackberry Chocolate Cake

Guest Blogger Jeff Deasy of American Feast: Theo’s Gourmet Chocolate is Delicious, Eco-Friendly & Fair Trade

Today we welcome Jeff Deasy of American Feast as Guest Blogger! He’s going to tell you about Theo Chocolate.

Theo Chocolate Bon Bons and Bars

Founder and CEO of Seattle’s Theo Chocolate, Joseph Whinney, witnessed the effects of unfair, unsustainable cocoa trading as a conservation volunteer in Central America. That experience led him to pioneer the manufacture and supply of organic chocolate products as the first individual to import organic cocoa beans into North America in 1994. Over a decade later, Theo is proud to be the first to roast organic cocoa beans and the first roaster of Fair Trade certified cocoa beans in the United States.

Theo Chocolate Factory

Food and Wine Magazine honored Theo with an Eco-Epicurean Award for making the world “a better — and more delicious — place.” Theo also won “Outstanding Chocolate” at the NASFT Fancy Food Show in New York City.

Eco-entrepreneurs deserve kudos for the risks they take to start up companies that strive for sustainability. Joe Whinney of Theo Chocolate is among the most deserving, so it’s quite fitting that the popular environmental news site Grist named him one of its top 15 green business founders.

Theo Chocolate Factory

All of Theo’s ingredients are carefully selected to ensure they meet the company’s high standards for social and environmental responsibility. As true chocolate makers, they carefully steward cacao (cocoa beans) through the process of roasting, blending and conching in order to coax out the distinctive flavor imparted by each unique growing region. Theo’s production is guided by their passion for chocolate and their ultimate goal is to lead the industry with the excellence and integrity of their offerings.

The company is located in a beautiful, historic building in Seattle, Washington. They welcome visitors for tours of the chocolate factory at 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, seven days a week, with additional tours at 10:00 am and 12:00 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The cost is just $6.00 per person. You can reserve a place on the tour by calling 206-632-5100. Tours last about 1 hour and include a thorough explanation of artisanal chocolate making and delicious samples! Theo’s factory is in the Fremont district of north Seattle at the intersection of Phinney Avenue North and 35th Avenue North.

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Cocoa Smuggling and Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles

Cocoa Pods (Photo Courtesy of the Ghana Cocoa Board)

As I’m sure most of you know, there have been problems with the cocoa bean’s production involving slavery, child labor, and deliberate infection of the Theobroma cacao to control or dominate prices in the markets.  It turns out there is now quite a bit of smuggling going on too.  Ghana wants to make an attempt to get their cocoa production to 1 million tons by 2012.  The Ghana Cocoa Board says that up to 60% of the country’s production of cocoa is smuggled out of the country.  That’s a lot of cocoa.

Quality Control (Photo Courtesy of the Ghana Cocoa Board)

Where is this cocoa being smuggled too?  Turns out it’s going to neighboring Ivory Coast, where most of the controversy involving the slavery and child labor are happening. The Cocoa Board thinks this is happening because farmers are being told that cocoa is only boasting the destination economies not the selling/providing countries.  In London alone, cocoa prices have risen to the highest price since 1977.  Farmers want to make sure they receive top dollar for their beans.

Ghana Seed Production Unit (Photo Courtesy of the Ghana Cocoa Board)

The Quality Control Division of the Ghana Cocoa Board has introduced border security squads to prevent the cocoa from being smuggled out of the country.  Their fear is that unless this smuggling stops, the government will no longer support the cocoa growers.  At this point, the government wants to provide the cocoa growers with the modern equipment they would need to meet the 1 million ton export mark.  Alhaji Abubakar Alhassan says the government would be “Supplying fertilizers and hybrid cocoa seedlings at subsidized prices and compensating farmers who were forced to replant due to Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease.”  The Ghana Cocoa Board said that the board planned to distribute 8m hybrid cocoa seedlings to farmers in the Western Region this year.

Cocoa Beans

Also said to be offered by the Ghana government are support pension schemes, scholarship schemes and investing in rural infrastructure.  Something else the government is working on are much needed  roads to get the cocoa from the growers to delivery.  Currently, Ghana is the world’s second largest producer of cocoa in the world next to the Ivory Coast.  Last year Ghana exported 703,000 tons of cocoa.

I’ll be interested to see if Ghana reaches their goal and farmers learn to both trust and benefit from the system.  On a lighter note…about five years ago a friend came back from Paris and said, “Annie, you won’t believe it.  The French are making chocolate truffles with goat cheese. They were a life changing experience.  I have to try making some.” I couldn’t agree more.  The Whole Foods in Austin offered brie with a chocolate chipotle sauce on it for parties and it was outstanding.  Chocolate goat cheese truffles had to be even better. He made them and they were outstanding.  I haven’t had them since.

Goat Chees Truffles from France

The  goat cheese chocolate truffles from Paris were  little balls of goat cheese enrobbed in dark chocolate and then rolled in nuts.  The recipe I have provided for you here comes from Dying for Chocolate‘s website.

Goat Cheese

This recipe was adapted from Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles that Dying for Chocolate found on Epicurious. This recipe originally appeared in Gourmet Magazine, October 1993. Time to make more!

Goat Cheese Chocolate Truffles


6 ounces dark chocolate (70-85% cacao organic fair trade chocolate), chopped
6 ounces (about 3/4 cup) room temperature fresh goat cheese
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon Madagascar vanilla
1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder, sifted, for coating the truffles


In a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth, remove the bowl from the pan, and let the chocolate cool slightly.

In a different bowl whisk together the goat cheese, the confectioners’ sugar, the vanilla, and lemon juice until the mixture is light and fluffy, whisk in the chocolate until the mixture is combined well, and chill the mixture, covered, for 1 hour, or until firm.

Form heaping teaspoons of the mixture into balls and roll the balls in the cocoa powder. Chill the truffles on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper for 30 minutes, or until they are firm. The truffles keep in an airtight container, chilled, for 3 days.

Goat Cheese Truffles

Charles Chocolates Chocolate & Tea Tasting, and No-Bake Chocolate Hazelnut Biscuit Cake

Charles Chocolates Fleur de Sel Caramel Edible Box

Did you miss me yesterday?  I had lots of errands to do.  By the time I got home, it was time for the Charles Chocolates and Samovar Tea Lounge online and live chocolate and tea tasting event.  At that point, I figure it just best to skip the post yesterday.  Here I am today though!

Charles Chocolates Salty-Sweet Cashew Bar

The  Charles Chocolates and Samovar Tea Lounge chocolate and tea tasting was really interesting.  I’ve watched beer and chocolate tastings as well as wine and chocolate tastings before.  I have even conducted chocolate tastings for my own classes.  This was a first though.  What did you think?  If you didn’t get a chance to watch it live, here’s the video…

Charles Chocolates Triple Chocolate Hazelnuts

Charles Chocolates produces some really great chocolates.  Need some ideas of what to try?  Some of my favorites are the Fleur de Sel Caramel Edible Chocolate Box, the Triple Chocolate Hazelnuts, the Salty-Sweet Cashew Chocolate Bar and the Ginger Chocolate Bar.  All excellent choices!  FYI…They also offer a great chocolate bar selection offering an assortment of five different chocolate bars so you don’t have to pick just one!  Treat yourself!  You only live once.

I found this recipe a few weeks ago on a blog called The Stone Soup.  My friend and I were looking for something easy, yet elegant looking for her young budding chefs to make for a dinner party.  This fit the bill.  It’s even no-bake!  We found biscuits (cookies) in out local grocer that stocks lots of European items.  The had the biscuits available in vanilla or chocolate.  They weren’t the same brand, but they don’t have to be.  I think you could even get a similar look using lady fingers or vanilla wafers, although you would need more than three piles of cookie stacks to make the log.  It is gorgeous and elegant.  Looks like it came form the local pastisserie! It reminds me so much of theholiday yule log, but without all the work.  I’m sure you could dress it up properly over the holidays too!

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscuit Cake (Photo Courtesy of the Stone Soup)

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscuit Cake

Serves 10

1 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g (1/2 lb) Mascarpone
1 packet (250g or 1/2lb) Arnott’s Chocolate Ripple biscuits
250grams (1/2lb) dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa content), broken into chunks
½ cup cream
small pinch sea salt
1 egg yolk, optional
60g (2 oz) hazelnuts, peeled, roasted & coarsely chopped

Whip 1 cup cream until soft peaks form, you don’t want it to be too firmly whipped as the thick Mascarpone will thicken things up. Stir through vanilla and Mascarpone. Take a biscuit and spread with a thin layer of cream mixture on the top side. Place on a work surface cream side up then repeat with another biscuit and stack it on top of the first. Repeat until all the biscuits are used and you have made three stacks.

Take a long serving platter and lay biscuit logs on it to create on big log. Cover as evenly as possible with remaining cream mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the ½ cup cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add chocolate chunks and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. If the mixture starts to separate, whisk through the egg yolk. Allow chocolate to cool until still runny but not hot enough to melt the cream.

Remove log from the fridge and scatter hazelnuts over the top. Drizzle over chocolate and return to the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. To serve remove from the fridge and slice on an angle so you get the striped ’surprise’ effect with the biscuits.

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscuit Cake (Photo Courtesy of the Stone Soup)

Charles Chocolates, Crunchie, Lindt and Chocolate Haystack Cookies

Lots of thing to share with you today!  First on the agenda…don’t forget about the Charles Chocolates and Samouvar truffle and tea tasting with Samovar Tea Lounge tomorrow, August 3rd at 4pm PDT.  It’s live.  You can also attend in person, but you have to RSVP.  Check out Charles Chocolates for more info.  I can’t wait!  Will tell you all about it on Wednesday if you can’t make it.

Charles Chocolates Chocolate

This next tidbit upsets me a bit.  I’m not much for commercial candy bars.  I do enjoy a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup now and then and I love the Cadbury Crunchy which I can find here in the US.  I feel in love with them when my old hair stylist brought me a bag back after visiting her family in the UK.  Bad news on this Monday.  I just found out that Cadbury‘s Crunchie will not be made any longer, nor will a few other bars.  Here are the casualties…The last bars will be made at the Keynsham-based factory from September, according to a company briefing document written on June 15 and distributed to factory staff. The last Turkish Delights will roll off production lines in August/September, while the final Fudge and Chomp bars will be produced by the factory in November/December. Curly Wurlys face their last UK hurrah from September, albeit with potential overrun in serving notice until October. Mini Egg production has already ceased, with staff handed notice at the start of February.  Quite sad if you ask me.  No one in the US makes anything similar  to the Crunchie, except of course, the confection called sponge.  Good, but not the same…

Cadbury Crunchie

And either the economy is truly getting better or people are simply being smart and eating more dark chocolate.  Lindt completed a five-year expansion of its processing plant in Stratham, New Hampshire, which includes a 40,000-sq. ft. bean roasting and cocoa liquor facility.  More chocolate for everyone!

I also have to share a photo of the most exquisite chocolate souffle that I have ever seen.  It’s not mine, but I wish it would have been.  I’m on a quest for pots like this.  Isn’t she stunning?

Chocolate Souffle

Today’s recipe is for one of my all time favorite cookies.  In fact, I was surprised that I had not yet shared it with you.  Of course, there is chocolate in them.  They are called Haystack Cookies.  They’re easy to make and tasty.  The original recipe passed down from my Nana called for chocolate chips, but I prefer to use a good chocolate bar.  If you prefer to use chips, be my guest.  The measurement is the same.  Get the children to help if you have them, because these are not only easy to make, but the children will enjoy the form form of the cookies.  I’ve also used almond slices, white chocolate and cranberries.  Use your imagination, just make sure the ratios stay the same.  No rules!

Chocolate Haystack Cookies

Makes 36 cookies

3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
15 ounce can Eagle brand milk
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Put chocolate  in double boiler and melt over simmering water. Stir in milk and cook until thick, about 15 minutes stirring, occasionally. Remove from heat, stir in coconut, nuts and vanilla. Drop by teaspoon onto greased cookie sheet and bake at 275 degrees for 15 minutes.

Chocolate Haystack Cookies