Category Archives: Confectioners

Videos from Salon du Chocolat Paris & Professor Chocolate Gives Tour of Flatiron Area of NYC

Join food blogger Hillary Davis on a fantastic trip to the largest chocolate show in the world – Salon du Chocolate which is held in Paris every year.  Hillary sure look like she enjoyed the Salon du Chocolat!  Follow Hillary’s blog Marche Dimanche!  You may also  follow Hillary on Facebook and Twitter.

Professor Chocolate and son (he is so cute!) walk one of the their guided tours from the lower Manhattan book. This tour takes place in the Flatiron section of New York City. The only location that is excluded is Chocolat Moderne…which can be visited on one of our New York City tours. It is one of the most secretive chocolate factories in the city! Read more about Professor Chocolate on his website at Professor Chocolate! On Twitter and on Facebook too!

Go pen Salon du Chocolat on your calender for next year or maybe you would prefer to attend one of the other events throughout the world.  For your New York City tour, the Chocolate Professor gives tours all year!

Annmarie Kostyk

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Millions of Chocolate Bars Labeled Fairtrade Contain None of the Ethical Chocolate

This is a short post on the Rococo Chocolates Blog today.  I really enjoyed it.  It’s interesting and upsetting at the same time.

MILLIONS of sweet bars labeled Fairtrade contain none of the ethical chocolate, The Sun can reveal. Britain’s most popular snacks, Nestlé’s and KitKat Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, both have the Fairtrade stamp.

But experts have revealed chocolate from different sources is mixed up in the supply chain BEFORE the bars are produced. It means there is no way of telling if the bar you eat contains Fairtrade cocoa – bought for a fair price from poor farmers.

Ten per cent of the UK chocolate market is now Fairtrade. But Tony Mycock, of suppliers HB Ingredients, said: “The consumer is being misled. It’s a bit like buying free range eggs that turn out not to be.” Cadbury said it was “impracticable” to separate cocoa.

Just when we thought we knew about the controversial side of fair trade, we never expected established manufacturers to stoop this low.

You just never know!

Annmarie Kostyk

Rococo Fairtrade Chocolates Bars
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Swiss Handcrafted Chocolate: Bern

The Swiss are known for their chocolate.  Most every chocolate lover around the world knows the names of Cailler, Toblerone and Lindt.  I thought I would bring you some of the chocolate shops on my list of places to visit in the near future so that you can enjoy and plan too!  Today we are venturing to Bern, Switzerland.

Our first stop is the city of Bern.  Bern is the capital of Switzerland producing chocolate makers both world known and the intimate.  How do I know this?  I read a lot and watch a lot of travel shows!  The top three chocolate makers on my list in Bern are Confiserie Tschirren, Confiserie Beeler and Eichenberger.

Confiserie Tschirren's Truffle Apricot

Confiserie Tschirren is a quaint little chocolate shop located on Kramgasse.  The building Confiserie Tschirren is  of a simple design.  The outside is brown and wooden.  The inside is a different story.  Chocolates and

Confiserie Tschirren's Truffle Prune

confections fill the walls of the little shop from top to bottom.  A child in an adult body, such as myself, would not know what to do in here.  Where to start?  Even more precious?  The owners are third generation chocolate makers named Hans and Gisella.  I am anxious to try the Truffle Apricot and the Truffle Prune!  To get a translated website in English, type in Confiserie Tschirren in the search box.

I hope you didn’t fill up on chocolate and Confiserie Tschirren.  I should have told you to sample a few and get a box to take home.  Now you know!  Our next stop is Confiserie Beeler.  Confiserie Beeler is a fairly new chocolate shop at 30 years of age.  You’re only as young as you feel!  They also make both chocolates and confections in small batches.  Confiserie Beeler is a bit sleeker in design since she is the new kid on the block.  Think bright, light and high-tech.  I’m going to go for the  Nougat Montelimar.  I adore nougat – yes, I know it’s not chocolate, but I have had chocolate covered nougat before and it is fabulous.  In chocolate, my selections are the big box of Petits Fours, the Grand Cru Maracaibo 65% Dark Chocolate Bar and the Hedgehogs (I think that’s what they are…wasn’t patient enough for Google to do its work!) just because they are so cute!  Add a Panettone for my mom and a St. Honore Tart for my dad and I’m done.  Again, this site is in German, but Google will translate it for you!  You have to love Google!

Eichenberger Truffle Box

Last on on trip, my arms are getting a bit tired from carrying all of these shopping bags… We are heading over to Eichenberger.  Eichenberger is a choclate maker that has been around for 140 years.  It started out as one of the first tea rooms in Bern.  The shop was started by Eduard Friedrich Durheim who passed the business on and so on for the next

Eichenberger's Les Creations

few generations until the chocolate shop was sold to Daniel Eichenberger in 1959.  Eichenberger is known primarily for their pastries, most notably his Haselnusslebkuchen, but that hasn’t stopped us before.  We’ll try everything!  Remember what I said, always try everything twice – just to make sure.  Chocolate is chocolate, after all.  Eichenberger has a nice selection of chocolates and confections as well.  I’m going for variety here.  One 2 Kilo Haselnusslebkuchen, a box of assorted chocolate truffles and a box of assorted chocolate pralines (in the United States known simply as chocolates or bonbons).

Eichenberger's 2 Kilo Haselnusslebkuchen

Next post…we’re heading over to Geneva.  In the meantime, enjoy your chocolates!

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Chocolate News and Chocolate Mint Squares

I have added a job on top of all of the writing I do, so please bear with me this week until I get on a schedule.  I’ll either be posting early in the morning or after dinner.

I’ve got some news for you in the world of chocolate!  First, the world of the commodity trader.  Recent cocoa bean price volatility is due in large part to hedge funds attracted by quick returns taking short-term positions on the commodity, according to a leading analyst. This market has always been pretty volatile.  Traders are calling for increased regulations, but considering Theobroma cacao is grown in developing countries I don’t see that happening.

North Carolina based Nahualli Trading Company, which produces a product comprising shelled cocoa beans covered in dark chocolate, has begun sourcing its beans from Fonmsoeam – an association of certified organic cocoa farmers in Ecuador’s Esmeraldas Province. The company claims that by avoiding using an intermediary and paying a wage above prices identified by the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) for organic cocoa beans, it secures a better type of bean for its product.

Paul Mosca said that by going directly to the farmer and not through a broker, the manufacturer can build a relationship and ensure it receives high quality beans. “We buy our beans from just a few farms, and although we place multiple orders in a year, just one order could pay for a farmer’s entire annual salary. And buying direct from the farmer is key to the product and to our customers,” he said.  More and more chocolatiers and confectioners are starting to go this route.

Today’s recipe is for Chocolate Mint Squares. Anyone a fan of the Marshall Field’s Frango Mints?  I love them.  If you love Frango Mints, you’ll love these!

Chocolate Mint Squares

Serves 12

Ingredients:
For the Cookie Layer:
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds, chopped
1/2 cup flour

For the Mint Filling:
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
a few drops of green food coloring (optional)

For the Chocolate Glaze:
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
For the Cookie Layer:
Melt chocolate and butter over hot water. In bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until thick. Add nuts, flour and chocolate-butter mixture. Stir until smooth. Pour batter in buttered 9″ square pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until done. Let cool.

For the Mint Filling:
Beat together all the ingredients until smooth. Add a few drops of green food coloring, if desired. Spread over cookie layer.  Cover and chill until firm, about 1 hour.

For the Chocolate Glaze:
Melt together all ingredients over hot water. Drizzle over mint topping. Cover and chill again until firm. Cut into bite size squares to serve.

Chocolate Mint Squares
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Guest Blogger: Chocri Chocolate on How to Make Your Own Chocolate Bars

How to Make Your Own Chocolate Bars

Making your own chocolate at home has obvious attractions – the smell of melted chocolate, the power over your creation, and not at last the left over chocolate in the forms and on the spoons that just begs to be licked off. But what others like just spells m-e-s-s-y for others, so I’m offering you two ways to create your own chocolate bars in the following: 1) at home and 2) with Chocri Chocolate.

1) Making Chocolate Bars at Home

You need:
* Two or three chocolate bars of a chocolate that you really like. I suggest Lindt or Tcho chocolate
* Anything that you want to mix into or put onto your chocolate bar. Suggestions: M&Ms, Banana Chips, Nuts, Marshmallows, little balls of Marzipan, Sprinkles, Gummy Bears, Granola, you name it.
* If you’re fancy, a molding form – that requires some online ordering or specialty candy supply store shopping. Generally though, you just need a relatively, not too flat form

In theory, you would now temper the chocolate (temper means you expose it to different temperatures in a strict order). However, that’s really tricky to do and really creates a mess because you will need several bowls and you have to keep transferring the chocolate mass from one to the other, so we’ll do the easy version here. If you like, you can also add a very little bit of coconut oil to the mix, which should take care of the blooming (white streaks on the chocolate if it isn’t well tempered).

Now, melt the majority of the chocolate in a bowl that you place over hot water. When the mass is nice and creamy, take it off, and add the rest of the chocolate, which should melt immediately and will cool the chocolate down a bit. Pour the chocolate immediately into the form. When doing that, make sure that you don’t fill as much chocolate in from the start as the form will hold – the chocolate will distribute evenly and fill out the corners even if it doesn’t look like that in the beginning. You will find out how much chocolate you need in the form, but start with little and then increase.

Next, shake the form with small but fast hits against the table, not only for the chocolate to distribute evenly, but also for the air to leave the chocolate. You might even see little bubbles come out of the chocolate. Once it’s evenly distributed, you can mix in your ingredients, or place them beautifully on top of the chocolate bar. That’s the best part! If you’re like me, you’ll find that it isn’t altogether easy to make it look pretty, so don’t fret if it doesn’t look perfect the first time – it will still taste great.

Now place the form with chocolate and ingredients into the refrigerator and let it sit there for 30 minutes. Afterwards, take the form out, cut the borders off and resist the temptation to bite into it immediately before anyone was able to admire your creation!

Chocri Chocolate Make Your Own Chocolate Bar

Now, if this sounds like too much mess and/ or time to you, consider this:

2) Create Your Chocolate Bar Online

Visit Chocri Chocolate and click on “Create a chocolate bar”. Choose a base chocolate (dark, milk ,white or a combination base), and then choose your toppings from a wide variety, spanning across fruit (strawberries anyone?), spices (hm, cinnamon), nuts (pecans!), confections (peanut butter drops), decor (a marzipan rose, so pretty) and grains (coffee and milk chocolate ROCK!).

When you completed your bar, don’t forget to give it a personalized name. It’s not only free, it’s also cute. Add your very own bar to the cart and repeat the process or pick one of our [recommended creations] And then order it and that’s it! We deliver it to your doorstep – without the smell of molten chocolate, but all of the excitement of holding your very own creation in your hands.

We use only fair trade, organic chocolate from Belgium, and our toppings are European quality ingredients. I’m sure you’ll love it! [Try us out!]

Chocri Chocolate's Chocolate Bars
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Laduree Macaroons and the Recipe

Laduree Macaroons

French macaroons have become popular over the last few years in the United States.  In Europe, they have been fabulously popular since the 1800s.  A French macaroon is different from a regular macaroon in that the French macaroons are two small, extremely moist almond cookies with crusty edges that are sandwiched around a filling of either ganache or fruit preserves.  Your first one will have you swooning in your seat wondering how on Earth you ever could have done without one of these delicious little jewels.

Laduree Pastries

Laduree is the most famous macaroon maker in Europe with stores in Paris, Tokyo, Nagoya, Dublin, Zürich, Lausanne, Geneva, Monaco and London.  Enough said.  They are the place to go for the macaroon.  Ernest Louis Laduree opened his first bakery in 1862 located at 16 rue Royale in Paris, France.  The shop became one of the most elegant businesses and places to be seen in the area.  Ernest married a very smart woman by the name of Jeanne Souchard who felt that women needed a place to have tea and socialize.  Ernest took his wife’s advice and Laduree became the first  tea salon of Paris.  Laduree was where all of the affluent women went to see and be seen.  The tea room enlarged in 1930 and has been growing ever since.

Desserts at Laduree

Laduree’s chocolate macaroon was actually the invention of a man called Pierre Desfontaines.  He was Ernest’s second cousin and heir who was inspired to make such a treat after a trip to Switzerland.  He never said where exactly the inspiration came from only that it resulted in a chocolate macaroon. Was it a pastry?  A cookie?  A chocolate?  We will never know.  Over the years, Pierre’s creation of the macaroon grew in Ernest’s shop to feature a variety of flavors depending on both the season and the whim of the head chef.  The macaroons are made fresh daily but then are put aside to set for two days before the reach the selling shelves which

Box Laduree Macaroons

enable the flavors and textures to blend properly.  In 2003, Laduree claims to have baked 110 tons of macaroons.  That’s a lot of macaroons!  The permanent flavor collection include Chocolate – Bitter Chocolate – Vanilla – Coffee – Rose – Pistachio – Raspberry – Black Currant Violet – Caramel with Salted Butter – Red Fruits – Orange Blossom – Liquorice – Lemon.  Seasonal flavors are Coconut – Mint – Almond – Spice and Soft Fruits – Chestnuts – Praline – Lemon  -  Fig and Date.  Two of the newest flavors are Cherry and Apple.

Lunch at Laduree

Although Laduree started out as a bakery and then tea shop, it has evolved into a tea salon, pastry shop, restaurant, chocolate shop and an ice cream parlor. The next time you are in Paris, make sure to stop by the original Laduree at 16 rue Royale in Paris.  Enjoy the afternoon and start with lunch.  May I suggest the duck fois gras served with a bergamot macaroon, the Marie Antoinette salad or the Laduree house omelet?  For dessert, order the Elysee which is “Cocoa “succès” biscuit, crispy praline, thin crispy chocolate leaves pure origin of Madagascar, smooth chocolate cream, chocolate zabaglione mousse, chocolate biscuit and cocoa soaked in cocoa syrup”.  If you are with some people who like to taste a bit of everything and share, do it.  Order a few desserts too.

Dessert at Laduree

Before you leave, make sure you buy yourself a nice big box of Laduree’s macaroons to nibble on throughout the day.  You not only won’t want to share, but you most definitely will want to stop by to purchase more before you leave for home. They are open Monday through Thursday, 8:30am to 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday from 8:30am to 8:00pm & Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00pm. You may phone in reservations or do so online.

Laduree Macaroons

Ingredients:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar (480g)
1 cup plus 3-1/2 tablespoons ground almonds (280g)
7 egg whites
An appropriate filling (or, try more than one filling with a particular meringue flavor to see what combinations you prefer—for example, pistachio with pistachio buttercream versus chocolate ganache or white chocolate ganache)

A few drops of flavoured food coloring, such as raspberry

Assortment of Macaroons at Laduree

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 355°F (180°C). Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
2. If using whole almonds, pulse in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Add the confectioner’s sugar and process to a fine powder. Sift to remove any lumps.
4. Beat the egg whites in bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed, adding the food coloring as you go until you reach the desired shade. Then increase speed to high and continue to beat until the whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks.
5. Quickly and carefully add the almond-sugar powder. (Meringue will deflate.)
6. With a wooden spoon, mix from the center of the bowl outwards, turning the bowl as you go. You want to achieve a smooth, lightly colored mixture.
7. Spoon batter into a piping bag with a 1/4-inch round tip. If you don’t have a piping bag, use a plastic freezer bag, pressing out excess air. Snip off one corner to create a 1/4-inch opening. Pipe inch-wide macaroons onto the baking trays, about 1-1/2 inches apart. You should have peaked mounds of batter, about the size of a chocolate kiss.
8. Cook for eight to nine minutes, leaving the door of the oven slightly ajar.
9. Remove the macaroons from the oven. Pour a little water between the baking tray and the parchment paper; this makes the macaroons easier to lift off when they have cooled. Cool completely on racks, about 30 minutes.
10. Cassis MacaroonsCarefully peel macaroons from parchment; they are fragile. Sandwich a thin layer of fillings between two macaroons—ganache, marmalade, jam or whipped cream. The two bottoms face the filling.
11. If you can, leave the finished macaroons in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This allows the flavors and texture to develop and intensify.
12. Whipped cream macaroons must be stored in the refrigerator; others can be kept in airtight tins at room temperature for up to three days after production.

Laduree Macaroons
Laduree’s Chocolate Raspberry Ganache

Ingredients:
3 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate (buy a 70% cacao chocolate bar), finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon quality raspberry extract

Directions:

1. Melt chocolate with cream in the top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. If you don’t have a double boiler, use a metal bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water.
2. When the chocolate is melted into the cream, remove bowl from heat. Add the butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted.
3. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.

Laduree Macaroons
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Chocolate 101: Types of Chocolate, Storing Chocolate and Olive & Sinclair Bean to Bar Makers

Chocolate Bars (Photo Courtesy of Madame Chocolat)

Today we continue Chocolate 101!  On the agenda today are Types of Chocolate which include information about dark, milk and white chocolate and Storing Chocolate – She is a sensitive one!  We will also be looking at a video of another bean to bar maker in the United States called Olive and Sinclair Chocolate.  Hope you enjoy all of the information!  Remember, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me.  Asking questions is the only way to learn and there are no stupid questions!

Types of Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Bar

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is what chocolate lovers dream about.  It is the “chocolate of the gods”.  This is where the true chocolate connoisseur begins his or her experience.  In the past, chocolate containing at least 30% cocoa solids was considered to be of high quality.  The norm is now 35%, although dark chocolate in France must contain at least 43% cocoa solids to qualify as dark chocolate.  In most cases, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids in chocolate is equated with the quality of the chocolate bar.  Most chocolatiers are creating chocolate bars and bonbons with dark chocolate containing over 60% or more cocoa solids since the demand for high quality chocolates has become apparent.  The true chocolate connoisseur looks for chocolate bars containing over 70% cocoa solids.

The average highest quality dark chocolate is composed of 56-70% cocoa solids which includes on average 31% cocoa butter, 29-43% sugar, and the remaining 1% made up of vanilla and often soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is not always present in dark chocolate or any other chocolate. When it is added, the soy lecithin acts as an emulsifier and creates smoothness in the chocolate and a luxurious mouth-feel.  Although there is nothing wrong with adding soy lecithin to chocolate, most purist avoid the use of it.  The sugar is primarily added to the chocolate to enhance the flavors, not to detract from it.  Someone once said that adding sugar to chocolate is like adding salt to food.  You need a little bit, but too much can ruin it.  It adds only the slightest amount of sweetness to the chocolate and in most cases is not even noticeable.  The vanilla found in chocolate is listed as vanilla or Bourbon vanilla.  Avoid any chocolate containing vanillin.  Vanillin comes from pine tree resin and shows the chocolatier is substituting a low cost flavoring.  This not only results in a lower quality chocolate bar, but it also detracts from the natural taste of the chocolate sometimes resulting in an odd aftertaste.

Milk Chocolate

Milk Chocolate

The most famous and most widely consumed chocolate in the world is milk chocolate.  For all intense purposes, milk chocolate is chocolate candy, although with the surge of interest in the world of chocolate, good quality milk chocolate is now readily available.  The chocolate that most of us are familiar with is that of commercial, (think the grocery store check out lane) mass produced milk chocolate which contains only a minimum of 10% cocoa solids and at least 12% milk powder, milk or condensed milk.  For our purposes, I consider that chocolate candy and I pretty much avoid it.  European law shows higher standards stating milk chocolate should possess at least 25% cocoa solids.  The better chocolatiers produce milk chocolate containing on average 40% or higher cocoa solids which is really what one should look for when purchasing a milk chocolate.  Up to 50% of the content of a milk chocolate bar is composed of sugar.  Most of the lesser quality milk chocolate bars also substitute vegetable fat for cocoa butter which lessens the cost for production and they often use natural and artificial flavorings. Remember, darker is always better.  Even if you must have milk chocolate, try to buy the chocolate with the highest cocoa content.  Something that has been showing up in the chocolate market lately is dark milk chocolate.  This is still considered milk chocolate, but it does contain a higher, and probably the highest, amount of cocoa solids before legally being called dark chocolate.

White Chocolate

White Chocolate

White chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all and it is probably the least consumed chocolate in the world.  In fact, white chocolate  is made up of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, an emulsifier (usually soy) and vanilla. It contains no cocoa solids and produces only the faintest cocoa flavor.  Some chocolatiers are now arguing that white chocolate is chocolate since it does contain cocoa solids and cocoa butter.  The jury is still out.  White chocolate is generally used in cooking and as accent to show pieces, they occasionally show up in a box of bonbons or bunnies during the Easter holiday.  Many white chocolate bars are produced with vegetable oils and other tropical fats rather than using cocoa butter to cut down on production costs.  This is what give white chocolate that funny feeling in your mouth and odd aftertaste.  When buying a white chocolate bar, always be sure that cocoa butter is present and that there are no artificial colorings, flavorings or oils.  More and more chocolatiers are starting to make some fantastic white chocolate bars with some wonderful infusions and fruit and nut mixes.  Don’t be afraid to give them a try as you evolve in your chocolate tasting.  You don’t want to miss out on anything new!

Storing Chocolate
60-70 degrees F

Chocolate is a very tempermental and demanding friend.      Chocolate should be stored in a cool, dry place in its original packaging.  The temperature should range between 60 and 70 degrees and less than 50% humidity.  Any higher or lower temperature will cause the chocolate to 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 for our purposes of tasting, the bar should be in pristine condition.  A higher temperature will also cause melting.

No Refrigerator or Freezer

Once the chocolate melts and then hardens, the chocolate will look like nothing but a blob.  No shine.  No snap.  We want to take care of our chocolate’s beautiful color, texture, shine and taste.  If you do open a chocolate bar and only eat part of it, wrap foil around the bar to keep it fresh.  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 and smell of the 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.

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The First Chocolate Confections

Grinding Cocoa Beans by Hand

In the late 17th century, you could enjoy drinking chocolate either in your own home or partake of the hot beverage in a chocolate house which compares to the coffeehouses of today. All of the processing of the cocoa bean into chocolate was all done by hand at this time. The use of the cacao bean for anything other than hot chocolate was very limited. In 1662, a man by the name of Henry Stubbe wrote an article on chocolate stating that the Spaniards and their colonies enjoyed chocolate in a different form. Stubbe told of chocolate being made into shapes called Lozenges which means shaped into almonds. He noted that the Spanish were using this form of chocolate to give people energy and soldiers stamina.

Example of a 17th Century Chocolate Cake for Making Hot Chocolate

Although we do not see many baking or confectionery recipes in cookbooks during the 17th century, we do start to see a few of them show up in the cookbooks of the 18th century. Some of the recipes include dragées, marzipans, biscuits, creams, ices, and mousses. Some of the recipes that may have seen off at that time or even in the distant past include an Italian recipe for a chocolate lasagna that featured almonds, walnuts, anchovies and chocolate. They also used chocolate paired with liver as well as polenta. The French Encyclopédie shows a first listing of “chocolat” in the late 18th century. The listing describes chocolate as a “half-sugar cake flavored with some vanilla and cinnamon, and was not so much a delightful confection as an emergency meal.” Basically, all that was done to make the beverage was to place this tablet in a cup, add hot milk or water and stir until the cake was completely dissolved and blended. Instant hot chocolate.

18th Century Chocolate House (Photo Courtesy of Cadbury)

In a book entitled Gunter’s Modern Confectioner published in the late 19th century, only four of the pages out of 220 were devoted to chocolate. If we look at any confectionery book today, we are bound to find at least half of the pages devoted to chocolate.

Making Chocolate Candy at Home

The 20th century is when everything began to change for chocolate. A cookbook was published in 1917 by Alice Bradley called The Candy Cookbook. This was the first cookbook to devote an entire chapter to chocolate. She also noted that over one hundred different chocolates were now being offered by confectioners manufacturers. The cookbooks devoted to chocolate now take up entire shelves in libraries, bookstores and our our collection of cookbooks at home. Thank you for starting the beginning of a trend that still continues to evolve today Alice Bradley!



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The Chocolate Truffle

The Chocolate Truffle

Not too long ago, I received a huge assortment of chocolates from a confectionery shop called  The Chocolate Truffle to see what I thought. It was a big box!  Let me see…what did I receive?  I received a lovely  assortment of truffles, a CB Stuffer Gourmet Peanut Butter Cup,  Choco Wings, two chocolate bars and a CB Stuffer Chocolate Pizza.  Since there was so much chocolate, I had some people to help me review including my mom, some friends and my 7 year old nephew and my 5 year old niece who adore chocolate candy.  They were happy to help!  And we’re off!

The Chocolate Truffle Choco Wings with Dipping Sauce (and pizza)

I’m going to save the truffles for last as you know I always save my favorites for last!  I want to start with the Choco Wings because I think this is just a brilliant idea! I love the concept.  Love the packaging.  The “wings” were milk chocolate and filled with peanut butter and there were two in the box.  The kids didn’t get it at first, but they caught on.  We were all excited about the dipping sauce.  I thought it was going to be a white chocolate sauce or something similar.  It was actually marshmallow fluff.  You really couldn’t dip the wings in it because they broke off into the fluff as we all know marshmallow fluff is a bit think.   No one cared for the fluff.  We wanted to see something lighter and creamier resembling a ranch dressing.

The Chocolate Truffle CB Stuffer Gourmet Peanut Butter Cup

The CB Stuffer Gourmet Peanut Butter Cup really got the kids (and my) attention!  Peanut butter cups are both my and my nephew’s favorite chocolate candy. My niece loved the pink, her favorite color, sugared flower on the top.  This is one big peanut bitter cup.  It’s bigger than the palm of your hand.  No complaints!  Everyone thought it was fun as well as pretty. I do have to mention that I noticed an odd aftertaste in the back of my throat after swallowing, same with the “wings”.  I know what that usually means.  I had already, mistakenly, threw away the packaging, but I’m guessing there were some ingredients in the pb cup that I prefer not to see in chocolate. We ate the traditional version.  It also comes in Caramel, Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream, Crispy, and Rachael Ray’s Snack of the Day: Marshmallow , Flibbers or Peanut Butter and Jelly.

I received the Cookies and Cream CB Stuffer Chocolate pizza.  The packaging was cute.  It came in a real take out pizza box.  Don’t waste your money though.  After a few bites, no one would eat it.  The kids didn’t even like it.  I had to throw it away.  Enough said.  I never throw away chocolate.

The Chocolate Truffle Chocolate Bar Selection

Now for the chocolate bars…as I said I received two.  You all know that I’m a huge fan of the dark chocolate bar, so I was pretty excited.  It’s a rarity that a confectioner dips their toe into the world of the chocolatier.  I received the Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Chili Gourmet Bar and the Blueberries and Cream White Gourmet Bar.  The Cinnamon Chili had way too much going on.  It was grossly overspiced.  I eat jalapenos and tabasco as I love spicy food.  You couldn’t taste the chocolate.  It was declared inedible. I did have a good idea though.   I made tacos that night and melted it into the meat to make a “mole” sauce and added a bit of sour cream to it.  It was outstanding and my foodie friends asked if I took the time to make the mole or if I purchased it at the store. Bad news for the Blueberries and Cream too.  I wouldn’t even give this to anyone to eat.  Literally – I didn’t. It has everything that those of us in the chocolate and pastry world try to avoid using.  I’m sorry, but I call them like I see them.  You all know that. Tastes can differ, but quality is right there for you to see.   Some of the ingredients in this bar are partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, cottonseed oil, glyceryl laco esters of fatty acids, artificial flavoring, propylene gycol, red 40…well, you get the idea.  This is what has given white chocolate a bad name for decades.  Don’t do the bars.  The photo shows some of the bars they offer, but neither of the ones I received are shown and I neglected to take a photo of them.  Sorry about that!

The Chocolate Truffle Assorted Truffle Box

Now for the truffles.  I tasted these by myself.  My favorites?  The Salt Caramel which had a nice balance of salt to dark chocolate and the Espresso which had just enough espresso so that you could taste it, yet not be overwhelmed.  Very subtle, which is hard to do when working with Espresso.  They were both enrobed in dark chocolate.  Just sensational.  Two other favorites were the Double Dutch  and the Fig.  The were both covered in milk chocolate.  The Dutch was rich, decadent and smooth.  The Fig (I adore figs) was sublime.  I would have preferred to have an entire box of these.  Other favorites were the Key Lime, the Limoncello and the Blueberry Cheesecake.  Loved them.  The only problem?  The aftertaste.  The inner truffle was made with the white chocolate.  The problem isn’t that white chocolate was used, but I’m guessing the same white chocolate from the white chocolate bar was used.  You only get what you put in. It’s too bad, the flavors were really outstanding.

So there you have it.  I strongly recommend the truffles at The Chocolate Truffle, but I do wish they were all done in dark chocolate.  I think the Limoncello and the dark chocolate would have been stellar.  The wings and peanut butter cups were good, but the “sauce” needs to be change.  I would also like to see the peanut butter filling recipe tweaked a bit to be more natural.  Something was off.  I can’t find the ingredients online.   The Chocolate Truffle has three locations in Massachusetts – Reading, Lynnfield and Winchester or you can order online.

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Martine’s Chocolates, New York City

Martine

The next time you go to New York City, make sure you make a visit to Martine’s Chocolates at either their store on East 82nd Street or at their shop in Bloomingdale’s on Third Avenue.  Martine’s Chocolates are gourmet chocolates, handmade fresh daily, right in front of customers, by owner Martine Leventer’s own chefs chocolatiers at Martine’s Chocolate shops in Manhattan. The ingredients used to prepare Martine’s Chocolates are fresh, natural and the finest that can be found.

Martine's Chocolate Box

No preservatives are used, so please make sure you enjoy them promptly.  Don’t save them!  Enjoy them!  The people at Martine’s are kind enough to let you know how long everything will stay fresh and how to store each item in the meantime.  Martine’s Chocolates come in different, attractive and whimsical shapes. Each shape has a different center. Solid chocolate creations are hand molded and hand decorated with food coloring. They can be personalized on the premises and made to order. Martine’s dedication to freshly made, high quality chocolate has gained her many loyal fans all over the world since she began the company over 17 years ago.  She ships all over the world, so once you try them there, she can ship to you or your friends and family for gifts.

Martine's Chocolates Cameo

Martine’s Chocolates won Chocolatier Magazine’s “10 Best Artisan Chocolatiers”, ZAGAT’s 2008 and 2009 “Extraordinary to Perfection” praise and most famously…Oprah Winfrey’s “O List” for Oprah’s favorite things.  A most excellent place to be!  The best sellers include their Cameo which is made of layers of solid white, milk and dark chocolate, their Oyster which is an exquisite blend of five different Belgian chocolates and their Piano which is filled with a soft, butterscotch caramel.   One of my favorites…the Pyramid in the dark chocolate which contains whipped cream, liquid caramel & thinly chopped hazelnuts. Make sure you try them all! For the traditionalist, she also has a fantastic selection of molded chocolates for the season as well as a huge selection of molded chocolate dogs that would be the envy of Westminster Dog Show! and fun New York City chocolate  too.

Martine's Oyster

If you can’t make it to New York, you can order online, fax in the phone they provide on their website or just give them a ring.  They’re very kind and will be delighted to help you!

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