Friday, December 30, 2011

Bacon-Flavoured Hot Chocolate...Seriously?

I will try anything when it comes to chocolate.  But seriously, bacon-flavoured hot chocolate? Even I think that is an odd combination.  So of course I tried it anyway. And somehow I convinced a room full of willing participants to try it too.

I like bacon-flavoured chocolate. Something about the salty and savoury bacon combined with the sweet chocolate, makes my mouth water for more.  Check out my post about the Vosges Bacon Bar, it really is delicious! And Vosges makes it work with small pieces of bacon ground up in a smooth milk chocolate (and also in a dark chocolate bar too!). However, bacon flavour in a hot chocolate beverage is somehow very odd.  But then again, that is the slogan written on the package of McSteven's Cocoa Combos:  "Oddly Delicious Flavor Combinations".  The flavours in this 'combination' are natural and artificial, plus a strange addition of chipotle pepper in the ingredients list.

The bacon flavour is there, but somewhat subtle.  However, it does not taste like bacon so much as it tastes like hickory smoke flavour. In fact, it tastes just like this bottle of liquid smoke flavour I bought a few years ago (see photo on right).  When I opened the bottle it made my stomach churn.  The hot chocolate did not, since that smoke flavour was subtle, but I am still not sure how much I liked it.  That also seemed to be the general reaction of the rest of the group who tasted it tonight.  No one seemed to like it, nor did they seem to dislike it.  I suppose for me it was interesting, but the reminder of the smell of the bottle of hickory smoke flavour was affecting my ability to really enjoy it.

If you like hickory smoke flavour, then you may like this product.  It is sort of like drinking a hot chocolate while eating something smoked....not so weird, right?  And if you don't like that flavour, still check out McSteven's Cocoa Combos, they have some other interesting hot chocolate flavour combinations that you may just like, such as Chocolate & Curry or Chocolate & Chipotle. I bought this Chocolate & Bacon Cocoa at HomeSense for $6.99 CAD.

Here are the product details from the package of the product that I tasted tonight:

McSteven's Cocoa Combos, Chocolate & Bacon cocoa mix, 198 g
McSteven's Inc. (Vancouver, WA, USA)
Ingredients: Sugar, whey, nonfat dry milk, cocoa powder (Dutch Process), non-dairy creamer (canola or coconut oil, corn syrup solids), natural & artificial flavors, chipotle pepper, guar gum, salt.  Contains milk.  May contain peanuts, tree nuts and wheat.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Patric American Handcrafted Chocolate: French-Inspired and In-NIB-itable-ly Delicious!

I have in my possession two Patric Chocolate bars and I have never been so excited to try a chocolate brand before! Well, that is probably not true, but right now it certainly feels like it because I have been following Patric Chocolate for more than a year, via the chocolate maker's e-newsletter, Twitter, and other media, but I had not yet tasted their chocolate.

I am also excited to try this chocolate because I have always felt like I would get along well with the chocolate maker, Alan "Patric" McClure (even though we have never met) because I have read on his website that he was forever changed by a year spent in France.  Apparently, the French chocolate tradition inspired him to begin making chocolate.  My story is also similar to his.  I too spent a year France (oddly enough in the same year as Mr. McClure) and decided that I would begin to work with chocolate in a way that I had not seen in Canada before. So since we have a shared inspiration, I feel the overwhelming need to buy his chocolate.

Why am I just getting around to tasting Patric Chocolate now? Well, I tried to buy some online a while back, and quickly learned that they did not ship to Canada.  Then after a few other unsuccessful attempts to get my hands on some, I guess I gave up.  However,  Patric Chocolate is now readily available in Canada through the "A Taste for Chocolate" website and can be shipped directly to poor little fine chocolate lovers like me who are isolated in the cold North. 

I tore in to the package and immediately chose to try the Patric Chocolate bars, despite the other amazing chocolate bars that came in the same shipment (i.e. Amedei, Bonnat, Amano, Michel Cluizel, and more).  I immediately liked the In-NIB-itable BAR. And when I finished that and opened the Patric Signature Blend 70% bar, I liked it too. The chocolate is oh-so-smooth, rich and deliciously full of flavour.  Each one offered me a unique chocolate experience in terms of flavours and texture, but yet a consistency in the smoothness of the chocolate.

The In-NIB-itable BAR is made of Madagascar cacao, which means an instantaneous burst of fruitiness. I'll be the first to admit that my sense of smell is better than my sense of taste, so I cannot always taste all the flavours that other people can, however, the fruitiness was very apparent in this chocolate bar.

The next interesting point about the In-NIB-itable bar was, strangely enough, the nibs.  Usually chocolate with nibs bothers my teeth, but in this case, the nibs were roasted to just the right point where they practically melted in my mouth, and yet still remained crunchy.  Also, there was a heavy 'roast' flavour, like the flavour of a perfectly roasted marshmallow (a tan-browned one, not a burnt one!) or like that roasted flavour of popcorn that has been cooked over an open fire.

And except for the nibs sprinkled on the back side of the chocolate bar, it was a surprise that the chocolate was so smooth, considering that Patric Chocolate is hand-crafted and it has no lecithin in the ingredients list (which helps to emulsify the chocolate and make it smoother).

I tasted the In-NIB-itable BAR against the Amano Madagascar Handcrafted Dark Chocolate bar (also a 70%) and I found them very similar in taste in terms of fruitiness and citrus overtones.  In fact, the smell is very much the same (the Island is not all that large, so one can assume the aromas of the cacao would be similar). However, the Amano bar is much lighter in colour and the flavour of the Patric In-NIB-itable BAR is influenced by the strong roasted flavour of the nibs.

The Patric Signature Blend bar is also very smooth and I liked the experience of eating it quite a lot. It tastes different from the In-NIB-itable BAR because it is made of a mix of beans from different origins, but again there is a strong flavour of "roasted" beans. Overall, it has a strong bold flavour like a robust red wine.

The only thing that I did not like is that - although the chocolate bar is beautiful - it is hard to break a piece off because it is a rather thick and not scored for individual pieces. But if that is the only downside, then it is clearly overshadowed by the wonderfulness of the chocolate.

I do hope that one day I can try the PBJ OMG chocolate bar by Patric, just because I love peanut butter and chocolate.

I just want to send out a big thank you to A Taste for Chocolate, who was able to ship such fine chocolate to a poor isolated Northern Ontario resident who loves the high end stuff. And, of course, to my husband who ordered and paid for the chocolate (it was not cheap, each Patric bar is about $9-$10 CAD + shipping) and gave it to me for Christmas!

As with all my posts, below are the details from the packages of the three chocolate bars that I tasted today. Please note that all three chocolate bars do not contain lecithin (i.e. soy) although Amano specifies that it is made on the same equipment as chocolate made with soy lecithin.

Patric American Handcrafted Chocolate "In-NIB-itable BAR", 2.3 oz (65g)
Handcrafted by: Patric Chocolate, Columbia, MO (USA)
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, cocoa butter.  Made in facility that processes dairy products, peanuts and/or tree nuts.

Patric American Handcrafted Chocolate Signature 70% Blend dark chocolate, 2.3 oz (65g)
Handcrafted by: Patric Chocolate, Columbia, MO (USA)
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, cocoa butter.  Made in facility that processes dairy products, peanuts and/or tree nuts.

Amano Madagascar 70%, 2 oz (56g)
Amano Chocolate, Orem, UT (U.S.A.)
Ingredients: Cocoa beans, pure cane sugar, cocoa butter, whole vanilla beans. "Our vintage equipment is used to process milk chocolate and chocolate containing tree nuts, peanuts and soy lecithin (an emulsifier)".

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Last minute stocking stuffers....fill them up with chocolate while you grocery shop!

This year, President's Choice added some new chocolate to their line-up of goodies available at your nearest Independent Grocer, SuperStore, Loblaws or other grocers that sell President's Choice products in Canada. Well, "new" is not exactly the correct term for it, it is actually the same chocolate that has always been available in those giant 300 gram sizes (which are great for home baking) and is repackaged in 100 gram bars (at least, I think it is the same chocolate, the packaging is the same only smaller). So if you know someone who is a fan of PC chocolate, now you can fill their stocking with more than one chocolate bar (let's face it, the 300 gram bars were just too big to be stocking stuffers, even if they were the right shape!).

The chocolate is flavoured with natural vanilla (not the artificial stuff), it has canola lecithin instead of soy (great for people who cannot have soy lecithin) and the price is always right with President's Choice.

I bought and tasted the 70% Dark Chocolate bar for myself, and I picked up the Milk Chocolate bar as a stocking stuffer.  The chocolate was good, albeit not really flavourful in the same way as single origin chocolate, but great for people who like a regular 70% dark chocolate bar with a lot of vanilla. It was also very smooth and compares well to Lindt's 70% dark chocolate.

So while you are out grocery shopping today, you can kill two birds with one stone (what a horrible saying!) and get your last minute food shopping done while filling up your family's stockings.

As per usual, here are the details from the package of the chocolate that I tasted today:

President's Choice Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa Solids, 100 grams
Loblaws Inc. (Toronto, ON)
Chocolate is a "Product of France"
Ingredients: Unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, low fat cocoa, canola lecithin, natural vanilla extract.  May contain tree nuts, milk, egg, soy and/or wheat.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Canadiana....Canadian chocolate that will make you sing!

Imagine an organic 70% dark chocolate with the flavour of maple syrup, the chewy texture and sweetness of sundried apples and the savoury taste of alder smoked salt.

Well you can stop imagining now...because it does exist in one wonderful little chocolate bar! It is called the Canadiana chocolate bar by Organic Fair Inc. in Cobble Hill, B.C.  The only thing it is missing to be truly Canadian is some Back Bacon.  But no matter, it is still delicious and I am officialy in LOVE with this chocolate bar.

I am not sure how I found this brand of somehow or other....but I am glad that I did.  Organic Fair Inc. has one of the most interesting range of chocolate bar flavours that I have ever seen (well, next to Vosges).  For instance, one of the chocolate bars on their web site is a dark chocolate bar (60% cacao) with cinnamon, raisins and bananas.  Another one, called the "talamanca organic dark chocolate" has pinneapple, coconut, banana and lime in a 70% dark chocolate. Check out the other flavours at:  Each and every chocolate bar sounds so interesting that I wanted to taste all of them.  So I filled my online Shopping Cart last week with chocolate (I bought several of the Canadiana chocolate bars for stocking stuffers!) and a few other things, like some Saffron and organic dark roast coffee beans. The package arrived in no time at all and I ripped into the Canadiana bar immediately. The chocolate had a raw, organic taste to it and the maple syrup and salt were sublte - as they should be - leaving the slight aftertaste of apple in your mouth. And the bar was perfectly portioned to leave you feeling good about your chocolate experience, rather than guilty.

Now that I have tasted Organic Fair's Canadiana chocolate bar, I can't wait to try their other flavours of chocolate. Stay tuned for more posts on this unique brand of organic and fair trade chocolate as I taste my way through "The Consumate Connoisseur's Chocolate Gift Box", an awesome buy for the chocoholic in your life with 12 perfectly-portion-sized chocolate bars in a great range of flavours (in case you are wondering, I do not get paid, nor do I get free chocolate to write about this...I'm just really excited about this chocolate gift box that I bought myself for Christmas! Ya you heard me, I bought myself a Christmas present).

Here are the package details from the Canadiana bar:

Canadiana 70% Dark Chocolate with Maple Syrup, Sundried Apples & Alder Smoked Salt, 44g (1.5 oz)
Handmade by Organic Fair Inc. (Cobble Hill, B.C.)
Ingredients: cocoa liquor*, raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, ground vanilla beans*, sundried apples*, maple syrup flakes*, alder smoked salt. Minimum 70% cacao. *Certified Organic by Pro-Cert Organic: reg #247. May contain traces of nuts, peanuts, wheat & dairy.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate from Romania? Cranberries and Dark Chocolate by HEIDI

When I think of chocolate bar manufacturers, I do not think of Romania as being a country that would have many. I would think of Switzerland, France, Belgium...and the U.S.A. now more and more. But Romania? Then again, I would not normally think of Canada, but people are making it here too, so why not Romania?

The reason why I am talking about Romanian chocolate today is because last week I found HEIDI, a brand of chocolate bars made in Romania.  The company employs 300 people and they claim to be existent in "35 markets throughout six continents" around the world, so they have actually taken their Romanian chocolate rather far. And although this chocolate is made in Romania, the company was started by a "Swiss chocolate visionary" and "Swiss imported ingredients" were used to create their first chocolate products. But regardless, their company origins are in Romania, and they were actually one of the top four players in the Romanian chocolate market (source: in 2005, which was a limited - but growing - market (at least it was in 2005; it looks like some of the other top players have been purchased or merged). So although the Romanian chocolate manufacturing market is not large, it does exist and there are a few chocolate brands, including HEIDI, working hard to put it on the map.

HEIDI is considered a "premium" brand within its market, as opposed to other Swiss manufacturers who target the budget/low cost segment.  And based on its packaging, communications program and flavours of chocolate, they are certainly positioning themselves that way. 

So how does this Romanian chocolate stack up to other chocolate? Well, I purchased two HEIDI bars last week and finally got around to opening and tasting one today, which was their Dark Cranberry chocolate bar with 50% cocoa solids. I like the delicate nature of the bar.  The pieces that you can break apart are all very thin, which makes it great for tasting the chocolate because each piece melts quicker in your mouth. The only problem I find with this is: because the bar is so thin, you are actually getting only 80 grams of chocolate in a package that is the same size as most 100 gram chocolate bars. So it seems to me like it is a bit of a fooler.

As for the flavour, although I am not usually a fan of chocolate bars with berries or fruit in it (unless the berry is raspberry, or the fruit or berry is mixed with chocolate in a pie, which is a whole other story!), the cranberry flavour is subtle and the pieces are small, so it is actually quite nice.  You taste the cranberry with the first bite, then the chocolate flavour comes on more as you continue to eat.

WARNING TO THOSE WHO READ LABELS: Vanilla extract is listed on the ingredients list, but so is artificial flavour.  What's confusing is: the HEIDI website specifically states that the chocolate bars are made with "100% natural ingredients". So I peeled back the sticky nutrition label that was placed on the product (I am assuming by the company that imported the product) to meet Canadian labelling standards, and it does not say "artificial flavour" in the English ingredients list.  It says: "flavors: natural vanilla extract and cranberry".  So always be warned that an additional label stuck over top of the one originally printed on the package may not be listing the same ingredients as the original. I have found this to be the case on many occasions.

Overall, I personally felt the chocolate bar was "okay".  BUT that is my personal opinion based on my own likes/dislikes of specific flavours. If you are the type of person who likes cranberry and other berry flavoured chocolate, you might really like this chocolate bar.  And somehow I still ate half the bar in a matter of minutes, so it must have been better than 'okay'. It was those thin, delicate pieces that got me!

I also bought a HEIDI Extreme Dark 85% bar that I plan to taste in January.  It does not list artificial flavour, and it too is 80 grams, so the pieces are just as fine and thin, so I am looking forward to tasting it.

I bought both chocolate bars at an Ontario Bulk Barn for $2.99 (CAD).  If you are looking for details on where to buy a HEIDI chocolate bar in your area, check out their website and the details I took from the packaging below:
HEIDI Dark Cranberry, 80g
Made in Romania (Imported to Canada by Euro-Excellence Inc., Quebec, Canada)
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cranberry pieces 1.5%, soya lecithin, vanilla extract, artificial flavour. Cocoa solids 50% minimum in chocolate.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enjoy life by eating soy-free and nut-free chocolate!

One year ago I wrote an article about chocolate with no soy lecithin and it has since become one of my most popular blog posts. And I, along with several readers, have been adding to the list of soy-free chocolate on a regular basis ever since I  first wrote the post.  Now I find myself always checking the labels of chocolate bars and baking chocolate to discover if it is soy-free, peanut-free or tree-nut free so that I can help people with allergies find chocolate that they can eat (I am, after all, all about connecting more people to fine chocolate!). 

Recently a reader suggested that Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips (a brand that I had never heard of before) was a soy-free product. Oddly enough, the very next day I was shopping and just happened upon two Enjoy Life products. So I bought a bag of each of the Mega Chunks and the Mini Chips.  Both came in 283 gram bags and both make claims about being not only soy-free, but also gluten-free, and free of the following: milk, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, wheat, mustard, sulfites, shellfish, crustaceans, sesame and soy. The package specifically claims that they make their products in a "dedicated nut and gluten free facility", which is important to ensure that the products are completely free of any traces of nuts, soy or gluten.

What is great about these little nuggets of chocolate is that they only have three ingredients: brown sugar, cocoa mass and  cocoa butter.  So you get the added bonus of no bleached sugar in this product and no artificial flavours or colours.

Both taste great, although my bag of the Mega Chunks were slightly older than the Mini Chips (according to the expiry date) and did taste a little less fresh than the Mini Chips, but tasted great once baked into a cake. The Mini Chips are so yummy that I just couldn't stop eating them.  My three-year old daughter also loved them because they were so tiny.  She kept calling them her "baby" chocolate chips and was handling them like they were cute little baby birds. Overall, I find no difference in taste or texture than regular chocolate chips with soy lecithin, which is great because Enjoy Life brand is better for us with no artificial flavour, hydrogenated oils or refined sugar.

Because these chocolate chips are meant for baking, I thought I would test them out in a cake (see picture to the left).  It is a chocolate cake with the Enjoy Life Mega Chunks baked right into the cake layers and it is surrounded in Enjoy Life Mini Chips.  It is easier to use mini chocolate chips on the outside of a cake, rather than regular or large-sized ones, because you can get a more even coating and the cake will be easier to slice. I also used Camino milk chocolate to make the ganache that was poured on top and between the layers. (Camino couverture also does not have soy in it), and I topped the cake with a peanut butter buttercream.  So although it is not a peanut-free cake, it is a soy-free cake. And it was an all-yummy cake too...if you are like me and love cake with ridiculous amounts of chocolate in each serving!

 To make a similar cake, just throw a cup of Mega Chunks into your favourite chocolate cake recipe (I won't give away my chocolate cake recipe! Use a cake mix if you have no other recipe) and bake three 8" layers of cake. Make a chocolate ganache (see below for ganache recipe) and pour 1/3 of it over the first layer, then place second layer on top, spread another 1/3 of ganache over it and let more run down the sides, then place the last layer of cake on top. Pour the last 1/3 of chocolate ganache over the top of cake and spread out evenly, allowing more chocolate to run down the sides.  Use your offset spatula to smooth out all the chocolate on the sides of the cake until you have an even coating about 1/8" thick.  Open a pack of Mini Chips and press into sides of cake.  Top with your favourite flavour of buttercream icing and - voila! - you will have a cake that is exploding with chocolate.

Easy Ganache Recipe: Bring 1 cup cream to a boil and immediately pour over 16 oz of milk or semi-sweet chocolate, stir slowly until smooth.

So there you have it, another great chocolate product for people who need to bake chocolate-chip cookies, cakes and pastries (or make truffles!) that are soy-free.

Here are the details from the packages of the chocolate that I tasted today:

Enjoy Life chocolate Mini Chips, 283 g
"free of milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soy"
Manufactured for: Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC
Schiller Park, IL (USA)
Ingredients: brown sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter.
Made in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility. Certified Gluten-free.

Enjoy Life chocolate Mega Chunks, 283 g
"free of milk, peanuts, tree nuts and soy"
Manufactured for: Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC
Schiller Park, IL (USA)
Ingredients: brown sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter.
Made in a dedicated nut and gluten free facility. Certified Gluten-free.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Three (Well, Four) Kinds of White Chocolate Couverture

... for chocolatiers and for the general population, if you can get your hands on them!

Callebaut White Chocolate Callets
I remember the first time I tasted white chocolate.  Real white chocolate, that is. Not the grocery store kind, like "white chocolate chips" made of oils instead of cocoa butter, or solid white chocolate bunnies at Easter that are bleached white and super sweet so kids will like them.  I mean the real stuff that is so ivory it is almost yellow because it is made mostly of cocoa butter and real vanilla. The stuff that melts in your mouth faster than you can say “white chocolate” and tastes rich and buttery instead of like a block of refined sugar.

Since I was first exposed to good white chocolate, I cannot believe how my opinion of it has changed.  I used to turn my nose up at any white chocolate bar on the shelf of any retailer, but now I pick it up and turn it over curiously to read the ingredients.  If the ingredients are acceptable to me, I buy it. If it is filled with artificial ingredients or anything hydrogenated, I put it back on the shelf.

However, because I tend to like darker chocolate, I always question whether or not I have the ability to evaluate and comment on white chocolate. I often find myself asking other people to taste it and give me their opinion.  So last week, when I finally had a good collection of white chocolate couverture (the best kind of chocolate for chocolatiers to work with), and I could not decide which one was best, I decided to hold an impromptu tasting with my sister and brother-in-law. So once again, like at another tasting recently, the kids played while the adults tasted chocolate. But instead of dark chocolate, it was three kinds of white chocolate couverture that included:
  • Valrhona "Ivoire" White Chocolate Discs (Ivory Coast)
  • Callebaut White Chocolate Callets
  • El Rey Icoa Solid White Chocolate Block (100% Venezuelan)
I asked the others to tell me their favourites in order of first to third. My brother-in-law chose El Rey as his favourite (thought it tasted mellow, smooth and refreshing), Valrhona as his second-favourite and Callebaut third.  My sister chose Callebaut as her favourite, then Valrhona and El Rey third.  Although she admitted that she liked the Callebaut because it smelled and tasted like nutmeg, which we all agreed that it did.  I have tasted this type of Callebaut white chocolate before and it never tasted like nutmeg in the past, but the smell and flavour of the spice in this batch of chocolate was  so apparent that it clearly had been stored open at the wholesaler and certainly was store next to some nutmeg and other spices.

My personal favourite was the El Rey.  It is very dark in colour compared to the other chocolate and just has that look (and taste) of something with a lot of real vanilla added to it.  It is smooth and buttery and oh so good.  The only downside is that you have to chop up the massive block, which is time consuming for a chocolatier.

Valrhona White Chocolate Ivoire Discs

The Valrhona Ivoire is my second-favourite; it has a wonderful taste and is easy to work with. 
The Callebaut is sweeter and has less distinct flavours and is likely preferred by a more general consumer.  It is, however, very easy to melt and to work with; it makes beautiful shiny confections.

So clearly each chocolate is unique and will find fans among any group of tasters.  However, for chocolatiers, it depends on what they prefer in terms of workability, flavour and access to the product. Given that I am in Northern Ontario, I have the easiest access to Callebaut and to Camino white chocolate couverture.  The others are more difficult (and expensive) to ship in. Although Vanilla Food Company can help you get our hands on Callebaut and Valrhona couvertures. 

My only regret is that I did not have my Camino white chocolate couverture on hand.  I am curious how my sister and her husband would have rated it compared to the other three couvertures that we tasted.  The unique differences are that Camino`s white couverture is certified organic and Fair Trade, but also it has only three ingredient`s: cacao butter, sugar and milk.  So it has NO vanilla and NO soy lecithin.  Because there is no lecithin, I find it a bit more difficult to temper, but it is wonderful in white chocolate ganaches and cheesecakes. Also, with no vanilla added, it is very interesting in a tasting session to taste the difference to other chocolates with vanilla.

It`s funny, a few days after that white chocolate tasting I attended a party and overheard some ladies talking about white chocolate.  They said they did not think it was "real" chocolate and find it too sweet. I wished I had my supply of the 'good stuff' there so that they could try it.  I think they might have changed their mind about it once they tasted that cocoa buttery taste, real vanilla and real milk...instead of that artificially flavoured grocery store stuff.

I encourage everyone to get their hands on the `real` stuff and hold a tasting of your own.  Once you compare it to the grocery store white chocolate, I am sure you will have a new appreciation for white chocolate!

Here are the full details from the packages of the products I tasted and discussed today:

Valrhona White Chocolate Discs, Ivoire 35% Cocoa Solids, 453 g (1 lb) bag (repacked by Vanilla Food Co.)
Product of France
Sold in Canada by Vanilla Food Company
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier: soya lecithin, natural vanilla extract

Callebaut White Chocolate Callets (W2NV) 28% Cocoa Solids, 1 lb bag (repacked by Vanilla Food Co.)
Product of Belgium
Sold in Canada by Vanilla Food Company
Ingredients:  sugar, cocoa fat, dry whole milk, soy lecithin added as emulsifier, natural vanilla flavour.

El Rey White Chocolate “Carenero Superior® Icoa”, 3kg (6.6 lb) box
Chocolates El Rey , C.A.
100% Venezuelan Cacao (U.S.A. website)
Ingredients: refined sugar, cacao butter, whole and skim milk powder, soy lecithin as an emulsifier, flavoured with natural vanilla.  Contains milk. May contain traces of peanuts, nuts, soybeans.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Oh the wonderful things you can do with good quality chocolate...

On Friday I used several kinds of chocolate to make a large Holiday Pine Cone Wreath Cake.  The cake was a 14" round four-layered GingerSnap Buttercream cake with one half in chocolate and the other in vanilla.  The chocolate cake was made with Camino Organic and Fair Trade cocoa powder and doused in a glaze made of cream and semi-sweet Camino couverture.  The truffles were Espresso Truffles made with Camino Espresso-flavoured dark chocolate bars and rolled in Camino white chocolate couverture and shredded coconut. 

The miniature Pine Cone Cakes were made of chocolate cake carved into oval shapes and dipped in chocolate ganache, then were covered with Callebaut dark chocolate chips that I bought at Bulk Barn. I used Callebaut because they had a flatter shape which made the pine cones look more realistic. They taste wonderful, but the only downside of these chocolate chips is that they have artificial flavour, which is obvious as soon as you taste them (it is also listed on the ingredients list at Bulk Barn). However, these little pine cone cakes are really packed with chocolate and are essentially chocolate heaven for the chocolate fanatic.

The golden-wrapped truffles are eggnog-infused milk chocolate truffles made with fresh eggnog and cream and Camino organic milk chocolate couverture.  The branches are made from chocolate toffee, the same as in my chocolate TOFFLE's (a 70% organic dark chocolate is used for this toffee).  I also tossed a few TOFFLE's around the sides of the cake for additional decoration. The leaves and ribbon (as on the picture above) are made of fondant icing.

So as you can see, many fun things can be done with chocolate!  Just this one cake includes extra dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate - nearly all of which is Fair Trade and organic.