Monday, May 20, 2013

A Dark and Delicious Gift for a Chocolate-Loving Mom

What is the BEST EVER gift that a chocolate-lover can receive on Mother's Day?  SOMA chocolate!  Last week, I received a surprise shipment of very fine chocolate from Toronto-based Soma Chocolatemaker.  I was delighted to find three dark chocolate bars and a box of truffles from one of Canada's finest chocolate makers.

I was excited about Soma's Green Tangerine chocolate bar - one of the best flavoured bars that I've tasted.  Also, Soma's 'Black Science' Trinidad chocolate bar and Madagascar chocolate bars were a perfect gift for me because I love to taste and compare the two origin chocolates. And Soma's 8 year Aged Balsamic Vinegar truffle and their Olive Oil truffle were also included in the box of filled chocolates, which are two of my favourites.

But mostly, I was excited to find a new chocolate bar that I have not yet tried of Soma's, a new blended bean bar called 'Abstract Chocolate Science'.  It has 82% cacao solids and a blend of beans sourced from four countries, plus large pieces of cacao beans from Madagascar were thrown in for some added crunch and cacao flavour.

This chocolate bar is intense, woody, smoky and also full of that disctinct flavour of Madagascar cacao. What's more, it does not have the bitterness that often comes with an 80-something percent chocolate - even a seventy-percent chocolate lover like me can appreciate it. I absolutely love it.

So next time you need a gift for that chocolate connoisseur in your life, check out Soma (  Their selection is vast and their flavours are excellent.  What's more, they make the chocolate directly from the bean in Canada!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Great Canadian Maple and Chocolate Combinations

We Canadians know our maple.  We have the maple leaf on our flag, our largest city has an NHL hockey team by the name, and Wikipedia calls it the "national symbol of Canada", claiming the maple tree was once called "the king of our forest" (ref).  So naturally, we consider the maple tree's syrup to be our national (and natural) sweetener. 

And since I am a chocolate lover who also happens to be Canadian, I feel it is my job to share information on all great chocolate bars with real Canadian maple. Today I have two kinds that I recently discovered, and of course they both come from the province of Quebec, which some may consider the maple capital our country.

Theobroma Chocolat makes organic chocolate in uniquely packaged 35 gram chocolate bars. I have tasted nearly every one of their fantastic flavours (raspberry - yum! banana, pineapple and more), but just a few days ago, I came across their 'Sweet Maple Butter' chocolate bar.  This bar offers about five or six breakable pieces of 60% dark chocolate with a small dollop of maple butter in the centre of each piece.  The shell is thick with dark chocolate and the sweetness of the maple butter comes as a surprise.  However, the amount of maple butter is just small enough to not be overpowering.  In fact, I think it is just the right amount to provide the full maple flavour without it being too sweet.

What I like about this chocolate is that there are only five ingredients (cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar cane, maple butter, and soy lecithin) which are natural and all organic, except for the soya lecithin.  There is no added vanilla and there are no artificial flavours or colours.

The other maple chocolate bar is made by Olivia Chocolat.  This bean-to-bar artisan chocolate maker has a selection of fine chocolate bars with maple, including "a touch of maple" chocolate bar and a touch of maple "with maple sugar flakes" chocolate bar.  Also, they recently launched a raw chocolate bar line which includes a very bitter 92% chocolate bar that is partially sweetened with maple sugar. I have tasted this one; it is thin and delicate, and offers a nice hint of maple flavour.  So if you can handle a very dark chocolate in the 90% range, I highly recommend Olivia's 92% Maple Raw chocolate bar (order here).

Both chocolate bars are Gluten-free.  Check out their websites for more information on these products:

If you know of any great Canadian maple and chocolate combinations, feel free to add them to the Comments below!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gluten-Free Crepe Recipe (with Chocolate!)

I love to experiment with grains.  The reason?  Well, when I look into my daughter's lunch box, all I see is wheat, wheat and more wheat, and I think, "no wonder there are so many gluten and wheat intolerance's". I truly think we have overdone it. 

Most people that I know who are in their 30s can compare and recall eating all the same snacks and lunches: Ritz crackers, cheese and crackers, peanut butter and jam sandwiches.  But nowadays, there are so many different kinds of snacks on the ever-expanding grocery store shelves, that our children will likely not be able to agree on which snack item was the most popular.  Even all the main brands of cookies and crackers now come in "minis" and are pre-packaged for lunches. 

In addition, our choices are now limited because we can no longer send anything with nuts in it to school (nor anything that "May contain" nuts); so wheat-based products are the easiest option. Also, no one is baking Rice Krispie squares anymore because nearly all the moms are working and have limited time to bake. I work from home and seem to constantly be cleaning, child-rearing or working and I have no time for baking wheat-free snacks except on the weekends.

So I like to change things up on the weekend, and give my kids a breakfast or lunch with non-wheat foods, just to ensure that they are not overdoing it with any one type of grain.

As a result, I have been converting a lot of crepe recipes to 'gluten-free'. Crepes can be made quickly and easily, and the lack of wheat is not noticed by my kids. The best one I found that converted easily to gluten-free was the Homemade Crepes recipe, which was in the Chatelaine Magazine this month (May 2013, Page 109).  The recipe called for all-purpose flour, so I modified the recipe and used a gluten-free flour mix. The results were perfect! The best part about this recipe, was that you could not taste the grittiness that often occurs with gluten-free flour blends because the recipe was rich with eggs and milk (so rich in protein, which is great for the kids!).

RECIPE: Gluten-Free Crepes - All Natural and Delicious!
(adapted from Chatelaine Magazine, May 2013 issue,

You need:
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (any percentage - I used skim once and homogenized another time)
  • 1/2 cup Gluten-Free Flour Mix (I used a brand called "Purely Bulk", which also has Chia and Sprouted Flaxseed in it or you can use rice flour or spelt flour, which is non-gluten free but still non-wheat)
  • 1 tbsp Grapeseed Oil, Canola Oil, or melted butter
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar or agave syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla


1. Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat.

2. Whisk eggs in a medium or large bowl.  Add in the milk, gluten-free flour, oil, sugar and vanilla and whisk or blend with hand mixer until there are no lumps.

3. Pour 1/2 cup batter into the centre of the hot pan.  Immediately spread around into a circle with a spatula or lift the pan and tilt in a circle until you have the shape that you want.

4. Cook only about 30 seconds until edges are lifting from pan and flip.  Cook only another 30 seconds or so until crepe is golden. Transfer to a plate.

5. Once the crepes are all on the plate and somewhat cooled, spread a large circle of chocolate spread (see below for the kind I used) and add a strip of all-natural peanut butter down the centre.  Roll up.  Alternately, use a hazelnut spread like Nutella or PC brand (see below again for comparison of the two brands).

For the chocolate spread, I used President's Choice Dark Chocolate spread - they come in 400 gram jars and the ingredients are pretty natural with no 'modified' or 'hydrogenated' oils and real vanilla extract (no artificial flavour or colours!).  On top of the dark chocolate spread on some of the crepes, I added some MaraNatha No Stir Peanut Butter (this is not a paid plug for them, it is just my FAVOURITE peanut butter EVER and I eat it every day because it is all natural and partially organic and SO smooth). But another choice is the President's Choice Chocolate Hazelnut Spread.  Compared to Nutella, I prefer PC's product because it does not contain any 'modified' oils and it has real Bourbon vanilla. Nutella's ingredients include Modified Palm Oil and Vanillin, which is artificial flavouring. Again, this is not a paid endorsement for PC, my kids liked Nutella so I searched for a healthier solution and PC's Hazenut Spread came out on top with their ingredients.

And of coure, you can always just make this recipe with wheat (just replace the gluten-free flour above with all-purpose flour), and you can also make this a meal by filling the crepes with chicken, lettuce and veggies or an egg and cheese, or whatever you like!

You can contact me at if you have any questions about the recipe above or feel free to leave a comment below.