Friday, September 25, 2015

Chaleur B Chocolat's Product Line Expands: Fiji & Madagascar Origin Chocolate PLUS Coffee Inclusions

Chaleur B Chocolat is a small Canadian chocolate-maker that has been growing their line-up of chocolate bars recently. I first told you about them back in February, when I purchased Chaleur's white chocolate, 50% dark-milk chocolate, and 70% Uganda dark chocolate.

Owner, Dany Marquis, who trained in chocolate making in Paris, has begun to expand the product line to include more origin chocolate bars, higher percentages, as well as flavoured bars.  The most interesting new chocolate was the Fiji 87.8%

Fiji origin chocolate is not widely available, but some organizations in Fiji are trying to improve that.  The cacao used for this chocolate bar comes from a region (Dreketi, Makuata province) where some of the poorest people from Fiji live*.  Certainly this type of direct trade in chocolate making, can only benefit people and cocoa farmers in this area.

I have never tasted a chocolate made from cocoa beans grown in Fiji until now.  This introduction was certainly a surprising one, with a bitter taste of black olives and prunes. Some nuttiness rounded out the smooth, bold and bitter chocolate flavour.

Overall, the Fiji bar reminded me of a plate of savoury appetizers, to be enjoyed with a dry red wine.

Chaleur's 70% Madagascar chocolate is a bright and slightly bitter fruity tasting chocolate, showcasing the citrus fruit, raspberry and red fruit flavours often found in Madagascar's cocoa beans. It is perfect for a chocolate-tasting line-up when trying to understand the differences in origin flavours.

The new Mokaccino chocolate bar is a 50% dark-milk chocolate with a slight crunch to it, amidst smooth, buttery, high percentage milk chocolate. I have written about dark-milk chocolate extensively, which is a new category of chocolate that has high percentages of cacao (over 50% cocoa solids). Chaleur B Chocolate has created a delicious combination of bold coffee and smooth, rich chocolate with a hint of milk to it - just like the perfect Mokaccino should be.

Overall, I really like the direction this chocolate maker is headed in; his passion for his craft, and his more recent release of new origins and products shows he is intent on remaining unique. You can read more about the Brazil origin chocolate that Mr. Marquis made (in limited release for now)here.

Chaleur's chocolate can be purchased online, via their website at or at La Tablette de Miss Choco in person in Montreal or online. I believe JoJo Coco in Ottawa also carries some Chaleur B Chocolat chocolate bars.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Chocolate in Missouri: A Road Trip for the Taste Buds

I just arrived back from a place that was unexpectedly chocolaty: Missouri!  I know what you're thinking. Chocolate in Missouri? It's not exactly a state known for fine chocolate. And if you have ever driven through the state, you'll recall that candy factory signs are everywhere, and BBQ seems to be all the rage. But NOT fine chocolate. Heck, even the locals didn't know what I was talking about when I said I'd visited a chocolate factory.

But kid you not, fine chocolate Missouri has. In fact, two of America's most renown and long-standing bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers reside in Missouri: Askinosie Chocolate and Patric Chocolate.

Of course, the goal of this trip was not to travel for chocolate. It was to attend a true country-themed farm wedding in the heart of Missouri. My good friend, who I met 11 years ago in France, was getting married on his honey and horse boarding farm in Centralia.

Every detail of this farm wedding had been thoughtfully planned,
from the bride, groom and entire wedding party riding in on individual tractors, to the horse stalls being beautifully transformed into lounge areas in the barn.

I did find a little chocolate at the wedding too. Among the large selection of country pies, there was one 'chocolate pie', made by a relative with a passion for chocolate and baking. It was so delicious that I ate two pieces. So if I find the recipe, I will not only make it, but I will post it here for you to try.

But before the pies and the fun festivities on the farm, came my trip to Askinosie Chocolate Factory in Springfield, Missouri. Askinosie makes a range of dark chocolate, dark-milk chocolate, and white chocolate bars with a focus on collaboration with the farmers, the local schools and other organizations who follow the same socially responsible mission as Askinosie. They also make delicious dark chocolate hazelnut spread and hot cocoa mixes.

I will go into detail about this chocolate maker in a later post, but needless to say, I spent loads of money on chocolate and have been on a cacao high ever since.

Before leaving Springfield, I surprisingly found a little chocolate in the Beef Jerky outlet store (I know, an outlet store for beef jerky is awesome right?).

The choices were on the fun and silly side, but I did find one slightly more serious truffle: a 'latte' flavoured milk chocolate ganache with Mexican coffee, dipped in layers of milk and white chocolate. It filled my cravings for something rich and sweet at the same time.

We soon moved on to Columbia, Missouri, where I picked up several Patric Chocolate bars at the Root Cellar, a cool little local-food products store in the centre of the city. Patric Chocolate is a bean-to-bar chocolate maker based in Columbia, Missouri.  They do not have a store front, but you can buy Patric's award-winning line-up of chocolate at local retailers like the Root Cellar, or at HyVee West Broadway, or sign up for the monthly release newsletter and buy online.

Finally, I made my way to the St. Louis airport, where I thought my chocolate-buying opportunities had come to an end. But surprisingly I found some chocolate made by a St. Louis-based chocolate company called Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Company (yup, that's a lot of chocolate).  At an airport store called MAXGA, I found some all natural Nonpareils.  With no artificial flavours or colours and NO hydrogenated vegetable oils, these candy-sprinkled chocolates were a perfect treat for my kids. If you are heading into St. Louis though, there are several locations of Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate that you can visit, and at the factory you can take a tour.

And if you only have minutes to spare in a Missouri airport, and just can't make it out to find some fine chocolate, there is always a little to be found at Starbucks.  Those Starbucks gluten-free chocolate cookies are on the sweet side, but they sure are chocolaty and tasty!

So that was my chocolaty adventure in Missouri! Stay tuned for more information on Patric Chocolate and Askinosie later this week or next. And let's not forget about that chocolate pie that I promised to make!

Have a great day folks!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Half-Baked: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cheesecake with Reese

I love no-bake cheesecake. I love brownies made with no flour. And I REALLY LOVE chocolate and peanut butter together. So I put them all together to create the perfect dessert.

This no-bake chocolate and peanut butter cheesecake is made with Reese Spreads - a new spread for toast that tastes just like a Reese Peanut Butter Cup (oh yeah). It is layered on top of a baked peanut butter chocolate brownie also made with Reese spread. And the whole thing is topped with more spread, milk chocolate shavings and peanut butter cups.  Let me tell you, it is heaven on a plate.

So run out and get a jar of Reese spreads, and make this cake for your next potluck or party. You won't regret it!

Here is my recipe:

Half-Baked: Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Cheesecake Recipe
Bonus: Gluten-Free
Time: Lot's, but its worth it. First 1 hour, then 2 hour cooling period, then 10 minutes plus another cooling/chilling period for 2 hours.


Before you begin, preheat your oven to 350º F and line an 8" or 9" baking pan with parchment paper, then grease the paper and up the sides of the pan.

For the brownie base, you need:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup Reese Spread
4 eggs
1/2 tsp salt

For the no-bake cheesecake topping, you need:
1 cup whipping cream
1 250 gram package of cream cheese
1/3 cup agave or sugar
3/4 cup Reese Spreads

Brownie Instructions:

1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat together the sugar, butter and 1 cup of Reese spread.

2. Add the eggs and beat until combined. 

3. Mix in the salt.

4. Bake for 50 minutes in an oven preheated to 350º F.

Cheesecake Instructions: 

1. Let the brownie cool fully before making the cheesecake topping.  First, cool on the counter for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Beat your whipping cream with a stand mixer or hand mixer until it is thick & stiff peaks form (do not over beat - this looks slightly lumpy.

3. Pour into a bowl and put in the fridge.

4. In a mixing bowl, beat your softened cream cheese for a minute or two, while stopping to stir on occasion to incorporate fully. 

5. Add the 1/3 cup of agave and beat until smooth and creamy.

6. Beat in the Reese peanut butter chocolate spread, then gently fold in the whipped cream.

Assembling the cake:

1. Run a knife around the inside of the springform pan, but leave the sides on.

2. Pour the cream cheese mixture onto the brownie base and spread to the edges. 

3. Chill for at least 1 or 2 hours until set.

4. Remove from the refrigerator and run a knife around the inside of the springform pan again, then release and remove the sides.

5. Decorate the top of the cake by using the remaining Reese spread. Place some spread in a small sandwich zipper bag, seal and then warm in the microwave for 10 seconds. Cut a small hole off of one of the bottom corners of the bag and squeeze the spread through in lines or swirling motions -whatever you prefer - to decorate the top of the cake.

6. Top with cut pieces of large or mini Reese Peanut Butter Cups & peanuts or chocolate shavings (see below for a tip).

Chocolate Shavings Tip: 

To get great chocolate shavings, you need to warm the chocolate a little before you grate it. First, get out a cheese grater. Unwrap a milk or dark chocolate bar, place on a paper towel and then in the microwave. Microwave for about 20 seconds or less.  Then shave pieces using the grater.  Press into the side of the cake or sprinkle on top.

Note: This post has been sponsored by Hershey's Canada, for which I am being compensated both monetarily and with product.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Weekly Chocolate Round-Up: It's All About Brazil!

Brazil-origin chocolate continues to mystify me. I have spent many chocolate tastings pondering the taste of Brazilian cacao, and wondering what the unique flavours are that can be discovered with each bite. And I've spent countless hours on Google trying to get my hands on more, in hopes of de-mystifying this unique origin.

My first introduction to chocolate made from Brazilian cocoa beans was by Choklat, a Calgary bean-to-bar chocolate maker. I fell in love with Choklat's 70% Brazilian chocolate, and even more so the 48% milk chocolate, with its bold and distinct taste and high cocoa butter content.

I then moved on to AMMA's range of Brazilian-origin chocolate bars, which left me a little confused.  Some of them have a very unique taste that I cannot pinpoint, perhaps specific to the cocoa plantation and the other fruits and flowers grown in the area (AMMA grows their own cacao) or perhaps the packaging or processing. Eventually I took to Twitter to sort it out, but others said the same thing: there is a strange taste that they just can't put a name to. I purchased the same line-up of AMMA's chocolate again, which ended in the same confusion, until I tasted AMMA's new Gula Merah 70% chocolate bar that is sweetened with coconut sugar from Java in Indonesia.  It was fruity and sweet and very enjoyable.

Next I moved on to Akesson's chocolate, a chocolate company from England that owns plantations in Madagascar and in Bahia, Brazil. Their 75% dark Brazilian-origin chocolate was both fruity and smoky, and quite distinct and delicious. Akesson's packaging explained that the chocolate tasted like the local pitanga fruit. This made me wonder: is that the flavour I taste in AMMA's chocolate?  A local fruit with a distinct flavour that I have never experienced before?

So this week, I stepped further in my quest to understand Brazil origin chocolate. Chaleur B Chocolate, a chocolate company in Quebec, sent me a sample of a limited run chocolate bar made from cacao from Bahia, Brazil.  It had 80% cocoa solids, and the taste was also fruity (like cherries and dried fruit) and a hint of smoky tobacco & roast flavours. I loved it! It truly was a delicious chocolate. So keep a lookout, I think Chaleur may be adding this chocolate bar to their regular line-up soon.

I also tasted AMMA's 100% dark chocolate (that's right, no sugar added, not even the fake stuff!) this week. It, too, had the same unique flavour that other AMMA chocolate bars had.  It was surprisingly enjoyable. 

The flavour of AMMA's 100% chocolate was sweet and nothing like a no-sugar-added chocolate can taste.  Some are so bitter that water is necessary to get them down (ahem: unsweetened Baker's baking chocolate for instance), and others far too acidic to enjoy. But AMMA's was a great introduction to 100% dark chocolate. In fact, I witnessed one addict of sweet milk-chocolate scarf down a piece of AMMA's 100% chocolate and not even cringe.  In fact, I think he enjoyed it.

I found the flavour also to be bright and sweet, with a roast taste, possibly ground cherries, earthy mold, caramel and floral. But whatever the flavour is, I highly recommend you try AMMA's 100% Organic Brazilian Chocolate. And if you have tried it, feel free to comment below and let me know what you think the flavour tastes like!

So now I am thinking ahead to the next Brazil origin chocolate. I am working on getting some of the limited release 2012 Cacao Barry Boa Sentenca 68%. Chocolate Arts in Vancouver also sells a chocolate bar made from this chocolate, if you are looking to try it. Also, here is an interesting photo diary of one photographers visit to the Boa Sentenca plantation in Brazil: It's worth a view!

Have a great weekend!


You can purchase AMMA's chocolate at JoJo Coco in Ottawa and online at La Tablette de Miss Choco. Chalaur B Chocolat's chocolate is also available on as is Akesson's 75% Brazil chocolate. Choklat is available at their store locations in Calgary and Edmonton.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Chocolate TOFFLE™ now available at Salute Coffee Company in Sudbury! Plus: Contest Announcement!

I am pleased to announce that the Chocolate TOFFLE, my signature chocolate product, is now available at Salute Coffee Company! Celebrate the first day of school this year with a delicious dark chocolate toffee wrapped around a chocolate truffle centre, in three delicious flavours: Peanut Butter, Peppermint, and Hazelnut. Samples are available for the next few days, so get there fast before they are gone!

In conjunction with this announcement, we are holding a contest to give away one gift basket packed full of products by my company, Ultimately Chocolate. It includes two gift boxes of Chocolate TOFFLEs, a gift box of eight delectable chocolate toffees, plus other treats, including CacaoCookies and individually wrapped organic chocolates. All of the chocolate is artisan-made, and made with high quality Organic & Fair Trade chocolate.

How can you enter? Online! Enter below for your chance to win! The contest starts today and will run until next Sunday, September 13th at midnight. The winner will be announced next Monday morning, and can pick up their prize at Salute Coffee Company on Armstrong Street in Sudbury. You must be a resident of the Greater Sudbury Area to enter.
Enter Now:
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Friday, September 4, 2015

Weekly Chocolate Round-Up: Dick-Taylor's Belize & Madagascar, Hummingbird's Vietnam and Marou's 80% Vietnamese Chocolate

I am not sure if this week was a 'battle of the beauties' or a 'battle of the birds'. Between Hummingbird's gorgeous logo, Dick-Taylor's perfect seagull illustration, and Marou's beautiful chocolate bar, my week of chocolate tastings was both appealing to the eyes and to the palate.

Marou's modern-looking chocolate with its clean, angled lines, was in far contrast from Dick-Taylor's intricate chocolate bar design that is reminiscent of antique royalty.  And Hummingbird's chocolate, adorned with flowers and leaves that indicate the nature from where the cacao came, offered an entirely different look. So with all this beauty, all three chocolate bars looked equally worthy of eating.

I agree that beautiful-looking chocolate isn't always great tasting chocolate, but in this case, these beauties also tasted AMAZING.

So let's take a closer look at each one...

Marou's Tien Giang 80% Vietnam-origin dark chocolate may well be the most beautiful chocolate bar in the world. The cool diagonal pieces and the super shiny, near-black coloured chocolate bar is a symbol of the new era of bean-to-bar chocolate.

I personally love how this chocolate bar breaks apart. No matter which line you break it on, the remaining chocolate bar still looks 'cool', dynamic and somehow, architecturally designed. Like a modern skyscraper with interestingly sharp angles.

As for taste, I found Marou's other chocolate bars to be fruitier than this one, which still had fruit flavours in it, but also something by the way of smoke, tobacco and roast flavours. There is a nice addition of cocoa butter to add a smoothness and creaminess to this 80% chocolate, which somehow tasted less bitter than other chocolate bars with cocoa solids as high. Overall, it was quite enjoyable.

Hummingbird's new Vietnam 70% chocolate bar surprised me with the smokiness. The 'chestnuts and caramel' flavours, as described on the package were mere hints of flavour, with smoke being the most pronounced flavour.  It was interesting, like Spencer Cocoa's Vanuatu-origin chocolate or Soma's limited edition 'Smoke Monster' chocolate bar. To achieve this kind of flavour, the cocoa beans used to make the chocolate had not been sun-dried, but rather fire-dried, which causes a strong smoke flavour. Some chocolate connoisseurs say that smoke flavour is not a good thing, but I find it fascinating, as it enhances the tasting experience of chocolate.

Why would it enhance it? Well for starters, if all chocolate tasted the same, life as a chocolate lover would be boring, would it not? And, tasting Marou's Vietnamese-origin chocolate, with its fruity flavours against a smoky chocolate like Hummingbird's teaches us that not all cacao is the same, even when grown in the same country (or sourced by the same people, since Marou sourced Hummingbird's cacao from a plantation in Vietnam). We can learn so much about how the methods used to process cocoa beans affects the final flavour of the chocolate, how growing conditions and soil can affect flavour (i.e. fruit influences in the growing region versus other crops grown nearby).

Dick-Taylor's 72% range of origin chocolate bars are absolutely picturesque. This antique-style design is so intricate that I was quite impressed with the lack of air bubbles in the chocolate bar (a detailed chocolate mold can often lend itself to problematic air bubbles for the chocolate maker). The company name is imprinted so delicately in the centre, finishing off the royalty-worthy look.

Dick-Taylor's Belize bar was very fruity, with citrus and berry flavours, and a hint of sweet purple grapes.  Perhaps a hint of tobacco, but mostly just cocoa and fruit. However, it's fruit flavour is not as bold in citrus-raspberry flavour as Dick-Taylor's Madagascar origin chocolate, which almost tastes like raspberries have been added to the chocolate. The Belize bar, with its dark mahogany chocolate colour, has just the perfect subtle mix of fruit and raspberries.

There is no added cocoa butter, so certainly this chocolate is a little 'stiffer' than some of the European-made origin chocolates, like Pralus, Akesson or Bonnat.  But the trend in America now is clearly two-ingredient chocolate (cocoa beans and sugar), and Dick-Taylor's chocolate certainly has a nice 'melt-in-the-mouth' feel for chocolate with just two ingredients.

All of these chocolate bars were purchased at JoJo Coco in Ottawa on Hazeldean Road.  The Marou chocolate, made in Vietnam with Vietnamese origin cacao and weighing in at 80 grams, cost $11, the Dick-Taylor chocolate bars cost $13 for 57 grams and Hummingbird's cost $7 for a 50 gram bar.

Here are the package details of each:

Marou Tien Giang 80% Vietnam Dark Chocolate (exp. 23-11-2015), 80g
Marou Chocolate Co. (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Ingredients: Cocoa and cocoa butter (80%), cane sugar (20%). Soy and gluten free. May contain tree nuts, eggs, and/or derivatives.

Dick-Taylor 72% Belize (batch 15132) & Madagascar (batch 15147) chocolate bars, 57g (2 oz)
Dick Taylor Craft Chocolate (Arcata, CA)
Ingredients: cacao*, cane sugar*
Processed in a facility that also processes nuts.

Hummingbird Vietnam 70% Cacao (batch 226), 50g
Hummingbird Chocolate Maker (Almonte, ON)
Ingredients: Organic Trinitario cacao, organic cane sugar, cacao butter. May contain nuts.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

DIY Chocolate: No Milk Chocolate On Hand? Make some!

A rare thing happened last week. I ran out of milk chocolate.  And unfortunately, it would have been 3 to 5 days before I could get some back in stock (ahem, just one of the problems I face living on an island in Northern Ontario).  Since the busy summer tourism time was still in full swing, I needed to make milk chocolate truffle tarts immediately. So I got to thinking: why not make some milk chocolate?

I did have milk powder on hand, so I knew it was possible to make milk chocolate. But I was still faced with two choices: 1. Use cacao nibs and the skim milk powder to make milk chocolate from bean to bar (see below for a recipe), or 2. add skim milk powder to a semi-sweet chocolate to turn it into milk chocolate.

I quickly ruled out the bean-to-bar option because I don't have a melangeur.  I still use my blender to make homemade chocolate from bean to bar, which means the chocolate would be slightly gritty, which is not nice for truffle making.  And even if I did have a melangeur, I would need to grind the chocolate for at least 24 hours to get it smooth, which meant I still could not make my tarts on time.

So I opted for adding the instant milk powder to semi-sweet chocolate. I simple melted the chocolate over a double boiler, then carefully sprinkled the powder in while using an immersion hand blender to ensure there were no lumps. The chocolate then had to be tempered.

I admit, I was surprised by how good it turned out.  It was not perfectly smooth, like off-the-shelf might be, but it was just fine in my recipe for smooth milk chocolate truffle.

And when I compared the chocolate tarts? Surprisingly, there was no taste difference between my usual milk chocolate truffle tarts, and the ones with the milk chocolate that I made at home.

If you want to make milk chocolate at home, try my method of adding milk powder (about 28-30% of your final batch size) to semi-sweet dark chocolate.  Or, make it from bean to bar using only a blender, smoothie maker or coffee maker!  Here is a recipe for a lovely dark-milk chocolate made from bean-to-bar with natural sugars, using only your blender, coffee maker or smoothie maker!

Bean-to-Bar Dark Milk Chocolate Recipe
(9 ounce batch size, 51.39% cocoa solids):

You need:
  • 2 and 1/4 oz of instant skim milk powder (25%) - I purchased some at Bulk Barn
  • 3 and 5/8 oz of roasted cocoa nibs (cocoa beans, shelled and roasted) (40.28%)
  • 2 and 1/8 oz sugar (I used organic coconut sugar, but you can use granulated cane sugar if you like) (23.61%)
  • 1 oz melted cocoa butter (melt in microwave for 2 minutes) (11.11%)

  1. Melt the cocoa butter in the microwave for 2 minutes on high power.
  2. Mix together cocoa nibs, sugar and skim milk in a blender or smoothie maker (I use the Ninja smoothie blender attachment)
  3. Grind by pulsing on and off for a couple of minutes until the mixture looks moist or darker in colour.
  4. Stir the chocolate mixture, then add the cocoa butter. Grind off and on for a few more minutes until the mixture resembles melted chocolate. Make sure your appliance does not start to become too warm. Stop grinding if the motor area feels warm to the touch to prevent it from overheating.
  5. Pour into a bowl (plastic, glass or stainless steel are all fine choices).
  6. Place over another bowl of ice and water to temper the chocolate. Stir the chocolate (without letting a single drop of water get into the mixture) until it cools to about 80º F. If it starts to harden, rewarm it for a maximum of four seconds in the microwave.
  7. Pour into chocolate or candy molds and then bang them on the counter a few times to get out the air bubbles (you can see clearly from my pictures, that I lazily skipped this step). If you don't have molds, pour onto a large piece of waxed paper and smooth out with a spatula. Cool in the fridge for up to a half hour, then pop out of the molds, or if using waxed paper, break up into pieces.
  8. Seal in an airtight container or in candy bags, and enjoy at room temperature for up to six months!

I like these little flower molds from Bulk Barn. 
The chocolate is perfectly portioned for consumption and each piece is gorgeous!