Monday, June 26, 2017

Exploring New Canadian Chocolate Makers, Part 2: McQuire Chocolate in Calgary

Last week I began exploring Canada's newest craft chocolate makers in celebration of Canada's 150th birthday this coming Saturday. I started with Kasama in Vancouver, and today we'll look at Alberta. For a long time, Calgary had just one craft chocolate maker (Choklat), but now a few more have been added. Of those, McQuire Chocolate is making single origin chocolate from bean-to-bar.




McGuire Chocolate founders, Mark and Victoria, are definitely bean-obsessed. They love cocoa beans so much, they offer a trillion different chocolate bars made from different beans and different roast profiles. Okay, so a 'trillion' is an exaggeration, but it seems to be the right word for the seemingly endless number of chocolate bars offered by these energetic chocolate makers. I understand their need to try new beans all the time. I feel the same way. Once I started working with cocoa beans, I couldn't get enough. I wanted to taste all different kinds, then discover how those beans taste with different roasts, different percentages of sugar, and varying refining time. I can't get enough of it. And this seems to be the case with Mark and Victoria.

I really enjoy the idea behind McGuire Chocolate's gorgeous packaging. The envelope fits three chocolate bars perfectly. This is just the right number for doing a comparison tasting of different cocoa bean origins.



I received a package of three bars, a Nicaragua origin chocolate (O'Payo 70% dark), a Tanzania origin chocolate (Kokoa Kamili 70% dark) and an Ecuador origin (La Buceta). A tasting card was included with each, and the length of refining time, as well as the roast profile was also shared alongside the tasting notes.

The Tanzania chocolate bar was DELICIOUS. It was bold and bright, with citrus fruit plus berry, perhaps cherry and blackberry. I was also a bit tart and just a lovely chocolate overall.


The O'Payo chocolate bar had a lovely citrus, lemon, roast, bold, bright flavours. It had a bit of a stiff texture compared to, say Lindt chocolate, but that usually has something to do with two-ingredient chocolate (which this is, just cacao and cane sugar with no added cocoa butter) . I have used this same Nicaraguan cocoa bean and it is quite bold and bitter, has a lovely chocolaty flavour, and also very versatile. McGuire's O'Payo chocolate bar is a great chocolate to compare to other - very fruity or nutty - chocolate bars to showcase the differences between origin chocolates.

As for the La Buceta from Ecuador - it was a bit too spicy and dry for me (and 'soapy' as my tasting friend described it). The tasting notes, which you can see in the picture below (and please do ignore my mixing up of the cards between La Buceta and O'Payo), describe it as have notes of IPA, curry, cinnamon and cashews. It is definitely a dry curry flavour. I didn't know what IPA stood for, but an internet abbreviation search gives 116 potential abbreviations, with the only taste-related ones being Indian Pale Ale (okay, beer and perhaps Indian spices like curry, this seems reasonable) and 'IsoPropyl Alcohol'. I'm pretty sure 'International Phonetic Alphabet' is not the flavour note they were referring to. But either way, it was not my favourite flavour.



Overall, the experience of McGuire was fun. I like that you can order single bars from the website, or packages of three, like I experienced, and hold a chocolate tasting among friends to truly understand the origins of the bars, or perhaps the differences between roasts.

Learn more about McGuire Chocolate at http://mcguirechocolate.com/ or follow them on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/mcguirechocolate/) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/mcguirechocolate/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Celebrate Canada's 150th Birthday by Exploring the Country's Newest Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Makers: Starting with Kasama Chocolate

Canada's 150th birthday is fast approaching! So let's celebrate by featuring some new Canadian chocolate makers. I've been stocking up lately on chocolate from all across this great country and I want to tell you about each and every new chocolate maker.

If you read this blog regularly, you'll know that I try to stay updated on all the newest bean-to-bar chocolate makers around the globe and here at home in North America. I keep lists on the blog (US, UK, CAD), so you can keep up-to-date as well.  And I've been watching the list of Canadian chocolate makers rapidly grow over the last five years. Most recently, many more opened their doors (or kitchens, as the case may be, as not many craft chocolate makers have actual store-fronts). So we'll start from the West and work our way East. Stay tuned each day, I intend to bring you a Canadian chocolate maker feature (along with a few other blog posts thrown into the mix about chocolate makers, equipment, and cocoa beans from around the world).

We'll start today with those super-cool West-coasters at Kasama Chocolate...

Kasama Chocolate (East Vancouver):




A partnership between four people: Dom, Oliver, Vincent and Stefan, which began when Vincent inherited a small piece of land in the Philippines. Vincent found cacao growing on the property, and when he came back to Canada, he told his friends about it. They joked that on the next visit, he should bring some back and they would make chocolate from it. A month later, he did just that. And they have been making chocolate ever since.

Kasama Chocolate and I did a little switch-a-roo this Spring, when we exchanged our bean-to-bar chocolate across the country. They sent me a few of their bars to taste, and at the same time, I sent them a few of mine (check out Kasama's post on Instagram and mine). The fun part was tasting each other's Honduras bar, since we both use the same cocoa beans for that one. And I have to say, I quite like the taste of Kasama's. For obvious reasons since we use the same beans, but also because of that caramelized almond taste and aroma, as well as a fruitiness that is hard to find words to explain. It is truly one of my favourite beans - not only to taste in chocolate form, but also to work with. The bean tastes amazing on its own, and the shells release easily.

The star of Kasama's show was the Costa Rica bar. It was fruity, bold, acidic and bright in flavour. Sort of citrus, sort of orange/tangerine, sort of berry - like a bold smoothie of flavours with some cocoa nibs thrown in for that cacao flavour. I loved this chocolate bar.


Kasama also makes a 55% goat's milk. I shared it with a friend, and was a little sad to let it go without trying it first. So you'll have to taste it for yourself if you are curious.  Kasama Chocolate is sold at farmer's markets throughout the Vancouver area, including Mt. Pleasant Farmer's Market, as well as Riley Park Farmer's Market all summer long.

Kasama is a home-based business for the time being (there is talk of finding an appropriate space for their business). They make bean-to-bar chocolate bars and bean-to-truffle confections. Visit www.kasamachocolate.com for more information.

Next up will be: McGuire Chocolate (Calgary).

After that, watch for Aschenti Cocoa (Winnipeg).

And then a whole slew of chocolate makers from Quebec, as well as a newbie on the East Coast.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Creamy Chocolate Pie Recipe with a Sour Cream Twist



Do you ever crave a rich chocolate truffle that you can slice? If you do, you are in the right place today! That's what this pie is: a truffle on a plate.

It is dark, delicious, and has a sweet and savoury sensation with a sour cream taste and sweet cookie crust. The whipped cream on top adds a beautiful texture combination that can't be beat.

 

I have been experimenting with condensed milk lately, and by just switching up a few ingredients in my White Chocolate Key Lime Pie recipe, I came up with this delicious twist on dessert! This is not a paid endorsement, but I do want to mention that I prefer to use President's Choice Sweetened Condensed Milk because it is thicker than the other brands that I have tried, and sets a little better when baked.


I also used Camino brand of 71% dark chocolate, which can be purchased all across Canada, but again, you can try any good quality 70% dark chocolate (just try to use one with  no artificial vanilla flavouring or 'vanillin' because it may add a super-sweet weird flavour). If you are using bean-to-bar craft chocolate, I'd recommend a non-fruity Peruvian origin, Venezuela or Ecuador origin chocolate. Stick with more cream and nutty origin flavours rather than fruit, in order to bring out the sour cream taste and reduce tartness. But go ahead and experiment as much as you like and let me know the results in the comments below.

Below is the recipe. I hope you enjoy this perfect summer chocolate dessert!

Dark Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 can (300 ml), condensed sweetened milk
1/3 (80 ml) cup sour cream
1 100g (3.5 oz) 70% dark chocolate bar (I used Camino brand of Organic/FT bar)
1/4 cup (60ml) milk




Crust:
1 cup (250ml) Chocolate wafer cookies crumbled
3 tbsp butter (45ml), melted
1 tbsp (15 ml) granulated sugar

Whipped cream topping:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp agave syrup
Optional: chocolate cookie crumbles, chocolate shavings, or melted semi-sweet chocolate ganache.

You also need a small 5" to 7" cake or pie pan for this recipe. For a larger pie (i.e. 8" crust), double the ingredients and bake the final pie for 15 minutes (rather than 12 minutes).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Crust Instructions:

1. Place the crumbled cookies, granulated sugar & melted butter into a bowl and mix. Press into a small-to-medium cake or pie pan (about 6" or 7" in diameter). Be sure to press it all the way up the sides.

2. Bake in a preheated 350•F oven for 7 minutes. Remove and let cool while preparing the filling.
Tip: line it with a round of parchment paper to get the whole pie out once made, if you wish to put it on a serving plate rather than serving out of a pie pan.

Filling Instructions:

1. Chop the chocolate bar and place in a microwave safe bowl. Pour the 1/4 cup milk over the chocolate. Microwave for 40 seconds. Stir until smooth. Microwave for five second intervals only if lumps remain, stirring again until smooth. Set aside to cool.


 2. In a medium bowl, pour in the condensed sweetened milk and the sour cream. Mix with a whisk or spatula until smooth. Add the smooth chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Pour into your pie crust.



Tip: If there is too much filling for your pie, pour into one or two ramekins to eat as pudding. Top with cookie crumble, then whipped cream and cocoa nibs or shavings to add some texture to the pudding because it is very thick. This is your bonus dessert for working so hard!


3. Place the pie in the oven and bake 12 minutes at 350•F . Remove from oven, let cool completely. Refrigerate 1 hour before topping with whipped cream.

Topping Instructions:

1. For whipped cream: beat the cream on high in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.

2. Add the vanilla and agave and beat just a few more seconds until slightly stiffer (do not overbeat).

3. Optional additions to topping: I added a little leftover semisweet ganache to my whipped cream topping because I had it on hand, but you can also chop or shave some chocolate chips or semi-sweet chocolate to toss into you whipped cream for added flavour and colour if you like. Or just spread the whipped cream on top of the pie and top with chocolate shavings.


Chill a little before slicing. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Belmont Estate Grenada: A historic 17th-century plantation now making chocolate from tree-to-bar

As a chocolate maker, I dream about making chocolate without ever needing to purchase and wait for a shipment of the beans. Jay Kang is living that dream at Belmont Estate in Grenada. He moved from London about a year ago to be the Head Chocolate Maker at Belmont, a historic 17th century plantation that grows cacao, spices and fruit, and also has a goat farm to make top quality goat cheese.

Jay Kang, Head Chocolate Maker/Chocolatier at Belmont Estate

Mr. Kang, a trained chef and chocolate maker, was tasked with the creation of Belmont Estate Fine Chocolate Inc. and constructing a small chocolate factory on the plantation, with the intention of using the cocoa beans grown at the estate, along with other spices and ingredients that are harvested on site.

I recently visited Belmont Estate for a tour of the grounds and a soft launch of their new line of chocolate bars, the flavours developed by Mr. Kang and the plans for a chocolate factory planned and supported by Shadel Nyack Compton, the Managing Director of Belmont Estates. This was a part of the Grenada Chocolate Festival, who shuttled us out to Belmont, and together with the Estate created a lovely all-day experience touring the grounds, learning about cacao and where it comes from, and tasting Belmont's newest chocolate creations.

The Belmont Estate grounds and view of the cocoa drying racks (top),
Dr. Darin Sukha of the Cocoa Research Centre (left),
Shadel Nyak Compton, Managing Director of Belmont (left-middle),
cocoa pods piled on the estate grounds, and the Belmont 'band' (far right).

In the morning, we toured the Estate's grounds and some of the paths through the cacao & fruit trees. Some people picked mangoes and citrus fruit and ate them - albeit with much mess - directly from the ground or the trees. Traditional Grenadian music with lively drumming was played by a band as we headed up the path from the main buildings into the trees. It was a fun and relaxing atmosphere as we started our Belmont journey.

Dr. Darin Sukha from the Cocoa Research Centre at the West Indies University (in Trinidad) was our guide along with the beautiful and charismatic Shadel. Dr. Sukha is a cacao expert and it was a very amazing experience to have him guide us through the plantation, teaching us all about Theobroma trees (i.e. cacao).



Who doesn't take a moment out of a cacao plantation tour
to kiss the pods?
Start with a seedling...
We started in the greenhouse, where Dr. Sukha discussed cacao seedlings, and growing the trees from seeds, versus grafting to get just the right mix of fine flavour cacao and a strong tree. We learned that the germination period is about 68 days from the seed. When the seedling is about 6 months old, it is large enough to plant outdoors. A cutting, on the other hand, can create a clone of the original plant - "a true vegetative replica" but with a different root system. Dr. Sukha also shared that new techniques in grafting are being explored at the Cocoa Research Centre in Trinidad, including the exploration of 'nano grafting', a method of using seedlings that are very young, just weeks old.

Beautiful little cocoa trees, just at their
beginning stages at Belmont Estate.

We learned a lot from the 'Cacao Doctor' as he was nicknamed, including  the main variety of cacao in Grenada is Trinitario, with some Forastero (hardier tree, less flavourful cocoa beans) and Criollo (delicate tree but produces fine flavour cocoa beans). Trinitario is a hybrid of the two other types, being hardier than Criollo, while producing cacao with a finer flavour than Forastero. Grenada is one of only 10 countries in the world that is officially classified as exclusively growing 'fine flavour cacao'.

Fermenting the cocoa beans...
As we explored the farm, he explained fermentation, where the beans (once removed with their pulp from the cacao pods) are kept for about 7 days in large wooden boxes to ferment. And although the microorganisms that are on everything on the farm make up 'terrior' , the fermentation is truly where the flavour develops. The first stage of fermentation creates alcohol and becomes more acidic, the next stage the acid bacteria causes the flavour change to happen, and breaks down the proteins into amino acids which contribute to flavour.

Dr. Darin Sukha, a Research Fellow
leading the Cocoa Research Center's Flavour
and Quality Section at the University of the West Indies.

We moved on to drying of the beans, with some visual and examples of how they would once 'walk the beans' to turn them over and separate them to help the sun dry each bean. Dr. Sukha cut open beans to show us the drying stages and fermentation.

'Walking the beans'

The Restaurant at Belmont...
After we celebrated with some traditional music, and an amazing lunch up at Belmont's on-site restaurant. The food was amazing, which included traditional Pepperpot with a twist of chocolate in the sauce, and pumpkin soup, with chocolate shavings on top. I could eat at this gorgeous open-air restaurant every day. It is available for weddings and events, so if you plan to get married in Grenada, I would strongly consider this wonderful location.


Pumpkin Soup seemed to be a Grenada special, and this one at
Belmont Estate restaurant was topped with dark chocolate shavings - delicious!
See the cocoa pod in the picture?

Belmont Estates' new chocolate factory...

After lunch, we enjoyed a chocolate tasting led by Dr. Sukha, and then toured the new chocolate factory, designed by Jay Kang, Head Chocolate Maker & Chocolatier at Belmont Estate. Since this was a 'soft launch' of the new factory, the Managing Director, Shadel (who, bye the way, just won a prestigious Entrepreneurship award just days before we arrived) began with a speech about the new factory and all the hard work of the Belmont family  - and by 'family', she was referring to her beloved employees who work at Belmont. She introduced the chocolate making team, as well as Jay Kang. From there, Mr. Kang took over and gave us all a tour of the new small factory, including the equipment selected to do the job.

Visitors can peek in on the workings of the chocolate factory
from the chocolate shop.
The chocolate factory kitchen has clean lines and
a lot of storage for aging chocolate.

The chocolate refiner was purring while we visited the factory.



As with most small chocolate factories, the winnower was built by hand, and the rest of the equipment brought, including the refiner and a cocoa butter press, in from all over the world. The kitchen was spotless, with clean lines and a lot of space for the chocolate makers to move around. I have to admit, I was salivating (as a chocolate maker, over the kitchen space and the equipment, as well as the chocolate).

As for the chocolate, Mr. Kang has developed four main flavours: Dark (with 74% cocoa solids), Milk (with 60% cocoa solids), a Sea Salt and a 'Pure Grenada' chocolate bar, featuring the spices of Grenada and that grow on Belmont Estate. Being a chef by trade, Jay plans to use the ingredients at hand to create new flavours moving forward, and to use them seasonally as they ripen. I think we may see amazing things from this small chocolate factory in the future.



The Chocolate...

I brought some Belmont chocolate home, which I've been working my way through the two I kept for myself. The Dark Chocolate bar with its 74% cocoa solids, is certainly an intense experience, with fruit and citrus flavours, and some floral notes.  The Milk Chocolate is no Hershey, with a whopping 60% cocoa solids, this certainly falls in the 'dark-milk' chocolate category.


The Belmont beans are a little like Crayfish Bay's and Grenada Chocolate Company's: bold and full of intense fruit and earthy flavours, holding some acidity in from the bean in the final chocolate. Jouvay's chocolate is a complete contrast with its lack of acidity and sweetness, as you will see if you taste and compare the two. Belmont's chocolate is certainly representative of the flavour of Grenada's cocoa.



The Spices and other Wonders of Belmont Estate...
While at Belmont, you can also purchase spices, which also grow on the property. I brought home several spices, including ginger, cinnamon and mace. There is also a Grenada Chocolate Company Boutique on the property, and a lovely gift shop with other handmade items from Grenada. This Estate truly is a destination to see when traveling to Grenada.



For more information on Belmont Estate, visit the website at:
http://www.belmontestate.net/index.htm.

For more information about The Grenada Chocolate Festival, visit:
http://grenadachocolatefest.com/.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tree to Bar Chocolate ; Grenada is Leading the Way

If you are familiar with bean-to-bar chocolate, then you may also be familiar with tree-to-bar chocolate. Making chocolate from bean-to-bar, starts with cocoa beans as the raw ingredient. The chocolate maker then roasts, crushes, and winnows (removes the shells) the beans, then grinds and refines them into chocolate, ages the chocolate, and takes the final steps of moulding the chocolate into bars.
 
 

Tree-to-bar chocolate starts from the raw cacao and generally occurs in the country of origin and at the cocoa farm. The farmer then ferments, dries and sorts the beans, and instead of selling their beans to cocoa exporters or chocolate makers, they take the next steps of making chocolate from them. This keeps more of the money earned from chocolate production at the farm, and in the country of origin. In some cases, chocolate makers call themselves tree-to-bar when they themselves or their family members grow the beans in one country, then convert them into chocolate in another. Either way, the chocolate profits are being kept within the farmer's family.

Grenada has become a hot spot for both bean-to-bar and tree-to-bar chocolate. With a population falling just short of 110,000 people and land mass of 344 square kilometres, this small Island has big plans for its cocoa beans.

As I mentioned in my last post, I attended the Grenada Chocolate Festival just over a week ago, and was able to see first-hand how chocolate-making-at-origin and tree-to-bar chocolate was done in Grenada. 

I should have started my tour of Grenada's cocoa farming and tree-to-bar chocolate at Tri Island Chocolate on Sunday (May 14th), where cocoa farm rehabilitation is in progress, and on-site chocolate making is at its beginning stages.  Unfortunately I arrived in Grenada a little too late for the day trip out there.

On Monday, the festival brought us to Belmont Estate, a beautiful historical cocoa plantation with a new chocolate factory at the plantation. The following days included two very different trips to Crayfish Bay, one for a tour of the bean-to-bar process, and another where I was able to 'be a farmer for a day'. And to top it all off, there was an amazing day at The Grenada Chocolate Factory.

Today I will tell you about all about The Diamond Chocolate Factory, and then the rest of the week we will explore the other chocolate makers in Grenada. Each day at the Grenada Chocolate Festival was so full of information and rich chocolate experiences, that I feel I need to spend a little extra time and page space highlighting each one.

Jouvay Chocolate and The Diamond Chocolate Factory in St. Marks, Grenada



As part of the Grenada Chocolate Festival, we participated in a tour of Diamond Chocolate Factory, where they make the Jouvay Chocolate brand. The chocolate is made in a former rum distillery operated by French monks in 1774, which was converted to a chocolate factory in 2014. We toured the grounds, where the ruins of the monastery still remain, then toured the factory through its large windows designed for visitors to peek in at the workers making chocolate.




The chocolate making equipment (conche and roll refiner) at Jouvay had quite a good size to them - not as large as you might see at a traditional bulk chocolate 'factory', but much larger than many of the refiners used by craft chocolate makers.  Perhaps it is the mix of cocoa beans used for the chocolate, or the separate conche machine that gives Jouvay chocolate a much sweeter and less acidic profile than the other chocolate makers' products that I tasted on the Island. 


Jouvay offers a wide enough range of dark chocolate, including a 60%, a 70%, a 75% and a 100% dark. Some cocoa butter and nibs and beans were also sold on site.



Jouvay's 100% dark chocolate bar is certainly on the sweeter side of the scale for an unsweetened dark chocolate, and is very creamy in texture. It has a green taste to it, like mixed salad greens or kale, with some splash of green fruit like kiwi and a touch of under-ripe lemon. And it is a complete contrast to the very bold taste of The Grenada Chocolate Company's 100% dark chocolate bar, which is fruitier, has a stronger roast taste and holds more acidity.


I personally enjoyed Jouvey's 75% dark chocolate more the most of their product line-up because it was mild and sweet overall, yet full of cocoa flavour, with floral notes and some fruitiness, low acidity and a slight fruity and earthy aftertaste. Although I suspect that many people who eat sweeter dark chocolate might prefer the 60% or the 70% bars, which were light and creamy with some earthy tones, a medium roast taste, and mild fruit flavours.

Jouvay Chocolate is a farmer-owned chocolate company, which partnered with L.A. Burdick, a chocolate bonbon and truffle maker in the U.S., to create delicious tasting chocolate intended to ensure the cocoa farmers retain more of the profit. 


Jouvay Chocolate bars found in the IGA Supermarket in Spiceland Mall
across the street from the Grand Anse Beach.

The chocolate bars can be found all over Grenada, including in the cafĂ© and shop attached to the chocolate factory, or in the airport shops. I found some at the gift shop at True Blue Bay boutique resort where I stayed, as well as at the large grocery store just across the street from the famous Grand Anse beach.  Be sure to pick up a range of these chocolate bars while you are visiting Grenada, they are tasty and a perfect gift for any dark chocolate lover in your life.

Tomorrow we will take a look at Belmont Estate, a large and lovely cocoa plantation, along with their new micro chocolate factory to create truly tree-to-bar chocolate on the farm.

For now, let's dream about Grenada Chocolate! I know I will. 

Relaxed me, enjoying the tour of The Diamond Chocolate Factory
in St. Marks, Grenada.  Can you tell I was on a 'chocolate high'?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I am at the Grenada Chocolate Fest!


If you are wondering why this blog has been rather 'quiet' for the last week or so, it is because I am traveling...for chocolate! I am in Grenada for the Grenada Chocolate Festival, an annual event organized by the owner of True Blue Bay boutique resort in Grenada. It is a week long adventure of cacao, cocoa farm visits, great food, and wonderful single origin chocolate. I am enjoying this festival thoroughly, which is why I haven't been spending a lot of time writing about it! But don't worry, I'll tell you all about it once I am back. Here are a few highlights to tide you over until then....

On Monday, we took an extensive tour of Belmont Estate, a cacao plantation in Grenada. While there, we learned about different types of cacao, growing cacao, seedlings, grafting, fermentation, drying cocoa beans, and more.





After, we had the most delicious lunch at Belmont Estate restaurant. Beautiful view and chocolate in my food, what more could I ask for?



Belmont then announced their launch of a new craft chocolate factory. Tree to bar chocolate is the way to go! All the ingredients they need to make chocolate are grown and processed right there on the farm (well, except maybe the sugar).





Yesterday we visited the Diamond Chocolate Factory for a short tour. This factory makes the Jouvay Chocolate brand.




Today we are heading to the Grenada Chocolate Factory, and learning all about Mott Green, and his important impact in the world of chocolate, and Grenadian cocoa.






Sunday, May 7, 2017

Double Layer Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake - two recipes in one cake!

My birthday was about a month ago. And since it was a milestone birthday this year, I decided not to rely on anyone else to make my cake because - as I've learned over the years - no one makes cakes for a professional baker. Or so I thought. A cake was dropped off at my door on my big day. But I didn't know this before my birthday, so I went ahead and made an epic one for myself. So there was no need for fancy decoration (as you'll see in the photos), because this cake was just for me.

My cake preference is for something super chocolaty and rich. But to make a cake that is rich enough for my taste buds, I really must combine two cakes. And that is precisely what I did.

I LOVE chocolate cheesecake, and I LOVE chocolate mousse cake. So I decided to mix them together!  And I didn't want to bake, so I chose two no-bake recipes and got started.  I used gluten-free flour in the crust to cut down on guilt and just because I thought I'd mix it up a bit. This changed nothing on the deliciousness scale, but you can decide whether yours will be GF or not.

The end result is a delicious combination that is both rich and chocolaty. As a bonus, it can be pre-sliced and frozen, so you can pull out a piece and thaw it in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds (or an hour just left on the counter) whenever you have a dessert craving!

Let's get to it. Here is the 'how-to' for this delicious cake...


Double Layer Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake Recipe

For the crust:

You need...
  • 1/2 cup butter (set aside more for the flour-based crust)
        plus
  • 1 package (or 2 to 3 cups chocolate wafer cookies, gluten-free or regular)
                      OR
  • 2 cups GF or unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar, coconut sugar, or another dry sugar alternative

Crust Instructions:

1. Cover the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper and butter the bottom and up the inside sides. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave in a heat-proof bowl or in a saucepan on the stove.
3. Crumble your cookies (if using) and place in a medium-sized bowl or place flour, sugar, cocoa powder in a medium-sized bowl and stir to disperse ingredients.  Add the melted butter to the mix and stir until mix is moist and crumbly. Add more butter as necessary.
4. Press into the bottom of an 8" or 9" springform pan, until smooth and even and covers the entire bottom.
5. Place your pan on a cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for just 10 minutes if using crumbled cookies, and for 15 minutes if using flour/sugar mixture crust.
6. Remove from oven and let cool in the fridge for a half an hour or until it feels cool to the touch.

For the no-bake chocolate cheesecake filling:

You need...
  • 2 packages of cream cheese (2 250 gram packages), softened to room temperature (or packages fully removed and microwaved for 20 to 30 seconds on a plate or paper towel to reach room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup sugar (organic raw cane sugar, or coconut sugar are fine)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 7 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate (you can also use 70% dark chocolate, but you might want to increase the sugar by a 1/4 cup if you do)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla

Cheesecake filling instructions:

1. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave for 1 minute on high, or 2 minutes on half power. Stir until smooth and set aside to cool slightly.
2. Whip the whipping cream in a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, until fluffy and stiff (about 1 minute or less in a stand mixer, 5 minutes with a hand mixer). Transfer to another bowl (to free up your stand mixer bowl) and place in the fridge.
3. Place the cream cheese in your mixing bowl and beat until soft and fluffy, stopping every now and then to carefully stir in the bottom to ensure no lumps form.
4. Add the sugar and beat again until smooth (about 30 to 60 seconds), also stopping to stir in the bottom with a spatula so no lumps form. Beat for 30 seconds more.
5. Add the vanilla and beat in for 10 seconds.
6. Add the chocolate and beat in for 20 seconds or so until fully combined.
7. Gently fold in your whipping cream.
8. Pour the entire mix onto the crust ready in your springform pan. Spread around until the top is smooth and even.
9. Place the crust and bottom layer of the cake in the fridge to chill and set, while making your chocolate mousse.

For the chocolate mousse cake filling:
This recipe is modified, but originally comes from the Ghirardelli Chocolate Cookbook, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley/Toronto, 2007

You need...
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups of chocolate chips (preferably 55% to 65% dark chocolate - Ghirardelli recommends their 60% chocolate chips)
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (organic cane sugar works here)
  • 1/4 cup hot brewed coffee or espresso
Chocolate Mousse Filling Instructions:

1. Whip the whipping cream in a large bowl to form light peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator.
2. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (careful not to let any water drops drip into it or it will turn lumpy) or in the microwave for 2 minutes on half power in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until smooth. 3. If over a double boiler, pull off heat while about 1/8 chocolate remains in lumps, so the chocolate does not overheat. Stir until smooth.
4. Whip the eggs with the sugar at medium-high speed for about 10 minutes (less if using a Kitchenaid stand mixer), until very fluffy and thick.
5. Stir the hot coffee into the chocolate chips rapidly but until smooth, and then immediately stir it into the beaten eggs, again rapidly. Gently fold in the whipped cream.
6. Pour the mixture over the cheesecake filling in the pan. Spread around until smooth.
7. Place back in the fridge and let set a least 2 hours (24 hours is good too) until ready to serve or to top the cake.

To serve the cake...

Run a knife around the inside edges of the springform pan. Remove the sides. Carefully transfer to a serving plate. Top the cake with chocolate ganache dizzled over it, chocolate shavings, cookie crumble, hazelnuts, raspberries or strawberries or whatever you prefer. Keep the cake in the fridge until ready to serve. Or seal in an airtight container (a box with a plastic bag sealed around it works too!) and freeze until ready to serve. Thaws in about an hour.

It's time to impress your friends! Although you might not want to share. :-)

Friday, April 28, 2017

Day 5 concludes 'A Zotter a Day' theme week with these innovative chocolates

With over 300 chocolate flavours, I could keep writing about Zotter Chocolate flavours every day for a year, but I do need to get some chocolate work of my own done. So I will conclude my 'A Zotter a Day' theme today and move on to chocolate making, recipe developing and some other chocolate makers next week.

Since I couldn't quite choose a favourite for the final day, today I will mention a few bars that I have enjoyed and really think you should try. I believe I have written about these same bars on the blog once before, but they are just so special and innovative that I want to be sure you haven't missed them.

Zotter's Labooko Milk Chocolate "Dark style" 70%, without sugar


You've likely heard of dark-milk chocolate, a whole new category of milk chocolate that has become very popular in recent years, but Zotter takes this category to a new level with its no-sugar milk chocolate. In fact, no sweetener of any kind has been added to the chocolate, making this an amazing treat for anyone who is trying to consume 100% dark chocolate, but just can't get over the bitterness.

Last week, I told you about East Van Roasters Mad Cashew bar, which takes the edge out of unsweetened chocolate by adding cashew butter and salt. This Zotter chocolate bar does the same thing: it takes the edge off the bitterness of plain chocolate with the addition of milk powder and vanilla. The creaminess softens the bitter cacao taste and creates a savoury, melt-in-your mouth treat.  Now, I am not saying this no-sugar chocolate doesn't take a little time to get used to for people who regularly eat 70% dark chocolate, but for someone who usually consumes 80% to 100% dark chocolate, they may even find the vanilla and milk sweet.

You can find this chocolate bar on the Zotter USA website here.

Mitzi Blue Never-Ending Strawberry, Strawberry & Yoghurt


A few weeks ago, I talked about the new trend in chocolate: chocolate makers are creating naturally bright colours of 'white' chocolate by grinding freeze-dried fruit directly into the chocolate. This adds both colour and strong fruit flavours that can't be beat. Zotter is participating in this trend (who knows, perhaps they started it?) with strawberry-chocolate combinations. My favourite though, is Zotter's Mitzi Blue disc, or wheel, which has a strawberry-yogurt flavour. And yes, I know there is a spelling difference between Austrian-based Zotter Chocolate and myself because, well, we spell yogurt differently here.


The reason why I like this even more than Zotter's strawberry Labooko bars is because the disc is so beautiful. It is the perfect way to treat yourself or someone else to chocolate. The design and package size makes it perfect for gifting. In addition, kids love it to. And the yogurt flavour is so distinct - from yogurt powder added to the chocolate ingredients -  that it tastes just like the flavour of strawberry yogurt (and you are less likely to drip this on your shirt at work).

Find out more on the Zotter USA website here about the Never-ending strawberry chocolate or any of the Mitzi Blue chocolates would make lovely gifts. I can't wait to try the Mango-blueberry or the beautiful Sky of Love chocolate disc.

And that ends the week folks! Stay tunes next week because I have a couple of recipes to share for chocolate cakes and chocolate-covered sponge-toffee. And I have a few articles on chocolate making equipment and great reads on bean-to-bar chocolate in the works, as well as some Canadian chocolate maker reviews.

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Please note that although I wrote about Zotter for an entire week, I was not paid or compensated in any way to write this post. I paid for my chocolate (it was a birthday gift from me...to me :-)) and simply chose to tell you about it. I just like to tell you all about fun and tasty chocolate creations! Thanks to Zotter for making such great chocolate.