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Archive for Chocolate

CHOCOLATE STORE: 2 Beans, A Chocolate Paradise

2 Beans Chocolate Store NYC

Al Nassma Camel Milk Chocolate Bars

Marie Belle Matcha White Chocolate Bar

[1] Enter the emporium: coffee to the right, chocolate to the left (photo courtesy 2 Beans). [2] The first chocolate made with camel’s milk, from Dubai (photo courtesy Al Nassma). [3] Another winner: the matcha white chocolate bar from Marie Belle (photo courtesy Marie Belle).

 

Depending on where you live, there may be a store dedicated to chocolate bars.

2Beans is the go-to store in New York City. A gallery of the world’s great chocolates, it’s a dizzying experience for the novice and connoisseur alike.

There’s fine coffee, too; the second of the “two beans.”

You can buy all you want to bring back to your lair, or sit down and enjoy your chocolate with a coffee or wine pairing.

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts: beyond a chocolate store, beyond a coffee bar, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

There are also high-end soft drinks (like Fentiman’s) and small bites for those who want food with their chocolate.

The flagship store is a modern, two-story glass rectangle a block from Grand Central Terminal, at 100 Park Avenue (212-937-8914). While there may be larger concepts in other cities, right now 2Beans is where the action is in our town.

There are currently three locations, with two more to open this year (you can find the other two are in the Turnstile Shops at Columbus Circle, and at Amsterdam Avenue and 82nd Street on the Upper West Side.

ENTER THE EMPORIUM

A wall of chocolate bars, a large glass case for bonbons, a stand-up coffee bar and pleasant upstairs seating for some chocolate with coffee or wine.

2Beans is a chocolate store and coffee parlor located in New York committed in providing best confectionery items and coffee beans.

There’s a chocolate for everyone: more than 50 brands from over 18 countries: famous, not-yet-famous, bean-to-bar, kosher, Fair Trade, organic, and raw chocolates, even sugar-free (mostly 100 cacao choices, as opposed to artificially sweetened).

You start with the A’s (Akesson’s, Amano, Amedei…) and work your way through the alphabet of the world’s great artisan chocolate bars—including our own local and national producers.

There are also boxed chocolates, fill-your-own chocolate boxes, seasonal chocolates and fun chocolates. There are pastries, if you’d rather have some with your coffee.

 

There are even camel’s milk chocolate bars (photo #2), made by Al Nassma in Dubai (and the only camel’s milk chocolate made in the United Arab Emirates). The name means drifting breeze in Arabic, a welcome and gentle wind bringing cool respite from the heat of the desert.

One friend, a chocolate bar aficionado, stops by weekly for a pick-me up (and take-me-home). For happy hour, the store is open weekly.

 

MILK BOY SWISS CHOCOLATE

Our favorite discover on this week’s visit were the bars from a Swiss bean-to-bar producer, Milk Boy.

Made in Switzerland with cacao from sustainable farms in West Africa, the company offers

  • Dark Chocolate 60% cacao with pine tree oil
  • Dark Chocolate 85% cacao
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Milk Chocolate with crunchy caramel and sea salt
  • Milk Chocolate with lemon and ginger
  • White Chocolate with Bourbon vanilla
  •  
    We purchased the Milk, Milk with lemon and ginger and White Chocolate…and can’t wait to return for the rest of the line.

    The wrapper depicts the cow parade from villages to the Alps for grazing season. Each spring, the cows parade up the mountains to fanfare from the villagers. At the end of grazing season, they come back in for the winter.

    For art enthusiasts: the design was created by famous Swiss paper-cutting artist Esther Gerber. It’s just icing on the cake (wrapping on the bar?) of this exquisite chocolate.
     
    ANOTHER WINNER

    The Matcha White Chocolate Bar from Marie Belle.

    But in truth, how many winners are on the shelves at 2 Beans?

    We can’t even begin to count!

     

    Milk Boy 85% Chocolate Bar

    Milk Boy Chocolate Bar

    [4] Milk Boy, an outstanding brand from Switzerland. [5] Try the entire line (photos courtesy Milk Boy).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Pairing Chocolate & Tea

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea and Chocolate

    Tea With White Chocolate

    [1] Simple: a bite of chocolate, a sip of tea (photo courtesy Republic Of Tea). [2] Fancier (photo courtesy Marcolini Chocolate). [3] Elegant presentation from [3] Republic Of Tea and [4] Woodhouse Chocolate. [5] White chocolate pairs with black, green and herbal teas (photo courtesy Lindt).

     

    If you’re a tea lover, here’s an idea for just the two of you, or for a larger party of friends: Pair chocolate with tea.

    Tea and chocolate are excellent pairing companions. There is so much variety of flavor in each, it seems that there are endless possibilities.

    If you have an educated chocolate palate, go further in your exploration. As you would with wine pairings, see what works with what.

    We’ve provided some guidelines, but before you start, the rules are:

  • You need quality tea and quality chocolate.
  • Remember that as with wine, tea is adaptable to unconventional pairings. The fun (and learning experience) of a tasting party is that you get to try them all, and see which you personally prefer.
  • There are obvious pairings—citrussy tea with citrussy chocolate, for example; and opposite pairings. Otherwise stated: enhance or contrast.
  • In other words, there is no right or wrong: just what you like.
  • Try the teas black, before adding milk (as desired) and sugar (only if you deem it essential).
  • You don’t have to taste everything in one day. For example, we focused on event only on white chocolate pairings.
  •  
    TEA WITH DARK CHOCOLATE

    Dark chocolate also calls for a hearty black tea. The aforementioned Assam, English Breakfast and Masala Chai work here.

    But for adventure, try:

  • Green tea: Try a nuttier green, such as Dragon Well or Gen Mai Cha.
  • Lapsang Souchong, Russian Caravan: heavily smoky teas work well with bittersweet chocolates.
  • Pu-erh‡.
  • Hojicha: If the chocolate has “red fruit” notes. Single origin bars from Cuyagua, Ocumare, Rio Caribe, São Tomé, Sur del Lago.
  • Jasmine-scented Pouchong or lightly-oxidized Oolong. These have floral that pair with a single-origin chocolate that has natural floral notes, such as Valrhona Guanaja.
  •  
    Here’s more information on single origin chocolate flavors.
     
    TEA WITH MILK CHOCOLATE

    Milk chocolate should be paired with a hearty black tea that takes milk.

  • Assam, from the highlands of India has malty characteristics, is ideal (and is one of our favorite teas). As an alternative, English Breakfast is a blend which has a base of Assam*.
  • Masala chai is Assam with spices. Each home or manufacturer has a favorite mix, which can include allspice, black peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, fennel seeds, ginger, nutmeg and star anise. Here’s how to make masala chai with spices from your kitchen.
  • Darjeeling* is lighter, but an interesting contrast to the stronger black teas. With a floral aroma. The flavour can include a tinge of astringent tannic characteristics and a musky spiciness sometimes described as “muscatel.”
  • Earl Grey with milk pairs well with creamy milk chocolate.
  • Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong tea or other “toasty” teas with sweet milk chocolate.
  •  
    TEA WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    White chocolate is milky, often with caramel notes. These teas both compare and contrast:

  • Assam or Earl Grey black tea.
  • Gen Mai Cha (genmaicha): green tea with toasted rice (also the perfect pairing for a bar with crisped rice [like an artisan Nestlé’s Crunch]).
  • Herbal teas: rooibos, peppermint and numerous others. This is a pairing where you can find favorite flavors, from anise to lavender.
  • Jasmine black or green tea.
  • Masala Chai.
  • Matcha, Dragon Well or Sencha green teas.
  • Oolong semi-oxidized† tea.
  •  
    WITH FILLED & FLAVORED CHOCOLATES OR SINGLE-ORIGIN CHOCOLATE BARS

    Bonbons and chocolate bars and bark can be flavored with particular seasonings; but single origin chocolate bars carry the flavors of their particular origins.

    When we say an chocolate bar has, say, a profile of “red fruits,” it doesn’t mean that raspberries have been added to it. Rather, the beans produced in that particular area. Here’s more about single origin chocolate flavors.

    But whether the red fruits—or citrus, or coffee, or other flavor—is inherent to the bean or an added flavor, the pairing strategy is the same.

  • Any fruit-filled chocolate or fruity bar: Earl Grey, Jasmine black or green, floral Oolongs like Ti Kuan Yin Oolong.
  • Berries: Raspberry, strawberry or other berries pair nicely with Hojicha.
  • Caramel: Assam or Ceylon black tea, Houjicha green tea, Wu Yi Oolong teas or “toasty” tea.
  • Cherry: Try Darjeeling with chocolate-covered cherries.
  • Chile/Aztec: Lapsang Souchong, Pu-Erh or other strong black tea; Masala Chai.
  • Citrus: Bai Hao Oolong, Ceylon, Earl Grey (which is scented with Bergamot orange oil).
  • Floral: Jasmine, Pu-Erh.
  • Nuts: Pai Mu Tan (White Peony Tea), Dragon Well green tea or others with nutty notes.
  • Sea Salt: Assam.
  •  
    SUPPORTING INFORMATION

  • Tea
  • Chocolate Flavors Chart
  • Single Origin Chocolate Flavors
  • ________________

    *For food geeks: Most of the tea grown is the original Chinese tea plant, Camellia sinensis var. sinensis, known for thousands of years. The only other known variety, the larger-leaf Assam plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), was observed by a Scottish explorer. It was sent to Calcutta There, for classification and the plant was finally identified as a variety of Camellia sinensis, but different from the Chinese plant. While most of the tea grown in the world is Camellia sinensis, Assam is the largest tea-growing region in the world. The region is extremely hot and humid, which contributes to Assam’s unique malty taste. Darjeeling, also an Indian-grown tea, grows in the highlands, and is the original Camellia sinensis varietal.

    †Oolong is semi-fermented or semi-oxidized (semi-green) tea that falls between green and black tea on the fermentation continuum (black tea ferments for two to four hours; for oolong, the fermentation process is interrupted in the middle).

    ‡Pu-erh is a special category of tea from Yunnan province of China. The tea is fermented and aged so that the flavors and aromas are very earthy. Pu-erh teas are available in black, brick green, oolong, and white. Here’s more about it.
     

      

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    VALENTINE’S DAY: Three Wonderful Food Gifts

    Vinebox Valentine Gift

    VineBox Wines

    Ritual Chocolate Bars

    [1] [2] [3] The Valentine gift box from VineBox, with artisan chocolate bars from Ritual Chocolate.

     

    You could search all over town without finding wonderful Valentine’s Day gifts like these—one with zero calories!

    There’s no need leave home to get them. Just click below to order these online.

    1. FOR THE WINE DRINKER: A WINE & CHOCOLATE PAIRING

    VineBox is a monthly wine-by-the-glass subscription service; but for Valentine’s Day, it has teamed up with artisan chocolatier Ritual Chocolates to offer gift box that anyone can order.

    Three red wines have been paired with two different 75% cacao origin chocolate bars, from Belize and Madagascar.

    The wines include a Chianti from Tuscany, a Crozes-Hermitage from the Rhone Valley of France, and a Don Paolo from the Pompeii area of southern Italy.

    Beautifully packaged—you’ll want to repurpose the empty box or wine vials—the gift includes two separate boxes, with a total of

  • 3 different wines, 6 glasses total.
  • 2 small-batch chocolate bars, 2.12 ounces apiece.
  • Tasting notes and description.
  • A gift card.
  •  
    Both boxes are $69 at VineBox.com; shipping is included.
     
     
    For More Wine & Chocolate Pairings

    Check out THE NIBBLE’s favorite pairings, and our master pairing chart.

    Here’s a guide to pairing sparkling wines with chocolate.

    Here’s how to pair wine with chocolate desserts and other desserts.

     

    2. CALORIE- & CAFFEINE-FREE: LOVERS’ TEA

    This herbal blend from one of our favorite artisan blenders combines red rooibos, baby rose buds and petals, marigold petals, almonds and saffron (a well known aphrodisiac).

    Whether hot or iced, we guarantee the recipient will love it. A four-ounce tin is $16 at Tay Tea.

    The company has another rooibos blend we love, with bits of Belgian dark chocolate and peppermint, called Better Than Sex.
     

    3. ORGANIC TRUFFLE HONEY

    Many truffle-flavored products are flavored with a chemical approximation of truffle flavor and aroma.

    But this jar of Acacia honey, certified USDA organic, is flavored with real white truffle pieces.

    We love dipping it by the spoon from the jar; but more genteel uses include:

  • Cheese condiment extraordinaire, from blues to goats, to Parmesans and beyond.
  • Glaze a duck breast, lamb, roast ham, pork or turkey: just brush on top while the meat rests out of the oven. Ditto as a sandwich condiment with these meats.
  • Drizzle an earthy garnish onto vanilla ice cream.
  • Drizzle over bruschetta with fresh ricotta.
  •  
    Truffle honey turns something simple into something joyous.

    Get yours from Murray’s Cheese, $26.99 for a 4.25-ounce jar of heaven.

     

    Lovers Tea Herbal

    Truffle Honey Da Rosario

    [4] Lovers’ Tea from Tay Tea is an elegant herbal blend. [5] Honey in a perfect marriage with truffles, from Da Rosario.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: Scotch-Infused Chocolates For Burns Day

    Scotch-Infused Chocolate Truffles

    Whiskey Truffles

    Laphroaig & Dark Chocolate

    Chocolate for Burns Night. If you need something more simple, grab a quality dark chocolate bar (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Burdick Chocolate, photo #3 courtesy Laphroaig).

     

    Luke Scotch? Like chocolate? Combine both on January 25th.

    On that day, the birthday of the great Scottish romantic poet Robert Burns (1759-1796) is celebrated. Family and friends gather for Burns Night, an evening of good food and company.

    A traditional Burns’ Supper (Scottish supper) is served. It can consist of beef pie, cock-a-leekie soup, colcannon, haggis, nettles and tatties, smoked haddock and more.

    Perhaps, some of Burns’ most popular poems are read: A Red, Red Rose; To a Louse; To a Mouse; Tam O’Shanter, Ae Fond Kiss and perhaps most appropriate to the occasion, Address to a Haggis.

    You could celebrate with dinner, with a cup of tea and some shortbread, or with a dram of Scotch.

    But that dram would be so much better with a box of the Robert Burns Whisky Bonbons from L.A. Burdick Chocolate.

    Available for just a few weeks, these chocolates are infused with a variety of fine Scotches, including Macallan, Glenfarclas, Talisker, Springbank, Highland Park and Lagavulin.

    A half pound gift box is $42.00.

    Don’t tarry: Order yours today at Burdick Chocolate.

    Finish the evening with Burns’ most famous poem, set to a folk song:

    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And never brought to mind?
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days of auld lang syne?
    And days of auld lang syne, my dear,
    And days of auld lang syne.
    Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
    And days of auld lang syne?

    We twa hae run aboot the braes
    And pu’d the gowans fine.
    We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
    Sin’ auld lang syne,
    We’ve wandered mony a weary foot,
    Sin’ auld ang syne.
    We twa hae sported i’ the burn,
    From morning sun till dine,
    But seas between us braid hae roared
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    Sin’ auld lang syne, my dear,
    Sin’ auld lang syne.
    But seas between us braid hae roared
    Sin’ auld lang syne.

    And ther’s a hand, my trusty friend,
    And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
    We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For auld lang syne.
    For auld lang syne, my dear,
    For auld lang syne,
    We’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
    For auld lang syne.

     

    You can sing along with this bagpipe version of Auld Lang Syne from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

    HERE’S MORE ON PAIRING CHOCOLATE & SCOTCH.
     
      

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    FOOD FUN: Kale & Chocolate, Kale As A Steak Garnish

    Since it became a media darling in 2011, kale has found its way into every type of recipe imaginable. Even chocolate bars.

    Compartes Chocolatier in Los Angeles makes artisan chocolate bars with what have become more or less mainstream add-ins: Brownie, Coconut Macadamia, Coffee & Cacao Nibs, Crispy Rice, Matcha, Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel, Salted Pretzel, Smoked Sea Salt and Whisky, among others.

    Some are quite fun: Animal Cookies, Cookies & Cream, Granola, Malt Ball, Piña Colada, Popcorn, S’mores.

    There are the “seen here first” flavors, the chocolate bars taking a cue from trendy cupcakes: Birthday Cake, Biscuits & Honey, Cereal Bowl, Donuts and Coffee, Hazelnut Toast.

    And then there’s the Vegan* Zen Bar, a 75% dark chocolate bar filled with kale crisps, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds, and no added sugar.

    Check it out here.

    While not particularly edgy, a second kale preparation that caught our eye was this chopped kale and herb garnish on a strip steak, from Upper Story restaurant in New York City.

    The balsamic-glazed steak sits on a bed of sautéed greens and garlic smashed potatoes, with a Port sauce and fried onion rings.

    Not exactly health food, but the kale makes it on trend.

    Until the “next kale” hits the store shelves.
     
    WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO WITH KALE?

    While cooks have been using kale on everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to pesto, here are some more fun applications:

  • Chocolate Banana Smoothie With Kale
  • Kale & Black Bean Brownies
  • Kale Enchiladas
  • Kale Guacamole
  • Kale Pizza
  • Mean Green Kale Margaritas
  •  

    Kale Chocolate Bar

    Strip Steak With Kale

    [1] A chocolate bar with kale crisps, seeds and no added sugar from Compartes (the bar has no Brussels sprouts and tomatoes; they are just photo props). [2] A New York strip steak topped with chopped kale and herbs, at Upper Story | NYC.

     
    ________________
    *Most dark chocolate bars have no added powdered milk. Most mix-ins—nuts, fruits, etc.—are not animal-based. If you watch out for those sweetened with honey or with added bacon, for example, a dark chocolate bar naturally contains no animal products and therefore is vegan.

      

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