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Archive for Chocolate

PRODUCT: Noosa Mexican Chocolate Yoghurt (a.k.a. Yogurt)

Noosa Mexican Chocolate Yogurt

Noosa Mexican Chocolate

Taza Mexican Chocolate

[1] and [2] Buy lots—you’ll love Noosa Mexican Chocolate Yoghurt (photo courtesy Noosa). [3] Actual Mexican chocolate is melted into hot chocolate (photo courtesy Taza Chocolate). In the rear: the roasted cacao beans from which chocolate is made.

 

Just when you think there’s nothing more to discover in yogurt, you get a surprise:

Noosa Mexican Chocolate Yoghurt (that’s how yogurt is spelled in Australia).

We’ve tried other brands’ attempts at chocolate yogurt, but they had only a hand-shaking acquaintance with chocolatey indulgence. Noosa gets it right.

One of our favorite brands and a Top Pick Of The Week, Noosa is a whole-milk yogurt, which gives it the richness and creaminess of a good dessert.

The new Mexican Chocolate flavor is ¡delicioso! It’s made with Fair Trade cocoa powder, a splash of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne.

It leaves you saying “Mas! Mas! Mas!” and recommending it to every yogurt-eater you know. We promise!

Here’s a store locator.
 
WHY IS IT “MEXICAN” CHOCOLATE?

Cacao was first cultivated in Mesoamerica by the Olmecs, around 1200 B.C.E.; who taught it to the Mayas, who taught it to the conquering Aztecs.

In the New World it was a beverage for the wealthy and elite, an unsweetened beverage, flavored with cinnamon, chiles, cornmeal, musk, peppercorns and vanilla.

The Spanish conquistadors, who arrived in 1527, didn’t like the drink at all. But they brought the beans back to Spain, where chefs “Europeanized” it with milk and sugar, keeping the cinnamon but leaving out the chiles, cornmeal, musk and peppercorns.

In the 19th century, a method for making hard chocolate bars was invented in England. The technique traveled back to the land of origin, where Mexicans flavored their hard chocolate with cinnamon, sugar and almonds.

But, true to tradition, they turned those hard disks back into a beverage: hot chocolate!

Here’s a history of chocolate timeline.

And for true foodies, here’s the full history.
 
ARE YOU A CHOCOLATE LOVER?

Test your knowledge of chocolate in THE NIBBLE’s Chocolate Section.

You might want to start out with our Chocolate Glossary: all the terms you need to know to become a chocolate expert.

 

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Thanksgiving Chocolate Bars Or Bark

Dark Chocolate Bar

Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

Thanksgiving Chocolate Bar

Thanksgiving Chocolate Bark

[1] Turn a plain 3.5-ounce chocolate bar into a Thanksgiving bar (photo courtesy Livestrong). [2] You can present the bars whole, or break them up into bark (photo courtesy The Nutrition Adventure). [3] You can use your favorite chocolate, whether dark, milk or [4] white chocolate (photo #3 courtesy Chocolate Inspirations, photo #4 courtesy My Catholic Kitchen.

 

We love to make chocolate bark, especially since we discovered this easy technique from Australian blogger Erika Rax. You can make bark almost instantly: for family, friends or gifting.

In the conventional technique, the chocolate is chopped and melted, the inclusions mixed in, the mixture spread on a baking sheet to set and then broken up.

Here, whole chocolate bars are topped with the inclusions, then placed in the oven so the bar melts and the inclusions set in.

The result: chocolate bars with your favorite toppings, that can be broken into bark if you wish. Personally, we give them whole as gifts, and break them up when serving them with coffee.
 
RECIPE: THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE BARS OR BARK

Use the chocolate of your choice—dark, milk, white—or make one of each. Just ensure that the toppings contrast with the color of the chocolate.
You can use raw or roasted pumpkin seeds, as long as they’re hulled and unsalted.

You can use as much topping as you like, from elegantly spare to voluptuously overloaded.

You can place the toppings in an artistic pattern, or just toss them on.
 
Ingredients For 2 Chocolate Bars

  • 2 3.5-ounce chocolate bars (Cailler, Green & Black’s, Guittard, Lindt, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Optional: 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped or golden raisins (sultanas)
  • Optional: 1/8 cup pecans halves or pistachio nuts
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • Optional: coarse/flaky sea salt or kosher salt (a great use for beautiful Maldon salt or alea red volcanic salt, actually a dark “harvest orange” color), to taste
  • Optional spice: 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 170°F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and line with parchment, leaving an overhang on ends.

    2. SPACE the bars on the baking sheet bottom side up, with ample space between them (the pattern normally on top of the bar is on the bottom so the toppings have a level base). Arrange the toppings on top of the bars.

    3. PLACE the baking sheet in the oven for 3-5 minutes until the chocolate just begins to soften. Don’t overheat or the bars will lose their shape.

    4. REMOVE from the oven, lift the parchment from the hot baking sheet and place onto the counter to cool. Once cooled, store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. While bark will last longer, for gifting make it no more than 3 days in advance, and wrap it in plastic or foil before gifting.

    You can also make your own paper chocolate bar label on the computer.
     
    GET READY, GET SET, MAKE YOUR THANKSGIVING CHOCOLATE.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Chocolat Moderne Chocolate Bars

    Our favorite chocolate bars have long been everything in the Avant Garde Bars line from Chocolat Moderne.

    We discovered the company in 2005 and have been nibbling away since. Joan Coukos’chocolates, made with Valrhona chocolate, are always innovative in flavor and design.

    Even if we weren’t so beguiled by the Jackson-Pollack-like hand-painted designs on the bars, we’d still go for the flavor.

    At $8 each, these are wonderful stocking stuffers. Give an assortment of flavors for a larger gift. If you’re in New York City, the retail shop is open Monday through Saturday from 12 to 6 (7 West 20th Street, Suite 904).

    CURRENT FLAVORS OF AVANT GARDE BARS

  • Bazaar Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with house-made almond marzipan blended with creamy white chocolate ganache.
  • Blood Orange Bergamot Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with caramel flavored with fresh blood orange juice and scented with oil of bergamot.
  • Gunsmoke Bar: Milk chocolate bar filled with caramel laced with smokey mezcal and sea salt (our current addiction).
  • Lemon Up Bar: White chocolate bar filled with tart caramel made with fresh lemon juice.
  • Peanut Pizzazz Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with salted peanut and milk chocolate praliné blended with flecks of caramelized sugar.
  • Smoked Sea Salt Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with sea salted caramel and finished with crystals of smoked Welsh sea salt (the different types of salt).
  • Solbeso Mi Mucho: In Valrhona’s new Dulcey chocolate, a.k.a “blonde” white chocolate made by toasting the milk powder before making the chocolate (somewhat akin to the caramelization of dulce de leche). It’s filled with caramel blended with sea salt, unsweetened chocolate and Solbeso, the first spirit to be distilled from the pulp of cacao.
  • Spicy Hazelnut Gianduja Bar: A Dulcey chocolate bar filled with dark chocolate hazelnut gianduja blended with sea salt, chipotle, ancho chili and cinnamon.
  •  
    Holiday 2016 Avant Garde Bars

  • Cranberry Orange Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled wtih soft caramel made with cranberries, essential oil orange and a touch of morello cherries.
  • Gingerbread Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with caramel infused with gingergread spices.
  • Peppermint Stick Bar: Dark chocolate bar filled with rich dark chocolate caramel laced with peppermint.
  • Pumpkin Pie Bar” Dark chocolate bar filled with milk chocolate caramel blended with organic pumpkin purée and aromatic pumpkin pie spices.
  •  

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    Chocolat Moderne Avant Garde Bar

    [1] Peanut Pizzazz Bar. [2] Smoked Sea Salt Bar. [3] Sobeso Mi Mucho Bar. [4] The caramel inside each square (all photos courtesy Chocolat Moderne).

     
    DON’T WAIT TOO LONG TO BUY THEM

    Artisan chocolates often sell out for the holidays. Head to ChocolatModern.com.
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Beautiful Chocolates From John & Kira’s

    Friends know that a box of chocolates (make that three boxes) from John & Kira’s is one of our favorite gifts.

    These chocolatiers from Philadelphia not only make some of the best artisan chocolate in the country; they have what we think is the best packaging. The thick boutique boxes covered in fine paper and finished with a letterpress tag. are so beautiful, we give them continued life as containers in our drawers and closets.
     
    Ganache & Caramel & Figs: Oh My!

    Since they first opened their doors with their now-classic box of Valrhona chocolate ganache bonbons—each ganache infused with real herbs and spices into fresh cream—they have been the talk of the [chocolate] town.

    There are now dozens of items waiting to be discovered, from the sophisticated to the whimsically delicious (ganache-filled Ladybug Medly and red Lovebugs, yellow and black Honey Caramel Bees and the multicolored Magical Mushrooms (three different flavors of caramel).

    Their caramels are as special as the ganaches (in fact, can we order a gallon of the caramel, please?).
     
    Give A Fig!

    The most special item for us—because you can’t find them made elsewhere in the U.S.—are John & Kira’s tender, mouth-watering Calabacita fig confections.

    The figs are grown on a small organic family farm in Spain. Because the fig harvest is once a year, these are limited-edition items. We look forward to them each fall.

    There are two options.

  • Drunken Chocolate Figs. The dried figs are filled with a silky smooth, whiskey-infused chocolate ganache, then hand-dipped in 62% dark chocolate.
  • Pumpkin Figs. After they’re filled with the whiskey ganache, the figs enrobed in white chocolate, hand-painted in the color of pumpkins, or autumn leaves.
  •  
    Enjoy Seasonal Classics

    The Winter Forest Trio has different motifs with three fillings:

  • Under the mountain peaks, a crunchy hazelnut-almond praline center.
  • Under the snowflakes, a refreshing white chocolate mint ganache.
  • Under the stars, dark chocolate ganache with a touch of vanilla.
  •  
    But there are no wrong choices here…except failing to order enough!

    Get yours at JohnAndKiras.com.

     

    Chocolate Dipped Figs

    Chocolate Covered Fig Pumpkins

    John & Kira's Winter Chocolates

    [1] Tender imported Spanish figs are filled with chocolate-whiskey ganache and partially dipped in chocolate. Delicious as is or with a Cognac! [2] The same lovely figs, completely enrobed in chocolate and hand-painted as pumpkins. [3] The Winter Forest Trio (all photos courtesy John & Kira’s.

     

      

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    HOLIDAY: National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day

    November 7th is National Bittersweet Chocolate With Almonds Day (National Almond Day is February 16th, National Chocolate Day is October 28th, National Milk Chocolate Day is July 28, National White Chocolate Day is September 22).

    Most celebrants would run out for a dark chocolate bar with almonds. But think outside the wrapper; here are other ideas:
     
    CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Chocolate bundt cake with chopped almonds.
  • Layer cake with chocolate frosting and almonds on the sides and/or top.
  • Flourless chocolate cake made with almond flour or finely-ground almonds.
  • Torte with an almond ganache filling.
  •  
    CANDY WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Chocolate almond bark. Add pumpkin seeds for the season.
  • Chocolate almond clusters. Add some dried cherries or cranberries.
  • Chocolate almond fudge. You can add almonds to chocolate fudge or make a chocolate-peanut butter fudge recipe with almond butter.
  • Chocolate-covered almonds.
  •  
    COOKIES WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Brownies with almonds.
  • Chocolate chip cookies with almonds instead of pecans or walnuts.
  • Chocolate macarons (French macarons are made with almond flour).
  • Chocolate cookies with chopped almonds, or with a whole almond pressed into the top when the cookies come out of the oven.
  • Meringues with mini-chocolate chips and finely chopped almonds (use this recipe as a guide).
  •  
    DRINKS WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Chocolate almond cocktail (recipe below).
  • Chocolate almond milk (Almond Breeze, Pacific, Silk, etc.).
  • Hot chocolate, chocolate shake, smoothie, etc. made with almond milk.
  •  
    PIES & TARTS WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Chocolate cream pie or chocolate silk pie garnished with almonds.
  • Chocolate tart with almond crust (substitute almonds for the pumpkin seeds in this recipe).
  •  
    PUDDINGS & ICE CREAM WITH CHOCOLATE & ALMONDS

  • Chocolate bread pudding with whipped cream and almonds.
  • Chocolate almond mousse.
  • Hot fudge sundae garnished with almonds.
  •  
     
    THERE’S A FOOD HOLIDAY EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR

    The original concept, assembled by THE NIBBLE in 2005, has been widely copied.

    Check out all the American food holidays.
     
    COCKTAIL RECIPE: CHOCOLATE ALMOND DELIGHT

    We serve this cocktail for dessert. Nothing extra is needed, but a few Amaretti di Saronno are a welcome addition.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1/2 ounce amaretto almond liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce chocolate vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Bailey’s or other Irish cream liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
  •  

    Almond Chocolate Bar

    Chocolate Tart With Brittle

    Chocolate Macarons

    Chocolate Almond Cocktail Recipe

    [1] A chocolate bar with almonds (photo courtesy Royce USA). [2] Here’s the recipe from Giada De Laurentiis (photo courtesy Delish). [3] French macarons are made with almond flour; thus, chocolate and almond (here’s the recipe from FoodToLove.com.au). [4] A chocolate cocktail with an almond cookie rim (photo courtesy Musings Of A Housewife).

  • 1/2 ounce Godiva or other chocolate liqueur (including regular creme de cacao)
  • 2 ounces half-and-half or cream
  • Ice
  • Optional rim: finely crushed Amaretti di Saronno, other almond cookies or chocolate cookies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. FINELY CRUSH the cookies and place them on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Moisten the rims of the glasses and twist in the cookie crumbs to coat. Set aside.

    2. COMBINE all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with the ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass.

      

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