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Archive for Chocolate

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.

     
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    *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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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Food Gifts

    Cranberry Bark

    Cailler Chocolate Bar

    [1] Chocolate bark with holiday accents (photo courtesy Close Encounters Of The Cooking Kind). [2] Use a quality chocolate bar like Cailler for the best flavor (photo courtesy Cailler—pronounced kiy-YAY). The Swiss chocolate bars in their festive boxes also make great stocking stuffers.

     

    For those moments when unexpected guests arrive for Christmas, or when acquaintances give you an unexpected gift—we have a strategy:

    Make homemade bark or fudge in advance. They have a long shelf life; it’s easy to carry a small tin with you for chance encounters; and even people who don’t eat sweets will be pleased to have something nice to serve their own guests, or to regift.

    It’s also a sweet gift to take on casual visits over the holidays.

    Here, two holiday-accented options:

    RECIPE #1: CHOCOLATE ORANGE PISTACHIO BARK

    Using salted pistachios gives this bark the popular sweet-and-salty profile. We adapted this recipe from one by the Florida Orange Juice.

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 16 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate (Callebaut, Lindt, etc.)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup salted pistachios, chopped if desired
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the orange juice in small saucepan over medium heat. Reduce to ¼ cup and cool.

    2. MELT the chocolate over in boiler. While the chocolate melts, stir occasionally as you…

    3. LINE a small baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate onto the parchment to a ¼-inch thickness. Swirl in the cooled orange juice with a spatula, creating thin channels in the chocolate.

    4. SPRINKLE the cranberries and pistachios over chocolate and lightly press. When the chocolate is completely hardened…

    5. BREAK into pieces and package. For home gifting, a simple box or gift bag with a ribbon is fine (wrap the pieces in wax paper for protection). For toting around, consider something more durable. For longer storage, keep in an airtight container.

     

     

    RECIPE #2: WHITE CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY FUDGE

    We adapted this snowy holiday fudge from Mom On Timeout (love that name!).

    It’s just the thing to take over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house…or to the neighbors next door.

    Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup regular sour cream
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped white chocolate (we use Lindt* chocolate bars)
  • 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme/cream†
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces dried cranberries
  • Optional garnish: green sprinkles or candied mint leaves
  •  
    How To Measure Chopped Chocolate

    Six ounces of chocolate chips equals 1 cup. If you chop the chocolate the size of chips, this conversion will work.

    Unless dry ingredients are finely ground, like flour and sugar, so they completely fill the cup measure, it’s difficult to get a precise measurement (e.g., one cup of blueberries). This is why professional recipes give measure in ounces, not cups.
     
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    *You can use white chocolate chips, but you’ll get better chocolate flavor from a premium chocolate bar.
    ________________
     
    Preparation
    1. LINE a 9″ x13″ baking dish with parchment or foil; lightly spray with cooking spray.

    2. COMBINE the sugar, sour cream, butter and salt in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, to the soft ball stage (238°F on a food thermometer).

    3. REMOVE from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Stir in the marshmallow cream and vanilla extract until completely blended. Next, blend in the dried cranberries. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and cool to room temperature. If you want a green accent, add it now. Then…

    4. PLACE the pan in the fridge for several hours or overnight, before cutting into squares.

    5. STORE in an airtight container. For home gifting, a simple box or gift bag with a ribbon is fine (wrap the pieces in wax paper for protection). For toting around, consider something more durable. For longer storage, keep in an airtight container.

     

    Cranberry Fudge

    Craisins

    Candied Mint Leaves

    [3] Snowy Christmas fudge from Mom On Time Out. [4] Dried cranberries from Ocean Spray. Their Craisins are simply branded dried cranberries. [3] Want a garnish? Make candied mint leaves—the smaller the better. You can chop them after they’re candied. Press them into the fudge when it has cooled (photo and recipe from Emjay’s Imagination).

     

    †CREAM VS. CREME

    What’s the difference between creme and cream? Why do you see “creme pie” and “cream pie” for the same thing? The answer: error which evolved into common usage.

    Crème, pronounced KREHM, is the French word for cream. In America, French recipes were served at the tables of the wealthy, most of whom knew how to write and pronounce French properly.

    As these recipes entered the mainstream, people who did not know French began to pronounce crème (KREHM) as (KREEM), and dispensed with the accent mark: hence, creme. This mashup of French and English became acceptable, and over time, “creme” was used for American dishes like cream pie, because “creme” looked fancier (i.e., French-associated was better).

    To display your erudition when discussing a French dish, e.g. Crème Brûlée, use crème; when discussing an American dish, e.g. Chocolate Cream Pie, use cream.

      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: White Chocolate Polar Bears

    White Chocolate Bears

    White Chocolate Polar Bears

    Mom, dad and the kids are adorable…but not too adorable to eat! Photos courtesy Woodhouse Chocolate.

     

    They may be too old for Teddy bears and Winnie The Pooh, but no one is too old for these chocolate polar bears from Woodhouse Chocolate of Napa Valley, one of our favorite chocolate artisans.

    Give just one bar or the whole family—all with your choice of red or blue snowflake medallions around their necks:

  • Five-inch tall chocolate bear, $12.00
  • Ten-inch tall chocolate bear, $32.00
  •  
    To get a bear, point your mouse to WoodhouseChocolate.com

    John Anderson of Woodhouse Chocolate was a vintner for 20 years before he became a chocolatier. So next up:

    WINES TO SERVE WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

    From California

  • Fruity Chardonnay
  • Muscat
  •  
    From Europe

  • Gewürtztraminer: (Alsatian and German varieties have more sweetness than American versions
  • Liqueurs: cream liqueurs, creme de cacao, or fruit liquer
  • Mas Amiel: Vintage Blanc, from southwestern France
  • Muscat: (French) or Moscato from Italy
  • Riesling:: Alsatian (late harvest) or German Riesling: Spätlese, Auslese, Beerenauslese, Eiswein (ice wine)
  • Sherry: Amontillado, Brown, Cream or Pale Cream, East India, Moscatel, Oloroso, Pedro Ximénez (PX)
  •  
    DON’T FORGET THE SWEETER BUBBLIES

  • Asti Spumante, a sweeter sparkler from the Piedmont region of northwest Italy
  • Brachetto d’Acqui, an Italian sparkling rosé from the Piedmont region Italy
  • Champagne labeled sec, demi-sec or doux
  • Prosecco and Valdobbiadene from the Treviso area of northeast Italy
  • Other Italian sparkling wines labeled dolce or amabile
  •  
    If you need assistance in the wine department, don’t hesitate to ask one of the staff. That’s what they’re there for.
     
    CHECK OUT OUR ARTICLE ON PAIRING WINE WITH CHOCOLATE.

     
      

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    GIFT OF THE DAY: Merci Chocolates

    Need a bunch of small, affordable holiday gift for teachers, salon staff, the letter carrier and others you’d like to thank?

    Or do you need a stash of $10 gifts for anytime gifting?

    Give a box of Merci Chocolates. The very name of the product says “thank you” in French.

    The miniature bars, in an assortment of flavors* made with fine ingredients, nicely packaged in a gift box. There’s even a holiday-edition gift box printed with a red ribbon and evergreen branches—no additional gift wrap required.

    The delicious selection of rich European-style chocolates in multiple flavors* will delight the palate.

    Choices include:

  • All milk chocolate.
  • All dark chocolate.
  • Mixed milk and dark chocolate.
  • Assorted chocolate with almonds.
  •  
    The 20-piece box, with 8.8-ounces of chocolate, can be found for $7.50 to $10.00 or so, depending on the retailer. You can purchase two boxes with free shipping for $21.90 on Amazon.

    In addition to Amazon, the chocolates are sold at CVS, Target, Walgreens and other chains and grocery stores nationwide.
     
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    Merci Chocolates

    Merci Chocolate

    [1] You can serve Merci from the box or in your favorite candy dish. [2] The holiday-edition box (photo courtesy Target).

    *Flavors include Coffee and Cream, Cream Truffle, Dark Cream, Dark Mousse, Hazelnut-Almond, Hazelnut-Creme, Milk Chocolate and Praline-Creme.

      

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