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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Chocolate

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Whiskey-Infused Chocolate Truffles

If Dad loves chocolate and spirits, this may be the ideal Father’s Day gift!

The Oregon Distiller’s Collection from Moonstruck Chocolate is nine-piece collection of truffles infused with spirits from five of Oregon’s finest craft distillers.

The spirits are infused into chocolate ganache and hand-piped into hand-painted chocolate shells. The collection is a parade of deliciousness:

  • Bendistillery Crater Lake Pepper Vodka Truffle: A ganache of ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the spirit. A blend of five different sweet and hot chiles creates a balance of flavor and spice; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Distillery Pacific Rum and Cola Truffle: A blend of dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with the rum and cola-flavored spirit to mimic the classic cocktail; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Bull Run Temperance Trader Bourbon Whiskey Truffle: A dark and milk chocolate ganache is infused with this popular whiskey, creating sweet and smoky notes with a hint of fruit and butterscotch; in a dark chocolate shell.
  •    

    craft-distillers-230

    A gift box of spirits-infused truffles. Photo courtesy Moonstruck Chocolate.

     

  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Apple Brandy Truffle: The spirit is blended into a ganache of ivory and dark chocolate, featuring notes of grass, apple and spice; in dark chocolate shell.
  • Clear Creek Distillery Oregon Pear Brandy Truffle: A blended milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the pear brandy; in an ivory chocolate shell.
  •  

    moonstruck_craft_distillers-goodstuffnw-230r

    Each individual flavor can be purchased
    separately, too. Photo courtesy
    GoodstuffNW.com.

     
  • House Spirits Distillery Krogstad Aquavit Truffle: The aquavit is blended into an ivory and dark chocolate ganache, creating a warm blend of chocolate, star anise and caraway flavors; in a milk chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Coffee Liqueur Truffle: The strong, freshly-brewed coffee flavor of the liqueur infuses a blend of milk and dark chocolate ganache; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • House Spirits Distillery Aviation Gin Truffle: This milk and dark chocolate ganache is infused with the gin, delivering a bouquet of botanical flavors, with top notes of citrus, anise, cardamom and lavender; in a dark chocolate shell.
  • Rogue Ale Dead Guy Whiskey Truffle: A blended ivory and dark chocolate is infused with the whiskey, creating delicately sweet notes, a rich malt complexity and a warm peppery finish; in a milk chocolate shell.
  •  
    Who could resist? The nine-piece sampler is $20.00. The flavors can be purchased individually in boxes of 20 pieces for $50.00.

     

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHISKEY & WHISKY

    Check out the different types of whiskey in our Whiskey Glossary.
      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Rocky Road Bark For National Rocky Road Day

    rocky-road-bark-2-browneyedbaker-230

    Make it in 15 minutes! Photo courtesy Brown
    Eyed Baker.

     

    June 2 is National Rocky Road Day, a flavor created in 1929 when William Dreyer mixed chocolate ice cream with nuts and marshmallows, the “rocks” in the road. Here’s the history.

    Today, have a dish of rocky road ice cream and make some rocky road bark to go with it. Thanks to Brown Eyed Baker for this easy recipe. See more photos and the original article and more photos.

    Prep time is 15 minutes, total time 45 minutes.

    RECIPE: ROCKY ROAD CHOCOLATE BARK

    Ingredients For 1 Pound Of Bark

  • 16 ounces good-quality milk or semisweet
    chocolate (like Lindt), finely chopped
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  •  
    Preparation

    1. LINE a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

     

    2. MELT the chocolate over a double boiler (or in 30-second intervals in the microwave on 50% power, stirring after each). Once the chocolate is melted, remove from the heat and let sit for a few minutes to cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Add the marshmallows and walnuts and stir to combine.

    3. SPREAD the chocolate mixture onto the prepared pan in an even layer, covering about a 7×7-inch space. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but that’s a good guideline.

    4. REFRIGERATE for at least 30 minutes, or until set.

    5. CUT the bark into pieces, using a sharp knife. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

      

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    MOTHER’S DAY: Chocolate Crowns From Maggie Louise

    white-chocolate-crowns-maggielouise-230sq

    Chocolate for a queen. Photo courtesy
    Maggie Louise Confections.

     

    To show Mom that she’s your queen, treat her to these white chocolate crowns from chocolatier Maggie Louise, filled with chocolate sea salt caramel.

    Called “The Sophronia,” it was inspired by Maggie’s memories of the royal pomp and circumstance of London.

    The intricate crowns are made with El Rey’s famed Icoa white chocolate, then filled with hand-crafted chocolate caramel and dotted with Maldon sea salt.

    A six-piece box, beautifully packaged, is $15.00. Get yours at MaggieLouiseConfections.com.

     

      

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    FOOD FUN: Chocolate Fried Egg

    What would you do with a chocolate fried egg?

    Serve it for breakfast, with a cup of hot chocolate?

    Give it as stocking stuffer or Mother’s Day party favor?

    Enjoy it all by yourself?

    Whatever your choice, this little treat from Maggie Louise Confections is sure to please.

    The chocolatier notes:

    “The Cordelia is a chocolate dream dish. A fried egg in a pan has turned into a chocolate skillet made with El Rey 58.5% dark chocolate, filled with hand-crafted vanilla rice crispy treats and salted caramel, then topped with an El Rey Icoa white chocolate egg.”

     

    fried-egg-chocolate-230sq-a

    A chocolate fried egg in its own skillet. A perfect breakfast for chocoholics. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.

     

    It’s the Maggie Louise version of a candy bar. Hey, we’ll take a dozen!

    (At second thought, at $14 each, we’ll take two.)

      

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    EASTER: Maggie Louise Chic Artisan Chocolates

    patent-leather-bunnies-rockstar-eggs-maggielouise-230

    Patent leather bunnies, rock ‘n’ roll eggs.
    Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.

     

    While we know a couple of investment bankers who became chocolatiers, Maggie Louise is the first Harvard lawyer we’ve encountered.

    After a career in corporate law, she trained at Le Cordon Bleu, where she developed the concept for an elegant line of chocolates. She launched Maggie Louise Confections in the Fall of 2013, with a line of modern, chic chocolates that combine art with sophisticated flavors.

    Based in Austin, Texas, the entrepreneur puts a hip and fashionable spin on fine Easter chocolate. Taking inspiration from the tunes at Austin’s South By Southwest musical festival, she created a limited edition Rock ‘n’ Roll Easter assortment:

  • Chocolate Caramel and Sea Salt Easter Eggs, covered in white chocolate with a spatter paint finish.
  • Patent Leather Bunnies, fluffy vanilla marshmallows enrobed in bittersweet El Rey chocolate (El Rey, of Venezuela, is one of the world’s great chocolate producers of chocolate couverture).
     
    The Rock n’ Roll Easter Box retails for $38 and includes 12 eggs and 3 bunnies. There are also Easter Egglets, chocolate with pastel zebra stripes, filled with a mix of peanut butter candy, cream caramel and salted chocolate caramel.

    Get yours at MaggieLouiseConfections.com.

  •  

     

    As a mom, Maggie Louise also has the young ‘uns in mind, with chocolate dinosaurs and robots. For the ladies, there are chocolate charm bracelets and pearls. For everyone, there’s a nifty chocolate fried egg and lizard-patterned s’mores.

    We look forward to working our way through the collection, piece by piece.
     
    The Best Packaging

    We receive many boxes of fine chocolate, but none is more beautifully wrapped than Maggie Louise’s.

    The packaging is very fine and impressive. The chocolate boxes are grand enough to hold good jewelry. Even the tissue paper is a keeper. It’s a great line for gifting.

    If you like fine chocolate, you’ll love perusing the Maggie Louise Confections website. Law’s loss is chocolate’s gain.

     

    plate-of-chocolate-230

    Year-round chocolates. Photo courtesy Maggie Louise.

     

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Covered Figs (Higos)

    Higos (EE-gose) is the Spanish word for figs. Take just one bite of chocolate covered figs, and you’ll never forget the word. These bonbons are not broadly enjoyed in the U.S., but they should be.

    We can’t remember who sent us the box of ChocoHigos, but thank you so very much. We’d had bites of them at trade shows, but a whole box to ourselves was indeed a luxurious experience.

    ChocoHigos are figs enrobed with chocolate. This artisan confection is handmade in Aragón, Spain by brothers Fernando, Manuel and Pepe Caro, the third generation to prepare the family recipe.

    The sweet, plump Pajarero figs, from Extremadura in western Spain, are a thin-skinned, delicate variety that are smaller and sweeter than the varieties most common in the U.S., such as Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna (Turkish) and Kadota.

    The figs are harvested, dried and then hand-dipped in the 68% dark chocolate also made by the Caros. The family recipe uses 100% Forastero cacao grown on the Costa de Marfil of the Côte d’Ivoire. The flavor is a perfect counterpoint to the figs: earthy with notes of cinnamon and clove.

     

    whole-box-230

    ChocoHigos: delightful fig bonbons. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The taste: sublime. Enjoy them after dinner with coffee, brandy or liqueur. Give them to foodie friends. A box of 10 figs, 4.94 ounces, is $9.89 on Amazon.com.

    Another fig confection from Spain is Rabitos. The recipe is a bit different: The figs are soaked in brandy, stuffed with a brandied chocolate ganache, and then enrobed in dark chocolate. We personally prefer ChocoHigos.

     

    pajarerero-figs-forevercheese-230

    Dried Pajarero figs. Photo courtesy Forever
    Cheese.

     

    HOW TO ENJOY CHOCO-HIGOS

  • With cheese, especially blue cheese and triple-crèmes.
  • With a cup of coffee or tea, as a snack or a mini-dessert.
  • With a glass of Port or late harvest Zinfandel.
  • As an anytime chocolate fix.
  •  

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIGS

    The fig was one of the first plants domesticated by man, roughly around 9000 B.C.E., in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley of Mespopotamia*. Easy to grow, nutritious and delicious, it quickly spread to other areas bordering the Mediterranean. Over time, new varieties were bred and cultivated.

     
    Figs came to America in the 1500s; by the 1700s, they were a major food crop planted by Spanish missionaries in settlements along the West Coast of Mexico and California. Figs came to America in the 1500s; by the 1700s, they were a major food crop planted by Spanish missionaries in settlements along the West Coast of Mexico and California.

    By the late 1800s, the commercial fig industry was well established in California’s Central Valley; along with Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey it is one of the largest fig-producing regions in the world.

     
    *The modern area includes Iraq, Kuwait, the northeastern section of Syria, and portions of southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Dear Coco Toffee Chocolate Bars

    Quite a few artisan chocolatiers are also pastry chefs. Rachel Ferneau makes chocolates as Dear Coco, but was previously the proprietor of Eden Cake, a made-to-order kosher pareve bakery serving metro Washington, D.C.

    While we’ve missed the opportunity to try her desserts, she was kind enough to send us some chocolate.

    Everything from this artisan chocolatier is 100% handcrafted in small batches. The chocolates are completely dairy-free, all natural and certified kosher pareve by Star-K.

    In both her baking and her chocolates, flavors of the world are evoked with coffees and teas, exotic salts, fine herbs, flowers, fruits, roasted nuts and spices.

    Recently, Dear Coco launched a creative line of vegan-friendly artisan chocolate bars: Toffee Chocolate Bars. Eight unique bars are embedded with toffee and the spices that evoke each of the eight globally-inspired locations.

    The toffee is made with vegan butter* in order to be pareve† and lactose free. This substitution, so that the bars can be enjoyed anytime by kosher observers, makes them vegan-friendly as well. Yes, it cuts down on the butteriness of the toffee; but there is so much other layering of flavors that no one will notice.

     

    oaxaca-bar-front-back-230

    The Oaxaca bar invokes the moles of Oaxaca, Mexico with cinnamon toffee and pepitas. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    group-tablecloth-230

    Five of the eight “destination” toffee
    chocolate bars. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    NEW & SPECIAL: TOFFEE CHOCOLATE BARS

    All of the bars are made with dark chocolate and a touch of sea salt.

  • Barcelona Toffee Chocolate Bar: Influenced by the flavors of Spain—roasted almond toffee and sea salt.
  • Istanbul Toffee Chocolate Bar: Inspired by the flavors of baklava—cinnamon clove toffee with rosewater, roasted walnuts.
  • Madras Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the curries of Southeast India—sweet curry toffee with roasted sunflower seeds.
  • Oaxaca Toffee Chocolate Bar: A recognition of the mole dishes of Oaxaca—Mexican cinnamon and smoky hot chile toffee with roasted pepitas.
  • Savannah Toffee Chocolate Bar: A tribute to the pecan pie of “The Hostess City of the South”—pie spice toffee with roasted pecans.
  • Shanghai Toffee Chocolate Bar: Honoring a staple spice of Cantonese cooking, Chinese five spice toffee (here a blend of cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves) with roasted white sesame seeds.
  • Sidama Toffee Chocolate Bar: For the coffee lover, crunchy caramelized coffee toffee infused with Ethiopian coffee beans.
  • Tokyo Toffee Chocolate Bar: Homage to the sushi bar—ginger toffee with crispy rice.
  •  

    The 3.5-ounce bars are $7.50 each. A gift set of eight (all the flavors) is $54.00.

    Get yours at DearCoco.com.

     
    *Products like Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks are made from expeller-pressed oils that have 0g trans fats. More information.

    †Kosher law prohibits the consumption of dairy and meat products together. Pareve is a classification of foods that contain neither dairy nor meat ingredients, and can be eaten with both groups. Pareve foods include eggs, fish and all foods that are grown—cereals, fruits, nuts, vegetables, etc.

      

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    ST. PATRICK’S DAY RECIPE: Guinness Chocolate Mousse & Truffles

    guinnes-Chocolate-Mousse-guinnessstorehouse-230

    Chocolate mousse with Guinness. Photo
    courtesy Guinness Storehouse.

     

    When you’re Justin O’Connor, executive chef at Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, you work Guinness stout into every recipe, from Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes to soup.

    Guinness, which has chocolaty notes, is a great match with chocolate desserts. Whip one up for St. Patrick’s Day, and serve it with a small glass of Guinness.

    RECIPE: GUINNESS CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

    Ingredients For 6 Servings

  • 10 egg yolks
  • 10 egg whites, whisked
  • 1½ cups dark chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ½ cup Guinness Draught
  • Optional topping: whipped cream (try these five
    spice or salted caramel whipped cream recipes)
  • Garnish: fresh raspberries or other seasonal berries
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MELT the dark chocolate and butter in a bain-marie and add in the Guinness.

    2. BEAT the egg yolks and superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the melted chocolate mixture in with egg yolks and slowly fold in the whisked egg whites until everything is smooth.

    3. TRANSFER the mousse to serving dishes and chill. Serve with fresh raspberries or other seasonal berries.

     

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For 25 Truffles

  • 4-1/3 cups dark chocolate in small chunks
  • 1-2/3 cups cream
  • ½ cup Guinness
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Dessicated coconut (a.k.a. coconut powder), cocoa powder or powdered subgar
  •  

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cream and Guinness to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the chocolate and grated orange zest. Mix together until the chocolate is fully melted; then leave the chocolate mix until it is cool to the touch, but not set.

    2. TAKE generous teaspoons of the mixture and roll in your hands to form small round truffles. Dust in cocoa powder or coconut powder. Allow to set in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

     

    chocolate-truffles-Guinness-230

    Chocolate truffles with Guinness. Photo courtesy Guinness Storehouse.

     

    PREFER ICE CREAM?

    Check out this chocolate stout float.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Oreo Day

    Today is National Oreo Day, honoring the world’s most popular cookie. We almost feel like ditching work to celebrate—with Oreo cheesecake, cookies and cream ice cream and an Oreo milkshake—and then running a marathon to work off the calories.

    However, we’re limiting ourselves to one Oreo-packed chocolate bar from Chocomize, a chocolate e-heaven where you can take your favorite type of chocolate bar (dark, milk, white) and top it with your favorite candies, nuts, spices and special luxuries (gold leaf, anyone?).

    You pay a base price for the bar ($4.50, or $6.50 for a heart shape), and then for each add-on topping—up to 5 selections from a menu of 90 options.

    If you don’t like to make choices, there are plenty of ready-made choices, like the Cookie Bar in the photo.

    In honor of National Oreo Day, Chocomize has two special offers running through March 10th:

  • FREE Oreo pieces. You can add Oreo cookie pieces for FREE to any chocolate bar you make.
  •  

    oreo-white-chocolate-230

    The popular Cookie Bar: Belgian white chocolate bar with Oreos and malted milk balls. Photo courtesy Chocomize.

     

  • FREE chocolate bar with $40 order. Any order of $40+ gets a FREE Cookie Bar with the code OREO. The Cookie Bar, one of Chocomize’s most popular, is Belgian white chocolate, cookie dough bits and Oreo cookie pieces.
  •  

    oreos-stack-froyo-230

    Imagine if lemon meringue had been the
    favorite flavor of Oreos! Photo courtesy
    Froyo.

     

    OREO HISTORY

    Oreos are 102 years old. According to Time magazine, the National Biscuit Company (later shortened to Nabisco) sold its first Oreo sandwich cookies to a Hoboken grocer on On March 6, 1912. They weren’t an original concept: Sunshine’s Hydrox cookies* (among others) preceded them in 1908.

    There were two original Oreo flavors: original (chocolate) and lemon meringue. The original was far more popular, and Nabisco discontinued lemon meringue in the 1920s.

    Today Oreo is the world’s most popular cookie, sold in more than 100 countries†. More than 450 billion Oreos have been sold to date.

    Yes, there were other chocolate sandwich cookies. But what made Oreos stand out was the thick, creamy filling invented by Sam J. Porcello, the principal food scientist at Nabisco. (He also created the “stuf” in Double Stuf Oreos and the chocolate-covered and white chocolate-covered Oreos. Now that’s bragging rights for generations of kids, grandkids and great-grands to come.)

     

    WHAT ABOUT THE DESIGN ON THE COOKIES?

    Nabisco says that an unnamed “design engineer” created the current Oreo design, which was updated in 1952‡. Other sources name him as William A. Turnier, who worked in the engineering department creating the dies that stamped designs onto cookies.

    Here’s the story of the design and its meaning.
     
    THE NAME IS A MYSTERY

    No one knows for certain the origin of the name “Oreo.” Some believe it was derived from the French word for gold, “or,” because the original packaging was mostly gold.

    The bigger curiosity to us is, in The Wizard Of Oz film, why did the guards at the castle of the Wicked Witch Of The West sing a chorus of “Oreo?”

     
    *The Oreo became kosher in 1998, when the lard in the original recipe was replaced with vegetable shortening. Prior to then, Sunshine Bakeries’ Hydrox cookies had long been the kosher alternative. But most people preferred the taste of Oreos, and Hydrox cookies were discontinued by Keebler in 2003.

    †In terms of sales, the top five Oreo-nibbling countries are the U.S., China, Venezuela, Canada and Indonesia. In some countries, like China, Nabisco’s parent company, Kraft, reformulated the recipe to appeal to local tastes, including green tea Oreos.

    ‡The current design replaced a design of a ring of laurels, two turtledoves and a thicker, more mechanical “Oreo” font.

      

    Comments

    ST. PATRICK’S DAY GIFT: Kohler “Emeralds”

    mint-emeralds-230sq

    Mint, one of the four flavors of Emeralds.
    Photo courtesy Kohler.

     

    Some people would like a bottle of Irish whiskey for St. Patrick’s Day.

    Others would rather have chocolate. And there’s one box of chocolates that’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

    Inspired by the Emerald Isle, Kohler’s Emerald chocolates are a beautiful box of chocolates with “green”-flavored ganaches*, enveloped in milk chocolate.

    All of the chocolates are emerald-shaped shells in milk or semisweet chocolate, painted† in different shades of green.

    Each flavor—Absinthe, Green Tea, Lime and Mint—has a different design.

     
    *Ganache is a velvety smooth blend of chocolate and cream, often with butter added, that is rolled in cocoa powder and sugar or other coatings to make a truffle. It is also used as a center for bonbons. Ganache can be made from dark, milk, or white chocolate and flavored with chocolate, coffee, liqueurs, extracts—virtually any flavor that inspires the chocolatier. More about ganache, and why it means “imbecile” in French.

    †The “paint” is colored cocoa butter.

     

    Boxes are available in 4, 9 and 32 pieces: $9.99, $18.99 and $59.99. Get yours at KohlerChocolates.com.

     
    ABOUT KOHLER CHOCOLATES

    Kohler, known for fine porcelain fixtures and The American Club resort in Kohler, Wisconsin, was seriously considering purchasing a chocolate company to provide guests with fine confections. But CEO & Chairman, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., loved chocolate caramel turtles, and couldn’t find a company that made the perfect turtle.

    So he challenged the chefs at his resort to create a better turtle. After much testing, a recipe emerged that met Mr. Kohler’s standards for flavor, texture and appearance. This morsel evolved into the signature Terrapins that launched Kohler Original Recipe Chocolates in 2007.

    WHO WAS ST. PATRICK?

    A figure shrouded in myth, the man who became the Apostle of Ireland was born in England, around 385 C.E. to a prominent Christian family. He was captured by pirates at age 16, brought to Ireland and sold into slavery.

     

    green-tea-emeralds-230

    The green tea-flavored Emerald. Photo courtesy Kohler.

     

    His master, Milchu, was a high priest of Druidism, a Pagan sect that ruled religious influence over Ireland at the time. The enslaved young man worked as a shepherd, and during that time was called to Christianity.

    He escaped after six years, returned to his family and entered the priesthood, returning to Ireland as a missionary. As he converted Druids to Christianity, his teachings combined Irish pagan beliefs with Christian sacrament; he is credited with devising the Celtic Cross.

    After a lifetime spent converting of Ireland to Christianity—founding monasteries, organizing Ireland into dioceses and so forth—Patrick died circa 461.

    His birthday is not known, but St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17th, which falls during the Christian season of Lent. A religious holiday in Ireland, it has been celebrated for more than 1,000 years with a church service in the morning and a traditional dinner cabbage and Irish bacon.

    Corned beef is actually an American contribution to the holiday. Immigrant Irish learned how to make corned beef from their immigrant Jewish neighbors.

      

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