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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 Special Sweets

FOOD TIP OF THE DAY: Raising The [Chocolate] Bar

Chocolove Cherry Almond Chocolate BarChocolate, cherries, nuts.   Yesterday may have been George Washington’s actual birthday, but why not extend the celebration one more day and treat yourself to Chocolove’s Cherries and Almonds bar? It’s 55% cacao Belgian chocolate—a semisweet chocolate not far over the borderline between milk and dark, so milk chocolate lovers can enjoy it too. It’s available at many fine retailers; or you can buy them online. Get enough to share—you’ll be very popular. Read our review of Chocolove. The Orange Peel, Raspberry and Crystallized Ginger chocolate bars also rock.
 

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RECIPE: Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cherry Chocolate Chip CookiesAddictively good cherry chocolate chip cookies. We thank George Washington for the inspiration.   Our tip of the day today is a tasty tip indeed: Make a cherry version of your favorite chocolate chip cookies to celebrate George Washington’s birthday—the Father of our Country was born February 22, 1732. Look for cherry baking chips in baking supply stores, or buy them online at BackToTheCountryStore.com. Then, make your recipe, dividing the chip quantity between chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips) and cherry chips. Another variation on the theme is to add an extra half cup of dried cherries to your recipe (with or without the cherry chips). You also can sprinkle the cherry chips on cupcakes, use them to decorate cakes and puddings, garnish ice cream and add them to muffin and pancake batter.- Use this recipe to make the cookies.
– Buy these delicious oatmeal cherry chunk cookies from Najla’s (frozen, ready to bake, and kosher).
– Celebrate with the heavenly cherry chocolate chip ice cream from Spotted Dog Creamery (they’ll ship it to you).
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Mint Day

Chocolate Mint Brownies
We devoured our box of Chocolate Mint Brownies from Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies. They look great, taste great, and are kosher, too.
  February 19th is National Chocolate Mint Day. What is it with these government bodies that are holiday-granters? Didn’t they notice that last week, February 11th, was Peppermint Patty Day (the food, not Charlie Brown’s gal pal)? We love chocolate and peppermint…but why pile up all the wealth in the space of 8 days? Nevertheless, we’ll respond with recommendations for the best chocolate mint yummies:
– Make your own chocolate mint cocoa. Smash the stems of a few sprigs of fresh mint, and add them to the hot chocolate as it cooks. Strain before serving, and add a fresh sprig to garnish. If you don’t have fresh mint to infuse in the milk when you heat it, use a few drops of peppermint oil. You can stir your cocoa with a peppermint stick, too.
- Try Robert Lambert’s fabulous Mojito Mint Chocolate Sauce on vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or straight from the jar on a spoon. For a stronger mint infusion, try the Mint Chocolate Sauce from The King’s Cupboard.
– Indulge yourself with the Chocolate Mint Brownies from Solomon’s Gourmet Cookies (they’re kosher, too). Or, bake up your favorite brownie recipe and add mint oil to the batter, and/or mint chips.
– Try mint chocolate chip ice cream from an artisan creamery, like Boulder Ice Cream Company or its Colorado neighbor, Spotted Dog Creamery.
– Try the indulgent, layered Mint Symphony chocolate bar from Coco’s Chocolate Dreams. That’s dark chocolate with fudge mint shortbread and mint butter cookies and…be sure to order more than one. Or, try a straight but fabulous chocolate mint chocolate bar from Divine Chocolate, and support a great Fair Trade co-op of small cacao bean farmers in Africa.
– Try the great chocolate mint cookies from Sugar Flower Bakery. You’ll never eat another Girl Scout cookie again.
– Check out our favorite chocolate peppermint barks.
– Go retro with Chocolate Mint Whoopie Pies from Wicked Whoopie Pies.
– Bake up this recipe for a Chocolate Mint Lava Cake.
– Or, bake up a ready-to-heat-and-eat Chocolate Mint Soufflé from Heavenly Soufflé, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week (it’s heavenly and kosher, too).
– Have a box of bonbons filled with handmade mint ganache, from John & Kira’s.
– Enjoy the delicious Dark Chocolate Mint Coins from Lake Champlain Chocolates (also kosher).
– Prefer your chocolate to be organic? Dagoba’s Mint 59% cacao chocolate mint bar is organic and kosher, too.
– Try our favorite Holland Mints from Marich. They’re not only pretty, they’re kosher, too.
– Another temptation is the chocolate mint fudge from our favorite fudge maker, John Kelly Fudge (a NIBBLE Top Pick OF The Week, and kosher).
– Poco Dolce’s chocolate mint toffee squares with sea salt are the bomb.
– A calorie-free option is Once Upon a Tea, the caffeine-free blend of loose tea made of rooibos tea mixed with chocolate nibs, mint and vanilla. It’s from Serendiptea.
– End with a no-calorie treat, the Chocolate Mint lip balm from Ganache For Lips—made with Scharffen Berger Chocolate.
Hmm, maybe it’s not so bad having these back-to-back chocolate mint celebrations. We think we’ll celebrate with a Chocolate Mint Martini.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Gourmet Pot Luck

Invite food-loving friends to a fun, “pot luck” brunch, cocktails or coffee klatsch. Ask everyone to bring a favorite specialty food or beverage appropriate to the occasion, that the other guests would enjoy tasting. They’ll also need to bring the accoutrement(s) required to serve their food (e.g., bread or crackers for spreads, crudités for dips and dressings). For brunch, for example, guests might bring quince preserves, sun-dried tomato peanut butter, Swedish flatbread and guava nectar—foods most guests haven’t experienced. Or, they could bring their favorite brand of artisan sausage. Set the foods on a sideboard, cart or other “tasting bar” along with cards that indicate who chose them and where they can be purchased. We’d probably pick something from our Top Pick Of The Week foods—the 52 best products we taste each year. You can have the Top Picks emailed to you, or sent via RSS.   Wine Cellar SorbetsWe’d bring Wine Cellar Sorbets, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. We find them irresistible.
 

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Creme-Filled Chocolates Day

DeBrand Molded Chocolates
Molded chocolates from DeBrand Fine Chocolates.
  Fittingly, February 14, Valentine’s Day, is also National Creme-Filled Chocolates Day. Cream-Filled chocolates were made possible by Jean Neuhaus, the Belgian chocolatier who invented the first hard chocolate shell in 1912. Using molds, it enabled fillings of any kind and consistency—creme, whipped cream, soft caramel, light ganache, liqueurs, etc. Previously, only solid centers like caramels and nut pastes could be enrobed in chocolate—anything else would have leaked out. In enrobing, the center—marzipan, fruit jelly or nuts in caramel, for example—were hand-dipped into liquid chocolate. The center had to be solid enough to be held and hand-dipped. With Neuhaus’ chocolate molds, chocolates could now be made in pretty shapes, too—flowers, butterflies, fleur-de-lis, crowns, berries and others that are now familiar to us.
Thanks, Jean Neuhaus, for vastly expanding our world of chocolate bonbons. Today, bonbons with chocolate shells are known as Belgian style, and dipped chocolates as French style. Some chocolatiers work in only one style, some create a mixture of both. Chocolate shells have a thicker chocolate covering than dipped chocolate, so consumers have their preferences, based on whether they like more chocolate flavor or more flavor of the center. Read more about filled chocolates, a.k.a. bonbons, in our article on chocolate truffles and ganache in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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RECIPE: Easy Valentine’s Day Dessert

If you still don’t have a special Valentine’s Day dessert, you can pick up these ingredients and have something special in 5 minutes. Kozy Shack, Chocolate Covered Strawberries all-natural pudding and pie filing is the first in a new line of Limited Edition products from the pudding company. This flavor, available through April 1st, drops large pieces of strawberry into a very satisfying chocolate pudding. The recipe for the Chocolate-Strawberry Cream Pie is on the package, but we’ve included it below. The pudding is delicious right out of the package and as an ingredient in other desserts.

Ingredients
– 1-8″ premade pie shell (regular or chocolate crust)
– 22-ounce container Kozy Shack Chocolate-Covered Strawberries Pudding
– Whipped topping
– Fresh strawberries and shaved chocolate to garnish

  Kozy Shack Pie
Make this pie in 5 minutes with Kozy Shack’s Chocolate Covered Strawberries pudding and pie filling.
Preparation
1. Pour pudding into pie shell and spread evenly.
2. Cover entire surface of pie with whipped topping.
3. Place in freezer for an hour.
4. Remove, slice and serve. Visit KozyShack.com for more recipes, and check out the recipe collection in the Desserts & Ice Cream Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Pâtes de Fruit

Coincidentally, since our prior post was about Michael Recchiuti’s new cassis gelée chocolate, our tip of the day focuses on pâte de fruits—a.k.a. fruit gelee or fruit jelly, although we hesitate to use the latter term because these have nothing to do with Chuckles or those jellied watermelon slices. Pâtes de fruits (pronounced pot duh froo-EE) are gourmet fruit jellies, made of fruit purée, sugar and pectin. Those other fruit jellies are made with “fruit flavoring.” A great pâte de fruit is like eating a wonderful piece of fruit in a different form (as is a great fruit sorbet). For people who like sweets but not chocolate, a perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a box of the best pâtes de fruit we know, from Paris’s Maison du Chocolat (which, conveniently, has two shops in New York City from which they do mail order). And keep a box in your own pantry. They’re so versatile: instead of (or in addition to) cookies and petit fours when friends drop by for tea or coffee; as an accent on a dessert plate; when guests can’t eat your regular dessert due to nut or chocolate allergies. In fact, if you’ve forgotten the dessert, or the soufflé flops, bring out a plate of these beautiful, jewel-colored sweets and no one will be the wiser.   Pates de Fruit
Our favorite pâtes de fruit, from La Maison du Chocolat.
By the way, the difference between pâtes de fruit, plural, and pâte de fruit, singular, is not how many pieces you get, but how many flavors. If there’s more than one flavor, use the plural, pâtes. This nuance of the French language is courtesy of our French cousin Philippe. Read more about our favorite sweets in the Gourmet Candy Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. If you pursue the greatest chocolates, visit our Chocolate Section.

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TIDBIT: Chocolatier Vs. Confectioner

What’s the difference between “chocolates” and “confections?” Is a “chocolatier” or chocolate shop the same as a “confectionary?” A confectionery (also spelled confectionary) is a confectioner’s shop—more popularly called a candy store or sweet shop. A chocolatier (a French word, pronounced cho-co-la-tee-YAY) is both the chocolate shop and the person who makes the chocolate. While both of these words are commonly used in American chocolate circles, the French words for confectioner, confiseur, and candy shop, confiserie, are not.

– The term “confection” refers to all candies and sweets, including candy bars, candied nuts, chocolate, fudge, hard candies, licorice, lollipops, marshmallows, marzipan, nougat, mints, toffee and other products, from cotton candy and candy canes to gum drops and gummi bears.

– The term applies to snack items, so any baked goods and ice cream sold at a confectionery are included.
  Nougat - Burdick ChocolateNougat (from Burdick Chocolate) is a confection.
So…if chocolate is a confection, what’s the difference between a chocolate shop and a confectioner’s shop?

– A chocolatier is a chocolate specialist, and generally makes some or all of the chocolates sold on the premises.

– While a chocolatier often makes marshmallows, marzipan, toffee and other confections, most of what is sold is chocolate-based or chocolate-coated.

– In a confectionary, you’ll find a balance of sweets, of which only a portion are chocolates.

Read more about chocolate in the Chocolate Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine. If you want to find the confectionery, you’ll have to look in the Candy Section and under Cookies, Cakes & Pastries.

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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Fondue Day

The best way to celebrate National Chocolate Fondue Day is not with a traditional chocolate fondue. Nope. It’s by thinking outside the box and making this Spicy Truffle Melt. Check out the concept plus a party plan. If you want the traditional chocolate fondue recipe, of course we’ll oblige.
– Don’t dip rubbery supermarket marshmallows into a fine fondue. Gourmet marshmallows are the way to go.
  Hot Chocolate and Spices
You can add the same spices to chocolate fondue and hot chocolate. Try allspice, cardamom, chili, cinnamon-nutmeg, coconut-curry, ginger, and paprika. Photo courtesy of Recchiuti Chocolate.
 

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NEWS: Lindt Chocolate Owner/Chair Dies

Last week, one of the titans of chocolate entered into eternity. Rudolph R. Sprüngli, owner and chair of the largest prestige chocolate company in the world, Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprüngli A.G., passed away in Geneva at the age of 88. If you have noticed the pervasiveness of Lindt chocolate throughout your town, it is thanks to the leadership of Mr. Sprüngli. He took the company from being another Swiss chocolate manufacturer to the world’s largest producer of prestige chocolate, with a work force of 4,000. (The most expensive category of chocolate. In the confection industry, chocolate is categorized by its price per pound at retail. The categories include Mass Market, less than $15 per pound; Mass Market Premium, from $15 to $25 per pound; Gourmet, from $25 to $40 per pound; and Prestige, at $40 per pound and higher.) Mr. Sprüngli kept the family firm, established in 1845, from being acquired by a mass-production multinational corporation. He listed Lindt & Sprüngli on the Swiss stock exchange in 1986.   Lindt Excellence
The 85% cacao bar from the Lindt Excellence line is one of the finest 85% bars in the world. Read our full review of Lindt Excellence chocolate bars.
Rodolphe Lindt revolutionized the chocolate industry in 1879 when he invented conching, the process that smooths chocolate into the velvety, aromatic product we know today. While Lindt was arguably the most famous chocolatier of his day, his business in Berne, Switzerland remained a small though high-quality one. In 1899 it was acquired by the larger Sprüngli chocolate company of Zurich, and Lindt & Sprüngli has been a major player in the quality chocolate business ever since. However, it took Rudolph R. Sprüngli, who was born in 1920 and spent his entire career with the firm, to build the brand overseas. Today, the U.S. eats so much Lindt chocolate, there’s now a production facility in Vermont! Rest in peace, in chocolate heaven, Mr. Sprüngli.

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