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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 Cookies

Addictively 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 online. Then, make your favorite chocolate chip cookie 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.
  • Try the delicious Cherry Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Graeter’s. If you can’t find it locally, 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

    raspberry-cream-230

    Strawberry cream fills this chocolate bonbon from Fanny May.

     

    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 webzine.
     
    WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH CREME VS. CREAM?

    The difference between cream and creme is just the spelling.

    Creme is an Americanization of the French word for cream, crème—pronounced KREHM, with l’accent grave, the downward sloping accent mark that turns the “e” sound into “eh.”

    Creme was most likely first used in the U.S. to make the dish sound more special: a creme pie versus a cream pie, for example.

    But why mispronounce and misspell another language’s word for cream, or create a new spelling when there’s a perfectly good and accurate existing word?

    That, dear reader, is the challenge of allowing “amateurs” to name things. In France, the Académie Française, established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, is the pre-eminent authority for matters pertaining to the French language, and publishes an official dictionary of the French language. In recent years, a committee of 40 had to rule on whether newer words like “le computer” are permitted in the dictionary, as opposed to French for “a machine that computes information.”

    Back to creme vs. cream: Unless it’s a French recipe with an appropriate accent, such as Coeur à la Crème, stick to cream.
     
      

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