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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 Top Pick Of The Week

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Magnum Ice Cream Bars New Flavors

The premium ice cream brand, Magnum, was launched in Sweden in January 1989. (January? Sweden? Ice cream? Brr!)

Now part of Unilever, the original Magnum, targeted to adults, offered a thick bar of vanilla ice cream on a stick, with real chocolate coating.

At the time, there was no real chocolate that could withstand the commercial ice cream freezer temperature of -40° Celsius (even today, premium brands like Häagen-Dazs use confectionary coating, not real chocolate, and good palates can taste the difference).

So a special (and especially excellent) chocolate was developed by the great Belgian chocolate producer, Callebaut.

In 2011, Magnum ice cream was launched in the U.S. and Canada with six varieties: Double Caramel, Double Chocolate, Classic, Almond, White and Dark. For us, it was love at first bite.

Today, Magnum is one of the world’s leading ice cream brands, selling one billion bars annually, worldwide. It is the biggest brand of Unilever ice creams (which include Ben & Jerry’s, Breyers, Fudgsicle, Klondike and Popsicle, among others).

Since our first Magnum review, the quality has continued to deliver all that one could desire. We’ve been remiss, and it’s time to promote this brand to a Top Pick Of The Week.

   

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The best chocolate fix in the supermarket: a Magnum Chocolate Infinity Bar. Photo courtesy Unilever.

 

 

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Minis have all of the satisfaction, with far
fewer calories. Photo courtesy Unilever.

 

2014 NEW FLAVORS

  • Magnum Chocolate Infinity Bar, dark chocolate ice cream with a rich chocolate swirl, dipped in dark chocolate and cacao (cocoa bean) nibs. The extra texture provided by the cacao nibs is inspired.
  • Magnum Chocolate Infinity & Raspberry Bar, dark chocolate ice cream with a raspberry swirl, dipped in dark chocolate and those inspired cacao nibs. If you haven’t tried it, chocolate and raspberry are one of life’s great combinations, whether in ice cream, chocolates or cake.
  • Also new:

  • Mini Variety Pack, all the pleasure in a smaller serving size, which is still more than satisfying. Flavors include three top-sellers: Classic (vanilla ice cream dipped in milk chocolate), Almond (milk chocolate and almonds) and White Chocolate (vanilla ice cream dipped in white chocolate).
     
    The minis are 11.1 fluid ounces and 150/160* calories compared to 3.38 fluid ounces and 260/270& calories for the standard bars. Whether as lower-calorie treats or for smaller appetites, they hit the spot. (If you want to develop the palates of young children, give them Magnum Minis, not Good Humor).

  •  
    See all the variations available in the U.S. at MagnumIceCream.com (there are even more varieties in Europe).

    The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.
     
    Magnum Chocolate Infinity and Chocolate Infinity & Raspberry bars are available in 3-count multipacks at grocery stores nationwide, for a suggested retail price of $3.99. The Magnum Mini Variety Pack is available for a suggested retail price of $4.99 for a 6-count box. The bars are also available singly at some retailers.
     
    THE HISTORY OF ICE CREAM

    When did ice cream bars appear on the ice cream time line? Check out the history of ice cream.
     
    *Almond-coated bars have 10 additional calories.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: New Talenti Gelato Flavors

    3-pints-raspberry-brownie-apple-230

    Each flavor is better than the next. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Among the happiest days of THE NIBBLE’s year are when the samples of Talenti Gelato & Sorbetto’s new flavors arrive. This privately owned business produces a superior artisan ice cream at a better price than the big “superpremium” brands like Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s.

    Discriminating consumers know it. As proof, since 2007, Talenti’s revenue has exploded from $1 million to $49.3 million in 2012, the last year for which we could obtain figures.

    Three new flavors have recently joined the line:

    Caramel Apple Pie is more cinnamon apple pie with a subtle hint of caramel in the swirl, which is just fine with us. With plentiful pieces of Red Delicious apples and flaky pie crust, it is like apple pie in pint. Instead of baking a pie for a gathering, bring a few pints of it!

    Fudge Brownie is an extra-dark chocolate with a welcome bittersweet edge and chewy chunks of brownie. If there could be an improvement on the original Talenti Double Dark Chocolate gelato, this is it.

    Raspberry Vanilla is like a dish of fresh raspberries and cream that has been frozen. The sweet cream gelato with pieces of fresh berries has a tart raspberry and balsamic ripple for a sophisticated twist.

     

    Talenti gelato also has 30% less fat than regular ice cream—though you’d never know it. It’s a better-for-you option that’s as rich and creamy as you want it to be.

    The milk used is rBST free. Vegans and those avoiding lactose can enjoy four delicious sorbets.

     

    Like all Talenti flavors, these new flavors are made using the finest natural ingredients that are carefully sourced from around the world: chocolate from Belgium, caramel from Argentina and mangoes from India, to name a few. Premium fresh fruit and spices are used.

    The line, which includes sorbetto and ice pops, is certified kosher (dairy) by OU. The products are available at major retailers nationwide, at a suggested retail price of $4.99-$5.99

    Those who judge an ice cream line by its vanilla are encouraged to try the ethereal Tahitian Vanilla Bean. Chocolate lovers can dish up Double Dark Chocolate and Belgian Milk Chocolate (try a combination of both!).

    Our personal favorites: Banana Chocolate Swirl and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

     

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    Un-piggy banks for everyone! Photo courtesy Talenti.

     

    Check out all 25 Talenti flavors.

    And please, Talenti: We’d love for you to make peach gelato. Maybe for next summer?

    Also in stores nationwide are Talenti’s Gelato Pops, in 8 delicious flavors dipped in Belgian chocolate. We’re especially addicted to Banana Swirl and Caribbean Coconut.

    Chomping at the bit? Here’s a store locator.

    Coda: Talenti’s unique see-through containers can be popped into the dishwasher and reused for food storage. Or, make everyone a piggy bank to collect loose that pesky loose change.

      

    Comments (1)

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Delicious, Nutritious, Better-For-You Bison

    “Meet the better meat,” invites The Bison Council, and we agree.

    Bison is a red meat lover’s dream come true. It provides all the flavor of beef (even more, we think!) without the negatives. You can enjoy succulent steaks without high cholesterol and juicy burgers without all the fat. Bison is lower in fat, cholesterol and calories than even chicken and turkey, and is a great source of iron.

    Here’s how bison compares nutritionally with other proteins.

    The one catch impacts those who like their meat cooked medium-well. Because it has very low fat content (less fat than turkey!), bison must be eaten rare to medium rare (just the way we like our meat!). Tender and juicy, good bison gets raves from every food lover we know.

    If you’re concerned because you don’t like rare beef, we still urge you to try rare bison—in fact, how about bison filet mignon or tenderloin roast for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day?

    Here’s how to cook bison.

     

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    A bison tenderloin roast. Photo courtesy AllenBrothers.com.

     

    OH GIVE ME A HOME WHERE THE BISON ROAM

    Let us interject a quick lesson: Bison and buffalo are not the same animal. They are cousins in the same family and sub-family, but of different genuses—like the dog and the wolf. Here’s how the taxonomy compares among bison, buffalo and cattle, complete with photos.

    Bison is a native American animal; buffalo are the water buffaloes of Africa and Asia. The first Europeans to see bison presumed the huge, shaggy beasts to be another type of buffalo, and the misnomer has lasted for centuries, aided and abetted by the U.S. government’s minting of the “buffalo” nickel. Here’s the difference between bison and buffalo.

    And it doesn’t help that the unofficial anthem of the American West (and the official state song of Kansas) was/is “Home On The Range.” The poem, written in the early 1870s in Kansas, was set to music, and the rest is tuneful—if inaccurate—history.
     
    THE BISON REVIVAL

    Bison once ranged over most of the North American continent: from the Rockies all the way to the East Coast (hence the city of Buffalo, New York), from Mexico north to the Northwest Territories of Canada.

    Most American students learn the tragedy of the bison: how the great natural herds were slaughtered to the brink of extinction in the 1870s and 1880s by commercial hunters and sports hunters. The near-extinction also caused the demise of many Native American tribes, who relied on the bison for food, clothing, coverings for their lodges, sinew for bow strings, tools and fuel.

    By 1889, the few remaining animals were saved by the combined efforts of William Hornaday, Director of the New York Zoological Park (now the Bronx Zoo) and a small group of private ranchers. In 1905, the American Bison Society was formed to save the bison and provide protect rangeland for the animals. In 1907, some offspring of the bison saved by Hornaday became the nucleus of the present-day herd of 600 in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.

    Fast forward to the late 20th century: In the 1970s an 1980s, as the high cholesterol content of beef was raised as a health issue, the search for better meat options led to the bison.

    Today, the estimated 75 million North American bison of the mid-1800s are greatly reduced but thriving, with an estimated 500,000 animals. They live on approximately 4,000 privately owned commercial ranches; about 15,000 wild bison are free-ranging on protected lands. [Source: Wikipedia]

    The bison is the largest land mammal to roam North America since the end of the Ice Age. It is a descendant of ancient animals that crossed the Bering Strait land bridge some 300,000 years ago. Americans can once again see magnificent herds of this noble heritage beast.

     

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    A bison burger, with Gorgonzola blended into
    the patty. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.

     

    BISON CUTS

    Bison is available in cuts similar to those of beef. You’ll find:

  • Cooked & raw sausages: franks, brats and sausages in different styles
  • Deli meats: bison bacon, bologna, pepperoni, salami
  • Ground: ground meat and burger and slider patties
  • Ribs: back rib racks and short ribs
  • Roasts: brisket, chuck, pot roast, prime rib, rump, sirloin butt, tenderloin (Chateaubriand), tri-tip
  • Steaks: filet mignon, flank, flatiron, hanging tender, ribeye, sirloin, strip
  • Plus: center cut shank (osso buco), jerky, liver, snack sticks, stew meat
  •  

    You can can replace bison in any recipe, from chili and meat balls to kabobs and stir frys. Check out the wealth of beautiful bison recipes from The Bison Council.

    Always look for bison that is 100% USDA certified. Many cuts are also American Heart Association certified—it’s that good for you.

     

    THE BISON COUNCIL

    Just as some beef is tough and some is celestial, so it goes for bison. To have that heavenly bison experience, you need to buy from a good butcher, who buys from a top rancher.

    The Bison Council is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and stewardship of the North American Bison. Members pledge to maintain the highest standards and ideals of animal care and husbandry, sustainability, food safety, purity of ingredients and quality of finished consumer products.

    Charter members include:

  • Carmen Creek Gourmet Bison
  • Chinook Bison Ranch
  • Double T Bison Ranch
  • High Plains Bison
  • Jackson Fork Ranch
  • Wild Rose Meats
  •  

    The website is a wealth of information about bison. Take a look!

      

    Comments

    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.

     

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    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.

     

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    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.

      

    Comments

    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.

     

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

     

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    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.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: B Sweet Hot Bread Pudding

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    Cookies & Cream bread pudding from B
    Sweet. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE
    NIBBLE.

     

    Live near a Super Target? Lucky you, if your Super Target store is one of the many to carry B Sweet bread pudding.

    The headline: Delicious bread pudding from freezer to the microwave in minutes.

    Launched last month, B Sweet Bread Pudding is melt-in-your-mouth indulgence that’s a cross between bread pudding and a hot soufflé. Bought frozen in 12-ounce containers resembling ice cream pints, they go into the microwave and hot bread pudding emerges.

    Chef Barbara Batiste’s B Sweet gained fame on the streets of Los Angeles, where her award-winning food trucks sell a variety of freshly baked sweet treats. The hot bread pudding was named Best Dessert of CitySearch Los Angeles.

    There are four flavors:

  • Apple Pie, tasting very much like hot apple pie
  • Cookies & Cream, our favorite, with big pieces evocative of Oreos
  • Fudge Brownie with chocolate drizzle (because fudge brownie isn’t rich enough on its own)
  • Glazed Donut, outshone by the others, the only flavor we didn’t wolf down
  •  

    “NOUVELLE” BREAD PUDDING

    B Sweet isn’t like Mom’s chunky custard-laden bread pudding. It’s “nouvelle” bread pudding.

    The consistency is smooth, like a dense, cakey soufflé. While custard is an ingredient, the eggy custard flavor of conventional bread pudding is replaced by the featured flavors (apple, brownie, chocolate sandwich cookie and glazed donut).

    And reading the ingredients label, pound cake seems to have replaced the stale bread.

    But however the magic happens, the result is quite noteworthy.

  • Eat it from container.
  • Be more civilized, and put it in a bowl.
  • Top it with ice cream, heavy cream or whipped cream.
  •  

    If you’re worried about calories: 1/4 container has the same calories as 1/4 container of Haagen-Dazs.

     

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    The four flavors of B Sweet Hot Bread Pudding. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Ballymaloe Irish Ketchup

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    A ketchup so rich and complex, it can be
    used as a dip. Photo courtesy Ballymaloe.

     

    In Ireland, it’s called Ballymaloe Country Relish: a tomato-based condiment served with burgers, fries, cold meats, cheese, sausage rolls, salads and sandwiches.

    Its ingredients include tomatoes (41%), tomato purée (5%), vinegar, sugar, onions, sultanas, sea salt, mustard seed and spices.

    In the U.S. it’s called…ketchup.

    But what a ketchup!

    The layering of flavors is magnificent: fruity from the tomatoes and the sultanas, pungent from the vinegar and mustard seed, oniony from the onions. It’s sweet enough for American palates used to Heinz.

    (By contrast, Heinz ketchup ingredients are tomato concentrate, vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring and Tabasco.)

     

    The texture, the rich fruity taste and the impeccable seasoning make Ballymaloe a ketchup you can eat from the spoon (if you’re so inclined).

    It’s ketchup the way it used to be, when it was a homemade condiment—before it got “blandified” by big American brands into tomato paste blended with high fructose corn syrup.

    Ballymaloe ketchup is the house recipe from the Ballymaloe Country House in Cork, Ireland. The Country House is a former private home, renovated into a hotel and restaurant (and it looks absolutely charming).

    You can buy the ketchup online at the BallymaloeUSA.com website; $5.29 per 8.5-ounce bottle.

    It is also available at select retailers, including A&P, Dean & DeLuca, Fairway, Food Emporium and King’s.

    Learn more about Ballymaloe on the company website.

     

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    Bring a bottle as a house gift, or give them as stocking stuffers. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    MORE KETCHUP
    The history of ketchup, how ketchup is made and reviews of our favorite ketchup brands.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Old-Style Chocolate & New Learning Opportunities

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    A sip into the past. A cup of drinking
    chocolate with two chocolate sticks. Photo
    courtesy American Heritage Chocolate.

     

    Turn the clock back 400 years. You’re in colonial America. You can’t have a chocolate bar, because solid chocolate bars have not been invented.* But you can have a cup of luscious hot chocolate.

    In the 1700s, the chocolate making process (like most cooking) was very time consuming. Chocolate, made from the cacao beans grown in the Caribbean and Latin America, became a favorite drink among the colonists.

    American Heritage Chocolate, a division of the chocolate giant Mars, has recaptured the sophisticated flavors of that early hot chocolate, as well as the “eating chocolate” that was first created in 1847.

    The division focuses on historically authentic chocolate. The company sends educators to historical sites around the country to demonstrate early chocolate making: roasting the cacao beans, winnowing off the shells, breaking the bean into nibs and flavoring them with sugar, salt and spices from around the world: annatto, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel, red chile and vanilla.

     
    *Solid chocolate was invented in 1847 in England. Here’s a historical timeline of chocolate.
     
    IN NYC ON PRESIDENTS DAY?

    On Presidents Day, February 17th, American Heritage Chocolate will be at the New York Historical Society in New York City, demonstrating the drink that was enjoyed by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

    The kid-friendly demonstrations (held from 12 to 4) begin with the imported cacao beans, to the extraction of chocolate from the beans, to the finished hot chocolate. Attendees get to sample it, although the 21st century Cocoa Latte machine they employed sure beats the 18th century hand-whipping with a stick in a chocolate pot.

    The entire process is on display, including all of the spices, plus the fascinating experience that even food writers will cherish: tasting the component parts of chocolate (the cocoa butter, the chocolate liquor and the milk powder that creates milk chocolate).

    Participants also get to taste “chocolate sticks,” cylinders of chocolate that look historic but wouldn’t have been available until the second half of the 19th century (in time for Lincoln, but not for Washington and Jefferson).

     

    AMERICAN HERITAGE CHOCOLATE PRODUCTS

    The American Heritage Chocolate brand was developed in 2006 by Mars Chocolate North America to help educate consumers about the history of chocolate in America. The delicious products are sold exclusively at heritage sites and museums†, an exclusive revenue opportunity for those worthy organizations. You can find the site nearest to you online or online, including Colonial Williamsburg website.

    The chocolate recipe was created from an ingredient list from 1750, and represents a true taste of the chocolate our ancestors would have enjoyed. The product line includes:

  • Chocolate Sticks: Individually-wrapped single serving chocolate sticks
  • Chocolate Bites: Individually-wrapped, bite-size chocolates in a keepsake muslin bag
  • Chocolate Blocks: Two chocolate blocks, perfect for grating, chunking, shaving or baking
  • Chocolate Drink: A canister filled with a bag of finely grated chocolate for drinking or baking
  •  

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    Individual portion chocolate sticks are 63% cacao and excitingly flavored. Photo by River Soma | THE NIBBLE.

     

    And aside from being a bit of history, the products are truly delicious—and special. The spices wake up the palate in a way that the typical chocolate bar Americans enjoy cannot hope to do. Connoisseurs will love it, too.

    The products are so special, they’re our Top Pick Of The Week.

    This morning, we woke up and prepared a cup for Valentine’s Day.

  • It’s so rich, an espresso-size cup is perfect. A 12-ounce mug could do in the most enthusiastic hot chocolate lover.
  • We personally prefer to make it with milk, rather than water. Try both and see which you prefer.
  • The recipe recommends a 1:1 ratio of liquid to chocolate. If it’s too rich and spicy for you, add more milk/water, and use less chocolate the next time.
  •  
    †It is sold at more than 130 fine gift shops at historic sites, museums and historic inns across the U.S. and Canada.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Éclat Chocolate

    hearts-eclatchocolate-230

    Chocolates to fall in love with. Photo courtesy Éclat Chocolate.

     

    Oh, how lucky the people of West Chester, Pennsylvania are. Seven days a week they can stroll into Éclat Chocolate at 24 South High Street and select tempting confections.

    Everyone else can order the chocolates online or by phone (1.610.692.5206). Some items are available at Dean and Deluca (New York and California) and DiBruno Bros. in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square.

    But the temple to the marriage of great chocolate and art is located 25 miles west of Philadelphia, close to Valley Forge; and 17 miles north of Wilmington, Delaware. And it is close to our hearts.

    For Valentine’s Day we want:

  • The beautiful bonbons, both hearts and classic shapes
  • The exquisite caramels, round domes of chocolate filled with buttery liquid caramel)
  • The glamorous, modern mendiants—disks of beauty
  • The melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles
  •  
    There’s more, but Easter is coming.

     
    Chocolatier Christopher Curtin is the first American to be awarded the honor of German Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier in Cologne, Germany.

    He honed his skills in the finest chocolate houses of Belgium, France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland, and the results will please the fussiest connoisseur.

    In French, éclat (pronounce ay-CLAH) can mean:

  • Great brilliance, as of performance or achievement.
  • Conspicuous success.
  • Great acclamation or applause.
  •  
    We applaud all three.
     
    Head to EclatChocolate.com. Just looking at the beautiful photos is a most satisfying experience.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Jícama

    If you hadn’t read the headline, would you be able to name this vegetable?

    Botanists might call it Pachyrhizus erosus, but we know it as jícama (HEEK-uh-muh) or alternatively, the Mexican yam or Mexican turnip, although, as it is so often in popular nomenclature, jicama is not related botanically to either the yam or the turnip (except that are tree all root vegetables).

    The flowering vine is native to Mexico; it is the tuberous root of the plant that is eaten.

    You’ll find it most often in Latin American cuisine, although Spanish traders brought it to the Philippines, from which it was brought to China and other parts of Southeast Asia. It‘s now in popular dishes of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

    WHAT’S IT LIKE?

    Jícama is white and crunchy, not unlike a water chestnut. The flavor is mild, sweet and starchy—like some apples that aren’t sweet enough. Some people liken the flavor to raw green beans.

     

    Jicama: tuberous roots. Photo by Eric | Wikimedia.

     
    Jícama’s best use is to add crunch to salads, salsas and slaws, or to join in with other crudités. At 86%-90% water, it’s a hydrating snack on a hot day. (Jícama is high in vitamins A, some Bs, and C, with nice hitd of calcium and phosphorus.)

    The jícama at most grocery stores is coated with a thick wax, for extended shelf life. The yellow, papery skin is first peeled with a paring knife, revealing flesh that looks like a potato. It can then be diced into cubes or sliced into matchsticks or batons.

    Uncut jícama can be stored at room temperature for a week or so, or refrigerated a bit longer. Once cut, it should be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated, where it will last for another week.

     

    Jícama fries. Photo courtesy Annaliisa’s
    Organic Kitchen. Here’s the recipe.

     

    HOW TO SERVE JÍCAMA

    Once you’ve peeled a jícama, what do you do with it?

  • Raw. Enjoy itas a snack, like carrots or celery—plain, with salsa or other dip. A classic Mexican preparation is to thinly slice jicama, then sprinkle with lime juice, chili powder and salt. Or, add to fruit salad.
  • Salad. Toss with your favorite ingredients—avocado, carrots, edamame, fennel, jalapeño, onion, mushrooms, etc. Make a luncheon salad by adding chicken, seafood or tofu. Prepare an easy dressing of olive oil, lime juice and cilantro, with a pinch of salt. Mix into coleslaw along with the cabbage. Add to egg salad, tuna/seafood salad, etc., for a sweet crunch.
  • Cooked. Jícama can be steamed, boiled, sautéed or fried. And so long as you don’t overcook it, jícama retains its pleasantly crisp texture (think fresh apple) when cooked.Add to soups and stir frys. Make “jícama fries” by tossing with lemon juice, salt and seasonings.
  •  

    Why not try some jícama fries tonight? Here’s a recipe.

    Save a few slices for your salad!
      

    Comments

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