Chocolate Academy, Chicago

Have you ever thought of enrolling in a Chocolate Academy? Seriously, learning about chocolate and it’s many properties and uses?  Barry Callebaut USA LLC is the place for you. Located in Chicago they offer classes for any level of experience.

Of the many courses available there is one specific for the non-professional: This is what their website says “Due to an increasing demand from the general public Barry Callebaut has created a series of short courses designed for none professionals fascinated in the history and the application chocolate. An assortment of courses allow the participant to understand the origin of the cocoa bean and its conversion into chocolate, how to use chocolate in the kitchen and how to delight friends and relations with simple chocolate creations.”

Callabaut chocolate bonbons

Course topics you can enroll in are:

Custom Bonbons: August 23rd-25th. Coming up soon so get signed up! You will be taught how to use the proper tools, techniques, and methods to be able to create your own fun creations.

Advanced Chocolate Showpiece: August 29th -September 1st. Showcasing tips and tricks for creating your own master centerpiece.

Petit Gateaux, Tarts and Entremets: September 20th-22nd. Techniques, finishes and flavours to create your own small pastries.

Playful Chocolate Figurines: September 27th- 28th.  This course will cover everything from how to do molding and casting, to experimenting with colorful cocoa butter, and how to use these skills to build your own creations.

Snack Attack: October 17th – 19th. You’ll learn to make a wide variety of multi-layered bars and tablets using both basic and advanced panning with different textured and flavored centers such as nuts, caramel, praline, dried fruits, and cereals.

Discovering Chocolate: Oct 3-6, Nov 7-10, and Dec 12-15. This course is hands-on  and  will help any beginner master crystallization techniques, dipping and molding, as well as introduce you to ganache and emulsion.

So, if you were wondering what you were going to be doing on those cool fall weekends this is the place to be. Sign up at http://www.chocolate-academy.com/. I am a huge fan of Barry Callaebaut chocolate and would recommend the courses to anyone who loves chocolate!

 

Been Gone Too Long

It has been quite some time since there was a post. Life takes many strange turns but I have returned to the land of chocolate!

My latest favorite thing is to mix chocolate with different fruits. I have fallen in love with apricots! Dried dipped in chocolate is simply amazing. I know there are many products out there that have the chocolate and fruit together but be careful and read the label. In the past I mentioned how to read the contents of chocolate packaging. The same is true for the fruits. Many of the products use fruit juice to flavor the chocolate delights. I am a huge fan of the real dried fruit dipped in chocolate.

Most people know that strawberries and cherries are yummy dipped in chocolate. But did you think to try some others? Here are a few that I particularly adore:

To make these just find the freshest fruit in season, purchase some amazing dipping chocolate like Ghirardelli the dip away!. I like to serve them as a fun presentation such as a skewer. skewer

Godiva recently served their dipped fruit in a paper cone. AWESOME!cone

So as we move into the midst of the summer picnic season and the family gathers around the table. Enjoy the fruits of the harvest with a little chocolate!

Eat More Chocolate

Give yourself a break and have some chocolate. Many studies have shown that there is antioxidants in the cocoa bean that are known to help lower blood pressure and keep arteries clean. Here are a few helpful hints:

1. Choose dark chocolate. The darker chocolates are less processed and contain more disease fighting flavanols than chocolate that is processed. In general the higher the percent of cocoa the better. Look at the ingredient list before purchasing because some manufacturers list sugar as the first ingredient. The better chocolate will list cocoa first.

2. Always check for sugar content. If sugar is down the list at number three or more, than it is a good bet this is a dark chocolate. The chocolates to search for usually have cocoa as number one and a fruit or nut as number two.

3. Practice portion control. It is hard when everything on the shelf is actually more than one serving. To reap the benefits associated with chocolate limit yourself to 1-2 ounces or roughly 150-250 calories per day.

The list of choices is enormous. Some of the best dark chocolates come from Europe, though some US producers are getting into the game. Alter Eco, Chocolove, Dagoba, Lindt and Endangered Species are all in the growing trend of treats. You can find these brands in just about any grocery store and even at some convenience stores around the nation.

Fruit fondues, trail mix, chocolate smoothies. So many choices, so little time. The next time you have a craving reach for the dark chocolate. It is satisfying and delicious.

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Milk Chocolate And Cranberry

Have you ever thought to use the cranberry beyond the holiday season? The cranberry thrives best during the fall and winter months , but many grocers carry the frozen berry all year round. The cranberry is grown in the bogs of  Southeastern Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. With a tart flavor, ruby-red color and named a “superfruit” due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities, why not give them a try.

When using the cranberry in a recipe, think of it as the shy sister of the raspberry and blueberry. Now you can imagine why it is so versatile beyond the usual sauce! You may have seen “Craisins” in the grocery store. These are dried cranberries and can be used in many of your dessert recipes. However, this humble whole fruit deserves the spotlight at your next gathering, no matter if it is dried or not.

Milk Chocolate Cranberry Bark

12 ounces milk chocolate, chopped (look for high quality such as Lindt or Ghiradellighiradellimilkchocolate

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) dried cranberries

1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) pistachios, lightly toasted

1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) candied orange zest, finely diced

Melt chocolates, separately, in a double boiler until smooth. Fold the cranberries and pistachios into the milk chocolate. Fold the candied zest into the dark chocolate. Pour the milk chocolate mixture into a large baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, spreading into an even layer with a spatula. Allow to set for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, continue to stir the dark chocolate to prevent it from setting. Pour the dark chocolate over the milk chocolate, making sure to pour all over to minimize the need for additional spreading, making sure to cover the first layer completely. Let set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before attempting to cut. DO NOT cover or refrigerate because any condensation could make the bark grainy. To servecranberrybark break into pieces, storing any leftovers in an airtight container.

Other ideas are a Cranberry Chocolate Pie, Cranberry Stuffed Baked Apples, Cranberry Mousse, Dark Chocolate Cranberry Souffle and a Spiked Cranberry Granita.

Happy Baking!

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

How About A Martini?

The next time you throw a dinner party, why not skip the time-consuming appetizers and fancy entrees and just go for the desserts. Many fine drinks complement those sugary sweets. have you ever tried an Oatmeal Cookie Martini? or a Mulled Wine Lorraine? Here’s your chance to WOW your guests.

 

Oatmeal Cookie Martini: 1 serving

1 ounce Hot Cinnamon Liqueur

1/2 ounce Irish Creamoatmealcookiemartini

1/2 ounce coffee liqueur

1 ounce heavy cream

rolled oats for garnish

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a sprinkle or rolled oats.

Just a note when serving to your guests: in Italy it is customary for the cookies to be dipped into the drink!

 

Mulled Wine Lorraine: serves 8-10

1 1.5 liter bottle burgundy or pinot noir

1 cup packed brown sugar

zest of 1 lemon

zest of 1 orangemulledwine

2 cinnamon sticks

2 whole star anise

2 cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

pinch of grated nutmeg

citrus slice or cinnamon stick for garnish

Combine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and discard solids. Serve in heatproof glass mugs, garnish as desired.

Just a note when serving to your guests: in Germany this beverage is paired with a sponge cake roll that has a sweet filling, typically a ganache, jam or butter cream, and icing.

Dessert-only parties need not send your guests into sugar shock. Be creative and you will be the talk of the town.

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Happy New Year!

With the new year just starting what will you do this year? Are you planning any trips? If you have tried all of the chocolates in your town and still want more, there are many chocolate houses and factories across the United States to get your fill. Here are a few suggestions to get the planning started:

Payard in New York is owned by Francois Payard, a James Beard “Best Pastry Chef” award winner. Located at 1293 3rd Ave in New York City, this bistro boasts fabulous chocolate desserts and many other treats. In 2013, their dark chocolate, key lime and slated caramel chocolates won awards at the International Chocolate ceremony.      vanillarumtruffle

While in New York, you may want to stop by the Jacques Torres Chocolate Shop at 350 Hudson Street. Delve into the delicious chocolate of one of the world’s most renowned chocolate chefs. All of the chocolates are made rich and thick and bursting with flavor. jacquestorreschocolate

It may not be a household name, but Scharffen Berger Chocolates in Berkley, California is a great place to watch how chocolate is made. A small production facility allows you to watch the process from start to finish. Started in 1997 by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger, their chocolates are used by many top chefs. Truly distinctive chocolates with balance and complexity—not unlike those found in exceptional wines.

Finally, while in the San Francisco area, take a jaunt to the Embarcadero and sample some Recchiuti Confections. Such exquisite delights include a burnt caramel or a candied orange peel. Michael Recchiuti has been making delectable confections for over 25 years and uses everything from fruit to nuts!burgundybox

As 2014 rolls along, remember to stop and sample the chocolates along the way!

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

The Question is The Answer

Do you ever have questions about chocolate, but were too afraid to ask? Here are some answers to some of those questions:

The Toblerone bar includes: A) Honey, B) Malt extract, C) Molasses, or D) Rum? The answer is A) Honey! This iconic chocolate bar, created by Theodor Tobler in the early 1900’s originally contained milk chocolate, nougat, and honey. Today, this bar is also made with dark chocolate and white chocolate.  Anyway way you buy it, the taste is amazing.

Eating dark chocolate can cause: A) Acne, B) Cavities, C) Migraines, or D) None of the above? The answer is D) None of the above. So true based upon several studies that chocolate cannot be blamed for any of these ill effects. yeah! In fact, the antioxidants contained in chocolate may have healthy benefits. As with everything else you do in life, moderation is the key.

Which of the following is not a classic pairing with dark chocolate: A) Brandy, B) 12-tear old Scotch, C) Port, or D) Chardonnay? The answer is D) Chardonnay. Many people have debated chocolate pairings, none of which include Chardonnay. Most suggestions are aged Scotch, Armagnac or Bourbon, while others include a Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon. Be adventurous and try them all.

On Valentine’s Day (which is coming up!) in Japan, who traditionally gives out the chocolate: A) Women, B) Men, C) Parents, or D) Children? The answer is A) Women! On Valentine’s Day, Japanese women dole out two types of chocolate. This first is giri choco to their bosses and co-workers and the second is honmei choco for their sweethearts. Try it this year and see what happens.

Chocolate is amazing. So not matter where you are or what you are doing take some time to indulge.

4luxurysweets@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

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