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!

 

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

Beer And Chocolate

Have you ever tried pairing your beer with premium chocolate? Actually, using beer in a cake is quite exceptional. Here is a recipe to try the next time you want to impress your friends:

Cake
1
box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® devil’s food cake mix
1 1/4
  cups stout beer (try Guinness)
1/3
  cup vegetable oil
3
eggs
Chocolate Frostingstoutcake
12
oz semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2
cups whipping cream
1/2 cup butter
Caramel Filling
6
tablespoons caramel topping
*Prep time: approximately 40 minutes, Total time: 3 1/2 hours
  1. Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Grease bottoms only of three 9- or 8-inch round cake pans. Make cake batter as directed on box, using cake mix, beer, the oil and eggs. Pour about 1 1/2 cups batter into each pan.
  2. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans. Cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, for frosting, place chocolate in medium mixing bowl. In 2-quart saucepan, heat whipping cream and butter to just boiling over medium heat. Pour cream mixture over chocolate; stir with whisk until melted and smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour; stir. Refrigerate about 1 to 1 1/2 hours more or until spreading consistency.
  4. Place 1 cake layer on serving plate. Frost top of layer with 1 cup of the frosting. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons caramel topping. Top with another cake layer, 1 cup of the frosting and remaining 3 tablespoons caramel topping. Top with remaining cake layer and frosting. Garnish with chunks of chocolate covered caramels with sea salt, if desired.

If Betty Crocker can do it you can too!

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

Makes 16 servings

Chocolate With Cheese

With everything being paired with chocolate why not try some cheese? Chocolate used to be a simple ingredient. The most exotic thing you’d find in it was a bit of fruit or a nut. Changing with the times many chocolatiers are mixing exotic and unusual flavors with their chocolate so why not cheese?

On a certain level it makes sense to mix these two ingredients together. Milk (the basis for cheese) and chocolate are a natural combination. However, the tricky part is what cheese? What chocolate? Can you imagine a bleu cheese with a milk chocolate? It actually works. Here are 5 examples of pairing cheese with chocolate:

1. Dark chocolate with a blue cheese such as Roquefort of St. Albray. Saint Albray is a cheese which comes from the Aquitaine region of France. Invented in 1976, the cheese is similar to Camembert. This  pairing really shows off an unusual and delicious combination with the salty cheese and smooth, rich chocolate.

2. St. André is a triple cream cheese that’s decadently full-flavored. It has a soft buttery texture, tangy edible rind, and tastes like an intense version of Brie. It’s fantastic when enjoyed with any type of melted chocolate. Try fresh strawberries added to the cheese and then matched with a simple bar of chocolate. What a great dessert!

3. Etorki cheese is made from pasteurized sheep’s milk  and pulp pressed, not cooked, then matured for seven weeks. For those allergic to cow’s milk, Etorki can be substituted for Gouda or Cheddar. Any type of berry is delicious with Etorki cheese, which also can be melted into a dessert dip. Chocolate sauce can be dripped onto the cheese itself as well, which makes for a fabulous sweet-salty contrast to try with graham crackers.

4. Brie is a smooth, buttery cheese made from cow’s milk that presents a perfect palette companion for a rich and creamy chocolate sauce. Brie en Croute is a traditional, heated brie dish that features the cheese housed in a delicate pastry shell. The addition of chocolate sauce easily transforms it into a chocolate delight.

5. White chocolate (technically not chocolate, but the extracted cocoa butter) may not be as common as milk chocolate, but it’s flavorful and looks incredibly elegant. It’s perfect to make a truly sinful cheesecake. Most recipes use cream cheese, but try using a Brie or a Camembert.

It may not be the most common pairing, but that just makes it more fun! These are only a few suggestions to get you started on a sweet new gastronomic journey!

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

 

A Gift From Heaven

The ancient Mayans believe that chocolate is a gift from the Gods. I tend to agree that chocolate is a heavenly experience. This could be why, when the cocoa tree was discovered, it was named theobroma or “food of the Gods”. But how did this bitter bean make the mysterious jump to the chocolate we love?

The cocoa bean is a large, brightly colored football-shaped pod. Although when tasted in the raw, cocoa is bitter, the inner soft pulp is sweet and lemony. In pre-Columbian cooking, many foods were dried and ground on stone slabs. The same is true for the cocoa bean.

The grinding of the cocoa seeds is done after the pods have been sun-dried. This will release their natural oils and produce a fragrant paste. Over the centuries, with much experimentation, the range of culinary possibilities for the cocoa bean have been numerous. Beginning with Hernando Cortes, the Spanish were the first to add sugar to cocoa to make a more palatable beverage. With the marriage of Anna of Austria to Louis XIII in 1615, cocoa was introduced to the French.  From France to England (1657) , to Italy (1711), and finally America (1755).

The evolution of the process for manufacturing chocolate has been mostly located in Switzerland. The Swiss have a reputation for creating unique blends that reveal all the richness and strength of the cocoa bean. If you are to fully appreciate to flavor and texture of pure chocolate you have to develop your palate. The best experience is to taste a small piece and let it melt in your mouth. Can you tell the difference between a premium chocolate and a pedestrian chocolate?

The next time you make brownies or chocolate chip cookies revel in the fact that the chocolate is a gift from heaven. The best chocolates make the best desserts. My favorite is  an 8585percentcocoa% Excellence bar. Just saying!

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

Opulent Orbs of Goodness

What am I talking about? Why truffles. They are opulent orbs of smooth chocolate. Truffles must be eaten ever so slowly to get every flavor sensation, as they slide past your lips and into your mouth.

As magnificent as truffles are, you can easily make your own. A typical recipe starts with heavy cream, which is brought to a boil, and then combined with chocolate (semi-sweet, bittersweet, unsweetened or white) to make the ganache.  After the ganache is cooled completely, it’s time to make the truffles. Once formed, they are frozen until firm. Once becoming solid, the truffles might be dipped in some melted milk chocolate and tossed in cocoa powder or the truffles might be rolled in ground nuts, toasted coconut, or chocolate jimmies. Truffles are best stored in the refrigerator. It is a guarantee that they will not be there very long.

In making basic chocolate wonders, here are a few tips:

1. Always use the type of chocolate called for in the recipe. As an example, semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate are not the same. Bittersweet has more cocoa in it, which will make for a stronger chocolate flavor.

2. Buy the best chocolate you can. The higher quality chocolate, the better the truffle.

3. Use the best cream you can. Gourmet grocery stores usually offer creams with a fat count of 40 percent. Regular grocery store whipping or heavy cream has a 36 percent fat count.

4. Forming the orbs. There are many ways to do this. One way is to take two teaspoons and scoop up the ganache, then roll it in a ball. You may also use a pastry bag and just squirt out was is needed. Then, with your hands, form round balls. Lastly, there is the “just scoop out some ganache, and roll it between your palms” method. Try all of the methods, and use the one that works the best for you.

Once you’ve mastered the simple art of making truffles, there is little else to be done for a wonderful presentation. Metallic candy wrappers or miniature muffin cup liners make great holders. Serve them, in their holders, on a decorative lined tray. They also make perfect gifts. Place the truffles, in their wrappers, in a pretty box. Close the box and add a silk bow. This is one gift you’ll know that will be greatly appreciated.

With Easter just around the corner. Make something special.

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

Chocolate Fun

A recent study indicates that when men crave food, they tend to crave fat and salt. When women crave food, they tend to desire chocolate. The Aztec Emperor Montezuma drank 50 golden goblets of hot chocolate every day, dyed red and flavored with chili peppers. Between the antioxidants in the chocolate and the heat from the peppers you now have an excuse to consume chocolate!

The average American consumes more than 10 pounds of chocolate every year. There is a gal by the name of Chloe Doutre-Roussel, who wrote The Chocolate Connoisseur, and she is said to consume a pound a day!

Fun statistics:

76% of Americans say the ears of the chocolate bunnies should be eaten first.
5% think chocolate feet of the bunnies should be eaten first.
4% think the chocolate tails should go first.

Why is chocolate good for you? Chocolate contains a range of nutrients which include minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron, as well as the B-vitamin riboflavin. It is true that most of the chocolates’ calories do come from fat. The ingredient, known as cocoa butter, is the kind of fat that consists mostly of monounsaturated fatty acid also found in olive oil, which is a healthy fat needed in all diets.  In some test studies, people who consumed cocoa regularly had a lower blood pressure than those that did not and were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Dark chocolate has the potential to have the largest quantity of cocoa solids – at least to 70%. This means that 70% of the chocolate is from the cocoa bean and less from added sugars, oils and perhaps other fillers. Thus the antioxidants in premium dark chocolate surpasses pecans (14% less) and red wine (25% less). When reading a label look for cocoa as the first ingredient. Some dark chocolates really are not made from at least 70% cocoa so carefully make your purchase.

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

 

 

Previous Older Entries