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!

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Chocolate Loves Coffee

Do you love coffee? Do you love chocolate? Just put them together and you have the best mocha flavor in town! The biggest thing to look at when pairing coffee and chocolate is the ingredient list. Really?

If cocoa is not the first ingredient listed on your chocolate . . put it back! If you see “food coloring” or “high fructose corn syrup” in the list of ingredients . . put it back! Now, for fun try a blind taste test with a premium chocolate and one that contains the previously mentioned ingredients. Can you tell the difference? Which do you like better?

To blend chocolate and coffee together is just heavenly. Think Tiramisu. The base is made from ladyfingers soaked in coffee, topped with a mascarpone mixture and topped with cocoa powder and shaved chocolate. Another great way to blend the two flavors is to grind a spoonful of cocoa nibs (try Scharffen Berger), put them in your coffee filter with you coffee granules and brew. Just a note if you are not familiar with cocoa nibs, they are actually cocoa beans, separated from their husks, roasted and then broken into small bits. They are the true essence of chocolate.scharfenbergernibs

Of course, dark chocolate in and of itself can have some very strong coffee undertones. The two products have a lot in common since they are similar parts of the plant, grown in similar climates, roasted on similar machinery. Some easy double-caffeine fixes can be found in truffles, bonbons, and the ever humble chocolate-covered coffee bean. If you have never tried chocolate covered coffee beans it is a treat to behold.

Whether you are a fanatic about coffee and chocolate or not, one thing for sure it is a blend of the two will make you smile.

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