Part of the fun of Halloween is getting super-goofy: indulging in massive amounts of sugar-bomb candy, punning it up (spook-tacular!), and generally behaving with childish abandon. So how does that translate into adult treats? I'm so glad you asked! Here are three ways to grown-upify your Halloween without feeling like an old fuddy duddy.
Back in the spring, one of our employees at Liddabit took a trip to Seattle and was nice enough to bring us back a couple of treats from Theo chocolate. I knew I liked the company as soon as I saw that they had a Bread and Chocolate bar: dark chocolate with crispy bread crumbs and a sprinkling of salt, an homage to a popular European treat.
When I was a kid, the simpler a candy bar was, the better. My favorite? 3 Musketeers. Soft, chocolaty, and not at all complicated—what wasn't to love? 3 Musketeers and I grew apart; and eventually, I gave up on drugstore candy bars for good. Until, of course, it became my job to know as much as I possibly could about chocolate. Between that and my penchant for new, shiny things (ooh, NEW!), I naturally couldn't resist when I saw three(!) different versions of 3 Musketeers staring me in the face at my local drugstore.
I have to admit—I still love the already-cartoned, carrageenan-thickened, "chocolate flavor" style of chocolate milk quite a bit. But making it at home with cocoa powder will take you about 2.5 minutes and is damn tasty. A fun chocolate-geek bonus of this recipe: adding the cocoa to the hot milk "blooms" it, actually enhancing the chocolate flavor.
What is the best way to store chocolate? It depends on the weather, of course. Here are a few essential tips and guidelines for milk and dark chocolate bars, as well as for bonbons (shelf-stable and handmade.)
One of the most magical things I learned in pastry school was how to properly dip chocolates.There's something about it that I find very soothing; maybe it's the precision required to get them to turn out just so, or the repetitive motion, or just the fact that when you're done you have a tray with rows of perfectly formed little chocolate-covered beauties. (Not to mention the couple of inevitably funky-looking ones that end up getting eaten. For the sake of quality assurance, naturally.)
High summer is not exactly high season for chocolate; heat tends to, you know, ruin it; and steamy days and nights don't necessarily put anyone in the mood for something rich and creamy. There are also (I know, I was surprised too) some people in the world who don't love eating chocolate anyway. So here are some of my favorite non-edible chocolate treats.
Before I start waxing poetic, let me make a few logistical points. There will always be a place in my heart for the standard grocery-store s'mores components; Jet-Puffed, Hershey's, and HoneyMaid should be part of every kid's s'mores experience. But let's think about making them grown-up for a moment. How about homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, and a really high-quality chocolate?
Spending as much time around chocolate and candy as I do has changed my threshold level for it. Not to say I don't still love both with a fiery passion and crave them all the time (I totally do) but the ferocious sort of "I-must-put-this-in-my-face-right-now-as-fast-as-I-possibly-can" feeling has lessened somewhat over the years. Not so with cookies.
I know what you're thinking. "Why would I want to bother to do this? I can run down to the corner store/supermarket and just buy a pack of ready-made ice cream pops, and not have to do any work at all." Well, the first answer is that you can mix and match any flavors and coatings you want. The second answer is that you can put really nice ice cream with really good chocolate; forget about that waxy "chocolate flavored coating" stuff.
The Sweets & Snacks Expo happens every year in Chicago, and I've watched TV shows on it, read about it, and dreamed of attending for years. Finally, this year was it. Jen and I headed to the Windy City to check out this year's chocolate trends (you can find other highlights from the show here). Of course there are loads, but what were the ones that kept popping up?
Making fun of tofu for being hippie-food is so 20 years ago. The coffee definitely punches up the chocolate flavor here, and makes it taste a little more sophisticated. But you could just as easily add some cayenne and a glug or two of dark rum.
Why not make some flowers for Mom this year? Out of chocolate? Chances are she'll be pretty happy with a bouquet of these. Here's a step-by-step guide to making several different kinds of flowers, which you can then use to decorate cupcakes, garnish plated desserts or just give by themselves. It's not as hard as you think!
Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite words: eutectic. A eutectic, in confectionery terms, is a combination of fats that melts at a lower temperature than any one of the fats by itself. The eutectic you probably most often encounter on a day-to-day basis is milk chocolate. The magical power of the eutectic is particularly well (and tastily) illustrated in the center known as a meltaway.
I'm a huge fan of David Lebovitz's fantastic recipes and entertaining writing, and have always been intrigued by his chocolate bread. What in the world would it taste like? Chocolate mixed into the bread itself? But how bready would it be? Yeasty at all? What about the sweetness level?
There are few things in this world more comforting to me than squishy, sweet, creamy desserts, especially when they come in a ready-to-eat cup. But pudding is really easy to make at home, too. I call these Le Snaque-Paques.
Now, I love me some old-school Oreos, and subscribe to the "if it ain't broke" school of philosophy, but was curious about two unfamiliar varieties of Oreos. Peanut Butter Creme and Double Stuf Heads or Tails. ZOMG OREOS! Ehrm, sorry. It's my professional responsibility to stay abreast in the chocolate industry and report back. Find out how they tasted.
I have a confession to make, dear readers. Until just a few days ago, I had no idea that this week was American Chocolate Week. It seems to me a perfect opportunity to go learn something about chocolate that you didn't know before; or try a new kind of chocolate; or test out that chocolate recipe you've been staring at for the last few months. Now, you can celebrate however you want, but in the slideshow are just a few of my suggestions.
You're never, ever, under any circumstances to mix water with chocolate, right? The water will cause the fat molecules in the chocolate to seize and clump up, and your chocolate is no good to anyone anymore. Right? Well, kinda. Here's how to make a mousse with just chocolate and water.
Gail Ambrosius seems to have it all figured out. She turned a tough situation (getting laid off after ten years at the same job) into a glorious opportunity by doing what so many of us chocolate geeks long to do: head to Paris and study under the masters. With technique and experience under her belt, she launched Gail Ambrosius Chocolates in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2004 and has since been garnering praise for her wide range of offerings and unusual bonbon flavors—shiitake mushroom truffle, anyone?
Where exactly in Philly did this cake come from? Who named it Philly Fluff? And why wasn't it the least bit fluffy in texture?
I had an insane hankering for chocolate chip cookies the other day, so I decided to bust out my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking and make a batch. But something caught my eye: a sidenote about how she prefers to chop chocolate from a block instead of buying premade chips. This called for a chopped vs. chips vs. chunks comparison.
Oh, Valentine's Day. As a chocolatier, I can certainly wear the cynical hat. I have nothing against the holiday, per se. It's just all the gifts people get each other tend to be saccharine, tacky, and/or cliché—and tend to cost an unnecessary amount of money. Accordingly, here's a list of five non-lame things you can whip up at home. They're quick, easy, and only as cutesy as you want to make them.
How did Jeff get into chocolate? He accidentally bought some unfermented, washed cocoa beans at a farmers' market in Belize thinking they were almonds.
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