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Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Three cocoas: Dutch-processed (L), Valrhona natural (R) and Les Confitures à l'Ancienne drinking cocoa (bottom)

Three cocoas: Dutch-processed (L), Valrhona natural (R) and Les Confitures à l’Ancienne drinking cocoa (bottom)

At this time of year, customers often pop into the shop looking for cocoa – whether for baking a dense chocolate torte or for a warming cup of hot cocoa after hours of shoveling. There are a few different type of cocoa available and we thought it would be helpful to shed a bit of light on the differences.

What is cocoa?
Cocoa is the result of processing raw cacao seeds into what is called cocoa mass or cocoa liquor. Cocoa mass is made up of roughly equal parts cocoa solids and cocoa butter. When you buy a chocolate bar it often has a percentage figure on it. If, for example, the label indicates 75%, that means the bar is made up of 75% cocoa mass and unless other ingredients are mixed in, 25% sugar. If  you’ve ever had a taste of 100% cocoa mass, you know how important the sugar is to counterbalance the natural acidity and tannic quality of the pure cocoa. In some cases, a bit of extra cocoa butter may be added to give the chocolate a smoother textural dimension – a greater melt-in-your-mouth quality. (more…)

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Still Life with Bread, Ham, Cheese, and Vegetables - Luis Egidio Meléndez

We know that shopping for friends and family isn’t always easy. So, we put our thinking caps on, brainstormed, debated and created some exciting new bundles of goodies! We think there’s something for most every kind of foodie on your list:

Truffle Kerfuffle – Many customers come to us for all manner of truffle products, so this bundle was a no-brainer. While we don’t include an actual fresh truffle, this selection of products delivers the gorgeous, earthy truffle flavor in a variety of ways. (more…)

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Elaine and Catharine of EH Chocolatier

L-R: Catharine and Elaine of EH Chocolatier

Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney never meant to become chocolatiers. In fact, they first met over a wedding cake. A mutual friend was getting married and enlisted them to bake her cake – something new to both of them. Judging by their continuing partnership, the cake was a success, a challenge that got them started making sweets of their own. (more…)

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Comté Extra Grand CruAt the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops fill out a staff survey, reflecting on our year in food. We pick our favorites, reminisce about revelatory food moments and about new discoveries. Like clockwork, some products can be counted on to appear each year. Other foodstuffs disappear and/or reappear, depending on staff members’ palates. Here we share our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results – we hope you enjoy these delicious goodies as much as we do!

- 2011 Staff Top 10 -

Marcel Petite Comté – Year in and year out, this is the headline cheese of the survey! A raw, cows’ milk cheese from the Jura mountains, it is a classic French AOC cheese. What did staffers have to say? One wrote, “I feel this is the backbone of our cheese collection. Hand crafted and hand selected.” Another wrote, “aging cheese does matter and the care taken from start to finish with these cheeses makes for an amazing product at any age.” (more…)

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Mast Brothers SignSince opening in Brooklyn a few years ago, Mast Brothers Chocolate has been making a big name for itself. Founding brothers, Rick and Michael Mast, create flavorful bean-to-bar chocolate with imagination and enthusiasm at every step. They import some of the finest single origin cacao from around the world. Recently, they realized a long-held dream of importing some of their beans by sailboat, direct from the Dominican Republic to New York. (more…)

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Mast Brothers chocolate barsThough we may think of Europe as the epicenter of fine chocolate, America is arguably home to the world’s most exciting community of up-and-coming chocolate makers.

What you see in America that you don’t necessarily see elsewhere is a growing crop of “bean-to-bar” chocolate producers – artisans who are working directly with raw cocoa beans, often sourced directly from farmers. In their small labs in places as unlikely as Utah and Missouri, these producers are seeing the cocoa through from its raw form to its natural end — beautiful bars of chocolate that showcase as much of the flavor and character of the original bean as possible.

It sounds like a relatively straightforward process, but it’s actually unusual. A lot of chocolatiers buy pre-made chocolate from larger companies, melt it down and make their own bars or confections. This is not to say their products are necessarily bad or inferior, but just as we support small-craft cheese and wine at Formaggio Kitchen, we also like to support small-craft chocolate as much as possible. (more…)

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Liddabit Sweets’ chocolate bar: The Snacker

So, I confess.  I am a bit of a chocoholic.  But really, it’s not my fault.  It can clearly be attributed to a genetic trait inherited from my father’s side of the family.

The most recent thing to feed my habit?  Liddabit chocolate bars.  Liddabit Sweets is based in Brooklyn, New York and was founded by two sweet loving ladies who met while studying the pastry arts at the French Culinary Institute.  Everything is handmade with top-notch ingredients such as unsweetened, organic peanut butter and sea salt.  As much as possible, their ingredients are organic and sourced locally.  For the P&B Mallow Candy Bar (butter cookie, crunchy peanut butter and marshmallow), both the cookie and the marshmallows are made by the Liddabit team. (more…)

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