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Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate’

This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else.”

The “Anonymous Conqueror,” 1556, referring to drinking cacao

Italian chocolate machine

A peek inside our Italian drinking chocolate machine

Sure, a packet of Swiss Miss with tiny marshmallows waiting to be rehydrated is a comforting, nostalgic beverage for many of us; however, there are some fantastic things happening in the world of craft chocolate, with higher quality beans, small batch processing and real attention to craftsmanship. Whether or not you’ve tried a craft chocolate bar, you may still be denying your taste buds the same fine chocolate in liquid form. Enter drinking chocolate, one of the most decadent things you’ll have this winter. It may not hold you for a whole day, as claimed by the man quoted above, but it will certainly take the chill off these long winter nights.

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Xocolates Aynouse l'Artesà - Olive Oil and Candied Orange Peel Bars

Xocolates Aynouse l’Artesà – Olive Oil and Candied Orange Peel Bars

In February 2013, while Ihsan and I were visiting our friend Pere Planagumà (head chef at the restaurant Les Cols in Olot, Catalonia), we stopped in the ancient historic city of Girona for a food show and discovered chocolate maker Francisco Javier “Xavi” Rodriquez Perez. Actually, Xavi recognized us — he used to be the chocolatier for another Catalan chocolate company. It was a nice reunion seeing Xavi and to learn that he decided to open his own company Xocolates Aynouse l’Artesà in the town of Agramunt. (more…)

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A Representative Selection of Our Top 10 for 2013

At the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops – in Cambridge, the South End of Boston and in New York – fill out a staff survey. We reflect on what we have tasted over the course of the past year – moments where we were surprised (both pleasantly and unpleasantly), new and exciting food experiences, as well as the flavors we found ourselves returning to time and again. We pick our favorites and share memorable moments. Some tried-and-true items appear in our survey results year after year – other items are new and exciting finds from the current year – goodies in this instance that distinguished 2013 from all others. Here are our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results! (more…)

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A Representative Selection from our Holiday Gift Guide

Do you have a food lover, budding chef, charcuterie aficionado or chocolate fiend in your life? Short on gift ideas? Not to worry – we’ve got you covered! Our staffers thought long and hard to come up with their top picks for what they would give to food-loving friends, family members and loved ones – here are the results: (more…)

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Naive Chocolate

Domantas Užpalis is the creative chocolatier behind Chocolate Naive. Based in the small town of Giedraičiai, Lithuania (population of less than 1,000), he is one of very few bean-to-bar producers in Europe. Domantas does everything from sourcing the cacao beans, to roasting, winnowing, conching and tempering, all in a small farmhouse next to lake Kiementas on the Eastern side of Lithuania. (more…)

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Idilio Chocolate - No. 3

We are very excited to introduce Idilio Origins chocolate bars to our shelves. Idilio was the first Swiss chocolate company to specialize in finding the best cocoa plantations to make single-origin, single-plantation bars. Working hand in hand with farmers, Idilio oversees everything from harvesting to fermentation before the beans are then sent to Switzerland where the beans are transformed into beautifully refined bars of chocolate. (more…)

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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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