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Posts Tagged ‘cocoa’

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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Here are some posts and articles related to food and drink worth a read from various sources on the web:

  • The Truth on Olive Oil Health – a post from Tom Mueller about Dr. Mary Flynn and her work to “…start separating the wheat from the chaff in olive oil health, by building a canon of solid scientific information, and debugging a number of widespread olive oil misconceptions.”
  • How to Eat a Porcupine – not only one of the best post titles but a beautifully written travelogue about the emotional progression of eating bushmeat in a foreign land. (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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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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