Archive for the ‘Confections’ Category
Friday, June 3rd, 2011
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Are you someone who craves sweet nibbles or salty snacks? Or, do you prefer spicy or sour munchies? I must confess I’m a serial snacker. Even though I am a trained chef, my snack repertoire is not all that sophisticated. That’s not surprising among chefs who work long shifts and eat anything in sight when their hard day’s work is at an end. I’m a sucker for salted-in-the-shell peanuts—my trigger food—and I occasionally indulge on traditional sourdough pretzels. I like plain popcorn—I don’t like the artificial butter flavors—and I’ve never turned down a bag of Fritos. When it comes to sweets, I’m a chocoholic. I prefer dark, but a good milk chocolate is also fantastic when I’m in the mood and it’s usually Choclatique Prestige Milk Chocolate. At times like this I can even bring together some of my favorite flavors with our Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle Bites.
With the excuse that I need more experience, I cranked my expertise in snacking up a notch. This week, I am insanely excited because I got to explore my snacking inner-child at Chicago’s Annual Sweets and Snacks Expo at McCormick Place. This is an annual “snackin’” trade show hosed by National Confectioners Association where over 14,000 buyers and 500 manufactures come to see what’s new. The expo offers everything from jelly beans to popcorn companies that put movie caliber snacks to shame (hello Popcornopolis) and chocolatiers who even challenge Willy Wonka’s magic. This is the largest confectionery, cookie and snack show in the Americas. The EXPO features companies showcasing their newest, sweetest, most sour, most crunchy confectionery and snack products in one place making it one of the most valuable, time-effective events in the industry. In fact, more than 130 new companies exhibited and more buyers than ever attended the event. The EXPO attracts all of the major US distribution channels and featurestop-notch experts in some of the educational keynote sessions, making it easier than ever to discover the latest trends and discover what’s new in the world of snacking.
As I walked the EXPO floor with more than 14,000 qualified confectionery and snack professionals, including nearly 1,000 international visitors traveling from more than 60 countries. We all munched the hall from one end to the other leaving trails of crunchy crumbs.
We snacked on lentil and hummus chips with unusual and exotic flavors like black pepper, dill, chili and mint, and sweets snacks that claimed to be fortified with vitamins slated to offer consumers greater snack options when the three o’clock munchies hit.
Consumers can expect to see more snack foods and sweets that layer multiple, complex, and sometimes unexpected flavors. Combinations like habanera and lemongrass-flavored sweets, dual-filled truffles, and gourmet, artisanal flavors like cracked pepper and Asiago cheese-flavored chips.
I found wine-flavored chocolates by a New York company that are very similar to our Napa Valley Wine Chocolates that we introduced over 2 years ago. There was even a wine-flavored caramel—Cabernet to be exact—with a hint of sea salt. I discovered flower, troll and monster-shaped gummies, chocolate-coated jelly beans, straws filled with flavor beads like cookies and cream, strawberry, or vanilla that instantly transform a regular glass of milk to a snacking dessert, and crisp rice puffs dipped in dark chocolate, infused with vitamin D3 and sealed in a chocolate candy coating.
Despite a lagging economy, the snack and sweet markets experienced growth in 2010, as they’re considered affordable indulgences.
This month we are releasing our own “holey” indulgences—Choclatique Designer Donuts. Now you can enjoy the flavors of a chocolatiers’ dozen (15 different, wonderful flavors), including Almond Coconut Flake, Carrot-Cream Cheese, Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Sprinkles, Cinnamon Spice, Dark Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake, Fluff-a-Nutter, Jelly Donut, Johnny Appleseed’s Apple, Marshmallow Mint Chip, Mocha Kreme, Vanilla Kreme, Vermont Maple Crunch, and Wicked Red Cherry.
Shameless Plug: I know for many it’s too early to think about the end of the year holidays, but here’s a thought for some great gift giving—Choclatique (the book). And guess what? You don’t even have to wait for the end of the year. It’s the perfect gift for brides, grooms, grandchildren’s birthday, anniversaries… actually Choclatique (the book) is perfect for just about any occasion. Signed copies will be available after October 1st.
CHOCLATIQUE by Ed Engoron
Full-Color Throughout 256 pages • 8 x 10 $27.00 /$31.50 CAN /£14.99 UK ISBN 978-0-7624-3964-5 • hc Available on the Choclatique Website and Book Stores, September, 2011
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
The LA County Fair
Beginning in the early 1800s, the first agricultural fairs gave rural families an opportunity to see firsthand the latest agricultural techniques, equipment, crops, and livestock. Over the course of the nineteenth century, fairs also incorporated a wide range of educational, recreational, competitive, and social activities into their programs. Within a few short generations, county and state fairs became a quintessential American tradition.
We all look at fairs with different interests. For me, if it’s deep-fried, on-a-stick, battered, breaded or dipped in chocolate you must be eating at the LA County Fair. A few of the new items this year included macaroni and cheese on a stick, deep-fried Oreos and s’mores on a stick.
This year we had to battle 108º temperatures to take part in the annual food fair experience. With more than 300 choices, I have to admit that I had to unbutton the button on my waistband just to drive home comfortably.
My first stop is always the giant cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Oops they weren’t there this year. I passed on the giant breakfast burrito, morning sandwich and the mini doughnuts in favor of Chicken Charlie’s fresh-baked waffles and fried chicken—a new family tradition that introduced a little protein into what would become a hard-packing carb day. No sooner had we finished licking the syrup from our chins than we were ready to move onto The Indian Fry Bread with all kinds of gorpy toppings. Then there were the funnel cakes with ice cream on top, and the endless concessions making fresh-fried Churros. Churros are long, extruded Mexican doughnuts that can be dipped in chocolate or, when it’s so blazing hot, smothered in cinnamon sugar.
When you’re at the Fair, meals and snacks all start to morph together. It’s kind of like being a chain smoker—you barely finish eating one treat before picking up the next stack of goodies with the napkin left over from the last one. I must admit that the fair food even replaced my death grip on my ever-present Blackberry.
We next found ourselves on Birch Avenue at Mom’s Giant Cookies and Gingerbread Treats—the home of Gingerbread-Man-on-a-Stick. The Ginger Bread is made with a little touch of cocoa… so yummy! And Mom’s Giant Cookies next door—always my favorites as a kid—are so packed with chocolate chunks that the dough barely holds them together.
Want BBQ? The secret to Big Bubba’s Bad to the Bone BBQ is a touch of chocolate they put into their BBQ sauce. Likewise, King Taco adds a little chocolate to their Chile Colorado. The chocolate adds depth of flavor and additional richness to both. There was even a little healthier food, such as yogurt, frozen yogurt smoothies, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and salads, too!
Unless you were making deep fried Reese’s Whips or Peanut Brittle, it was tough day to be in the candy business let alone to make chocolate. The fudge was melting, the chocolate-dipped apples were withering—as were we—and if you grabbed an ice cream cone, you had to eat it faster than the quarter horses were running a furlough at the race track next door.
While I look at the LA County Fair through food-colored glasses, it is still a place where people proudly display animals, produce prize-winning baked goods, and of course, there’s plenty of entertainment, games and scary midway rides. Even though the weather was stifling, we still had a great time and enjoyed the new uses of chocolate that we discovered.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
I travel to Europe at least once a month. No matter how hard I try to avoid Air France the connections through Charles De Gaulle just outside of Paris seem to always be the best. Paris is, well, just so French, if you know what I mean. Something (everything) always seems to go wrong travelling through Paris adding hours to the trip.
One trip it was lost luggage; another had the baggage workers on strike delaying the flight for hours. There was a flight controllers “work to rule,” which did nothing more than delay hundreds of flights over a three day period. A general strike last month closed the airport down for two days. It’s more like flying “Air Chance” than Air France.
Last month was no different—the cabin cleaners staged a one hour strike causing a 2-hour delay. The airline caterer must have been upset about something because the duck used in making my canard a la orange died in vain after being mutilated by a very untalented cook. The questionable chocolate desserts were also a waste of calories… now you know that it’s bad if I don’t eat the chocolate.
So this month I got smart and made a few purchases at the gourmet store at the airport before heading for home. I got a very freshly-baked baguette… still warm to the touch; a tin of pâté de foie gras kissed with Cognac; a jar of marinated white truffles and a small wedge of Camembert cheese. I already knew the airline had an ample supply of good French Champagne and a bottle of 6 year-old Portuguese Port.
I saw nothing of interest for dessert and besides I do need to lose a few pounds. I was very content with my airplane picnic and thought I was ready to go until I spotted a small kiosk selling Ladurée macarons. Ladurée is a luxury cake and pastry boutique brand based in Paris, France. It is known as the inventor of the double-decker macaroon where fifteen thousand are sold every day. They are considered the best macaron shop in the world. When I speak of macarons, I am not referring to macaroons, those mounds of coconut and almond kosher cookies sold during Passover in Jewish sections of the supermarket which can be mistaken for damp paper weights. I am talking about a beautiful meringue-based confection made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectioners’ sugar.
While Ladurée is highly esteemed for making exceptional quality macarons in traditional and creative flavors, other French patisseries such as Pierre Hermé and Fauchon are also well known for their macarons as well. Outside of Europe, the pastry has attracted itself to mostly cosmopolitan cities, notably New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. New York has recently witnessed a surge in macaron shops.
The confection is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference and flat base. Connoisseurs in general and Ed Engoron in particular prize the delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The macaron can be filled and held together with a buttercream frosting or jam filling sandwiched between two macaron cookies. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, vanilla) to the exotic (truffle, matcha tea) to my favorate—chocolate.
You might think something that beautiful is difficult to make. To the contrary they are quite easy. Recipe for Chocolate Macarons.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Over the last 40 years I have visited 131 countries. Some of my older passports are as thick Yellow Pages directories. When my friends return home from an overseas trip, they talk about the museums, churches and castles they have visited. Being a food and chocolate guy, I reminisce about the restaurants, supermarkets and chocolate museums I have discovered.
Did you know that major museums have entire exhibitions dedicated to chocolate and other specialty museums where you feel surrounded by chocolate? At these unique repositories, you will discover how Chocolate engages your senses and reveals facets of this sumptuous, sweet treat that you’ve never thought about before. You’ll explore the plant, the products, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of science, history, and popular culture.
The Choco-Story chocolate museum in Bruges, Belgium, is composed of three parts, telling the story of the origin and evolution of chocolate through a unique collection of almost one thousand objects. Besides the history, the museum also reveals how chocolate is made, with special attention to a variety of raw ingredients and the development of the production process. In the demonstration center, visitors uncover the secret of beautiful silky chocolate and get the opportunity to taste the chocolate products made in the museum.
Sint-Jansplein, 8000 Bruges, Belgium
050 61 22 37
The Chocolate Museum opened in June of 1999 in New Brunswick, Canada. It is a must for all Chocoholics! Devoted to the wonder of Chocolate, it displays the history of Ganong Bros. Limited, candy makers in St. Stephen since 1873. The museum is an indoor, unique, interactive experience. What better way to sweeten a child’s enthusiasm for history, chemistry and economics than with chocolate?
73 Milltown Blvd.
St. Stephen, New Brunswick E3L 1G5
“Canada’s Chocolate Town”
At The Field Museum in Chicago you can journey through history to get the complete story behind the tasty treat that we crave in Chocolate. Start your tour in the rainforest with the unique cacao tree whose seeds started it all. Visit the ancient Maya civilization of Central America and discover what chocolate meant nearly 1,500 years ago. Then travel forward in time and northward to the Aztec civilization of 16th-century Mexico, where cacao seeds were so valuable, they were used as money. Discover chocolate’s introduction into the upper classes of European society and its transformation into a mass-produced world commodity.
1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605-2496
The Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum is just one of the reasons I love Cologne—Germany’s chocolate capital. The museum sits on the Rhine in an impressive ship-shaped construction of glass and metal. It is very open, airy and modern inside. Here you can sip cocoa on the terrace overlooking the Rhine. The museum started as an exhibit meant to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Stollwerk Chocolate Company and was so successful that the idea of a full-scale museum quickly grew from it. The Chocolate Museum opened its doors on October 31st, 1993. This self-financed museum now welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year with an average of 2,000 visitors a day.
The museum is an interactive experience. The tour starts with pictures of cacao plants and takes the visitor through the entire production process from bean to bar. Large color photos are accompanied by explanations in German and English about cultivation and harvest, different kinds of cocoa, and fermentation. Visitors next walk through a small greenhouse where they actually feel the tropical conditions and see growing cocoa plants followed by industrialization and the invention of the machines which allowed chocolate to become the silky texture we are accustomed to today.
+49-221/93 18 88-0
The Museu de la Xocolata is a strange Barcelona museum—strangely delicious! Xocolata means chocolate. And to me, good chocolate is a key ingredient of a great vacation. If you like chocolate, the Museu de la Xocolate in the La Ribera district of Barcelona will add to your vacation enjoyment.
The museum shows how the cocoa bean is transformed into chocolate in different historical eras. You’ll also learn about chocolate’s place in history and how it has been represented in media and advertising. Chocolate is used in ways that are hard to imagine and the place is littered with amazing chocolate sculptures.
Carrer del Comerç, 36
08003 Barcelona, España
Tel. 932 687 878
In 1972, the Candy Americana Museum in Lititz, Pennsylvania was created by Penny Buzzard, wife the company’s former president John Buzzard. Penny went to antique shows and flea markets looking for old chocolate memorabilia. She gathered more than 1000 varieties of molds, tins, and boxes and displayed them in the museum. Business associates who learned of her efforts began to contribute pieces such as early candy machinery, marble slabs, starch trays, copper kettles, and so on. The prized collection of the museum has more than 150 hand-painted European and Oriental antique porcelain chocolate pots, some bearing the names Haviland, Limoges, and Dresden. The Candy Americana Museum started out as a one-room museum and has expanded slowly. In 1977, the modern candy kitchen was opened. The kitchen features handmade chocolates being created right before your eyes including homemade marshmallow, almond bark, peanut butter meltaways, heavenly hash, mint drizzle, and almond butter crunch.
48 N. Broad St.
Lititz, PA 17543
Chocolate World, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the beginning of The Hershey Story which takes visitors on an inspirational journey through the life of Milton S. Hershey, the man, his chocolate company, the town that bears his name, and his generous legacy.
The Hershey Story explores the rags to riches accomplishments of an American entrepreneur who used his personal wealth to enrich the lives of others. Hear never-before-shared stories of his innovation and determination. Learn how Mr. Hershey revolutionized the process of making milk chocolate. Discover how the Hershey Industrial School’s orphan boys became heirs to his fortune.
From the interactive Museum Experience and its creative Apprentice Program to the Chocolate Lab to Café Zooka and the Museum Shop, the sweet results of Mr. Hershey’s entrepreneurship, ingenuity and philanthropy are guaranteed to inspire all who enter The Hershey Story.
63 West Chocolate Avenue.
Hershey, PA 17033
Bruges, Belgium is home to one of Europe’s chocolate museums—Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate. The museum occupies a three story building on the Rue de la Tete d’Or, and contains numerous exhibits (chocolate moulds, fine porcelain ‘tea’ sets, posters, photos and preserved cocoa pods) as well as demonstrations of the art of the chocolatier. There are even chocolate sculptures and chocolate clothing. Oh, and free samples!
The ground floor houses various glass cases containing old style moulds (some of which are original Cote d’Or moulds), an explanation of the processing of the cocoa beans, and at the rear, a kitchen where there are demonstrations on how pralines are formed in moulds. The upper floors delve more into the history of cocoa, regions where it is produced, and the effects of the cocoa trade both here in Europe and in Africa.
Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
Rue de la Tête d’Or, 9/11
1000 Brussels (Belgium)
Tel.: +32 (0)2 514 20 48 4
Other Great Chocolate Museums
Musée les Secrets du Chocolat
Complete with theatre, tea room, and gift shop that sells chocolate pasta, chocolate vinegar, chocolate beer and decorative antique chocolate molds, this museum is every bit as elegant as the country it represents.
Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate
Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria, Canada
This facility houses such tongue-in-cheek exhibits as statue of David replicas, a Dame Edna mural and an entire chocolate town. Aside from the eye candy, visitors are treated to real candy with a chocolate sample upon arrival.
Choco-Story Chocolate Museum
Prague, Czech Republic
Chocolate may be a feast for the palate, but this museum is truly a feast for the eyes. With collections of stunning antique chocolate wrappers and demonstrations of the chocolate making process, it’s hard to know what to look at first.
Jeju-do Island, South Korea
While the chocolate workshop, “Bean to Bar” showroom, and art gallery are all impressive, perhaps this museum’s biggest draw is their working San Francisco-style trolley car.
Nestlé Chocolate Museum
Mexico City, Mexico
Known more for its modern design and the speed with which it was built (by most estimates 75 days from start to finish), this futuristic building is an exhibit in itself.
Thursday, August 20th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
When I was a kid at Boy Scout camp we used to sit around the campfire immolating Kraft puffed marshmallows on a stick. Everyone said they thought these smoldering lumps of puffy sugar were great—I didn’t and I don’t believe anyone else did either. The only good thing about a burnt Kraft marshmallow was that they usually fell off the skewer and I didn’t have to eat it. Now don’t get me wrong, I had a sweet tooth unparalleled to anyone. I loved sweets (still do), but hated those over-puffed, sickeningly sweet, machine-made, sticky, white, commercial marshmallows.
A marshmallow is a confection that, in its modern form, typically consists of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, water and gelatin. Commercial manufacturers add some artificial flavors and colors, then whip it into a sticky, spongy mass.
The original recipes for making marshmallow used an extract from the root of the (marsh) mallow plant, Althaea officinalis, instead of the gelatin used today. The Althaea officinalis is a pink-to-white flowering perennial herb, indigenous to the salt marshes and sea-bordering wetlands of Eastern Europe, North Africa and Asia. While not a native to North America, this member of the Hibiscus or mallow plant family was eventually brought to the Americas and became naturalized in the eastern portion of the continent.
Marshmallows were originally made from the stems of the marsh mallow plant (no kidding; that what it’s called). When peeled they reveal a soft and spongy pith with a texture similar to manufactured marshmallow. This pith was boiled in sugar syrup and dried to produce a soft, chewy concoction. This mucilage was used to soothe sore throats in the days when the Egyptians ruled the world around 2000 B.C.
In 1948 things changed (for the worse) when Alex Doumak got a patent on an extrusion process where marshmallows were extruded as soft cylinders, cut in sections and rolled in a mix of finely ground cornstarch and powdered sugar. This began the bastardization of the marshmallow.
Why I Love Marshmallows
At Choclatique, we make marshmallow better. Our artisanal, all-natural ingredient marshmallows are made the slow, old-fashioned way—one batch at a time. While we don’t use the pith of the Althaea officinalis, we carefully blend Hawaiian cane sugar, egg whites, gelatin, corn syrup and natural vanilla to create Choclatique’s fantastic artisanal marshmallows. While the sugars are being cooked, the egg whites are beaten. Then we slowly merge the hot and cold ingredients together and continue to blend and whip the mixture into a fluffy air-filled mass. The mixture is poured into trays and the marshmallows are set aside for 24 hours to cure before cutting, coating and drizzling with our rich, smooth and creamy Private Reserve Dark or Prestige Milk Chocolate. The marshmallows themselves more closely resemble what would have been made and eaten in the early 1900’s. And, that’s a really good thing.
We are always looking to develop new flavors of marshmallows. This holiday season we will introduce our new Candy Cane Marshmallow. For Valentine’s Day 2010 we will introduce our new Cinnamon Marshmallow and for Easter, our new Lemon Drop Marshmallow. If you have a great marshmallow flavor, let us know. We will name it after you (provided your name is not “Stinky”) and enroll you in the Chocolates of the Month club for a 3-month, free membership. Remember, free is a good thing.
So now you know that there’s no need to continue burning marshmallows over an open fire or dipping them in chocolate or anything else for that matter. Choclatique’s chocolate-enrobed artisanal marshmallows are great all by themselves.
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
After writing about Grandpa Max a few weeks back my bother Roy suggested that I write about my mother’s mother.
Grandmother Fanny lived on the top floor of a 5-story walk-up in Brooklyn, New York. She was a tiny lady, not even 5 feet tall, but she was a wonderful cook, baker and candy maker who made the most delicious butter toffee crunch that you ever tasted. Nobody could do it better. It seemed like she was able to squeeze 5 pounds of butter into a 1 pound slab of her ever-popular butter toffee crunch. The way it crunched between your teeth and melted in your mouth was a taste of ecstasy.
The only one who had a copy of the recipe was my cousin Elliot who had hovered over Fanny and copied everything she did one afternoon while she was making her magic concoction.
Elliot was kind enough to share this recipe with me when we decided to make butter toffee crunch at Choclatique. We faithfully use Fanny’s original old-fashioned butter toffee crunch recipe as a base for our Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites.
We start with Hawaiian-grown pure cane sugar, double score dairy-fresh butter and rich, pure, extra-strong real vanilla. We use our signature dark chocolate—Choclatique Private Reserve (64%), fresh oven-roasted California almonds, roasted cocoa nibs and just a touch of Saigon cinnamon to cover our rich, butter toffee crunch. Nothing has changed since Fanny first made her first batch back in the 1930’s.
Our traditional Chocolate-Almond Butter Toffee Bites are packaged in a chocolate brown ballotin box and double sealed for freshness. They make the perfect melt-in-you-mouth gift or party favor and they’re a wonderful delicious treat any time of day.
Here’s a cheer to you Grandmother Fanny.