Archive for October, 2009

Women Are Hot For Gourmet Chocolate

Friday, October 30th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Chocolate CoveredDoes dark chocolate have a more positive impact on women than on men? We’ve know for a long time that women have in some way compared sex to chocolate, or vice a versa. Finally doctors have discovered the missing link between the two.

According to Italian researchers (you’ve got to love the Italians when it come to amore or chocolate), women who eat chocolate have a better sex life than those who don’t. Women who enjoy chocolate have higher levels of desire, arousal and satisfaction from sex.

Learning from the clinical side, a group of urologists from San Raffaele hospital in Milan questioned 163 women about their consumption of chocolate as well as their experience of sexual fulfillment. The study found that women who have a daily intake of chocolate showed higher levels of desire than women who didn’t indulge. The hypothesis is that chocolate has a positive physiological impact on a woman’s sexuality.” The study was funded from a grant from a university, not from Choclatique, another confection company, or the candy industry.

Dr. Andrea Salonia, author of the study, discovered that women who have a low libido could even become more amorous after eating chocolate. The good doctor believes chocolate could be particularly medicinal for women who shun sex because they are suffering from premenstrual tension.

Want Some

It was further discovered that chocolate is not like a food, but reacts more like a drug. Women who suffer mood swings as a result of their menstrual cycle may also suffer a dip in their sexual function. Dr. Salonia believes eating chocolate may improve a woman’s sexual functions and attitude.

The research looked at the lifestyle habits that affect women’s sex lives. It also looked at smoking and coffee consumption but found no links with sexual enjoyment. Some might argue, however, that women who like chocolate are simply more sensually attuned.

Whatever the reasons, it appears that there something more than just satisfying your “sweetie’s” sweet tooth with a box of chocolate. So take it from me, the Chocolate Doctor, the best thing you can do for your love life this coming year is to join the club—the Chocolates of the Month—the subscription purchase that delivers a box of Choclatique the second week of each month. This will guarantee that you… well you know where I’m going with this—C H O C O L A T I Q U E   C H O C O L A T E and the Chocolates of the Month. Membership has its privileges. ;)

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Gourmet Chocolate Gifts For The Holidays

Monday, October 19th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza… I know it’s really early, but I was in a department store over the weekend and I saw Christmas decorations going up in the middle of October. I am old enough to remember when people gave of themselves before they gave of Mr. Macy and Mr. Bloomingdale.

Freshly Baked Goods

This was the time when gifts were very personal—things we made or freshly-baked with our own hands. It seems like America was quite a different place back then where it would have been unseemly to give a gift certificate instead of a tin of homemade chocolate fudge brownies or shop for a gift on Black Friday instead spending the day after Thanksgiving with family and friends.

Not only are home-baked chocolate gifts more personal than store bought ones, but they’re easier on your wallet, too. And, this year that’s very important for many people who are finding financial circumstances difficult. Why not share the joy of home-baked chocolate gifts with your friends around the holidays this year or any time of year? So, head for the kitchen, adorn one another with aprons, fire-up the mixer and light the oven, and begin to rediscover the fun of home baking.

Money

I was baking well before I was making gourmet chocolate. My family has always given home-baked goodies not just as gifts to show good will, but to show our love during the holidays to those around us. So every year, I bake and bake and then deliver fresh-baked presents to family, neighbors, friends and co-workers. We make sure to bake a little extra for the postman, the doctor’s office, work, etc. This way everyone feels special and not forgotten and we haven’t burned a hole in our wallets.

Let’s face it… there is really nothing better than the buttery goodness and rich chocolaty flavor of fresh hot-out-of-the-oven holiday brownies, muffins, cupcakes and cookies.

Baking

Baking is really not difficult at all. If you can read and follow a recipe, you can bake. If using a mix makes you feel more comfortable, then by all means use a mix. You can always make small adjustments in what you are baking as long as you don’t disrupt the balance of the base ingredients.

Needless to say my four favorites all start with chocolate—Chocolate, Chocolate Brownies; Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins, Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Chocolate Cupcakes. With or without a mix they’re easy to make, always delicious to eat, and you can’t go wrong with fine chocolate.

Chocolate Cake

Here are a couple of my holiday chocolate baking secrets. It makes no difference if you’re baking from scratch or from a store-bought mix, you can make your holiday baking more chocolaty by adding a couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup, chocolate ganache or 3 tablespoons of ground chocolate. With the latter, I like to use a ground chocolate that’s at least 60% cacao (Choclatique Private Reserve Dark (64%) is perfect)—not ground chocolate chips. Any of these three ingredients give your chocolate cake a richer, more chocolaty flavor.

If you’re looking for more of a dark “blackout-style” chocolate cake, add ¼ cup of dark alkalized cocoa in place of ¼ of flour. In the case of a mix add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water with the cocoa.

If a pre-measured, fool-proof mix is what you prefer for baking, then let me recommend one of Choclatique’s new baking mixes. You can bake them up yourself (we’ll never tell anyone they’re from a mix and they’ll never know) and bring them over as a fresh-baked gift or you can give a bag of our mix as a great gift and have the recipient bake them at their leisure.

Double Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix

Brownie

If you like chocolate you will really love our rich, old-fashioned Double Dark Chocolate Brownie Mix. They are made with whole wheat flour and a blend of Choclatique’s Private Reserve 64% finely ground chocolate, Red (Rouge) Cocoa Powder, and dark, Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips. You will have fresh-baked Brownies with a crisp-baked crown with a chewy, fudgy center in just about 30 minutes that will leave your friends and family begging for more. Makes 8 to 12 brownies.

Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate Muffin

Fresh, hot-out-of-the-oven muffins are always a special treat, especially when they’re chocolate! Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins are light and fluffy yet intensely rich with chocolate flavor, and they easily prepared and ready to eat in only 20 minutes. They’re great for Sunday brunch, school or church bake sales, or to add some “special love” to a take-along lunch. Makes 6 jumbo, 12 regular, or 24 mini-muffins.

Ed’s Best Chocolate Chunk Cookie Mix

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This very special cookie recipe comes from my stash of favorite chocolate recipes. Ed’s Best Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix is a blend of whole wheat flour, ground chocolate, premium cocoa powders, brown sugar, and the secret ingredient—ground oatmeal. The finished cookies have a crispy outer crust and a cakey with a buttery texture center. Of course, they are loaded with Choclatique chocolate chips. Makes 24 cookies.

Almost Famous Chocolate Cupcake Mix

Cupcake

If you’re looking for a fun, informal and easy way to serve a special dessert for any occasion, then you’ll absolutely love our Almost Famous Chocolate Cupcakes. They’re superior to any store-bought cupcakes, and are super-easy to bake, frost and decorate at home. Almost Famous Chocolate Cupcakes are light in texture with a strong chocolate intensity. They are perfect any time, for any occasion. Almost Famous Chocolate Cupcake Mix is made with a blend of premium cocoa powders and ground chocolate. Makes 12 regular cupcakes.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting Mix

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Top them all off with our Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Our Chocolate Ganache frosting is rich and luscious and perfect for topping brownies, muffins and cupcakes. It is even perfect for making a chocolate chip cookie sandwich filling. It just takes minutes to make.

All 5 Choclatique Baking Mixes are packaged in gold bags (great for chocolate gift giving). Buy one or all five and keep them handy for those “just-gotta-have-a-fresh-baked-chocolate-something” moments. Choclatique baking mixes also make great housewarming, shower and birthday gifts, or a not-so-subtle hint that you’d love some fresh-baked chocolate goodies tonight.

Holiday Gifts

So make the time in your schedule and open up your heart to home-baked chocolate gifts this year. Everyone will be talking about your great freshly-baked goods for months to come and asking for more.

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Choclatique Goes To Lisbon

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Portugal AirlinesIt was my first trip to Lisbon in over 30 years and I was thrilled to be traveling back to one of my favorite cities with great food and excellent chocolate. No time for planning. The phone call came in, arrangements were made within two days, and then I was off.

Lisbon

I sort of remember Lisbon being a smaller, sleepy, more romantic city, but I was in for a surprise. Lisbon is the vibrant capital and the largest city in Portugal, with a bustling population of around 2.8 million inhabitants. Greater Lisbon is the wealthiest region in Portugal whose GDP is well above that of the European Union, producing 37% of the Portuguese national GDP. It is also the political center of the country as seat of government. It is an exciting place to be.

Lisbon Under Roman Rule

There is a lot of history to discover in Lisbon; it is everywhere you look. It was under Roman rule from 205 BC, when it was already a 1000-year old town. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. The area was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century until captured by Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders re-conquered the city for the Christians. Since that time, it has been a major political, economic and cultural center of Portugal.

Portuguese Seafood

I love the foods of Lisbon because they are inspired by the sea and so many of the dishes contain fish, especially, a national favorite salted cod. A lot of the food is just the simple fare of fishermen and farmers. In my four-day visit, I managed to enjoy fish, meat, rice and potatoes (usually fried) combined with olive oil, wine and plenty of warm hospitality and friendship—the older the better, as the Portuguese proverb goes. I was surprised that Portuguese food, especially in the capital, is generally inexpensive and served in large quantities, with €8 buying a hearty meal in an outdoor café and under €25 in most of the upper end restaurants in Lisbon.

Portuguese Coffee

What I truly loved was starting my day at breakfast which I enjoyed at a café or pastelaria (pastry shop) located across the street from my hotel where hot croissants and other such pastries were freshly-baked and served along with a cup of espresso to wash it down. I am not a big strong coffee drinker, but I did discovery um galão—Portuguese Coffee, which is a milky coffee beverage served in a glass. I topped my cup each morning with broken pieces of dark chocolate, making it mocha-style.

Portuguese Chicken

As always, I packed in as many tastes and flavors as I possibly could. For lunches I sampled various soups, such as the caldo verde (a thick vegetable soup) or sopa à alentejana (a garlic and bread soup with a poached egg in it).Bacalhau I also tried a great rice, fish and shellfish soup. I rediscovered that the fish and shellfish dishes are unsurpassed in Portuguese cooking. I tried anything and everything offered from crabs, clams, barnacles, prawns or crayfish to mullet, tuna and the ubiquitous bacalhau (dried, salted cod). Portuguese bacalhau can be cooked in many different ways and is much tastier than it might sound, particularly when cooked as bacalhau à Gomes de Sá with potatoes, onions, olives and hard-boiled eggs. I usually don’t care for the types of sardines (sardinhas) found in the United States, but I found that they are close behind bacalhau in popularity. They don’t come packed in a can but are grilled or barbequed. There is great local soup, arroz de marisco, which is a bit like a seafood risotto crossed with a soup.

Most meat entrees I sampled were served with piri-piri sauce, a sizzling chili concoction very popular in both Portugal and in many South American countries. No churrasco (barbequed chicken) was so very popular there were whole restaurants dedicated to preparing it. Pork in Portugal is from unique, pot-belly pig whose extended stomach can touch the ground (kind of like me at the end of this trip). The meat from pork is rich, tender and flavorful. I tried it cooked with clams (porco à alentejana) and simply grilled—both great.

So what about chocolate you ask?

Chocolate Truffles

The largest food retailer in Portugal, Jerónimo Martins, created the Hussel candy stores which I found to be a real chocolate temptation. They offer over 300 permanent and 200 seasonal items. Everything from gumdrops, fruit drops and lollipops, gourmet chocolate truffles (packed in fancy boxes), chocolate-coated almonds chocolate bars and chocolate cookies.

There is a wonderful two-week long annual international chocolate festival in the Portuguese city Óbidos, located about 40 miles (70k) to the north of Lisbon. It is usually the first and second week of February just in time for Valentine’s Day. The festival is both exciting and entertaining for both adults and children. After all, the world’s most popular food is dark, sweet, rich and delicious—it’s chocolate, of course. There are chocolate sculptures, fashion shows, recipe contests and lots of chocolate eating. So, whether you like deep dark, velvety milk, rich semi-sweet, deep bittersweet or creamy white, you can fill that gap of indulgence and then some with chocolate treats from all over the Portugal.

Chocolate Tartlet

One of the dishes that I fell in love with was a Portuguese Chocolate Tartlet which had been one of the festival prize winners. I love finding a national treasure recipe and enjoy sharing my discoveries with our readers. These chocolate tartlets can be a great change from a traditional Thanksgiving Apple, Pecan or Pumpkin Pie. They are quick and remarkably easy to make. I think these are the most wonderful tasting chocolate tartlets I have ever tasted. They are fantastic served with ice cream, whipped cream or crème anglaise. Try out this recipe for Maladassas, Portuguese Doughnuts, as well.

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How to Become an Official Choclatique Critical Gourmet Chocolate Taster

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

(A Chocoholic’s 10-Step Program)

The actual flavor compounds found in dark chocolate are more complex and extreme than those of red wine. Tasting and detecting all these flavor notes can be an extremely fun and educational endeavor. Let the following serve as a road map, so that you can extract the fullest flavor potential from dark chocolate.

  1. Find a location free from background aromas and noise, such as television, music, a crying baby, road traffic, talkative friends, etc. Being able to concentrate as intently as possible will help facilitate flavor detection.
  2. Clear your palate. This means that your mouth should not contain residual flavors from a previous meal. Eat a wedge of apple, an unsalted cracker or piece of bread if necessary. This is crucial in order to taste the subtleties of a good dark chocolate’s complex flavor.
  3. Make sure that the piece of chocolate is large enough to allow for the blossoming of flavor. A piece too small may not allow you to detect every subtle nuance as the chocolate slowly melts in your mouth. With chocolate, the flavors gradually evolve and come alive on your tongue and mouth rather than opening up in one large burst. So remember, don’t think small here. A 1-ounce piece should be a minimum starting point.
  4. Allow the dark chocolate to rest at room temperature before tasting. Cold temperatures will hinder your ability to detect the flavors. At Choclatique, we always rub the dark chocolate briefly between our fingers to coax out the flavor. This is what a professional taster would do.
  5. Chocolate Varieties

  6. Inspect the chocolate. The surface should be free of blemishes and chocolate bloom. Observe the color and the chocolatier’s skill at tempering and molding the chocolate. The bar should have a mirror-like shine. Chocolate comes in a variety of browns with various tints, such as rose, purples, reds, and oranges.
  7. Break the piece in half. It should resonate with a resounding “SNAP!” and exhibit a fine gradient along the broken edge. This is would be the hallmark of really good chocolate.
  8. Chocolate Aroma

  9. Smell the chocolate, especially at the break point. Aroma is an important component of flavor. Inhaling will prime your taste buds for the incoming chocolate. It also gives you a chance to pick up the various nuances of the aroma.
  10. Place the chocolate on your tongue. Allow it melt slowly. Chew it only to break it into small enough pieces that it begins to melt on its own. This slow melt allows the cocoa butter to distribute evenly in the mouth, which mutes any astringencies or bitterness in the chocolate.
  11. Be conscience of the texture (well-conched chocolate) and the taste (well-balanced chocolate blend). Texture can be the most obvious clue about the quality of a chocolate. Low quality chocolates will have a grainy, almost dirty ash tray-like texture. As the chocolate melts in your mouth, concentrate on the flavors you are experiencing. Melting will release more volatile compounds for you to smell and taste. Close your eyes, take notes, enjoy this moment of bliss of the flavor thrills, and bask in contentment.
  12. Now the chocolate is nearing its finish. How has the flavor evolved? Is the chocolate bitter? Heavy? Light? Was the texture smooth or grainy? Do any changes in texture and flavor occur? Take note of how the chocolate leaves the palate. Is there a strong reminder lingering in your mouth, or does it quickly vanish? Note any metallic or unpleasant flavors in the finish. This can be the sign of poorly fermented, stale or lower quality chocolate. Let the after-taste develop and see if you are tempted to come back for more.

Okay, now cleanse your palate and repeat the process with a different dark chocolate. Compare the highlights the subtle flavor notes in each succeeding dark chocolate taste.

Here is great place to start with Choclatique Dark Chocolates found on our website.

Single Origin Tablet

Venezuelan Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Tablet (55%)

Choclatique’s Venezuelan Origin is rich in chocolate aroma with exceptionally complex chocolate notes that are accented by subtle hints of red berry fruit. The cacao beans are sourced and harvested from trees of Criollo and Trinitario heritage in Venezuela’s Sur del Lago region.

Colombian Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Tablet (55%)

Choclatique’s Colombian Origin has penetrating deep, slow, long chocolate flavors that are accented by lovely hints of exotic peppery spice. This single-origin Colombian chocolate pairs beautifully with barista-made coffees and peppery Pinot Noirs from the California Napa Valley.

Ecuadoran Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Tablet (55%)

Cacao Pods

Choclatique’s Ecuadorean Origin is made from the centuries-old, Ecuadorean Nacional Arriba cacao beans grown solely in Ecuador. This single-origin chocolate offers a perfumed floral scent and traditional Nacional taste which is recognized by its complex accents of green mossy forest, rich black tea, subtle roasted nut after-tones, lingering tropical banana and light toasty caramelized buttery notes.

Madagascar Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Tablet (55%)

Choclatique’s Madagascar Origin is made from the rare Criollo cacao beans that are carefully handcrafted into this delicious tasting, exotic chocolate. It has just enough sugar to bring out the natural richness and fruity flavor of the Madagascar cocoa bean. With flavor notes of tart citrus and the fresh essence of raspberry, these beans from Madagascar create some of the world’s most flavorful chocolate with one-of-a-kind, up-front, deep, rich chocolate flavor. It is light, smooth, mild, and easy to eat.

Peruvian Chocolate

Peruvian Single-Origin Dark Chocolate Tablet (55%)

Choclatique’s Peruvian Single Origin comes from many tiny plantations producing cocoa beans near Rio Apurimac in the Amazonas region of Peru and the San Martin and Huanuco regions to the east of the Andes in the tropical lowlands. The cacao grown in these regions has an upfront sweetness and hint of the bananas and orchids that grow in the area.

Private Reserve Dark Chocolate Tablets (65%)

Choclatique’s Private Reserve 64% Dark Chocolate is made from 17 equatorial beans grown from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. They are fermented, dried and roasted to perfection. Our chocolate is conched (blended) to an ultra-smooth texture for 72 hours at precise temperatures to bring out the natural dark fruity flavor of the cacao bean.

Q-91 Functional Dark Chocolate Tablets (91%)

Chocolate Ingot

Choclatique Q-91 is our super-dark, premium functional chocolate very high in cacao mass. It is a unique and complex blend of many different premium beans from each of the three major cacao-growing regions—Central and South America, Africa and Asia. You will taste the essence of ripe cherry and deep chocolate over complex layers of tart citrus, red fruit and roasted nutty notes help up by a solid, deep chocolate base. This high cacao content, medium-bodied, very intense chocolate is smooth on the palate with a long, bittersweet finish.

Congratulations! You are now a professional Choclatique Gourmet chocolate taster.

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