Archive for February, 2010

Crispy Airy Chocolate

Friday, February 26th, 2010

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Aerated ChocolateRecently there’s been a considerable hub-bub about some of the new, light and bubbly chocolate bars that are just starting to come to market. You may have already seen them. They weigh about half as much as a normal size chocolate bar. Most of the commercial aerated chocolate bars are made with some very inexpensive, poor quality chocolates that don’t taste very good either in their natural state or when “bubbled.”Chocolate Eating Girl Then I discovered that if you use a good quality chocolate, like Choclatique Private Reserve Dark or Prestige Milk Chocolates, you can make a very interesting and wonderful tasting bar.

The flavor of very good chocolate can be enhanced with the introduction of more, airy surfaces which allow the chocolate to melt faster. The quicker the chocolate melts the more intense the flavors. The more intense flavor, the faster it releases flavor to the surfaces of your taste receptors which gives you your needed chocolate fix.

Air Pressurization EquipmentSo how do the professionals make crispy, airy chocolate? Well, they have some of the more complex and pricey equipment that controls not only the temperature of the tempered chocolate, but also the introduction of air and controlled pressure.

How hard can it be to make crispy, airy chocolate?

Here’s a method that any home cook or amateur chocolatier can make in their own kitchen.

Whip Cream SiphonThe equipment you will need is:

  • • A whip cream siphon with 3 air cartridges (Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table)
  • • A flat plastic shoe box with a tight-fitting cover with a 1-inch hole in the middle of the cover (The Container Store)
  • • A Space Bag (the kind you see advertised on television)
  • • A home vacuum cleaner with a hose

The ingredients you will need are:

Space BagProcedure:

  • • Make sure you have everything ready to go before starting as you will have to work very quickly.
  • • Be sure the siphon is completely dry inside before adding the chocolate.
  • • Melt, temper and combine the chocolate and oil into a warmed siphon.
  • • Quickly discharge 3 air cartridge charges into the siphon.
  • • Release the contents of the siphon into the plastic box and place the box inside the Space Bag with the hole in the cover aligned under the vacuum valve.
  • • Vacuum out all the air.
  • • Chill the box in the bag for 50 minutes or until the chocolate is firm.
  • • Break into smaller pieces and wrap in aluminum foil and plastic kitchen wrap.

Crispy ChocolateMolded Chocolate BarChefsNote: You can also make bars in a plastic bar mold by releasing the contents of the siphon into each bar cavity filling only half full. The pressure of the vacuum will fill the mold up the rest of the way while adding air to the chocolate. You can find really great bar molds at Tomric Plastics.

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Make the Chubbies Go Away

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Randy's DonutsI have always been a little on the chubby side and in order to keep my weight in check I try to eat well and exercise every day. Joan and I drive by the doughnut store every morning on the way to the Chocolate Studios and I will frequently call her on her cell phone asking her if it’s a “doughnut day.” The usual answer from her is a ‘NO!” Well, that’s the way it comes across, but what she politely says is, “if you really need a doughnut this morning and want to go off you diet then go ahead.” It comes across as a resounding “No, you fat guy, you don’t need another doughnut you’re going to be tasting chocolate all day.”

BroccoliSo this morning I tried a different approach and asked Joan, “Wouldn’t be great if broccoli was bad for you and doughnuts made you thinner and you never had to diet or exercise? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if all indulgent foods were really a cure-all?

Dr. LiWell, in recently completed research chocolate may may have been found to be that ambrosia of the gods and companion to wine. The research presented chocolate and red wine are thought to be potent medicines for killing cancer. Red grapes and dark chocolate join blueberries, garlic, soy, and teas as ingredients that starve cancer while feeding bodies according to the Angiogenesis Foundation headed William Li (presented at the prestigious TED Conference). Chocolate PastillesThe Massachusetts-based foundation is identifying foods containing chemicals that evidently choke-off blood supplies to tumors, starving them to death. “We are rating foods based on their cancer-fighting qualities,” Li said. “What we eat is really our chemotherapy three times a day.” “There is a medical revolution happening all around us,” Li said. “If we’re right, it could impact on consumer education, food service, public health, and even insurance agencies.”

About a dozen drugs are already in use to deprive tumors of blood supplies in a treatment tactic called “anti-angiogenesis.” The foundation pitted some foods against approved drugs and found that soy, parsley, red grapes, berries and other comestibles were either as effective or more potent in battling cancer cells. Eaten together, the foods were even more effective in fighting cancer.

Mother NatureDr. Li explained that Mother Nature laced a large number of foods and herbs with anti-angiogenesis features. For many people around the world, dietary cancer treatments may be the only solution because not everyone can afford expensive cancer drugs. And why shouldn’t they be for everyone if great tasting foods can get the job done better?

The foundation also discovered that the anti-angiogenesis properties of foods melt away fat, which relies heavily on blood flow to sustain itself. Tests showed that mice genetically prone to be chubby could be trimmed to average mouse size using this approach.

Q-91At Choclatique we make a variety of these high anti-oxidant chocolate offerings from which to choose starting with our Private Reserve Dark (64%), Elephant—Seriously Strong Chocolate (76%) and Q-91 (91%). All of these dark chocolates provide a “euphoric feeling” that many people experience after indulging. Chocolate contains more than 300 known beneficial compounds that recent medical research has linked the antioxidants found in cacao—the fruit from which chocolate is made—to decreases in blood pressure and reductions of “bad” cholesterol levels.

Chocolate is a known stimulant and is also thought to be an aphrodisiac. Our dark chocolates are low in sugar and rich in flavanols which now even more physicians and nutritionists say are beneficial to your health.Hot Fudge Nut Trifle Scientists are still developing their opinions on the health benefits of dark chocolate, but the research has certainly reduced the stigma of a moderate daily dark chocolate habit.

So the next time you feel the need for a doughnut, chocolate chip cookie, or hot fudge nut trifle, don’t feel deprived, satiate your cravings with a piece of a great tasting dark Choclatique chocolate bar.

Update: For additional information check out: http://www.foodnutritionscience.com/index.cfm/do/monsanto.article/articleId/392.cfm

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Friends

Friday, February 5th, 2010

— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Over the years I have had the good fortune of “collecting” all kinds of wonderful friends from around the world. Friendships are precious and should be treated like valuable gem stones. One thing I discovered is that the quickest way to find new friends is to open a chocolate company. I can’t tell you how many great people I’ve “met” through the internet on the Choclatique website.

The people who I am most proud to call my friends are those men and women serving in the military especially those serving so far away from home. I have “pen pals” in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. It is still hard for me to fathom that so many women are serving in these difficult, high risk areas.

Soldier in AfghanistanAs we approach Valentine’s Day some of the letters we receive from our soldiers and sailors are enough to break your heart. One that just arrived from Afghanistan is from a member of one of our Special Forces units. These are people who do the most heroic and dangerous jobs in the world and put their lives on the line every day so we can continue to enjoy our lives safely here in the States.

I wanted to share one of the letters I received last week that brought tears to my eyes.

Dear Ed…

It was a rough Christmas for my family and me. My fiancé has cancer and I got back from deployment in the beginning of December knowing I would be back in Afghanistan in January. While I was here in 2009 I discovered Choclatique. I thought it would be a gift worthy of giving to my darling gal. What I really love is being able pick unusual; personal treats for her while I am away. She was going through a real rough time. Right after she got the box of Choclatique, she raved about it for days. I knew she loved it so every month or so I sent another box. I told her I wanted to share a box with her when I got back home. Needless to say she was right! They are amazing!

We knew she had to go for her surgery the day I left to go back Afghanistan. We ordered some chocolate over the Christmas holiday so that we could steal a few special moments together.

It is so hard knowing that the woman you love may not be there the next time you come home, and that you have to leave on the day when she needs you the most. A good bottle of wine and Choclatique’s Napa Valley Wine Chocolates made all the worries go away for the time we shared them together. We both feel that no matter where we are on this earth, there are a few things we can taste and feel that will bring back all of the precious memories when we are together. That is how we have grown to cope. It is truly the little things in life which are the most important. It is within these memories where you find true happiness thousands of miles away from home.

She had a successful surgery and is in recovery, and it is my job to keep her spirits high while she recovers.

Afghanistan…It is not all that bad. We just got rid of our cots and have some makeshift beds. The odd thing is the springs in the beds are sideways so instead of getting an up and down motion when you sit on them you get thrown off when you roll over in the middle of the night. The food is standard, but it seems a lot of of it is fried. I miss California’s fresh fruit and avocados.

Afghan SummerThe country itself is very dusty, rocky, and high in elevation. We are about to enter our 120 days of spring-summer winds. They blow every day like a bad northeastern storm. We are not looking forward to that! Most of the camp has air conditioning and heat, so even when it does snow or is 120 degrees we manage to keep comfortable. One thing for sure is that no matter what happens, because of the men I serve with over here, I always feel safe. Good training back in the States and the quality of men that I serve with, helps me I know we will all come back safe.

The locals are friendly and it is nice to see the children wave at us as we pass by. It brings a smile to my face. l feel like we’re making a difference here and in some strange way because it reminds me of my home—friendly kids and neighbors waving as I drive to my house. It is still the most dangerous on earth and we have to make sure we are not getting complacent.

Soldier in Afghanistan2Our base is small, but our unit provides all of our necessary stuff…not many extras Every now and then we travel to one of the other larger bases which have an actual exchange, the Burger King, Pizza Huts and some American consumer goods. But I feel we are better off without them, as our base is the perfect meld between sleeping in the dirt, eating boxed ready-to-eat meals without too many distractions.

I really love my job, but the most important thing is to cling on to 3 or 4 memories which you will die for to get back to the States safe and sound. My fiancé is my reason to get back to the states, as we had her trial with cancer. So I have to do my part now and make it safely back to her. Chocolates are one of the 4 memories which we have that brings us back to what we know is waiting for us. Ed, I really miss California. It is heaven on earth. I miss my fiancé and miss walking the beaches and the Santa Monica Pier.

My idea was to create something special for Valentine’s Day for my team. Christmas was good for them, but after a few deployments I feel every month or two you have to grab a holiday and try to make it special. It keeps your mind off the things you miss the most, even if it just for a few moments.

That really makes me happy that you can ship over here! I will place my order right away. Thank you again for listening and please know that we really appreciate the amazing chocolates that you create!

Gunnery Sergeant (name withheld)
Afghanistan

If you have a loved one serving in the military, please remember them for Valentine’s Day with LOVE and Easter with CHICKS, Mother’s Day with SPRING, Father’s Day CARAMELS, NUTS & NOUGATS. Choclatique will automatically add extra goodies to your shipment at our expense to show our appreciation for the sacrifice and service for our fighting men and women. Call us to make special shipping arrangements to ship as early as possible to US Military APO Addresses.

May God bless them all and bring them back to us safe, sound and soon.

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