Archive for September, 2010

Mid-Western Traditions

Monday, September 27th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

My partner, Joan, is Midwestern girl from Brown Deer, Wisconsin… a northern suburb of Milwaukee. During many summer vacations Joan stayed on her aunt and uncle’s dairy farm about an hour west of Madison. The Lepeska farm has been in the family nearly 150 years. It was a family tradition to use lots of dairy products in meal preparation… from rich and wonderful macaroni and cheese to one of Joan’s favorite desserts… her mother’s Hot Milk Cake. I wasn’t really sure whether the cake was really as good as Joan remembered or whether she thought it was so good because she and her mom spent time together making it. Either way, however, it was a moot point… that Hot Milk Cake recipe was lost to a bygone era.

RecipeNow it just so happens that Joan has a big birthday coming up, so I thought I’d try to quietly recreate that Hot Milk Cake to surprise her. I turned to all my trusty sources and a few of Joan’s family members, each giving me their recollections of what they thought the recipe might have been. I guess my secretive efforts were discovered because I when came into the test kitchen one afternoon there stood Joan—with flour on her nose (and everywhere else)—holding up the luscious cake of her youth. She said she saw the recipe peeking out of a folder on my desk and she just had to try it. As she pulled the cake pan from the oven she stated confidently that it looked like the original, smelled like the original and after cutting herself a giant piece declared it was indeed the original. I must admit—it was perfect in its simplicity.

While Joan’s family is in the dairy business we’re in the chocolate business. So we decided to see if we could in enrich her mother’s Hot Milk Cake recipe with the addition of a little chocolate. After a couple of tests we came up with what everyone thought was a winner.

Either cake—without or without chocolate—can be enjoyed with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar or with or without frosting. I don’t think anyone would say one was any better than the other—after all it’s hard to improve on perfection. To my taste they are different but equally scrumptious.

I’ve appended these two recipes to our Choclatique recipe collection. Try them both and let me know what you think.

Recipe for Hot Milk Chocolate Cake

Recipe for Hot Milk Cake

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Parlez-Vous Soufflé?

Monday, September 20th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Soufflés must be the foods of the ancient gods, and Chocolate soufflés must have been personally blessed by Zeus and Athena. Nothing ends a meal better than a splendidly poofed, light-as-air, hot-from-the-oven chocolate soufflé. Many people think they are temperamental and difficult to make, but they’re really not as demanding as all that.

In its most simplistic form, a soufflé is a light, fluffy, baked cake made with egg yolks and lots of whipped egg whites combined with various other ingredients, and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert. The word soufflé is from the French verb souffler which means “to blow up” or more loosely “poof up” — an apt description of what happens when heat is added to this combination of custard and egg whites.

The custard or crème patissiere or a cream sauce or purée is the base for the flavor, and the egg whites, beaten to a soft peak meringue, provide the “lift.” You can use jams fruits, berries, bananas lemon and chocolate. When it gently comes out of the oven, a soufflé should be puffed up and fluffy. It will generally fall after 5 or 10 minutes.

Soufflés can be made in containers of all shapes and sizes but it is traditional to make soufflé in ramekins. These glazed white containers vary greatly in size, are typically, flat-bottomed, round, oven-proof porcelain containers with unglazed bottoms and fluted exterior borders.

Because of its tendency to fall rather quickly at the slightest sound, movement or door slam, the soufflé has been portrayed as very difficult to survive outside the oven for more than a few minutes. Some jest that a poke or a loud noise will make a soufflé collapse and with it, the ego of the cook.

Here is my version of an intense, semi-sweet soufflé which is close to failure-proof. If you follow my directions to the letter, it should never fail or fall. If these soufflés are not rich enough for your tastes, top them with a warm chocolate ganache sauce, crème Anglaise or whipped cream, chocolate or not. Making the Dark Chocolate Ganache is the secret to a faultless soufflé.

FAULTLESS CHOCOLATE SOUFFLÉ

Makes 8 individual soufflés
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 15 minutes
Skill Level: **

Special Toolbox:
medium, heavy saucepan
plastic sealable storage container
electric stand mixer, bowl, and whisk attachment
metal spatula
8 individual 4 to 6-ounce soufflé dishes

Ingredients:

For the ganache: (makes about 1/2 pound of ganache)
Save the unused ganache for the soufflé sauce or a topping for ice cream later on.

5 tablespoons water
1-½ tablespoons light corn syrup (Karo)
1-½ teaspoons unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
Dash of salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least sixty-four percent), coarsely chopped

For the soufflé:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (to prep the soufflé dishes)
4 teaspoons granulated sugar (to prep the soufflé dishes)
¾ cup Dark Chocolate Ganache, softened
½ cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
5 large egg whites
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
5 large egg yolks

Directions for the ganache:

  • You can make the ganache ahead and hold in the refrigerator.
  • In a heavy saucepan, bring the water, corn syrup, cocoa powder and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk until blended. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Immediately add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Set aside for about 1 hour to cool completely, whisking every 15 minutes or so to keep the ganache emulsified.
  • When cool, transfer the ganache to a rigid plastic or glass container, cover, date, and refrigerate for up to 3 months.

Directions for the soufflé:

  • Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  • Brush the soufflé dishes with the melted butter so that the bottom and sides are well coated. Sprinkle the bottom and sides with the granulated sugar.
  • In a metal bowl set over a saucepan partly filled with boiling water and set over medium-high heat, melt the chocolate ganache.
  • In another saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the cream boils, remove the pan from the heat. Add the melted ganache and cocoa powder and stir well. The batter should be about the consistency of buttermilk. Set aside to cool slightly. You want it to be still warm to the touch like a baby’s bottle.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. This could take 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat for about 1 minute longer to fully incorporate. Set aside.
  • Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk well. When fully incorporated, gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, about ½ cup at a time.
  • Without wasting any time, fill soufflé dishes to the rim with the batter and level the surface with a metal spatula.
  • As quickly as you can, but without rushing, transfer the soufflé dishes to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Resist the urge to open the oven door for the first 12 minutes before checking to make sure they have risen nicely. When you open the oven door, do so slowly and just peek inside. Close it quickly but as gently as you can.
  • Serve immediately.

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Chocolate and Your Health

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Chocolate, and its reported therapeutic properties, has made recent splashes across the media. In fact, several new and different medical studies performed by reputable universities, organizations, and institutions cite the possible benefits of eating chocolate.

The following is meant to be a brief overview of research results as related by a variety of resources and publications. However, scientists are constantly uncovering new information about the more than 300 chemicals contained in chocolate—so keep your eyes on the news for the latest updates and changes in chocolate health.

Here are some interesting facts compiled by the Field Museum in Chicago for their Chocolate Exhibit on the health benefits of chocolate.

Does chocolate cause cavities?

Not necessarily. According to a recent study by Osaka University in Japan, cacao contains antibacterial agents that actually fight tooth decay. However, most mass-produced chocolate contains sugar, which is known to cause tooth decay and probably counteracts the benefits of these agents.

Does chocolate cause acne?

Not according to studies performed by the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the U.S. Naval Academy. Eating or not eating chocolate made no difference in the skin condition of the study participants. In fact, most doctors believe that acne is not linked primarily to any diet.

Will the caffeine in chocolate make me jittery?

Probably not. Cacao does contain a number of stimulants, such as caffeine and theobromine, but in small amounts that are diluted even further when processed into chocolate. In fact, one ounce of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee. Interestingly, one study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain.

Can chocolate cause headaches?

There is little evidence of this, according to research conducted by the University of Pittsburgh. However, some studies suggest that chocolate may trigger headaches specifically in migraine sufferers.

Is chocolate an aphrodisiac?

Not really. Chocolate contains small amounts of a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mild mood elevator. It’s the same chemical that our brain produces when we feel happy or “in love.” The mild “rush” we get from this substance may be why some people say they’re “addicted” to chocolate.

Will chocolate raise my cholesterol levels?

Contrary to popular misconception, eating lots of chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol levels. According to Mayo Clinic studies, chocolate contains stearic acid, which is a neutral fat that does not increase bad cholesterol (LDL). Also, the cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat. This is the same type of fat found in olive oil that may actually raise good cholesterol (HDL).

Will eating chocolate make me fat?

It can—if you eat enough of it. Chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is high in calories. In fact, it was once prescribed to help fatten up patients suffering from wasting diseases like tuberculosis. However, some people claim that drinking a cup of hot chocolate before a meal actually diminishes their appetite. One researcher at the Aromocology Patch Co. Ltd. even experimented with helping patients lose weight by having them sniff a chocolate-scented patch whenever they were tempted to snack!

Does chocolate contain any nutrients?

Yes, it does, in small amounts. A 1.5-ounce milk chocolate bar contains recommended daily values of the following vitamins and minerals:

  • 3 grams of protein
  • 15% of the Daily Value of riboflavin
  • 9% of the Daily Value for calcium
  • 7% of the Daily Value for iron

And if you add nuts like almonds or peanuts into the mix, you increase all of the amounts of nutrients listed above.

Will I live longer if I eat chocolate?

Perhaps. A Harvard University study found that men who ate chocolate lived one year longer than those who didn’t. Scientists think that chocolate contains chemicals that help keep blood vessels elastic and increase beneficial antioxidants in the bloodstream, but research is under way and no conclusive results have been found.

Many people eat chocolate when they are sad or feeling down. Others crave the stuff, claiming they are addicted to chocolate’s unique taste and smell. Some even assert that chocolate can relax you, help you lose weight, and even prolong your life.

Scientists from many different institutions and organizations have conducted a number of studies on chocolate in recent years in order to sort through these claims. What they have discovered will not only surprise you, but may forever change the way you think about, buy, and eat chocolate.

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Over 130 and Still Counting

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.

Wijnzakstraat 2
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”
(506) 466-7848

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
(312) 922-9410

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.

Rheinauhafen 1a
D-50678, Cologne
+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
(717) 626-3249

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
(717) 534-3439

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
Geispolsheim, France

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.

Chocolate Museum
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.

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