Archive for May, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Season

Thursday, May 26th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

It is strawberry season in Southern California. I was at my favorite local farmers’ market this weekend and could smell the freshly picked, ripe strawberries a block away. There is nothing better than the aroma and taste of spring and early summer strawberries. That’s only one of the reasons I choose to live in California, but that could be enough.

Today I was inspired to make Fresh Strawberry Chocolate Shortcake. But, where did the original Strawberry Shortcake first come from? As I was working on my recipe, I wanted to learn a little bit about the origins of one of my favorite desserts.

No one exactly knows when the first strawberry shortcake was made. I’ve heard it may go back as far as 1850 right here in California. Strawberries have been around for more than 2000 years. Records that show that the people in ancient Rome enjoyed them, but putting strawberries and shortcake together seems to be more of a United States tradition.

As with many classic dishes, when the timing is right, the dish becomes a national favorite. We know that shortcake has been around at least since Shakespeare. It was mentioned in his play, The Merry Wives of Windsor.

A European recipe book in 1594 had a recipe for Short Cakes. The crumbly shortcake, which first resembled the texture and shape of a scone, turned round when the typical triangular shaped pastries kept having the point break off. It was thought that the round shape was more practical.

Strawberry shortcake parties became popular in the United States in the mid 1850s, as a celebration of the coming of summer. Probably the most popular berry back then, people talked of strawberry fever. The railroads became transcontinental and strawberries could be shipped from coast to coast surrounded with ice to keep them fresh. Advertisements and articles about strawberry shortcake caused more and more demand.

The earliest recipe I found for this dessert was in 1847 in The Lady’s Receipt-Book by Miss Leslie. It’s called Strawberry Cake, but it’s very similar to what we call strawberry shortcake. I don’t know what anyone could do to improve on this old-fashioned favorite, but I decided that the only ingredient that could make it taste any better at all was chocolate. Check out my recipe—Chocolate-Strawberry Shortcakes—created right here in the Choclatique Chocolate Studios. We originally started working on it last summer when we were testing all the recipes for my new book, but it was cut when we found we had more recipes than pages to print them on. So, never being one to let anything go to waste, especially with strawberries, I decided to share it with you today.

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And, The Winner Is…

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Festival de Cannes

Champagne Truffle

It’s not a capital city, or even near one. Yes, cinema was invented in France, but that was in Paris, not Cannes. And sure, the weather in Cannes may be nice, but that certainly isn’t a unique selling point. It wasn’t only the city’s “sunny and enchanting location” that clinched it for Cannes. The real reason for its selection for the ultimate film festival was that the municipal authorities agreed to cough up the dough to build a dedicated venue for the event.

On the surface, a city such as Cannes perhaps might not strike you as the place to host the world’s most famous film festival, but for 12 days in May the city of Cannes is transformed from a quiet seaside resort into the entire focus of the international film industry. This year over 200,000 people—filmmakers, film fans, and star-gazers alike—will descend on the Croisette to take part in the Cannes Film Festival (or more correctly, the Festival de Cannes… you know how the French are so particular to the use of language). During these two weeks thousands of films are screened, careers are and stars from all over the will gather to bask in both the sunlight and, most importantly, the limelight.

Ever since the early 1950s, when a bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot frolicked on the beach for the cameras, Cannes has grown to embody four of the world’s favorite indulgent pastimes—food, wine, sex and cinema. Now easily the most famous film festival of them all, the mere mention of Cannes conjures up images of red carpets, palm trees, scantily-clad starlets, the blinding flashes of a million paparazzi cameras, celebrity parties and now Choclatique Chocolate. CHOCLATIQUE CHOCOLATE? An American-made chocolate featured in France?

Box of BubblyChoclatique was invited to be the official chocolate at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival over all the leading American chocolate companies. From May 11th through Many 22nd the Choclatique brand and logo will be seen and tasted internationally by thousands of celebrities, producers, directors, publicists, lawyers, producers, actors, and movie marketing executives. The American Pavilion will feature our Box of Bubbly—Choclatique Dom Perignon Champagne Truffles in our beautiful new reusable leather boxes. These are the same Champagne truffles that are available to send to your dad or favorite sweetie.

At Cannes this year the Choclatique logo will proudly be seen next to the likes of British Air, Coca Cola, Intel, The Economist Magazine, The International Herald Tribune, SAG, Sierra Nevada, etc. Not too bad for a small Southern Californian artisan chocolate company.

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Candy Is Dandy

Thursday, May 12th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

There is finally scientific research that says it’s all right to have a little candy and chocolate in your diet.

While it may be hard to believe candy eaters tend to weigh less; have a lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumferences; and have decreased levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome, according to a new study published in Nutrition Research.

“Candy is a unique treat that can provide moments of joy and happiness,” says Alison Bodor, senior vice president of public policy and advocacy for the National Confectioners Association. “Consumers should feel confident that candy, consumed in moderation within a diet balanced with regular physical activity, can be part of a healthy, happy lifestyle.” Isn’t that what mom always taught us?

The study showed that while candy contributes modestly to caloric intake when it is consumed, there was no association of total candy intake to increased weight/BMI — suggesting that over time, consumers were able to balance longer-term caloric intake.

It also found that diet quality was not affected by total candy or chocolate candy consumption when consumed within energy limits; chocolate candy was associated with a 15% reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and candy eaters had a 14% decreased risk of elevated diastolic blood pressure and lower C-reactive protein level than non-candy eaters.

However, I still believe in the old adage that mothers have been telling us for years, “All things in moderation.”

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Up in the Air

Thursday, May 5th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Ed aka The Chocolate DoctorApril was a diverse month peppered with lots of travel. I was in San Francisco, Newark, New Haven, Denver, Chicago, London, Lisbon and back to San Francisco. Tomorrow I leave for Cincinnati by way of Denver and then finally back to Los Angeles. I kind of feel like the George Clooney character—Ryan Bingham—in Up in the Air. He finds himself on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles. I’ve already traveled well beyond ten million miles reaching some of the 131 countries I’ve visited over the last 30 years.

I had business meetings, a very successful restaurant opening, a couple of critical tasting sessions and two weeks ago Choclatique participated in the fifth annual San Francisco Chocolate Salon at Fort Mason. There, in a 50,000 square foot exhibit space there was a lot to see and taste including lots of chocolate, of course.

In addition to chocolates and other sweets, there were food demonstrations and cookbook signings, wineries and the judging for awards for great chocolate. It was educational, too, as many visitors found it fascinating to learn more about the different methods used in the chocolate making process, from stone grinding cacao to finding the perfect combination of soils and environments to create different tasting chocolate.

Brian BoitanoRoot Beer FloatOlympic star, Brian Boitano, one of the celebrity judges, chose Choclatique as his favorite chocolates of the day. He sampled our Root Beer Float—always a show stopper, and Peanut Butter and Jelly—my all-time favorite. In his column he told his readers that the Choclatique assortment and the look of the chocolates were outstanding and drew particular attention to our Caramel AppleWatermelon Patch, Carrot Cake, Creamy Orangesicle, Caramel Apple and, of course, our Chicks. The latter is too cute for words as you see an emerging Chick hatching through a cracked egg in a variety of fifteen different flavors and designs.

Choclatique ChickDesigner DonutWhat Brian didn’t have a chance to see were our two new, latest and greatest assortments—Designer Donuts and Retro Cocktails. We will talk about both of these in future blogs as they are released.

2011 SF Chocolate Salon Awards

And then there were the prizes where Choclatique won in all three categories Gold, Silver and Bronze. Choclatique was named The Best Gift Set, The Most Artistic Designs, Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience, The Best New Product and The Best Chocolate in the San Francisco International Salon. Not terribly shabby for a small artisan chocolate company.

But that’s not all the excitement coming from Choclatique this month. We received the first delivery of our new, keepsake leather chocolate boxes—a big upgrade from the original Tiffany-style boxes that we started with. These new boxes are so attractive that people will keep them for years like the old cigar boxes of yesteryear.

Joan, Vicki, Dave and Matt have been working like crazy putting all the finishing touches on our new Choclatique website, which makes shopping not only a lot easier easier, but certainly more fun. There are numerous new features that provide more information in a less complicated format. Of course, Build-A-Box (8, 15 and 30-Piece boxes) is still a major part of our new, entertaining store front where you can mix and match from any of our large assortment of truffles and choose your own custom assortment and save it in your shopping bag for future gift giving. Imagine having your very own named assortment of chocolate ready to go any time you want it.

Choclatique—The Book— is complete. I have reviewed all of the final design pages complete with beautiful photo images and QR Code links (for smart phones) that demonstrate many of the ChefSecrets. This will be the first interactive cookbook with a tasting kit and live action video. My editor, Geoffrey Stone, and his entire team at Running Press did a great job exceeding our high-expectations for a quality cookbook that properly represents Choclatique.

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

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

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