Posts Tagged ‘Chocolate Gifts’
Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
Fall brings nature’s show of colors to California fig orchards, crispness to the air, and warm thoughts for the holidays. Each year at Choclatique we make a limited edition of our holiday assortments with a distinctive Fig & Peanut Sea Salt Truffle in the center of the box. For obvious reasons, this has become one of the most popular flavors at this time of year with some people ordering a whole box of just this holiday favorite. It is perfect for holiday gift giving and entertaining. It might be because of all the antioxidant power in both the figs and chocolate or it might be that it just tastes so darn good.
There are several great choices of figs this time of year—golden Calimyrna and dark purple Mission figs which bring elegance and unequalled flavor to your holiday gifts or table. Whether you’re going big this year and buying a bulk box of Missions or Calimyrnas to bake up a storm (and get the best price), or you’re putting together gift baskets featuring beautifully packaged, hand-packed figs, you should be able to find whatever you need.
When cooking with figs you’ll find a diverse collection of incredibly delicious recipes on the California Fig Advisory Board website which offers a wealth of wonderful holiday food gift ideas. One of my favorites featuring chocolate that didn’t make into my new book, Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Recipes, is shown below.
In this recipe, we have showcased both sweet and chewy California-grown figs and Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%) to make an elegant and delicious addition to your holiday table or a homemade gift to give to friends and family.
Choclatique Dipped Stuffed Figs
Inspired by the California Fig Advisory Board
15 Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup brandy*
15 to 30 small pieces candied ginger, toasted nuts or chocolate
6 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark, chopped
3 ounces Choclatique Snowy White Chocolate, chopped
- With a sharp knife, cut a small slit in the bottom of each fig.
- In a small saucepan, over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the water; stir in brandy and add the figs. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the figs have plumped.
- Drain the figs, cool and dry thoroughly.
- Stuff one or two pieces of ginger or nuts into each fig.
- Place chopped chocolate in a 1-cup glass measuring cup or small microwave-safe bowl. Heat on medium/50% power until almost melted, stirring after every 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
- Remove from microwave and stir until melted.
- Hold stem of each fig and dip in melted chocolate. Place figs, stems up, on wax paper-lined tray until chocolate sets.
- Repeat the melting and dipping process with the white chocolate to create a small white footer on each fig.
- Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
*ChefSecret: Substitute the brandy with 1/2 cup water mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla for a liquor-free dessert.
Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Recipes
If you’re looking for the perfect cookbook for the holidays may I suggest Choclatique—150 Simply Elegant Desserts. If you would like to know about how chocolate affects the human body and improves one’s disposition, it is the perfect primer. It is a great holiday gift and most importantly, the recipes make luscious tasting desserts perfectly the first time and every time thereafter. It is a foolproof guide to making all of your favorite desserts and enhancing your sweet disposition and those all around you.
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
Thursday, August 25th, 2011
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011
One of the best things about working in the food and confection world is all of the wonderful people that cross your path. I love their personalities and their sense of humor. Some stay a little longer than others, but with few exceptions they all leave a positive imprint on our company and on our lives. Now I’ve been a part of this industry for more years than I care to admit. We have owned our own restaurants, been consultants to the Fortune 500 of food companies, and for the last 7 years we have been totally immersed in chocolate. I’m sure those conjure up some vivid images. People come and go and many come back again. We always try to leave our special imprint by way of establishing an honest work ethic and teaching our co-workers many tricks of the trade.
Last week one of our long distance co-workers showed up on our door step. Spencer Kells was our Executive Chef From 2001 through 2003 just when we began the research and development phase of Choclatique.
Spencer was plucked from the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok and transported to Los Angeles. As the number #2 there, he worked 100 to 120 hours a week cooking some of the best food in Thailand. I loved his food and his great personality and thought he would be perfect for our company. And he was looking for an improved quality of life. We worked on a variety of sweet and savory solutions that are still being served in our clients’ restaurants. He left for more excitement to go to the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC.
You see when you’re on the cooking line in a restaurant in the heat of the night, the adrenalin pulses through your veins and you get a tremendous rush. After two years, Spencer was missing that thrill. Spencer left us to cook for the glitterati of DC including current and past Presidents, Senators, Representatives, Supreme Court Judges and the Who’s Who of Washington. In fact, his first month there he cooked for George W’s second inauguration party.
Spencer moved back to Thailand to marry a wonderful lady, Katya, and they now have two beautiful little girls, Zoe and Chloe. For me and the girls, it was love at first bite. Little girls seem to really like me… or maybe it’s the chocolate.
I have found that chocolate is a conversation opener for women of all ages. I make friends on planes with just the mere wave of a Choclatique Chocolate Bar. I get upgraded to first class, escorted through customs, breeze by security and treated to VIP star service with most airlines. I found that a well-placed piece of chocolate at the front desk of my hotel brings all sorts of amenities to my room. Chocolate is not only good for you physically, but fantastic for one’s ego. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to say I own the company. But even when not said, chocolate seems to forgive all sins.
I have one word of advice to all you guys out there—Chocolate. If you want to make friends, be forgiven for some unthinkable transgression or be the life of the party, give a little chocolate. And for you ladies… remember, guys like chocolate, too.
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique
, Running Press, 2011
More people are making their own gifts at home this year and food is the most popular thing to make. What are the most popular home-prepared foods this time of year? During the holidays this season more home cooks are making a variety of wonderful, home-made cakes, cookies, pastries and candies. One of the easiest chocolate confections to master is the chocolate truffle.
A French invention, the original chocolate truffle was a ball of nothing more than rolled ganache—simply made of dark bittersweet chocolate and cream—often flavored and rolled in cocoa powder. It was named after the precious black truffle fungus because of its physical resemblance.
The chocolate truffle was originally created in the kitchens of the famous French culinary giant Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. As the story goes, one day, as his apprentice attempted to make a pastry cream, he accidentally poured hot cream over a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the bowl of sugared egg he should have aimed for. As the chocolate and cream mixture set, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by their similarity to the luxurious truffles from the French Périgord region and the Piedmont area of Italy.
As the truffle concept caught on, different truffle textures were created by rolling the center ganache in white confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts, and the ganache was flavored with with the likes of Champagne and other liqueurs.
Today, the term truffle is often misused in America to describe any filled chocolate, and it becomes very confusing. If you see a box labeled “chocolate truffles,” are you going to get round balls of ganache, or ganache-filled chocolates? Or are you going to get a box of cheap assorted creams and other mixed chocolates?
At Choclatique we take making truffles seriously, because we believe that there is nothing more decadent and indulgent than a luscious Champagne truffle made by our artisans—except, perhaps a whole box of them! Our Champagne Truffles are a wonderfully light, creamy and yes, even bubbly, white chocolate and cream ganache made with Dom Perignon Champagne and then enclosed in our rich, award-winning, Private Reserve Dark Chocolate which is then kissed with a leaf of 24-karat gold!
Our Chocolate Champagne truffle is molded as a contemporary version of the cork peeking out from a bottle—a design created by the talented designers and artists from Ferrari. A Box of Bubbly is a wonderful marriage of the Grand Crux of flavors from France and the Grand Prix of Italian design.
You can find my simple, original Champagne truffle recipe below.
Ed’s Easy Chocolate Champagne Truffles
The chocolate truffle was originally created in the kitchens of the famous French culinary giant Auguste Escoffier during the 1920s. As the story goes, one day, as his apprentice attempted to make pastry cream, he accidentally poured hot cream into a bowl of chocolate chunks rather than the bowl of sugared egg he should have aimed for. As the chocolate and cream mixture hardened, he found he could work the chocolate paste with his hands to form a bumpy, lopsided ball. After rolling the new creation in cocoa powder, he was struck by their resemblance to the luxurious truffles from the French Périgord region and the Piedmont area of Italy.
Makes 24 truffles
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooling Time: 2 hours
16 ounces Choclatique Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%), finely chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup Champagne or sparkling white wine or liqueur of your choice
1/2 cup cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts
- Bring cream to a boil and slowly whisk into the chocolate.
- Whisk in warm Champagne or other liqueur.
- Whisk in softened butter.
- Pour into a 9 x 9-inch glass pan.
- Refrigerate until set about 2 hours.
- Using a melon baller or teaspoon scoop and portion out 24 truffles.
- Using “cold hands” round out the truffles and dredge in cocoa powder, confectioner’s sugar or finely chopped nuts.
- Store in an air tight container in a cool place.
ChefSecret: Some people naturally have “hot hands.” That makes it difficult to properly roll truffles without having them stick to your hands. Rinse your hands with cold water and immerse them in a bowl of ice and water before rolling. I usually use disposable latex or white cotton gloves.
Note: Fresh cream truffles only keep for a week, not that any one will let them stay around that long.
Thursday, April 1st, 2010
— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique
This Sunday, April 4th, is Easter Sunday. Beyond the religious significance to the faithful, Easter has become one of the candy and chocolate industries’ biggest holidays. From jelly beans and marshmallow chicks to foil-wrapped chocolate eggs and hollow bunnies, Easter gives kids of all ages an excuse to indulge a little. Perhaps it’s the effect of the particularly long, cold, wet and snowy winter, but the fact that the holiday arrives ten days earlier than last year hasn’t dampened expectations for a banner year in sales. The National Retail Foundation reports that total Easter spending is expected to reach over $13 billion! Of course that total includes food, flowers, decorations, greeting cards, clothing and yes, candy and chocolate.
Easter was a major holiday in my childhood. I remember that my Great Uncle Tony, a pharmacist and proprietor of a local drug store (similar to the one shown), always brought me a taste of the newest seasonal candy when it came into the store. I wasn’t very discriminating back then—if it had sugar and/or milk chocolate, I was game.
As a young child an over-sized hollow bunny or extra large bag of jelly beans did the trick. But as I got a little older, nothing brought me the excitement as the newest seasonal chocolate assortment did. The ritual of removing the outer wrapper, sliding open the lid and breathing in the sweet aroma of chocolate… there was—and is—nothing like it. Were it not for my Granny interceding at just the right moment, I’m certain I could have polished off that one-pounder in no time flat. She helped me to appreciate those chocolate moments.
She allowed me to have just two in that first moment, so selection was critical. Not being a big fan of the coconut back then (I used to refer to it as eating hair), nor having yet acquired the appreciation for the richness of a solid piece of gourmet chocolate, I ultimately learned to look before I leaped.
There wasn’t much color used back then and the fillings and designs were very simple relative to today’s offerings, so I looked for the subtle differences in size, shape, the twist of the drizzle, the hint of a possible nut… all were clues to treasure inside. Even shaking the chocolate could even be rewarding if one was in pursuit of the elusive chocolate covered cherry. My favorite was the nutty caramel.
I’m happy to say that I still have that childlike excitement whenever I open up a box of assorted truffles—whether ours or another artisans’. I still stop and take in with full measure the chocolate aroma when I open the box, and then I let my eyes dance from piece to piece to piece, struggling to decide which one to try first. Fortunately, I went from candy store kid to chocolate studio owner, so I don’t have to choose just one or two and I don’t have to wait for a holiday to enjoy our chocolates… neither do you. But there is still something special about savoring Easter memories of my Granny and Uncle Tony and those special boxes of chocolate.
Create your own holiday memories with Choclatique…
Thursday, September 17th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
What goes best with a pretty lady and a beautiful location on a fabulous day? Choclatique Chocolate, that’s what. And that was the case in mid-July when Taina Franke from EMD, the company that helps us make our Choclatique Gemstones and Moon Rocks sparkle, held a customer event at the Waters Restaurant in Irvine, California.
It seems that everybody loved the taste of the Choclatique Moon Rocks and was fascinated by the color and the shiny, perfectly tempered chocolate. EMD is one the companies that Choclatique partners with to help us continue developing unique Authentically American Chocolate with all of our amazing flavors and decorations in our nearly 200 different confections.
One way or the other it all comes together. The inspiration for developing the Choclatique Jewel Box first came from Jay Lazar the president of our advertising agency in New York City. Jay had a client that wanted a customer gift for their retail stores that would replicate some of the actual jewelry they were selling. Jay had shown them our Choclatique Moon Rocks Collection and suggested that we were the ones to recreate their jewelry in chocolate. In less than two weeks we transitioned from rustic, gold-veined moon rocks to the Choclatique Jewel Box filled with precious and semi-precious stones.
Challenges in production—creating Moon Rocks and Gemstones— involves our “precious” and “semi-precious” co-workers in the Chocolate Studios who translate our customers’ marketing ideas into luscious and delectable chocolate confections.
All of us at Choclatique continue to create innovative flavors and designs that gain the attention of buyers and the media who continue to create “the buzz” about Choclatique. Our public relations team from Venture IAB, headed by veteran publicist, Sabina Gault (along with Monica and Michael), send samples of everything new and the words to describe them to anyone who will listen and taste. We have found that when we get people to taste Choclatique they quickly become disciples of the brand.
What’s new for the rest of 2009? It’s our Choclatique Napa Valley Wine Chocolates, The Jewel Box Collection, the Boo Box (an 8-piece spooky and scrumptious box of Halloween ghosts), and the new Holidays assortments (with 15 new flavors), plus Homemade Holiday Marshmallow will also headline our offerings. Peanut Brittle Bites, Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle Bites, Chocolate Almond Butter Toffee Bites and the adorable Choclatique “Chicks” for next Easter all will be available.
Coming in late September are our new Choclatique Baking Mixes. If you love to bake, but sometimes don’t have the time to gather and mix all the ingredients we have created Chocolate, Chocolate Brownie Mix, Double Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins, Ed’s Best Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix, Almost Famous Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting Mix. They’re superior to any store-bought bakery mixes because they are all made with ground chocolate, not just cocoa. They are super-easy to bake, frost and decorate at home. You won’t have a long wait for the compliments.
All of these products have been developed in the Choclatique Chocolate Studios with the support and assistance of our American strategic suppliers.
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
I usually don’t write about other foods or food companies as this blog is supposed to be all about Choclatique and chocolate. As much as I would like to think it does, the world does not only revolve around Choclatique and chocolate. There are other great American food companies that make really fantastic foods. So this week, let’s take a peek at the center of the plate.
Vienna Beef of Chicago makes American hot dogs and beef products to exacting standards just the way many other American artisans make their American-made foods. I spent a day in Chicago last week with the people at Vienna Beef. If you travel to Chicago often you will know them as the Chicago Dog company. They make the best hot dogs I have ever tasted. So much so, that my first day in Chicago must consist of at least one Chicago Dog—a true Chicago institution. And, it’s got to be a Vienna.
The Chicago-Style hot dog got its start from street cart hot dog vendors during the hard times of the Great Depression. Money was scarce, but business was booming for these entrepreneurs who offered a delicious hot meal on a bun for only a nickel. The famous Chicago Style Hot Dog was born!
For those of you who have been deprived in life and have never partaken of this culinary masterpiece, start with a Vienna Beef hot dog, nestle it in a steamed poppy seed bun and cover it with a wonderful combination of toppings: yellow mustard; bright green (glow-in-the-dark) relish; fresh, chopped onions; juicy red tomato wedges; a kosher-style pickle spear; a couple of spicy sport peppers; and finally, a dash of celery salt. This unique hot dog creation with a “salad on top” and its memorable interplay of hot and cold, crisp and soft, sharp and smooth may very well be America’s original fast food.
I had a chance to take a plant tour and discover many of their “secrets.” Well, not so much secrets, but points of difference from other hot dog makers. First of all they use fresh meat, not frozen boxed beef like most hot dog makers—expensive cuts of brisket (lean and fat)—blended with lean bull meat at pre-determined ratios to give the meat the right mix of meat-to-fat and the right “bite.” The meat is then ground and blended with their 116 year old secret blend of spices which is completely true to the original recipe brought over from Europe years ago. It is then stuffed into a natural casing which gives this hot dog its distinctive, crisp bite.
At the end of the tour I tasted Hot Dogs, Polish Sausages, Fire Dogs and Chili—really great chili. There were also soups, corned beef and pastrami, rare roast beef, salami and kosher-style pickles… oh, and some really great, whole-muscle, smoked turkey slices.
If you’re looking for more great American foods you can find them on the Vienna’s new website and catalogue store, Foods Across America, featuring regional American foods of like-minded manufacturers. Here, on one website, you can find the world’s greatest Chicago “Dawg” kit (I know it supposed to be spelled ‘DOG,” but I just like the way that sounds), the very best key lime pie, hand-crafted root beers and believe it or not, cheesecake on a stick. I bought some of the goodies on the site and found the packaging to be great for shipping and the delivery to be excellent. So I wanted to say some good things to help every one of our readers know that there is something really neat and new that they need to try.
By the way, I did put in a pitch for them to include some Choclatique chocolate… regionally speaking I thought the new Choclatique Napa Valley Wine Chocolates would be a perfect addition to their offerings. So if you decide to go to their site and buy one of their really unique All-American Kits, think about going over to choclatique.com for Authentically American Chocolates.