Posts Tagged ‘chocolate tablets’

Red O?… I’m Ready-O!!

Monday, May 17th, 2010
— Joan Vieweger, Co-Founder of Choclatique

It was a Friday… like any other Friday until… I clicked open the e-message from Urban Daddy/LA. In a moment, my spirits were lifted as I read the headline that I would soon be able to enjoy Enchiladas and Tequilas from one of my favorites, Rick Bayless, in Los Angeles. My only disappointment was the Red O would not be open until the 26th of May, as I was looking for a great spot to share dinner with friends on the 22nd.

Azteca Milk Chocolate & Roasted Nibs TabletSo, what’s so special about Rick Bayless… and why am I writing about his new restaurant in a blog dedicated to all things chocolate? Quite simply, he’s nothing short of a culinary genius, he’s a really nice guy to boot and he loves chocolate, too! Some of his chocolate creations were the inspiration of our wonderfully rich and exotic Azetca chocolate available in our Bars section and select truffles as well.

I first became aware of Rick Bayless during one of my many trips to Chicago back in the late eighties. Chicago is one of the best restaurant cities in the country though, at the time, there wasn’t a lot of great Mexican or Latin cuisine in the mix (not withstanding some killer taco stands). Frontera Grill changed all that. Chef Bayless introduced vibrant flavors, bold colors and exciting textures from Mexico that, while foreign to most Midwesterners, created a buzz so intense that even one of his fabulous margaritas couldn’t extinguish it. Just two short years later, Topolobampo was born… an elegant sister to Frontera Grill located right next door. Chef Bayless educated Chicagoans about the regional flavors of Mexico and showed that the French have nothing on Mexico when it comes to fine cuisine.

Hot Drinking ChocolateWhile I could always count on finding a great chocolate dessert on either of Chef Bayless’ menus, his next creation—XOCO (slang for “little sister”), put chocolate front and center. Believe me, there’s nothing like quite being handed a rich and frothy cup of hot chocolate ground from Mexican cacao beans on a cold Chicago morning. It’s the perfect chaser for one of Rick’s sinful chocolate churros and is guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart and other body parts, too. YUM! Of course, you can enjoy a similar sensation—piping hot or chillin’ out—with Choclatique’s beverage mixes, each made from real ground chocolate (no cheap cocoa powders here!).

I’ve never met the Chef, but after watching him on Top Chef Masters last year, seeing both his creativity and humility on display under pressure, I can’t wait to do so. So, rest assured that come Tuesday, I’ll be priming my dialing finger to get a table at Red O as soon as the reservations line opens!

Are you a Bayless fan, too? Let me know what you love about Chef Rick… and chocolate, too!

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How To Taste Chocolate

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I was recently asked to give a simple answer on how to taste chocolate. There is no simple answer. I have been working with chocolate for 35 years and have found there is no right or wrong way to eat chocolate. The most important thing is to use all of your senses.

The first part of the “eating experience” is the “nose.” Smell the chocolate. I am always disappointed when I walk into a chocolate shop and don’t smell the wonderful aroma of melted chocolate wafting throughout the store.

The next thing is the “look.” If the chocolate looks amazing you can pretty well count on it tasting special. It’s as if you’re looking into the soul of the chocolatier. If a chocolatier takes the time to make his or her chocolate look beautiful you can pretty well be assured that the flavor will be as amazing. That’s not to say that the chocolate will necessarily agree with your tastes, but the quality will reflect the combined body of the chocolatier’s work.

What do you “hear” when you bite into a beautiful truffle or bonbon? Do you hear the snap of well-tempered dark chocolate? If the couverture doesn’t have the right break or snap, the chocolate may have been poorly tempered, heat distressed or of lesser quality.

What is the “texture” like? It is smooth and unctuous?  Is it creamy and velvety? If the answer is “yes,” you’ve discovered the hallmark of good/great chocolate. That means the chocolate has been properly conched—where all of the ingredients (hopefully a limited number of ingredients) are intermingled and completely merged. Conching is like blending but a lot more thorough. It is the marriage of the molecules of the chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla (and milk, in the case of milk chocolate). Choclatique chocolate is conched for 72 hours.  It will always be smooth on the tongue.

And finally, what does it “taste” like? Do you taste fresh rain-foresty flavors or are the cocoa notes dull and over-roasted? Does the milk chocolate give off burnt, overly caramelized dairy notes or is there the flavor of fresh cream and/or milk? How does the chocolate make you feel as you are tasting it? Are you satisfied with just one taste or is your mind coaxing you to eat more.

Try to articulate the flavors you’re tasting, i.e., big chocolate, roasted coffee notes, wine, berry, cherry, tropical-banana, nutty cashew, etc. When comparing different chocolate varieties or flavors back-to-back, you should drink a little room temperature water with a touch lemon to clear the palate. Then swish that water out of your mouth with just plain room temperature water and go on to the next piece. Keep your tasting down to about 4 flavors/varieties at a time. You can always go back for more when you are being less critical and just want to eat chocolate.

All that said, here is how we taste chocolate at Choclatique. When tasting different types of chocolate, we start with low fat varieties and work our way through to higher fat varieties. In other words, start with the dark chocolate, then milk chocolate and then white chocolate. Fat coats the surface of your mouth and can mask some of the more subtle flavors found in good dark chocolate, so if you start with milk or white, you may miss the subtleties of the dark.

We begin by looking at the chocolate to see if it is clean, clear of blemishes, air bubbles and bloom; when chocolate is heat distressed it has a tendency to turn grey-white as the fats separate from the rest of the ingredients. We then rub the chocolate with our fingers to bring it to a warmer surface temperature; this brings out the full value of the chocolate aroma as we inhale. By the way, you should smell the warmed chocolate, not your fingers.

Some of our tasters are “bite and chewers”; I am a “melt-in-your-mouth” kind of guy who enjoys “savoring the flavor.” Chocolate should always be smooth on the tongue and coat the inside of your mouth thoroughly.  You want to be sure that it covers all of the sensory taste buds throughout your mouth to get the full impact of the chocolate flavor.  Then swallow… it is a waste to spit out good chocolate.

Chocolate is food from the gods. It is a mood elevator and, some believe, an aphrodisiac. Treat it as the gift that it is and enjoy it thoroughly. As we have discovered at Choclatique, chocolate is a lot like sex. It’s never really bad; some is just much better than others.

Want to experience your own chocolate tasting? Order our Traditional 4-bar Tablet Sampler—Private Reserve Dark Chocolate (64%); Prestige Milk Chocolate 33%; Azteca Mexican Spiced Chocolate 33%; Snowy-White Chocolate (32%)… just $21, plus shipping.

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