The Sweets & Snacks Expo happens every year in Chicago, and I've watched TV shows on it, read about it, and dreamed of attending for years. Finally, this year was it. Jen and I headed to the Windy City to check out this year's chocolate trends (you can find other highlights from the show here). Of course there are loads, but what were the ones that kept popping up?
'Serious Chocolate' on Serious Eats
Allow me to introduce you to one of my favorite words: eutectic. A eutectic, in confectionery terms, is a combination of fats that melts at a lower temperature than any one of the fats by itself. The eutectic you probably most often encounter on a day-to-day basis is milk chocolate. The magical power of the eutectic is particularly well (and tastily) illustrated in the center known as a meltaway.
I'm a huge fan of David Lebovitz's fantastic recipes and entertaining writing, and have always been intrigued by his chocolate bread. What in the world would it taste like? Chocolate mixed into the bread itself? But how bready would it be? Yeasty at all? What about the sweetness level?
There are few things in this world more comforting to me than squishy, sweet, creamy desserts, especially when they come in a ready-to-eat cup. But pudding is really easy to make at home, too. I call these Le Snaque-Paques.
Now, I love me some old-school Oreos, and subscribe to the "if it ain't broke" school of philosophy, but was curious about two unfamiliar varieties of Oreos. Peanut Butter Creme and Double Stuf Heads or Tails. ZOMG OREOS! Ehrm, sorry. It's my professional responsibility to stay abreast in the chocolate industry and report back. Find out how they tasted.
I have a confession to make, dear readers. Until just a few days ago, I had no idea that this week was American Chocolate Week. It seems to me a perfect opportunity to go learn something about chocolate that you didn't know before; or try a new kind of chocolate; or test out that chocolate recipe you've been staring at for the last few months. Now, you can celebrate however you want, but in the slideshow are just a few of my suggestions.
Where exactly in Philly did this cake come from? Who named it Philly Fluff? And why wasn't it the least bit fluffy in texture?
I had an insane hankering for chocolate chip cookies the other day, so I decided to bust out my copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking and make a batch. But something caught my eye: a sidenote about how she prefers to chop chocolate from a block instead of buying premade chips. This called for a chopped vs. chips vs. chunks comparison.
How did Jeff get into chocolate? He accidentally bought some unfermented, washed cocoa beans at a farmers' market in Belize thinking they were almonds.
I didn't really know what to expect from a Chocolate Chickpea Cake recipe. Would it be at all like a cake? Would we miss the flour and the fat? The verdict: Score one for the health nuts, gluten-avoiders, and curious bakers of the world. This is one tasty cake.
One of the first things that people generally give up when trying to get back on the health wagon is sweets—particularly chocolate. But let's not forget that chocolate is actually good for you; in moderation, of course. Here are my favorite three healthy(-er) chocolate treats to start the new year off right, and three more indulgent ones for those who, like me, don't bother with resolutions.
I upped the salt in this recipe significantly. Seriously, if you ever wondered what made a fancy restaurant dessert or an upscale bakery treat soooo tasty, it's almost certainly one of two things: lots and lots of salt, or lots and lots of butter. Both of these things are what make these cookies so tasty, and so very perfect for the holidays.
The lovely thing about this cake is it's chocolatey—especially if you use a really good, flavorful chocolate—but not too heavy or sweet. It's baked in a tube or bundt pan, which I always consider to be the unassuming Casual Wear of cakedom; and it requires no sugary glaze or frosting. It's a cake that could fit on a dessert plate with whipped cream, or just as easily on a tea tray for an afternoon snack. Or, if you're me, for breakfast.
Sure, there are chocolate-of-the-month clubs and ready-made gift baskets, but why not get something a little different for the chocolate fiend in your life? From secret ingredients to exotic vacations, here's a selection of seven unique, chocolatey holiday gift ideas.
There are endless ways to categorize books on chocolate. Professional vs. home cooks; academic vs. flashy; or cookbooks vs. history books. Maricel Presilla's The New History Of Chocolate, Revised falls somewhere in the middle of...well, everything.
So why should you care about banana bread? First of all, it's stupid-easy to make, and if you bake at all, you probably already have everything you need in your pantry. Secondly, you can eat it anytime: for breakfast, toasted with a little cream cheese; for an afternoon snack; for a sweet treat after dinner. But most importantly, of course, it's moist and tasty.
Oh, Halloween. The one day of the year where you knock on strangers' doors and demand free candy. Well, I guess you could do that any day, but on Halloween you'll actually get it. There is an overwhelming variety of special spookily themed treats, but I've divided them into four arbitrary categories (the stalwarts, seasonal chocolates, all-sugar-all-the-time, and gross-out candy) and picked my favorite and least favorite in each. Are you with me?
This had to be one of my favorite Serious Chocolate columns to write: a scotch and chocolate pairing session with Marcia of Sip Smoke Savor. She sent me seven bottles of nice single malt scotch, a box of nine Chuao chocolates, and guided me through the pairing. It was very edifying, especially for someone like me who has long been intimidated by single malt scotch ("do you detect a hint of saddle leather, Wilfred?" "Quite so, Algernon, quite so"). The chocolate mitigates the alcohol burn and more medicinal flavors in some of the whiskies, so you can taste other notes more clearly than you might alone, especially if you're not already an expert. Here are seven pairings.
So what are they, exactly? Well, they're sort of a pancake. But they're filled so they're sort of a, er, filled pancake. But the batter itself is light and savory, so they're sort of like popovers. But they're round and buttery, so they're sort of like donuts.