Saturday, October 31, 2015

Amano - Barlovento Roasted Cocoa Nibs - Oct. 31, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Amano Artisan Chocolate
Barlovento Roasted Cocoa Nibs
Good - Good +
Weight: .636 oz. (18 g.)/ 6 oz. (170 g.) total package
Calories: 120 calories (estimate) in 1/8 cup (2 Tb.)
Cost: $lost information
Purchased from: Amano Artisan Chocolate (at a show)

Happy Halloween to all who celebrate this sweet, autumn holiday. And, welcome to Day #5 of Cocoa Nibs Theme Week.

I celebrate Halloween week by baking a gluten-free chocolate cake inside a carved pumpkin each year. (Other squashes work too.)

I re-heated a piece of this year's* pumpkin spice cake for breakfast, and sprinkled it with Barlovento Cocoa Nibs from Amano Artisan Chocolate (Orem, UT).

Seasonal side dishes for the pumpkin cake included: chopped walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds with sea salt, and berries from the lavender star flower bush in my yard. Both flowers and berries are edible. These tiny, caramel colored berries with the pit in the middle tasted like fruity, miniature dates.

A freshly opened bag of cocoa nibs has so much potential. I'll use these nibs for many other things. E.g., this morning I also made myself a small, but flavorful cup of hot buttered chocolate to go with the cake, by soaking some nibs in some steamed milk ahead of time.

A small serving of cacao nibs can be very satisfying over cake, ice cream, or baked into brownies. Use them in a "rub" for roasts. Or, grind them up and make your own mole or drinking chocolate. Nibs are chocolate building blocks, without the sugar.

*I don't follow recipes; but every year the cake contains different ingredients. This year it included blackstrap molasses, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, chopped walnuts, and cocoa powder. This type of moist cake works best with a small pumpkin. Go too large, and the cake will be soggy or uncooked in the middle.











Friday, October 30, 2015

Seattle Chocolates - Hot Buttered Rum Truffles - Oct. 30, 2015

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Seattle Chocolate Company
Hot Buttered Rum Truffles
Good - Good +
Weight: .88 oz. (24.9 g.) / 5 oz. (141 g.) in total package of 17 pieces
Calories: 132 calories (estimate) in 3 pieces
Cost: $7.95 for 1 package
Purchased from: Seattle Chocolate Company, Seattle, WA (online order)

Today was Day #8 of Halloween Cocktails Theme Week, and Day #4 of Cocoa Nibs Theme Week.

Are you ready for Halloween? I am planning on doing some reverse trick-or-treating this year. What does that mean? It means I may hand out individually wrapped truffles and filled chocolates to a few adult friends in the neighborhood. (Sorry kids.)

Today's Seattle Chocolates Hot Buttered Rum Truffles, will be included in my bag-o-treats. These two-bite sized, smooth, rectangular milk chocolates contained embedded micro-bits of crunchy toffee, and were wrapped festively in shiny gold wrappers with a neat twist at each end. (They were also gluten-free and made with non-GMO ingredients.)

Halloween Dessert "Cocktail" with Nibs

Today's dessert in a cocktail glass consisted of several ingredients:
tiny scoops of Small Batch Bourbon Vanilla ice cream (flavored with pieces of Kentucky Bourbon barrels and Madagascar vanilla beans no less) from Steve's Ice Cream; homemade coconut palm sugar and maple caramel syrup; and a topping of chopped pecans and walnuts and a small avalanche of cacao nibs.

Cheers and Happy Halloween Eve to you all.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NibMor - 80% Sea Salt and cacao nibs bar - Oct. 29, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

NibMor
80% Cacao Sea Salt and cacao nibs bar
Good +
Weight: 2.2 oz. (62 g.) in total bar
Calories: 320 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $2.59 for 1 bar
Purchased from: "Loop" store* at Shell gas station on Pocket Rd., Sacramento, CA

Happy Day #7 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktails Theme Week, and Day #3 of Cocoa Nibs Theme Week.

Today's NibMor 80% Cacao Sea Salt and cacao nibs bar was full of layered flavors: chocolatey dark chocolate, slightly earthy cocoa nibs, and salty bursts of flavor from tiny sea salt crystals.

Big chocolate holidays like Halloween inspire me with all kinds of chocolate mad scientist ideas.

Today I created a Halloween "mocktail" with blood orange soda and fresh lemon juice. Shake with ice cubes and pour in a martini glass and garnish with lemon peel/slices. (Gin is optional for an adult cocktail.) I suppose you could add cocoa nibs in this drink too, but I just enjoyed the refreshing citrus flavor.

*This "Loop" (Shell) gas station store, was a riverside snack oasis, kind of in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Sacramento, that carried the most impressive variety of sweet and salty snacks I've seen at a gas station. Single origin chocolate bars, dill pickle flavored potato chips, maple bacon chips, and lots more interesting items.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Nana Joes Coconut Almond Nib bar - Oct. 28, 2015

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Nana Joes
Coconut, Almond, Cocoa Nib Swell Bar
Good - Good +
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) in total bar
Calories: 360 calories in 1 bar
Cost: $5.00 (guesstimate)
Purchased from: de Young Museum, de Young Cafe, San Francisco, CA

Welcome to Day #6 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktail Theme Week, and Day #3 of Cocoa Nibs Theme Week.

I was surprised and delighted to find this vegan, oat-free and gluten-free bar to be lighter and crunchier than I thought. I associated the flavor and texture with fresh, homemade granola—the good kind. This makes perfect sense; granola is a Nana Joes (San Francisco) specialty.

Embedded almonds, pistachios, pecans and cocoa nibs gave the bar additional sparkles of crunchy, nutty taste.

Halloween Cocktail 
Now for a switch to an adult holiday beverage in the same flavor range caramel, coconut, nibs and nuttiness range...

Did you wonder what happened to the cocoa nibs that were used to flavor the dark rum yesterday? Well, a few tablespoons of these rum-soaked nibs made their way into a salted caramel milkshake today. The nibs added just enough robust, unsweetened cocoa flavor to balance nicely with the buttery sweet, creamy sea salt caramel ice cream.

I attempted to make some caramel sauce from scratch to float on this shake. (See photo at right for a view of the bubbling cauldron.)

The caramel sauce "failed" but morphed into delightful light and crunchy caramel flavored pieces when cooled, that will garnish other sweet items in the future.

Hope you all are enjoying a fun, creative Halloween and/or Day of the Dead week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

jcoco - dark bar with nibs; Cocoa Rumpkin - Oct. 27, 2015

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Seattle Chocolate Company
jcoco
Noble Dark - 72% Chocolate with Cocoa Nibs bar
Good +
Weight: 1 oz. (28 g.) in 1 bar
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 1 bar
Cost: N/A - gift; thank you Toni!
Purchased from: N/A - gift; thank you Toni!

Cocoa Rumpkin
(various ingredients)
Good +
Weight: 1 small glass
Calories: disregarded
Cost: N/A - used existing ingredients
Purchased from: N/A - used existing ingredients

Today was Day #5 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktail Theme Week.

Cocoa nibs are concentrated bits of chocolate flavor. Their essence can be contained in a dark chocolate bar, or infused into spirits. (Not Halloween ghosts, but distilled spirits.) Being that Halloween—one of the great chocolate holidays—is upon us, I'm going with both a dark chocolate bar with cocoa nibs and a Halloween cocktail called a Cocoa Rumpkin (see below).

First up...the jcoco Noble Dark bar (72% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs). This bar was one of a set of small bars I received as a gift.

The jcoco brand is part of Seattle Chocolate Company (Seattle, WA). The design and packaging for the jcoco line is high fashion fun, and the chocolate isn't bad either*. The company has pledged to give one serving of food to a person in need for each chocolate purchased.

The bar had a chocolate fudge brownie aroma and taste and the nibs added some texture. The "non-gmo, vegan, gluten-free" Noble Dark bar was also kosher.

Cocoa Rumpkin
A Cocoa Rumpkin is a three-layer cocktail that I made up.

The bottom layer was Aperol (an orange-flavored apertif) and honey. The middle layer was a pumpkin-infused cream with spices (cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger).

And, saving the best for last, the top layer was cocoa nib infused dark rum**. The cocoa nibs imparted an extra dark chocolate, almost coffee-like flavor to the dark rum.

Carefully "float" one layer atop another and there you have it: a Cocoa Rumpkin, today's chocolate rum and spicy orange Halloween cocktail. Or, you can stir all these layers together, and freeze, to enjoy as an adult milkshake.

*The jcoco Cayenne Veracruz Orange white chocolate bar is an example of how tasty white chocolate can be.
**First, I infused cocoa nibs into Myers's dark rum for a week. Then I drained off the rum to use as a top layer for this cocktail. Leftover cocoa nibs, can be used for cookies, brownies or with ice cream in adult milkshakes.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Hotel Chocolat - Black Cat Martini - Oct. 26, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hotel Chocolat
"Black Cat Martini"
Good+ - Good++
Weight: 1.015 oz. (28.7 g.) / 4.06 oz. (115 g.) in total box of 16 pieces
Calories: 152 calories (estimate) in 4 pieces
Cost: 10 British Pounds (approx. $15 U.S.)
Purchased from: Hotel Chocolat, UK, online order

Today was Day #4 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktails Theme Week.

The "Black Cat Martini" chocolate from Hotel Chocolat (UK) was infused with blackcurrant and "liquorice" and had a fairly strong vodka kick. The flavors were authentic and layered, revealing themselves one at a time, which made this filled Halloween cocktail chocolate more intriguing and fun.

Today's Black Cat Martini was the last (of four) different seasonal cocktail chocolates from a Hotel Chocolat "Choose Your Poison" 16-piece assortment box.




Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hotel Chocolat - Corpse Reviver - Oct. 25, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hotel Chocolat
"Corpse Reviver"
Good++
Weight: 1.015 oz. (28.7 g.) / 4.06 oz. (115 g.) in total box of 16 pieces
Calories: 152 calories (estimate) in 4 pieces
Cost: 10 British Pounds (approx. $15 US)
Purchased from: Hotel Chocolat, UK, online order

Enter Day #3 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktails Theme Week, if you dare.

Today's Halloween cocktail-inspired "Corpse Reviver" chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (UK) were part of a "Choose Your Poison" 16-piece assortment box.

These ivory-colored chocolates contained hints of "gin, triple sec, vermouth and blood orange." Inside each Corpse Reviver was a flavorful gin and citrus-infused, white chocolate ganache center.

These creamy fillings were covered in white chocolate and topped with daubs of orange and brown seasonal color—with just enough dark brown to count as a "real"* chocolate.

If you like boozy chocolates, you'd love this whole assortment box, with 4 different chocolate cocktails. I'm going to be sorry after tomorrow when they're gone.

*Cocoa beans are approximately half fat (cocoa butter) and half dark cocoa mass (aka solids or liquor). I normally do not count 100% white chocolates as a chocolate of the day, unless there is some cocoa liquor/solids present—the part that makes chocolate brown. 




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hotel Chocolat - Green Fairy - Oct. 24, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Hotel Chocolat
Green Fairy
Very Good
Weight: 1.015 oz. (28.7 g.) / 4.06 oz. (115 g.) in total box of 16 pieces
Calories: 152 calories (estimate) in 4 pieces
Cost: 10 British Pounds (approx. $15.00 US)
Purchased from: Hotel Chocolat, UK, online order

Today was Day #2 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktails Theme Week.

For many years absinthe, an often green concoction of herbs and alcohol, was illegal, primarily due to concerns about one ingredient. Wormwood (or the thejune in wormwood) could cause hallucinations* and other ill effects. Absinthe was also known as the green fairy.

Today's Green Fairy chocolate from Hotel Chocolat (UK) was part of a Halloween cocktail assortment I'm enjoying this week. This dome-shaped filled chocolate, topped with a swirl of yellow and green, contained "a shot of absinthe softened in milk," referring to a creamy milk chocolate, absinthe infused center.

Anise, a key ingredients in absinthe, gave the chocolate a faint hint of licorice. I've never met a green fairy, but I bet she'd like these chocolates.

*The surreal illustration at the right (under four Green Fairy chocolates) is titled "In and Out – Number 5," by digital artist, Earl Einhorn. This artist's work seemed the perfect companion for these chocolates with absinthe. 


Friday, October 23, 2015

Hotel Chocolat - Zombie - Oct. 23, 2015

Chocolate of the Day:

Hotel Chocolat
Zombie
Good ++
Weight: 1.015 oz. (28.7 g.) / 4.06 oz. (115 g.) in total box of 16 pieces
Calories: 152 calories (estimate) in 4 pieces
Cost: 10 British Pounds (approximately $15 US)
Purchased from: Hotel Chocolat, UK (online order)

Welcome to Day #1 of Chocolate and Halloween Cocktail Theme Week.

I admit it, we're devolving into less and less serious territory by the week here in October. But, it's Halloween.

I ordered a box of "Choose Your Poison" Halloween cocktails with a shot of liquor, from Hotel Chocolat (UK). This spooky assortment of chocolate cocktails included the Black Cat Martini, Corpse Reviver, Green Fairy and the Zombie.

What do I love about this company? Their creative and original chocolates, classy packaging—and the thought that I might one day visit their hotel and plantation on the island of St. Lucia.

Today I had all 4 Zombie* chocolates. And they did indeed taste like tiny boozy zombies—if zombies had creamy centers and were covered in chocolate. Fortunately, I wasn't planning to drive anywhere this morning.

*Hotel Chocolat describes their Zombie chocolates as having "a glug of white rum with orange and passion fruit. 


Swanton Strawberry Truffle, Harley Farms Pumpkin Truffle - Oct. 22, 2015

Chocolate(s) of the Day: 

Swanton Berry Farm
Strawberry Truffle
Good
Weight: .4 oz. (11.32 g.) (estimate) for 1 truffle
Calories: 60 calories (estimate) in 1 truffle
Cost: $2.00 for 1 truffle
Purchased from: Swanton Berry Farm, Davenport, CA

Harley Farms Goat Dairy
Pumpkin Truffle - Good
Double Chocolate with Macadamia Nut Truffle - Good
Weight: 1 oz. (28.3 g.) (estimate) in 2 truffles
Calories: 150 calories (estimate) in 2 truffles
Cost: $6.00 for 2 truffles
Purchased from: Harley Farms Goat Dairy, Pescadero, CA


Today was Day #7 of Chocolate and The Great Outdoors Theme Week. I experienced the wide open spaces today by visiting two farms close to the Pacific Ocean. Both happened to be selling chocolate truffles.

The Strawberry truffle from Swanton Berry Farm (Davenport, CA) was likely made with Swanton strawberry jam. There was no one to ask because the shop was operated on the honor system. Customers left their cash in the till and picked their own produce, jams, chocolates or dessert items.

After a drive up the coast, from Davenport to Pescadero along Highway 1, we made our way to a local goat dairy.

The Pumpkin and the Double Chocolate with Macadamia Nut truffles were from Harley Farms Goat Dairy (Pescadero, CA) and contained ganache style fillings that were made with goat cheese. The goat milk was provided by a herd of American Alpine goats on the property. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Mighty Leaf Tea - Chocolate Mint Truffle - Oct. 21, 2015

Chocolate of the Day: 

Mighty Leaf Tea Company
Chocolate Mint Truffle
Good
Weight: .106 oz. in 1 pouch (tea bag)
Calories: 0 calories (estimate) in 1 bag
Cost: $2.75 (estimate) for 1 cup of hot tea
Purchased from: Shoreline Lake American Bistro, Mountain View, CA

Today was Day #6 of Chocolate and The Great Outdoors Theme Week.

Early this morning, I drove across town to The Great Outdoors. I visited Shoreline Park (in Mountain View, CA) that had hiking trails and a lakeside bistro*.

Dew glistened on the pumpkins that were set up for Halloween. I sipped a cup of steaming hot tea, and the sun levitated upward in the blue sky.

The Chocolate Mint Truffle tea was from Mighty Leaf Tea Company (San Rafael, CA); and each "pouch" or tea bag contained cacao nibs, mint leaves and rooibos tea.

Absorbing warm autumn sunshine and scenery was a beautiful way to start the day. And after the sun warmed things up, it was time for chocolate-covered ice cream bars. That's the thing about The Great Outdoors, you have to adjust to the weather.

*The Shoreline Lake American Bistro will pack picnic baskets for customers to enjoy in the park, or paddleboating, too. What a great idea. Lunch and chocolate al fresco.



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