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Cocoa Powder FAQ: Dutch-process & natural cocoa powder

Here are some of the frequently asked questions people have about cocoa powder, and how it’s used in recipes:

truffles

What’s the difference between Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder?

Dutch-process cocoa powder is made from cocoa (cacao) beans that have been washed with a potassium solution, to neutralize their acidity. Natural cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that are simply roasted, then pulverized into a fine powder.

What does Dutching do?

Aside from neutralizing the acidity, Dutching cocoa powder makes it darker (see photo below, right) and can help mellow the flavor of the beans. Some artisan companies in the United States don’t Dutch-process their cocoa as they claim their cocoa beans don’t need to be acid-neutralized. Most supermarket brands of cocoa powder in America, such as Hershey’s and NestlĂ©, are natural cocoa powders.

two cocoa powders

Can I use Dutch-process and natural cocoa powder interchangeably in recipes?

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Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread

chocolate hazelnut spread blog

I’m probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, because about a decade ago, I met two guys who were planning to start a bean-to-bar chocolate company in America. And I remember thinking, “Hoo-boy, are these nut-jobs going to lose their shirts! Who in America cares that much about chocolate?”

Fast-forward to a few years later, and Scharffen Berger chocolate became a huge hit, challenging, and changing the way Americans thought about chocolate. It was eventually sold for a substantial sum of money, and the rest is history.

And I’m living in a drafty, two room rooftop apartment where getting hot water is a miracle that might happen weekly. If at all. So who’s the nut-job now?

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Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Caramel Cups

chocolate-covered salted peanut caramel cups

A while back, I was invited to do a hands-on candy-making class in Salt Lake City. As usual, I arrived way-too-early, because I’m like that (to make sure I’m ready), and when the doors opened, in walked in all the participants.

Shortly after I demonstrated a few things we were going to make, everyone got to work and I started mingling with the participants. I walked around making sure everyone was okay and most of the women seemed to have a pretty good handle on things. In fact, they had a great handle on things, and were wielding their candy thermometers and dipping forks like pros. When I expressed my amazement at what a great job everyone was doing, one woman spoke up; “We’re Mormons, David, of course we’re good at making candy…we’re don’t have any other vices!”

chocolate-covered cups

It was pretty hilarious—that is, until things started going wrong.

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Askinosie White Chocolate, Kallari Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-It

askinoisewhitechocolate

Askinosie White Chocolate

There’s nothing odder to me than people who say, “I don’t like white chocolate…because it’s not chocolate!” Which is like saying, “I don’t like white wine…because it’s not Champagne!”

In each case, both are similar, but entirely different creatures and to compare them is kinda silly. I used the scoff at the losers who liked milk chocolate, until I started appreciating it for what it really was (not dark chocolate), and I joined the ranks and became a loser myself. (Although depending on who you talk you, it started sometime before that.)

Because I was recently scheduled to speak about white chocolate with the Evan Kleiman (who is anything but a loser) on her radio program Good Food, I asked Shawn Askinosie if he’d send me a few bars, via a friend who was en route to Paris, of his new bean-to-bar white chocolate, so I could sample them.

You could’ve knocked me over with a cocoa leaf when I slipped the bars out of their packages, as I wasn’t prepared for them to be so gently coffee-colored; one studded with salted pistachios the other with nibs.

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Triple Chocolate Scotcheroos

scotcheroos

Some people, when they travel, they look for hotels with amenities like spas or room service. Others look for hotels near restaurants or local attractions. Me? I look for ones near supermarkets. And on my recent trip through the states, my traveling companion was shocked that I’d managed to pack 3 empty suitcase into one larger one, the limit of our collective baggage allowance.

Not to mention our two carry-ons—”someone” was ready for some serious shopping…

I’ve been dying to make a batch of Scotcheroos for a long time and although I’ve become pretty adept at finding substitutions for American ingredients here in Paris, butterscotch chips had me scratching me head.

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Askinosie Chocolate

I’ve been a tad remiss in doing a write-up about one of the newest American chocolate-makers: Askinosie. When I heard about them, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some bars of their bars. The only problem was that I wolfed them down too-quickly, before I could even write ‘em up.

askinosie

Then I’d heard in the news (the chocolate news, which I read rabidly…is there any kind of news?) that they’ve been making a white chocolate bar that’s made from non-deodorized cocoa butter and goat’s milk, instead of the traditional cows milk. As someone who likes white chocolate, and enjoys the tang of goat milk, this sounds like heaven to me.

In my 89 Random Things About Me, #3 was that I thought small-batch chocolate makers summed up all of the best qualities of America, most notably the eagerness to do something different and improve something, making it even better than before.

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World Nutella Day

Nutella

Today is World Nutella Day, and I’m caught with my trousers down. I prepared a dish (well..sort of) but didn’t get around to writing up something unusually profound to say, so a picture of it is going to have to do for now.

I got sidetracked by a whole bunch of stuff, and had a lot of things I was going to post about this week, then along came 89 other things, plus an appointment with the podologue, so I’ve been washing my feet like mad, I mean, scrubbing them really, really well before my rendez-vous. Seriously, I think I spent the better part of the week washing them.

Anyhow, here’s a shot of Nutella, in a slightly different form than you might be used to seeing it in.

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Belgian Hot Chocolate Recipe

wittamer hot chocolate

Due to a quirk in the way my website was initially set up, a short list of recipes on my Recipes page are in a format that I can’t alter. A friend suggested I get an intern to re-do the recipes, but I looked at the list and scoffed—heck, I want to remake everything there! So I’m going to be re-presenting some of the recipes from the archives, updating them over the next few months or so.

melting chocolates

One of the first recipes I put up on the site was a hot chocolate recipe from Wittamer, one of the best chocolate shops in Brussels. And let me tell you, there’s plenty of competition in that town.

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