Monday, December 1, 2008

surfas inc.: catánies

surfas is probably the best commercial kitchen supply and goods store in LA.  at checkout, they had a very simple clear plastic box containing roughly ten chocolate nuggets.  along with the herbes du provence dried olives and belgium pearl sugar, the nuggets got in my shopping basket.

there really was no information on the chocolate package except for the ingredients, the name of the product, and the name of the store.  despite the packaging, after one bite you are taken to paraiso! the little chocolate complex treasure has a soft chocolate exterior that envelopes hazelnut marzipan around a caramel coated marcona almond. delicioso!  

get them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

trader joe's: swiss milk chocolate
with 30% whole hazelnuts

delicious! trader von liesl claims that the bar has "incomparable flavor" yet, somehow it tastes just like villars chocolate with hazelnuts. do tell... the bar even has the matching edelweiss imprint on the chocolate. if you are going to repackage and call it your own, demonstrate a tad bit more contrast, give credit, or get a new copywriter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

365 organic: 54% cacao
swiss dark chocolate with mint crisps

pulverized tic-tac's blended into mediocre chocolate with borderline bloom is not my idea of delectation. i must not forget to mention that there is a kind of creepy aftertaste as well. if you do bother to try it, you might want to go better than bad and pick up a box of after eights instead.

i keep telling myself not to buy organic...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

love is in the air:
free cookie with suffrage

i am pleased to announce the union of eric of fresh & easy to melissa of essential chocolate desserts.

if you pop on over to the westside of los angeles (brandishing your "i voted" sticker) to essential chocolate desserts, you will be rewarded with a free cookie. this offer is good on tuesday or wednesday.

Essential Chocolate Desserts, Inc.
10868 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232

Monday, November 3, 2008

happy day of the dead:
vosges promo code

the origins of day of the dead (where spirits of the dead return to earth to be with their families and loved ones) date back thousands of years to an aztecan festival celebrating the "lady of the dead". revelry at cemeteries is spent creating memorial altars and imbibing with interred relatives and friends.

might i recommend spending this month with vosges aztecan inspired chocolates?

vosges has extended a 10% discount to all chocolate snob readers for the month of november. website purchases from nov 1st to nov 30th will receive a discount as long as you remember to enter the promo code 2810WB1 at checkout.

chocolate snob is now a mrs.

i just got back from my honeymoon after a fabulous wedding (to my mr. charming) on october 25th.
etching by rachel rifat

in preparing for the big day, i was a tad bit absent from chocolate snob - - - the months of nuptial prep (planning, decorating, watercoloring, arranging, designing, filene's basement running, fittings, and carousing) did not go by without major guilt for not posting. regular chocolate snob updates, articles, and reviews will start to post immediately.

many kisses to all.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

congratulations to our dove winners....

congratulations to our lucky 20 who will be receiving limited edition bags of dove chocolate!

the winners are:
nicole k
lois r
michelle a
rafal s
cm d
billie m
susan a
heather s
bronwyn h
true west home
daniella p
dean l
w senkus
karen i
denise y
alex w
john b
taryn f

for those of who did not send me your address (you know who you are) please do so.

again, congrats!

Monday, September 29, 2008

dove chocolate - GIVEAWAY

the dove chocolate center of excellence is having a great unveiling and i have 20 limited edition bags of dove chocolate to give away to the first 20 entries.


please email chocolate-snob by october 6th.

on a personal note, please check out dove's parent information on cocoa sustainability - fascinating...

fine print...
each prize is a limited edition and worth $40.
the contest ends on october 6th.
eligibility can be 21+ and residents of the 50 us and dc.
the winner’s names will be posted on chocolate-snob and can also be received through correspondence with chocolate-snob.
the longer version of the official rules...

cadbury recalls 11 products from sale in china as tainted milk scandal grows

your chocolate should only list a few ingredients on the back (cacao beans, sugar, cocoa butter, pure cane sugar, and vanilla) and it definitely should not include melamine. read your labels very carefully and buy your chocolate from artisans and countries that have a history of producing quality products.

ben steele and agencies, monday september 29 2008 11:14 bst article history

the british chocolate maker cadbury today said it was recalling 11 product ranges from sale in china as the country's tainted milk scandal continued to grow.

the withdrawals come over fears that the products could contain the chemical melamine, which can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure.

contaminated milk products have killed four chinese babies and made tens of thousands of others ill. melamine can be added to milk to hide the fact that it has been watered down.

in a statement, cadbury said tests carried out on the chocolates had "cast doubt on the integrity of a range of our products manufactured in china".

it is not yet clear whether the tests revealed melamine, and the company said products on sale in the uk were not affected.

the recalled products – which include eclairs and dairy milk – were manufactured in the chinese capital beijing and sold in mainland china, hong kong and taiwan. one product was also exported to australia.

"we believe it is appropriate to take a precautionary step to withdraw from the market all of our cadbury chocolate products that have been manufactured in beijing, pending further supply of fresh products," the cadbury statement said.

hong kong's centre for food safety appealed to people to "stop consuming the chocolate products concerned", adding: "we would alert the trade to stop selling the affected products."

two us manufacturers are already investigating indonesian claims that high traces of melamine were found in oreo wafers, m&ms and snickers imported from china.

the indonesian food and drug monitoring agency said a dozen allegedly tainted products distributed nationwide, including those brands, had repeatedly tested positive last week.

kraft foods and mars said they were adhering to a recall order, but stressed that the same products had been cleared of melamine in other asian countries. the eu has banned all imported baby food from china.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

we have our winners to the los angeles chocolate salon!

no, big mama see's did not sell supplies to the miners during gold rush. It was domenico "domingo" ghirardelli, a native of rapallo, italy. both brett and sylvie won tickets to the los angeles chocolate salon with the correct answer. thank you to all our contest participants...

so, let's find out a little bit more about ghirardelli...

Ghirardelli Chocolate has a history that dates back to California’s gold rush. At 31 years old, he was the owner of a fairly successful confectionery business in Lima, Peru. However, Domingo had heard of the fabulous riches in gold being found in California, and in 1849 he sailed to California with the intention of striking it rich (and then going back to Peru).

Domingo was out there in the hills and streams doing his best to find his riches, but like a few of the smarter miners he soon found it was much more profitable to sell supplies to other miners. Domingo first opened a store in the boomtown of Hornitos. He was forced to buy supplies for his store in Stockton, at the time the only general merchandise store that was around for miles. Domingo believed that he could open a competing store in Stockton, and make a lot more money, if only he could figure out a way to supply it.

Domingo bought himself a sloop that he used to sail up and down the San Joaquin River, acquiring supplies in San Francisco and then returning with his merchandise to Stockton. Domingo’s first store front was just a tent, but by the end of 1849 he owned a fleet of river sloops, and buildings in both Stockton and San Francisco. He also had some profitable side lines, including grubstaking prospectors in exchange for a share in any gold they might find; he owned a hotel; and he even owned one of California's first soda fountains (more than a decade before the marble fountain was invented). Unfortunately, by 1851 Domingo was starting over again.

On May 3, 1851, a fire swept through San Francisco and destroyed 1500 buildings. Three days later a fire swept through Stockton and destroyed half of that city. In less than a week Domingo lost everything. Domingo first tried opening the Cairo Coffee House in San Francisco, but it was a money loser, and he decided to go back into his old trade as a confectioner. He formed a partnership with a man named Girard, and they opened a confectionery store on Kearny and Washington in San Francisco. Domingo then sent for his wife, who was still living in Lima, Peru. Shortly after she arrived Domingo bought out his partner, and renamed his store "Mrs. Ghirardelli & Company." The rest is, of course, history.
from Middleborough, MA Public Schools

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

los angeles chocolate salon

i have two tickets to the los angeles chocolate salon on october 5 to give away if you can tell me the answer to the following....

which chocolate producer sold supplies to the miners during gold rush?

please email your response to chocolate-snob

the contest will end at midnight tonight. all correct entries will be entered into a pool. not a winner? not to worry, you may get tickets for $20.00 at the door or $17.50 in advance - consider yourself very lucky!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

los angeles chocolate salon
sunday, october 5th!

please join me at the los angeles chocolate salon! the salon is fabulous in capturing unique and divine artisans. some of those who have participated in the past, are now big names in the chocolate world. i cannot wait to find this season's up and coming chocolatiers.

Discover, taste and savor the finest in artisan, gourmet and premium chocolates & wine

Chocolate lovers, en garde! The premier major chocolate show in the Los Angeles area this millenium takes place at the 2nd Annual Los Angeles Luxury CHOCOLATE SALON on Sunday, October 5th, 2008 at the Pasadena Center. Chocolate aficionados, fanatics, lovers and addicts can taste & experience the finest in artisan, gourmet & premium chocolate in one of the world's great culinary metropolitan areas.

Salon highlights feature chocolate tasting, demonstrations, chef & author talks, wine tasting and ongoing interviews by TasteTV's Chocolate Television program. (Salon Entry includes all chocolate & wine tastings, demos, etc.).

Featured 2008 Los Angeles Luxury CHOCOLATE SALON chocolatiers and confectioners include Mignon Chocolate, Chocolate All the Time, Sacred Chocolate, Arlene's Gourmet Toffee, Valerie Confections, Jade Chocolates, Malibu Toffee, Guittard Chocolate Company, Marti Chocolatt, The Chocolate Traveler, Poco Dolce, Amano Artisan Chocolate, San Francisco Toffee Company, Choclatique, Chuao Chocolatier, the TeaRoom chocolates, Cosmic Chocolate, Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory, Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows, Rushburn Toffee Company, Downey's Chocolates, The Chocolate Basket, Christopher Michael Artisan Chocolates, DOVE Chocolate Discoveries, Calcareous Vineyards, Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur, Nespresso gourmet coffee, and more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

charles chocolates: crystallized ginger pieces in 65% bittersweet chocolate

there is precious diamond dust inside this chocolate bar! small crystallized bits of ginger crackle and meld into the bittersweet chocolate.

i recommend always having this bar on hand.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

askinosie: sipping chocolate 70%

frankly i had a little difficulty in tasting this hot cocoa... the morsels barely made the milk since i kept eating them one after another - - - they were absolutely delicious. the sipping chocolate is packaged in a kraft tube with a big rubber band holding down the memo note (see image on right).

you may want to try making mexican hot chocolate with this.

Monday, May 19, 2008

charles chocolates:
caramelized crisped rice in 41% milk chocolate

i ate the whole thing. normally tastings consist of a small corner. hmpff, maybe it was the steamed vegetables for lunch, maybe it was the boxing class, or maybe the chocolate bar was just completely delicious. nestlé’s crunch has nothing on charles. the rice crispies are coated in a crispy caramel... then those golden nuggets are plunged into the most luscious milk chocolate - - - i will repent to the dark chocolate gods later.

chuck, i must sincerely thank you for this evening's dinner menu of steamed vegetables.

Friday, May 16, 2008

gary danko: recipe...
vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache, coconut ice cream and warm caramel sauce

belinda leong, gary danko's pastry chef, is the mastermind behind this dessert and she is absolutely fabulous for sending us this recipe (basically, a power chick's version of the girl scout's samoa cookies) .

here is the recipe divided into six parts:
vanilla shortbread
chocolate coconut disk
caramel sauce
bittersweet chocolate ganache
coconut ice cream

if you would like the full pdf version of this recipe, please click here...

as you will see by the pictures accompanying the recipes, i made this at home. this was not difficult to make since i cheated just a tad by buying coconut ice cream and using bernard callebaut caramel.

aside: here are some photos of the gary danko kitchen...

(the cinnamon toast crunch is a staff snack)

gary danko:
vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache

gary danko's in san francisco is completely fabulous! i had an incredible dinner with the boys from amano chocolate and my fiancé while we were up there for the chocolate salon. gary danko's food was astounding and the service was impeccable.... it brought a sweet reminiscence of taillevent in paris.

here is my menu from that divine epicurean nite:

♦ ♦ ♦
risotto with lobster, rock shrimp, zucchini, crispy artichokes and lemon-herb butter

seared sea scallops with salsify, fava beans, frisée and pancetta

roasted loin of bison with king trumpet mushrooms, glazed cipollini onions and herb spätzle

vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache
♦ ♦ ♦

the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache dessert (basically a power chick's version of the girl scout's samoa cookies) was/is an astounding creation by the belinda leong, gary danko's pastry chef. her composition was absolutely masterful by starting with a layer of shortbread, then ganache, a dusting of toasted coconut, coconut ice cream atop, then a couverture disk of chocolate and coconut. after the dessert was presented, hot caramel sauce was poured onto the couverture which allowed the chocolate to slowly melt onto the work of edible art.

please stay tuned... i will post the recipe for this decadence tomorrow.

gary danko: vanilla shortbread

320 g. (1 and 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
320 g. (1 cup and 6 tablespoons) butter, room temp
110 g. (7) egg yolks
450 g. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
30 g. (7 teaspons) baking powder

cream the butter and sugar together.

add the egg yolks one at a time.

sift the flour and baking powder and add to the mixture.

paddle just until incorporated.

chill for at least 4 hours.

spray and sugar 12 ringmolds. roll the dough i/8" thick in ring molds that are the same size. *if they are not baked in ringmolds, they will spread. bake in a preheated oven at 350 until golden (you will have to watch them)

**since i did not have that many ring molds, i baked them in muffin tins... use 1/8 cup measure... the one pictured uses 1/4 cups and they were a bit too big.

this is part one of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

gary danko:
chocolate coconut disk

  • 52% chocolate couverture [you can use 4 left over bars of chocolate]

  • toasted desicated coconut [you can toast coconut by placing it in a pot and stirring until golden brown over moderately high heat]

temper chocolate and spread onto an acetate sheet [melt the chocolate by creating a double boiler (one pot of chocolate into a pot of boiling water) then pour a thin layer of melted chocolate onto wax paper].

sprinkle the toasted coconut over the chocolate.

use a round cutter to cut the disks. remove from the acetate when set.

this is part two of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

gary danko:
caramel sauce

4 c. granulated sugar
3 tb. light corn syrup
2 ¼ c. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean

caramelize the sugar and corn syrup to 320 degrees. step back from the pot and add the cream and vanilla to the sugar. whisk together until smooth.

[there was minor cheating using the bernard callebaut caramel sauce]

this is part three of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

gary danko:
bittersweet chocolate ganache

2 ¼ c. heavy cream
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1 lb. 4 oz. 52% chocolate
4 oz. 70% chocolate
4 ½ oz. butter, room temp. [stick of butter]

[i used callebaut and askinosie - not sure about my final measurements - the askinosie chips (70% san jose del tambo sipping chocolate) kept disappearing since they were a bit on the addictive side].

scald the cream and sugar.

place both chocolates into a stainless steel bowl. pour the hot cream and sugar mixture over the chocolates.

let it sit for about a minute,

then whisk gently to emulsify. *try not to whisk vigorously because you want to avoid air bubbles.

when the mixture is emulsified, add the butter and incorporate gently with a rubber spatula.

when the mixture is emulsified, shiny and smooth,

then pour onto a flat ¼ sheet pan. chill in the refrigerator until set.

this is part four of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

gary danko:
coconut ice cream

4 ½ c. heavy cream
2 ¼ c. milk
1 ½ c. toasted desicated coconut
1 vanilla bean
1 ½ c. granulated sugar
15 egg yolks
1 tsp. kosher salt

bring the cream, milk and coconut to a boil. cover the pot with plastic wrap and infuse for 30 minutes. combine the egg yolks and sugar in a mixing bowl. when the milk/cream/coconut mixture is ready, temper it into the egg yolks and sugar. pour the mixture back into the pot and cook until 165 degrees. strain the mixture and cool in a water bath. chill overnight and the next day, freeze in the ice cream machine.

[or get mcconnell's island coconut ice cream]

this is part five of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

gary danko:

place a vanilla shortbread disk on a plate.

use a ring cutter and torch to cut the ganache into a round. use the torch to flame the sides of the ring cutter to remove ganache [you may avoid this altogether by just cutting the ganache with the circular cutter then romoving it with a large flat spatula].

place the ganache on top of the shortbread.

sprinkle some toasted coconut onto the ganache. this will prevent the ice cream from sliding sround.

scoop the ice cream and

place a chocolate coconut disk on top.

[in front of your guests,] pour the warm caramel sauce slowly onto disk, waiting for the suace to melt the disk.

this is part six of six for the vanilla shortbread with bittersweet chocolate ganache recipe

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

barque: natural peppermint crunch 60%

'tis the season to get a little spanking from santa in may. nice dark chocolate with a candy cane topper. the palate is left with a heavy peppermint aftertaste that i actually enjoy. if you are a grinch and cringe from the red and white cane, this bar is not for you.

Friday, May 9, 2008

fresh & easy: decaffeinated
chocolate flavored black tea

hmmm.... it smells like chocolate and it tastes like black tea - - - this is the strangest brew ever. i absolutely love fresh & easy but this product is completely useless.

if you want a chocolate beverage to knock your socks off, try the german chocolate cake cocktail!