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!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

richart: ma tablette pure origine
70% madagascar

this is so much better than a suave frenchman whispering lurid desires in your ear! eating this bar may just fulfill what you want to feel (sans the special nibbles from frenchie) and smell.

richart has given us a gentle and smooth chocolate with his tablette pure origine of madagascar. the berry notes are enjoyably elusive and naughty when caught... the nice snap of the chocolate followed by its salving melt, makes this rendezvous complete rapture.

here is the back of the package.... fabuleux, n'est pas? the package is held together with a bamboo skewer!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

saratoga chocolates:
le jardin de chocolat

this is from our contributing snob, nick leventini...

"this thick dark chocolate is appropriately named "le jardin chocolat". this garden is pleasing to the eyes and to the taste buds! the bar is a piece of art with its beautiful array of colors (bits of dried apricots, candied orange peels, almonds, pistachio nuts, and crystallized ginger). the back of the bar is stamped with saratoga's stamp of approval... no visual detail was left undone! flavors of ginger and orange keep me coming back for more! scrumptious!"

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

apex: brownie delight protein bar

i have had my share of protein bars and after much consideration i do not want to have one ever again.

alas, yesterday, the receptionist gave me an apex brownie delight bar coated with real reese's peanut butter chips... the "individually hand-made" bar tasted like a cocolite peat moss brick with gritty reese's pieces in the mix.

the label proudly claims to have 240 calories, 13 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of fat.

i am not a nutritionist, but I can do math... instead of having tar residue in my mouth for 24 hours, i would much rather have a chicken breast and a quarter of a new tree 73% cocoa bar totaling 191 calories, 18.1 grams of protein, 9.5 grams of carbs (that is a very big difference from apex's 28 grams), and 9 grams of fat.

Monday, May 5, 2008

smart & final: real milk chocolate
gold coins

unpalatable, offensive, and brackish.

Friday, May 2, 2008

poco dolce: bittersweet chocolate tiles
topped with grey sea salt

this is a very sophisticated chocolate that is élite and aristocratic! it is packaged in a blue on blue box with a label band. upon opening the box, an elegant display pops up.

  • the aztec chile caught me quite by surprise. at first bite, it was so incredibly delicate, then it became intense, then aromatic, then salty, then spicy. if you do not have the means to visit machu picchu i recommend this alternate adventure.
  • the burnt caramel is perfectly made toffee encased in chocolate... i wanted more.
  • how did the almond tile know how to fulfill my needs? the almonds were toasted and perfectly prepared for their dip.
  • there has been a lot of ginger chocolate out there and this one is ranked up there as the best with just the right amount of sugar coating.
  • not pictured is the almond coconut that is the best grown up version of an almond joy EVER!
  • also there is the sesame toffee that has a strong asian ambrosial influence.

my fellow chocolate snobs, i wish there was a more elegant word than stockpile - - - but i must suggest stockpiling this poco dolce chocolate... eating the majority and offering some as gifts.