Archive for the ‘Chocolate Adventures’ Category

PARTIES, PARTIES, PARTIES!

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

Book parties drenched in chocolate and red wine!   Life is good for the launch of CHOCOLATE BLISS.  The official, kick-off book party was at Skylight Books in my LA neighborhood of Los Feliz.  I presented a mini-lecture on chocolate’s origins and the legends of the gods that inspire chocolate’s official name “Food of the Gods”.  Then we compared dark chocolates and red wines, considering their fruit notes, terroir and craftsmanship.  We paired Valrhona 70% Guanaja Les Feves with Les Heretiques red – both made in the Rhone region of France (although Valrhona’s beans come from all over the world of course).  Then Scharffen Berger’s 70% dark with Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel – both from northern California.  Finally, Barry-Callebaut’s Tanzanie from eastern Africa with The Wolftrap, Syrah from South Africa.  We popped a few bottles of champagne, passed out some Valrhona milk chocolate and called it a night.  CHOCOLATE BLISS sold out and made the top ten list of best-selling non-fiction books at the store….EVER!!  Thanks to all who joined in this event, and Skylight Books, the type of independent bookstore that every neighborhood should have.

Next stop on the tour:  Beverly Hills for the Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Luxe Hotel, Studio City Holiday Boutique, then on to New York and Massachusetts.

THE MAKING OF A CHERRY CHOCOLATE

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Cherry season is almost over – sniff, sniff – so now is the time for all good chocolatiers to honor this exquisite superfruit. Cherries come in sweet and sour varieties, including Bing, Morello, and Schmidt among many others. Historians suspect they are originally from China and first cultivated in Turkey by the Romans in the 1st century. They later captured the adoration of the Chinese brush painters; their blossoms became a national cultural symbol of Japan and many cities (notably Kyoto, Washington DC and Vancouver) incorporate them into their landscape and organize festivals around them.
Sweet or tart to create a cherry compote for your chocolate confection? Given that tart cherries are naturally bittersweet (like you-know-what), opt for deep, dark red Morellos or Montmorency, pit ‘em, give them a rough chop and boil them in 1/2 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup with a pinch of salt and a splash of brandy for 5 minutes or so. While they cool, make a thin shortbread crust, baked very soft. A simple sugar cookie recipe or pate sucre will do – just roll it out to 1/4″ on a sheet pan and bake just until light brown on the edges. Next, make a milk chocolate ganache (1 cup melted milk chocolate, 3/4 cup hot cream, a little black pepper; pulse them in the food processor for about 10 seconds). Put a 1/2″ layer of ganache over the shortbread, then a thin layer of the cherry compote. Push the cherries into the chocolate ganache so they will stay put. Allow it to set, then slice into 1″ squares or circles and enrobe them in dark, 72% chocolate. Top with pink chocolate plastique cherry blossoms. If this all sounds tasty but too much work, visit my on-line store at www.happychocolates.com and I’ll send you a batch. Pssst. Either way, buy cherries now and freeze them! You’ll thank me in September.