Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wheat-Free Cashew Chocolate Chunk Cookies


Everybody loves peanut butter and chocolate together. Anybody who says they don’t is either 1. afflicted with a chocolate or peanut allergy or 2. lying.

But because it’s so universally loved, it sometimes gets overdone. And you need something different. Not drastic, but a little. Something like chocolate and cashews for a flavor twist - and to add variety to your diet, which is healthy.

In cookie form, of course. Because chocolate chunk cookies are good, and cashew chocolate chunk cookies are even better.

Wheat-Free* Cashew Chocolate Chunk Cookies
½ cup butter
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups chickpea flour
¾ cup cornstarch
¾ cup almond flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces cashews, toasted and chopped
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
*If you prefer to make these with wheat flour, simply replace the chickpea flour, cornstarch, and almond flour with 2 ¼ cups of wheat flour.

Mix chickpea flour, cornstarch, almond flour, and salt, set aside. Cream butter and sugars until fluffy, then add egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture, mix until combined and then mix in cashews and chocolate. Refrigerate dough, then roll into ¾” balls, refrigerate again until firm. 

Bake at 350° F for 10-12 minutes, move to a cooling rack and cool before eating.

It’s like peanut butter and chocolate but fancier. Or at least different.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Patric: Rio Caribe Superior 70% Cacao

That pungent cheese-filled chocolate bar I discussed on Tuesday scared me away from complex chocolate creations for a while. I needed the pure stuff. Just plain, high-quality chocolate. I sought this comfort in the Patric Rio Caribe Superior 70% cacao bar, made with cacao from the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela.

This cleanly molded bar has a subtle coffee aroma and a quick melt.

The melt quickly reveals a bitter, coffee-centric flavor, with just a tiny bit of sugar. Though I enjoyed the creamy melt, which is rare but wonderful in a dark chocolate, I found it to be just a tad bitter for my tastes. It was evident that this bar was made from well-handled cacao, so I will have to try another Patric bar to find a flavor profile that I enjoy more.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Xocolatl de David: Parmigiana-Reggiano (!?)

I like to keep an open mind. Especially when it comes to chocolate. Things like pop rocks and curry can go much better with  chocolate than you might think. I thought of those experiences when I bought this very strange sounding Xocolatl de David Parmigiana-Reggiano bar.

The base of the bar is a 72% cacao bittersweet bar of Ecuadorian origin, and parmesan-reggiano cheese is added, as is salt. The cheese is coarsely ground and well-distributed, as obvious from the first glance at the bar.

The bar has a promising aroma of caramel with just a hint of cheese, so I anticipated a subtle note of cheese.

Wrong. Halfway through, the overly salty and pungent cheese, which is gritty and irritating against the smooth texture of the chocolate itself, totally takes over the chocolate.  There was perhaps a bit of mint flavor in the chocolate, but it was hard to tell with the overpowering and not very tasty cheese there.

Eating this bar is kind of like signing up torace an Ironman: It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pralus: Venezuela Trinitario 75% Cacao

So all that talk of chocolate treats for Valentine’s Day last week and this week…yeah. Let’s just say it was a good thing that the sneaky significant other decided to give me those caramels and champagnetruffles early, because on Valentine’s Day itself, I was traveling to San Antonio for a work meeting that day. And was in said meeting all day on the 15th, so I didn’t even get to celebrate “National Chocolate Sale Day.”

But travel does mean one thing: selecting a bar, or bars, of chocolate to take along. I like to go with a smooth-textured, intensely-flavored dark chocolate, since the nice melt is soothing after a day of long meetings, and the intense flavor just completes the experience. I almost always travel with some Potomac Chocolate 82% Cacao Upala, but also like to bring along something else for variety.

This week, I towed along the Pralus Venezuela Trinitario 75% cacao bar, mostly because it boasts a superbly smooth, buttery melt that is nothing short of luscious.

The aroma of this bar is fruity, dominated by raisin and banana, with a hint of caramel as well.

The taste is vastly different from the aroma, however, as citrus and char, reminiscent of strongly-roasted coffee, are dominant. It could perhaps benefit from a little more sugar, but the flavor is enjoyable nonetheless.

And did I mention the amazing texture? It’s really like slowly melting butter, and provides a great escape during a work trip on any subject.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dolcezza: Chocolate Gelato

So. Valentine’s Day. You’ve got nothing. Nice work, trooper. You could have read my recommendations for gifts last week, but unless you can haul ass over to Cocova or a similar shop in your home city, you’re out of luck.

I can still help you. I’m all about being sneaky, so here’s how you can still stay on the good side of the important chocolate lover in your life.

Take him or her out for dessert. Spontaneously. Romantic, right? Now to find a spot.

Oh, oh! Frozen yogurt?

No. It’s not healthy and it’s icy. Try again.

Oh please. Don’t even start. If a guy got me something from that overhyped shack, it would be the last time he ever saw me.

Let’s get real: gelato. From Dolcezza, the shop that has you covered with storefronts in Dupont Circle, Georgetown, AND Bethesda.

You can’t go wrong. And look at this cozy little seating arrangement.

Romance at its finest.

Now I’ve already reviewed Dolcezza’s Valrhona Chocolate Amargo – but they have a more lightly-colored, less intense “plain” chocolate flavor, too. 

This particular flavor has a creamy texture that has a hint of dryness – almost as if there are specks of leftover cocoa powder floating around. While not as complex or intense as the Valrhona flavor, it has a deep cocoa flavor, with hints of berry and coffee, that lingers nicely; these flavors are accented by a hint of sweat cream, which is more subtle than the sugary frozen desserts that abound.

Though delightful on its own, I’d suggest that this plain chocolate flavor from Dolcezza be paired with another flavor – such as their salted caramel – as this version won’t wash out other flavors like the Valrhona gelato does. For chocolate alone, the Valrhona just can’t be beat.

Friday, February 10, 2012

John&Kira's: Caramel, Honey, and Chocolate Bees

Five days until all the chocolate goes on sale. Are you ready? It's much, much more exciting than Valentine’s Day. Whether or not you agree with me, today, I have a review of another potential Valentine’s gift/treat to get on the cheap on February 15 - the John&Kira’s caramel and honey chocolate bees, a piece showcasing 62% cacao Valrhona chocolate, filled with a blend of Pennsylvanian honey and salted caramel, and beautifully painted with colored cocoa butter.

There is, of course, a story behind how I came upon this box of bee chocolates. Evidently, when I was at Cocova a few weeks ago with my very sneaky significant other who bought me champagne truffles behind my back (THE HORROR), he made note when I said “aren’t those cute” as I walked past a display of these.

I mean, they are, aren’t they?

Apparently, he covertly got a box of these, with the intent of saving them as a Valentine’s Day gift.

Then he handed them over to me on January 29.

Fail, dude. Complete fail. Delicious fail, but still. Fail.

Anyway, when I opened this box more than two weeks before Valentine’s Day, I found that it was even cuter than I imagined.

Bee facts await you under each piece.

Alright, so we have cute covered. How about the actual chocolate? Each piece has a complex aroma of honey, fig, and coffee, and also had an adorable little face painted on the shell.

(Enough already. Give me my &*^&!@# chocolate.)

The chocolate shell has a smooth and moderate melt with a slightly creamy texture and standard vanilla and coffee flavors, with a subtle mint note at the end.

And then there is the filling. Oh, the filling. It’s a liquid-type caramel, which, while thick, is still runny and leaves you with a sticky mess after one bite. The flavor is delicious – it’s buttery with a clear salty edge and a hint of honey.

Summary: adorable and delicious. But a mess.