Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
The 65% cacao bar has a clear basil aroma and a subtle lime aroma. I was still skeptical of this combination, but broke of a small piece and enjoyed a smooth buttery melt accented by a sweet creamy flavor.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Since it’s definitely not close to summer, I will be nice and not review citrus-inspired treats that could remind you of summer. But I will continue my review of Hotel Chocolat puddles, since they are just so adorable. Today’s treat is their praline puddle, a soft hazelnut praline in a 50% cacao milk chocolate.
The puddles have a nutty aroma that features a hint of cream, and the melt is thick and smooth.
A nutty flavor comes through immediately, with a coffee undertone featured as well. The earthy and coffee flavors of the chocolate are evident, and aren’t dwarfed by the hazelnut flavor, which is common in many praline-based creations. There’s a flavor in there that isn’t quite right, though – almost like poorly incorporated cream. It’s a shame, because the texture is divine.
Have you had any of Hotel Chocolat’s puddles? What is your favorite kind?
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
I don’t talk about work often here on this blog, but those of you who have been reading a while know that I work in the nuclear energy sector. So I know a thing or two about radiation, and I love to share these fun facts with friends, family, and strangers on the bus.
It’s a wonder that people find me slightly scary, isn’t it? The mysteries of the world are neverending.
One of my favorite radiation fun facts to share is that the Brazil nut is the most radioactive food on the planet. Really. The deep root systems of the trees result in incorporation of high levels of radium in the nuts.
Awesome. Now, what would be even more awesome? Chocolate covered Brazil nuts.
Why thank you, Hotel Chocolat, for reading my mind and taking these whole Brazil nuts, roasting them, and then covering them in 65% cacao dark chocolate.
Each piece has a strong coffee aroma with a subtle hint of vanilla, along with a slightly waxy coating that quickly dissolves to give way to a smooth, buttery melt. The flavor is nutty, with hints of coffee and vanilla, and just enough sugar to cut back on any bitter flavors.
The nuts appear to not be blanched, so there’s some skin to content with, but they are nice and fatty, just like they should be. The chocolate separates from the nut a bit, though if you chew these, the crunchy nut and smooth chocolate blend nicely. The flavors and textures blend nicely, and when I finished the package, I was left to ponder why chocolate covered Brazil nuts are so rare.
Do you like Brazil nuts? Did you know how radioactive they were?
Wednesday, January 4, 2012
I’ve hinted a couple of times on this blog about some guy who may or may not be tolerating me on a regular basis, but haven’t really gone into detail. However, today, I will confirm that there is some kind of THING or whatever going on with that very cute guy who worked the knots out of my calves after I ran a marathon.
And guess what? It’s his BIRTHDAY today. Which means I have to bake something for him. Something with chocolate and peanut butter, both favorites of his.
And really, can I do anything besides make mini cupcakes? No. I can’t. Because what else allows him to take leftovers to his coworkers and explain that his significant other is a nutcase but likes to make up for it by baking delicious things? Nothing, that’s what.
Well, maybe a cherpumple. But I don’t want to scare him away. Yet.
I was having a tough time figuring out exactly how to combine chocolate and peanut butter, and was leaning towards using bananas since this wonderful fellow happens to like those, too. Inspiration came from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, a book my grandmother kindly gave me for Christmas.
And from there, I pieced together a recipe for chocolate chunk banana mini cupcakes – with peanut butter frosting – that are not-to-sweet, a bit nutty, and flavorful with a delightful texture.
Wheat-free Chocolate Chunk Banana Mini Cupcakes (inspired by Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Berenbaum)
1 ripe banana, peeled and mashed
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup chickpea flour
¼ cup almond flour
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
Mix chickpea flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Toss one tablespoon of mixture with chopped chocolate, set both mixtures aside. Blend banana and sour cream in a food processor, then add lemon zest, vanilla, and egg, blend until smooth. Transfer to a stand mixer, blend with sugars and melted butter. Add flour mixture, beat on low until well mixed, then add chopped chocolate mixture, beating until just combined. Pour batter into lined cavities of a mini muffin pan.
Bake at 350° F for 13-15 minutes, then remove and cool.
Peanut Buttercream (adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Berenbaum)
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup butter at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
Combine peanut butter, cream cheese, butter, sour cream, 1 cup of powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt in a food processor until smooth, then transfer to a stand mixer and beat with a whisk attachment, slowly incorporating remainder of powdered sugar until fluffy. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.Find a very sweet guy with a birthday to give them to.
Or just eat them yourself. Whatever works for you.
Have you ever made mini cupcakes for somebody to celebrate their birthday? Were they as adorable and compulsive about sorting M&Ms as the guy in the picture above? (If you say yes about either of the parts in the last question, you are lying)
Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Monday, January 2, 2012
I’m sure you all have some profound New Year’s resolution or something. Probably involving eating healthier or exercising more. Since I already write about running too much on this blog, I’m going to help you out in case your resolution is to eat more fruit.
See? Raspberry! The Hotel Chocolat Raspberry Riot bar, that is. A bar of40% cacao milk chocolate with raspberry white chocolate, which weighs in at an impressive 28% cacao, quite high for white chocolate. The bar also packs some cookie bits, meringue, and real raspberry pieces.
Real fruit, folks. Real fruit. It’s evident the moment you unwrap the bar, as the tangy aroma emerges immediately along with some creamy notes. And
Milk! Calcium! This bar belongs in your diet.
The base raspberry white chocolate has a creamy melt and a tangy raspberry flavor, which nicely contrasts with the sweet white chocolate. The raspberry pieces, which are freeze dried, are even more tart, the meringue pieces, however, nicely balance that tartness with their crisp sweetness dispersed throughout the bar.
The cookie pieces add even more crunch than the meringue, but don’t overwhelm the bar with additional sugar, and resemble a chocolate cracker more than a cookie. With all of these tart and sweet components, the milk chocolate is barely noticeable in most bites, though it does offer some caramel and cream flavors. The raspberry white chocolate certainly dominates the bar, which is fine. It gives the overall effect of a rich frozen custard with delicious raspberry sauce, some thick chocolate fudge, and crumbled bits of cookie and meringue on top.
But it’s healthy, you know. Fruit.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Or are you cynical and bitter like me?