Stephen Fries: Show your Valentine love with fine chocolates
What better way to show your loves how special they are on Feb. 14 than by giving the gift of chocolate truffles, bean-to-bar artisan chocolate or confections you made especially for them?
Speaking of bean-to-bar, while at the Fancy Food Show last summer, I was overwhelmed by the number of bean-to-bar chocolatiers. Like craft beer, specialty coffee and bread before it, this small-batch industry is growing by leaps and bounds. American craft chocolate sales are $100 million annually and growing.
During my food travels, I’ve had opportunities to see how chocolatiers such as Norman Love Confections and William Dean create their renowned chocolates.
I visited Art Eatables in Louisville, Ky., while attending the 2017 International Association of Culinary Professionals conference. Their specialty is matching chocolate that accents the character of bourbons they use to create small-batch bourbon truffles.
While working on 2018’s Hidden Gems of Florida feature, I visited Castronovo Chocolate Factory in Stuart, Fla.
Denise Castronovo has taken home the gold medal several times in the International Chocolate Awards for her bean-to-bar chocolate bars. One bite of the Colombia Sierra Nevada bar, and I understand why it won the gold at the International Chocolate Awards World Finals in 2016 and gold winner of the 2016 Academy of Chocolate Awards.
“Bean to Bar: America’s Craft Chocolate Revolution, the Origins, the Makers, the Mind-Blowing Flavors,” by Megan Giller (2017, Storey Publishing, $19.95), is your primer to “everything you wanted to know about chocolate but were afraid to ask.” Her blog, “Chocolate Noise,” was a 2016 Saveur Food Blog Awards Finalist.
She explains why chocolate shouldn’t cost a dollar: “$14 can still seem like a big investment. However, I’d say that’s a pretty low price point to buy the best food of its kind in the world. The best wines retail for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars. Caviar? Forget about it. Spending an average of $10 on a bar that I’ll taste over the course of several days or a week seems well worth it to me.”
The recipes for Ceylon tea fudge sauce and Mayan chocolate mousse defy expectations of what chocolate should taste like.
For recipes for Balsamic strawberries in mini chocolate cups and triple chocolate chunk cookies, visit http://bit.ly/2DP3YnH.
Adapted from Earl Grey Fudge Sauce in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, by Christina Tosi
The headnote says, “Chocolate and Teago together like Beyoncé and Jay Z: great on their own, unstoppable together. That’s why I love this recipe, which uses a tea that pairs well with chocolate to make a delicious fudge sauce with a twist. I based the recipe on one from Christina Tosi, one of my favorite pastry chefs and the amazing force behind Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. This fudge sauce has a strong tea flavor, so it isn’t strictly necessary to use a single-origin chocolate, as unique flavors will be hidden behind the taste of the tea. If you do, I’d go with something mild and very chocolaty, like Venezuela, but a blend will work just as well. Pour this on top of the next sundae you make and you’ll never go back to that stuff in a bottle again.”
1 tablespoon Ceylon tea
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1/4cup heavy cream, plus a few tablespoons extra
2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1 ounce chocolate (65 to 70 percent cocoa), chopped
1/4 cup glucose syrup
Combine the tea and cinnamon in a heat-proof bowl. Heat ¼ cup of the heavy cream in a saucepan just to boiling. Pour the hot cream over the tea and cinnamon and let infuse for 5 minutes. Strain the cream into a measuring cup. Add enough fresh heavy cream to bring the volume back up to 1/4 cup. Pour the cream back into the saucepan and warm over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder, sugar, and salt, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Combine the chopped chocolate and glucose syrup in a bowl. Pour in the warm cream mixture and let sit for 1 minute to soften. Using a spatula, start slowly stirring the sauce from the center in concentric circles, speeding up as it starts to get shinier and shinier, until it achieves a fudge sauce consistency, about 2 to 4 minutes. Pour over ice cream, brownies, or whatever you desire, and enjoy! The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. Do not freeze. Serves 2-4
Mayan chocolate mousse
Recipe from Lauren Adler, chief chocophile, and the Chocolopolis team.
The headnote says, “Lauren recommends using chocolate made with cocoa from Belize (especially Taza’s single-origin bar), though any fruity chocolate will work.”
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ½ teaspoons whole allspice berries
4 tablespoons cultured butter (preferably 84 percent butterfat, softened)
4 ½ ounces dark chocolate (70 to 77 percent cocoa, chopped)
3 tablespoons ultrafine sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground allspice or black pepper, for garnish
To make the mousse, combine the cream and allspice berries in a small saucepan and warm over low heat until the cream around the edge of the saucepan begins to boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat. Cover the top of the pan tightly with plastic wrap to hold in the flavorful vapors of the allspice. Set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors infuse. Then remove the plastic wrap and fish out the allspice berries.
Combine the butter and chocolate in a medium bowl and microwave at high power for 30 seconds. Check to see if they have melted. If not, microwave in intervals of 10 seconds until they are melted. Add the cream to the melted chocolate and mix well.
Separate the eggs into yolks and whites. Set the whites in the refrigerator to keep them chilled. Whip the egg yolks into the chocolate and cream mixture until they’re just incorporated. With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the ultra-fine sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold one-quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Dish the mousse into six 4-ounce ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
Immediately before serving, make the whipped cream: Combine the whipping cream with the sugar and vanilla in a bowl. With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over-whip or you’ll end up with a butter-like consistency. Spoon or pipe the whipped cream on top of the ramekins. Garnish with a sprinkle of allspice or black pepper. Serves 6
Fifth annual Febtoberfest, Tuesday, 6-9 p.m., Mattituck Museum, 144 West Main St. Waterbury, 203-753-0381. $35 in advance, $40 at the door. In addition to local breweries, guests can sample American wine from the region and beyond. Tickets at http://bit.ly/2ncHF5k.
Food & Wine Tasting, Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., Fletcher Cameron Kitchens, 91 Orange St., New Haven, 203-777-7707. $35. Chef Anne Gallagher demonstrates how to make winter soups. An educational guided wine tasting by The Wine Thief will be offered. Info and tickets at http://bit.ly/2Dr7dWF.
CT Craft Beer Fest presented by CT Brewers Guild., Feb. 17, 4-8 p.m. Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road., Wallingford. General admission $30, designated driver tickets $15. More than 40 Connecticut breweries. Food available for purchase. Live music performed by Cleo Blue. Must be 21. For information and tickets, visit http://bit.ly/2rVPOQk
Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Feb. 22, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $65 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Learn how to make oysters Rockefeller, baby spinach bacon orange pine nut vinaigrette, homemade lobster ravioli with plum tomato cream sauce, white chocolate creme brulee.
Wines and More of Milford: Fratelli’s 6-course Italian Wine Dinner, Feb. 26, 6:30 pm, Fratelli’s Italian Restaurant, 248 New Haven Ave., Milford. 203-876-1600. $75 includes tax and gratuity. http://bit.ly/2nth0k7
Send your requests to Stephen Fries, Gateway Community College, at email@example.com or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., 06510. For more, go to stephenfries.com.