The recipe for making chocolatey gifts | Baking the seasons 

By Claire Ptak | December 12, 2015

Work away from any drafts so that the chocolate does not set prematurely. Photograph: Kristin Perers for the Guardian

In recent years many bean‑to-bar chocolate manufacturers have come to market making beautiful chocolates with even more beautiful packaging. It’s fun to just buy a selection of bars and tear them open at the table after dinner, tasting and chatting about the nuance of flavour with your dinner mates. That’s my kind of fun anyway.

This year, I opted to make my own selection of chocolates for the Christmas table and extra to give out to friends. One I call chocolate bark, because it has a rough-hewn texture, but it’s really like a giant chocolate bar that you can break into shards, so you don’t have to worry about fussy moulds and tempering. I love the combination of chocolate and rye with added sea salt. (you may have tried my chocolate rye brownie at the bakery, or made it from the recipe in the book). By toasting stale rye breadcrumbs, you get a crunch in the middle of these chocolate pieces that is completely addictive.

Always start with good quality chocolate, as it is the star in both these recipes. For the Earl Grey truffles, I have chosen one of my favourite combinations for a ganache-based truffle, but the truth is you could steep almost anything in cream to make your own bespoke treats.

To continue reading this article and to access the recipe, please click on the link below:

Source: The recipe for making chocolatey gifts | Baking the seasons | Life and style | The Guardian

Mast Brothers Respond to Chocolate Attacks — Grub Street

By Sierra Tishgart | December 10 2015

The Mast Brothers Respond to Attacks on Their Chocolate’s Authenticity

You really can’t argue with the great packaging, though. Photo: Mast Brothers

Since brothers Rick and Michael Mast launched Mast Brothers in Brooklyn in 2007, chocolate experts have long debated the reason for the brand’s popularity. Is the chocolate actually high-quality and bean-to-bar, as claimed, or is most of the appeal related to the twee, adorable packaging? Experts have criticized the quality of the chocolate over the years, but now a Dallas-based chocolate blogger who goes by Scott has launched one of the harshest attacks on the company yet, claiming the brothers haven’t always been honest about where their chocolate comes from. In his first post on the topic, the blogger makes a case that, in the early years, the Masts didn’t make their own chocolate, but instead remelted industrial chocolate. He argues, in part:

Small bean-to-bar makers generally source cacao with distinctive flavor characteristics (and often, unfortunately, flaws) that persist, through minimalist processing, in the finished chocolate. But each Mast Brothers bar had a flat, roasty, anodyne flavor typical of industrial manufacturers using bulk cacao from western Africa. More suspiciously, the texture was as smooth and slick as store-bought couverture from a multinational behemoth, which is unimaginable from a small maker using tabletop stone grinders. If the Mast Brothers did make that chocolate, I had never seen such a perfect mimic of blandly competent middle-market industrial chocolate before, nor have I in the nearly eight years since.

This claim is further explored in a second post, as Scott explains that even with all of the media attention Mast received, “There was almost no public information about how the Mast Brothers were making all of this chocolate.”

To continue reading this article, please click on the link below:

Source: Mast Brothers Respond to Chocolate Attacks — Grub Street

Are You Baking With the Right Chocolate? – Bon Appétit

By Rochelle Bilow | December 7, 2015

The baking aisle of your supermarket is a complicated place, stacked high with questions and more varieties of funfetti cake than you ever know you needed. If you’re just there for some baking chocolate, you face shelves of options: Bittersweet or semisweet? Milk or dark? How dark? Chips or bars? Bars or blocks? Nibs?!? It’s enough to throw your hands up, grab a tub of frosting, one of those boxed mixes, and call it a day.

Until now.

We present: the complete guide to buying and baking with chocolate.

Bars, Blocks, Chips, Wafers, or Powder?

You should never bake with chocolate you wouldn’t eat out-of-hand. “I wouldn’t bake with an $11 artisanal bar,” says senior associate editor Claire Saffitz. On the other hand, “it should be delicious enough on its own to eat as a snack.” Back in the baking aisle, there are five main formats of baking chocolate: bars, blocks, wafers, chips, and cocoa powder.

To continue reading this article, please click on the link below:

Source: Are You Baking With the Right Chocolate? – Bon Appétit

Queenstown: Chocolate coated fun – Travel – NZ Herald News

By Delaney Mes | December 6, 2015

As well as the scenery, Queenstown now boasts the best hot chocolate in the world, finds Delaney Mes.

Queenstown’s spectacular scenery and snow-covered mountains make it the ultimate winter destination. But there is so much more, especially when the weather is sizzling rather than severe. With an array of fabulous wineries, great cafes, and picturesque scenery featuring mountains and lakes, there is a lot to love. And right now, it’s something that will turn chocolate likers into chocolate lovers.

Koko Black, a boutique chocolate company from Australia, opened its first offshore chocolate salon in Queenstown late last year. Owner and founder Shane Yardley chose the picturesque location for a number of reasons.

To continue reading this article, please click on the link below:

Source: Queenstown: Chocolate coated fun – Travel – NZ Herald News

Temper chocolate for perfect candy – On the Food Trail

By On The Food Trail | December 3, 2015

Apologies for this not-at-all-humble brag, but I give the best homemade candy to my friends at this time of year. As in, spouses-hide-it-from-one-another, good candy.

I have been doing this for 30 years, and if I stopped now, there would be hell to pay. Still, every now and then, I daydream about some other, easier gift. Why? Because for exquisite candy, I have to temper chocolate.

Chocolate, you see, has some unusual molecular properties. Cocoa fat, (which is a major constituent of chocolate) has a crystalline structure. During chocolate-making those crystals are split apart and super-homogenized with cocoa solids and the other ingredients, such as sugar and milk, to create a solid bar.

These tiny crystals of cocoa butter, however, don’t like to be parted from one another. They will pounce on any encouragement – warm temperatures, say – to reunite. You know that white bloom you found on the mini-chocolate bars you bought for Halloween and forgot about for a year? That’s caused by cocoa butter crystallization (which probably happened sometime in the steaming dog days of August).

This cocoa butter behavior causes trouble too when we melt chocolate for dipping candy. Simply heat the chocolate and dip, and the cocoa butter will glom together in big crystals. The coating will be streaked with bloom and have a crumbly texture, instead of the characteristic “snap” of a properly-tempered chocolate.

For shiny, crunchy candy, you must “temper” chocolate – that is, take it through a finicky series of temperature shifts that discourages cocoa butter crystal glom – before dipping. Honestly, properly tempering chocolate is a pain in the neck.

To continue reading this article, please click on the link below:

Source: Temper chocolate for perfect candy – On the Food Trail