Monday, February 29, 2016

Tired of the same, old birthday cake? Be different. Make CAKE POPS!

What are cake pops you might ask? They are great little balls of cake, covered with chocolate, and then put on a stick. They look pretty, they're certainly fun, and you don't have to deal with all the leftover cake madness.

Here’s what you’ll need first:
·         Cake
·         8 oz of softened cream cheese
·         2 cups of powdered sugar
·         ¼ cup of softened, unsalted butter
·         Tablespoon of milk

So, now scrap off that icing and crumble the cake into a bowl. Work the cake with your fingers until it’s a fine crumble. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, butter, milk and cream cheese together. Start pouring in the crumbled cake and work it all together until it’s smooth and malleable. Refrigerate the mixture until it firms up.

Now we make the magic happen.

What you’ll need:
·         Lollipop sticks
·         White Chocolate or Milk Chocolate Couverture
·         Edible wax (optional but makes the coating more resistant to melting)

Now, roll the cake into balls and place them on a sheet pan that’s lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Stab each one of those little cake balls with a lollipop stick and put them in the freezer. Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, take the balls out of the freezer, and dip them in the chocolate. You can roll the cake pops in sprinkles, colored sugar, or other stuff if you want to get extra creative.


Friday, February 26, 2016

So, Does Eating Chocolate Make You Skinnier?

By now I’m sure most media-savvy people have heard about the health benefits of chocolate, especially the new studies that report that chocolate might help people stay thin. These announcements obviously have a lot of people excited. It’s like saying, “Hey! Dessert makes you healthy!” But of course, there’s a catch to this revelation.

The catch is, basically, that you can’t just eat tons of chocolate and get skinny. Even though it’s pretty obvious, it’s still kind of a bummer, right?

A study was done by Dr. Beatrice Golomb, who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of California, in San Diego. Dr. Golomb surveyed over 1000 adults and those that reported eating chocolate more frequently had lower body mass indexes (BMI).  The lower BMI group didn’t necessarily report eating fewer calories or exercising more, although the entire sample size reported some exercise during the week.

Dr. Golomb hypothesizes that chocolate increases the body’s metabolic processes enough to offset the calories contained in the chocolate. And this is where the catch really comes into play: there are chemical reactions caused by chocolate that cause the metabolism to speed up (at least according to this study and there are some researchers who take issue with it), but many easily available chocolates contain mostly sugar and other filler ingredients.

What does this mean? Well, it means that, more than likely, you’re better off eating a high cocoa solid percentage chocolate, say over 75% for example. This is definitely not a bad thing. Dark chocolate is delicious and has been linked to other health benefits, like lower cholesterol and reduced risks of heart disease.

So, eat a few squares of dark chocolate a day. You know, just to be on the safe side. There are far fewer calories and calories from fat in very dark chocolate when compared to other sweets and the worst case scenario is that you’ve sweetened your day a little.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What is Chocolate Couverture?

On the surface, chocolate terminology can seem daunting and confusing. Terms like couverture, cocoa liquor, nibs, and cocoa butter can be confusing enough but there are also a host of percentages that seem to muddy the waters even more. And here you thought chocolate was just supposed to taste good and now you find yourself in a chemistry lesson. Well, it’s actually a lot less complicated than it sounds.
Couverture is basically a very high quality type of chocolate that contains a higher amount of cocoa butter than regular chocolate. The percentages are usually around 32% to 39% cocoa butter and the total percentage of cocoa butter and cocoa solids should be around 54%. Now, this is all starting to sound complicated, but it really isn’t. The packaging for the couverture will usually have a percentage on it and that number will refer to the combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids.

Chocolate couverture is used for molding, coating, dipping, and garnishing. This is where we get to the fun part. Want to make your own cream or nut filled chocolates? Get some couverture, some simple molds, and go to town. Want to make chocolate covered cake pops? Grab some couverture. Couverture is also great for fondues and even chocolate fountains, if you want to get really ambitious.

You’ll probably also run into some recipes and articles that will tell you need to temper your couverture. Don’t get too downcast, it’s not really that big of a deal. Tempering basically does two things: it allows couverture that has been melted to last longer and it gives it a better texture for complicated tasks. If you are only going to melt a small amount and use it all immediately, then don’t mess with tempering. Also, if you you’re not extremely concerned with how shiny the chocolate is, or how much of a “snap” it has when broken or bit into, tempering is unnecessary.

When you look at instructions for tempering, that whole overwhelmed feeling can come back. Some articles on couverture tempering include lists of the various crystals that form from cocoa molecules at different temperatures. Yeah, at some level that stuff is important, but you don’t necessarily need it. Here’s the basic break down. If you want to temper your couverture, melt it in a double boiler. Each type of couverture has a different temperature it needs to be heated to:  heat dark chocolate to 120°F, milk chocolate to 115°F, and white chocolate to 110°F. Then let it cool:  dark to 82°F, milk to 80°F, and white to 78°F. Then reheat it to 90°F for dark, 86°F for milk, and 82°F for white.

Oh, and two finals things. Don’t substitute couverture for bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate in recipes. The higher cocoa butter content will alter whatever you’re making. Also don’t confuse couverture for “confectionary chocolate,” “summer coating,” or “compound chocolate.” They usually have vegetable oils, trans fats, or palm oil and are generally lower quality.

All these terms and percentages aren’t really that big of a deal. Now that you know what’s going on, check out some of our great chocolate couvertures. I’ll bet you can think of something awesome to do with them. Especially now, that we are having an INVENTORY CLEARANCE for 75% all our couvertures! (

Have fun, chocolate lovers!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

To Alkalize or Not To Alkalize? That Is The Question

So, everybody has at some point read an article about a study that describes the benefits of the antioxidants found in chocolate. These articles and studies usually advise the reader to choose the darkest chocolate because it contains more of the antioxidant-rich cocoa solids. This is good advice, but how do you apply it to cocoa powder? And how does alkalization fit into this?

Cocoa powder is essentially just ground cocoa beans so it contains all of the same antioxidant-bearing cocoa solids. You might come across information saying that alkalized cocoa powder contains fewer antioxidants and nutrients in general than the natural cocoa. While this is technically true, the difference really isn’t that significant.

Antioxidant levels are measured by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) score. Ecuadorian cocoa beans and especially the arriba bean (which we use exclusively) have higher ORAC scores than more common beans, like African cocoa. The USDA publishes an ORAC table that contains the results of their lab tests on various foods, spices, and extracts. A quick look at the table (which you can find here) makes this comparison pretty simple.

According the official USDA ORAC table, natural cocoa powder has a score of 80,933 per 100 grams, while alkalized (dutched) cocoa powder has a score of 40,200. Even though it’s roughly 50% less than the natural, the alkalized score is still much higher than any other food that was tested other than cocoa mass and several spices such as cumin seeds. Realistically, alkalized cocoa beans beat the spices as well because you obviously cannot consume nearly the same quantities of them as you can dutched cocoa powder. So, even though the alkalized powder does have a lower ORAC score than the natural, it is still much higher than other foods known to be antioxidant rich such as a bar of dark chocolate (20,823) or red wine (5,693).

In short, alkalized cocoa powder is an extremely antioxidant rich food. If you prefer using dutched powder, by all means keep using it. You’re getting all the benefits of dark cocoa along with the benefits of alkalization.

Click here to order any of our cocoa powders!