Archive: Chocolate

Meeting the Flourless Chocolate Cookie Fairy

Friday afternoon and I'm thoroughly enjoying the current above-average April temperatures that make it feel more like June. It had been a long week and I'm catching up with some magazines, a few new cookbooks and a glass of white wine. Phone rings, and it's Mister MA, who's decided to invite our friends, the Fonzes, over for dinner without much of a pre-invite spousal consultation. Flourless chocolate cookies. (Kim O'Donnel) The cook is really not in the mood for dinner party prep, but Mister MA, now obligated to play host, announces that he will prepare supper but wants to know if the culinary hotline is open for occasional troubleshooting. I step aside and watch him go, go, go, proud of him as he makes marinade for chicken, washes greens for salad ("Yeah, Dude, I know how to make a vinaigrette") and lights the chimney for the grill. I know he...

 

By Kim ODonnel | April 21, 2008; 08:43 AM ET | Comments (21)

Vegan Cupcakes That Can Fool April

I'll make this snappy because I don't want to keep you from what I predict will be a life-changing experience. Vegan chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes. (Kim O'Donnel) What if I told you it was possible to bake the most outrageous chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes cloaked in a chocolate ganache frosting -- but without a drop of dairy, a smidge of eggs or a spoonful of sugar. That means that the most outrageous chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes in the world are also: a) cholesterol-free and b) diabetic friendly (the sweetener on duty is the low-glycemic agave nectar). If you're feeling a disconnect, I feel you. It is bizarre that rich, chocolate and tender crumb can be uttered in the same sentence as virtuous -- and vegan-undetectable. In fact, I daresay that these cupcakes would make the ultimate April Fool's Day (next Tuesday, April 1) treat -- you literally could fool the pants off all...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 27, 2008; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (57)

This Little Piggy Tastes Like Chocolate...

Remember the days when a chocolate bar would be plain or with nuts? If you were raised on Cadbury, you'd get raisins thrown into the mix for fun, but the choices were simple and few. The 21st century has big things in mind for chocolate; in just a few years, brown bars have morphed from plain to "infused," with everything from bread crumbs to wasabi powder making an appearance on the ingredient list. To wit: Dagoba (now owned by Hershey) does bars filled with raspberries and rosehips, goji berries and currants and the calming duo of lavender and blueberries. Now Dasher and Dancer and Piggy Von Blixen... (Kim O'Donnel) But by far the most esoteric I've seen and sampled come from Vosges Haut-Chocolat, the Chicago-based company owned by Katrina Markoff, for whom a primary inspiration is the music of the late Bob Marley. Markoff's line of 14 bars, which launched...

 

By Kim ODonnel | March 13, 2008; 07:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Getting Your Chocolate Groove On

Marcel Desaulniers is hard-core when it comes to chocolate. His e-mail moniker is Goganache, for crying out loud. In 15 years, the chef-author has written six choco-filled cookbooks, covering every nook and cranny in the cacao world from cakes to pie, brownies to truffles, and then there's ice cream, of course. If you're still looking for a holiday gift for the chocoholic in your life, Desaulnier's latest endeavor, "I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas," may be just the ticket. Nothing seems too complicated in this collection of 70-plus recipes, which read clearly and offer guidance. Golly Polly's Doodles. (Kim O'Donnel) Earlier this fall, Desaulniers, who's chef/owner of The Trellis Restaurant in Williamsburg, Va., and I shared a table at The National Press Club's book fair, a proximity that allowed me to get a real mouthful of treats from his new book. I immediately fell in love with his Golly Polly's...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 20, 2007; 09:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

Divine Bites of Inspiration

Yesterday, I met two women visiting from Ghana. For the past ten days, Cecilia Donkur, 62, and Cecilia Appianim, 47, have been traveling around the country talking about the chocolate brand they own and the cocoa beans they grow. In fact, they've got to fly home this weekend, as the second cocoa harvest of the year is underway and there's much work to be done. The West African nation of Ghana is cocoa country; it is the world's second largest producer after Cote d'Ivoire, producing an average of 640,000 tons a year, a figure based on stats from the Vienna, Va.- based World Cocoa Foundation. Last year, 3.7 million tons of cocoa was produced worldwide, 70 percent of which came from West Africa. (Other African cocoa producers are Cameroon and Nigeria.) Ghanaian cocoa farmers Cecilia Donkur (left) and Cecilia Appianim (right). (Kim O'Donnel) Sounds like big business -- and it...

 

By Kim ODonnel | October 18, 2007; 11:09 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Best Chocolate Is in Seattle

During my visit to Seattle last year, a group of us were enjoying the last of our wine at The Incredible Feast, an al fresco grazing fest that raises money and awareness for Washington state family farms. Kate, who had just played a round of darts, was very excited with her winnings, a few bars of a locally produced chocolate called 3400 Phinney. We peeled away the wrappers, and as we nibbled, we all agreed that yeah, this is good chocolate, very good. But little did I know just over a year ago that good was just the beginning for Joseph Whinney, whose young Theo Chocolate company is now on the cusp of greatness. One afternoon last week, while my pal Leslie and I were strolling through Fremont, a neighborhood chockfull of funky boutiques and coffee shops, she points out the Theo headquarters, a combination cocoa bean roastery, chocolate factory...

 

By Kim ODonnel | September 5, 2007; 11:21 AM ET | Comments (0)

My Kind of Birthday Cake

A little fairy came by recently, questioning me about my taste in birthday cakes. Did I have a favorite, by chance? A secret admirer wanted to know and was interested in placing an order, but not until he got a sense of my cake crumb preferences and peeves. "Nothing fancy or fussy," I said. "No candy do-dads, frosting roses, buttercream, pudding centers, jams, jellies, dacquoise, and most importantly, nothing too sweet." Chocolate Guinness cake. (Kim O'Donnel) Frantically, he made some notes, and then looked at me, his eyebrow knitted. "Well, is there anything about a birthday cake that you DO like?" he asked. "You've shared your peeves but none of your preferences." I closed my eyes for a minute, envisioning the perfect birthday cake. I like simple, homey cakes, sometimes in a bundt shape or in a single springform layer. Red velvet comes to mind. Coffee cake. Rum cake. Gingerbread....

 

By Kim ODonnel | August 22, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (19)

We Heart Chocolate

Yesterday, a small group of opinionated chocolate elves with resilient palates joined me in a blind taste test of eight Valentine's chocolate heart samplers. (Somebody's gotta do it.) The criteria: Assortments for the everyday lover - available nationally at the grocery store, the drug store or the mall. Nothing fancy, artisanal or homemade. The choc-off contestants.(Kim O'Donnel) The idea: To get a pulse on the state of mass-produced Valentine's samplers and to determine which, if any, of the contestants would be worth the money, even at the last procastinator's minute. The scene: A pile of half-eaten chocolates in a "spit cup" for those too harsh to go down the hatch. A lot of chocolate-induced fidgeting, including some teeth experiencing sugar jitters. The work we do is hard labor, I tell you. The chocolate contestants included: "Grand Assortment," by Lake Champlain Chocolates, of Burlington, Vt. What you get: 22 pieces, a...

 

By Kim ODonnel | February 9, 2007; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (14)

Chocolate Vision

It was the summer of 1980. I was an exchange student in St. Gallen, Switzerland. It was my first trip to Europe, and I was 14 with a mouthful of braces, earnestly trying to like being away from home. Whenever a bout of homesickness would set in, I'd board a bus and go into the center of town, where I'd roam and study faces and houses that were so different from those at home. I always ended up at the train station, a center of activity, and an important pit stop. It was at the station newsstand where I'd buy a copy of the International Herald Tribune to catch up on anything familiar, and to wash down the news with a bar of chocolate. A small sampler of the choc-choices on the market. (Kim O'Donnel) Even at the newsstand, the chocolate choices were far more varied than at the pharmacy...

 

By Kim ODonnel | December 6, 2006; 09:39 AM ET | Comments (36)

 

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