Archive for August, 2008

To Market, To Market…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 29, 2008 by Brian

…for chocolate!

Yes, Kakao is going to be at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market tomorrow for our season debut. Today is a busy day, getting everything ready, including the dipping our our fresh caramels (made from sugar, cream and butter, dipped in our special mixture of semisweet chocolate and topped with a touch of sea salt, just in case you haven’t had them before).

Here’s what we’ll have on the menu:

  • Rose and Red Tea truffles, topped with a spot of white chocolate
  • Chai Tea truffles, topped with Vietnamese Cassia cinnamon
  • Maker’s Mark Bourbon truffles
  • Chile-Vanilla truffles, topped with cocoa nibs
  • Turkish Coffee with Cardamon truffles, topped with a touch of ground coffee
  • Lavender truffles
  • Caramels!
  • Dragees — almonds toasted in caramelized sugar, coated in chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder
  • Pates de Fruits — raspberry jellied candies (for those of you who don’t prefer chocolate)
  • Ginger and coffee bark in both milk and dark chocolate
  • Four different flavors of brownies made from our special ganache: chai, Maker’s Mark, chile-vanilla and lavender

And, as a special for readers of this blog, we’ll also have a limited amount of the French Raspberry Liqueur truffles and Smoked Tea truffles. You won’t see these on the menu at the market, so be sure to ask for them — I’ll only have a few and I don’t know how long they’ll last.

We’re really looking forward to being at the market tomorrow. Stop by and say hello!

All Systems Go

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2008 by Brian

I’m very pleased to announce that Kakao now has its official business license from the city of St. Louis. The process took just under three months, required the assistance of dozens of city employees in nearly as many different departments, and culminated in an hour visit to City Hall yesterday morning while I coordinated with the last person in the chain to prove that I had taken all the necessary steps and secured all the necessary approvals, which included the building inspection appeal I won two weeks ago.

Now that we have that paperwork, we’re ready to rock and roll in a serious way. And so I’m pleased to announce the debut of the new Kakao Chocolate at the Tower Grove Farmer’s Market this Saturday,  August 30.

This week I’m pulling together everything to be able to share a great menu for our first showing. I’ve got Rose and Chai Tea truffles, which are both dipped in milk chocolate, and Lavender-Vanilla ganache setting to be dipped later this week in milk. Yesterday I dipped Maker’s Mark Bourbon and Chile-Vanilla truffles in bittersweet chocolate. And I’ll be dipping some Turkish Coffee with Cardamom in semisweet, too.

And caramels! Of course I’ll have those delicious caramels, dipped in semisweet chocolate with a pinch of sea salt on top. I’ll also have some pate de fruits and a few bags of dragees (although I’m hoping my almond shipment comes today so I can make some more). And definitely some bark: ginger, coffee and almond.

Hope to see you all there!

Key Ingredients

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on August 20, 2008 by Brian

With our focus on all-natural confections, you can imagine how important it is to find high-quality and unique ingredients. We use, for instance, whole Tahitian vanilla beans, organic lavender, and the best spices we can procure.

Some of the ingredients come from unlikely sources, because I’m always poking around small shops in case I find something interesting. And today I used two interesting finds to create a couple of amazing truffles.

One was found not in a small shop, but in the largest liquor store in Chicago, Sam’s Wine and Spirits. Mathilde Raspberry Liqueur is a wonderful French drink hand-crafted with a traditional family recipe that’s over a hundred years old, and is deeply flavored and not overly sweet. (The American bottle does say Raspberry and not Framboise, by the way.)

I’ve been working on a fruit-flavored truffle — a large challenge because of the water content of the fruit — and may settle right here as far as raspberry is concerned. The truffle is exquisitely creamy with the beautiful flavor and aroma of raspberry. I didn’t want to take away from the melded flavor of chocolate and raspberry, so I simply topped them with stripes of white chocolate.

A more obscure find was some pine-smoked black tea purchased from a small co-op in the middle of Iowa. It smelled like a campfire and instantly kindled my curiosity about what kind of truffle it might make. (Heather later pointed out to me that I already own a bag of lapsang souchong tea, the proper Chinese name, hidden amongst Kakao’s inventory.)

Allegedly, way back when in China, the tea-drying process was interrupted because an army was passing through the area, so the villagers did what any tea-thirsty villagers would do, and sped up the process by drying the tea leaves over a pine log fire. Who knew?

As fair warning, this truffle is not for everyone. It’s rich in smoke, like a huge bonfire the next morning, and almost meaty in its flavor. I topped half of the batch with just a tiny bit of black smoked salt, and the other half with a less flavorful pink Hawaiian coral salt. Truly the topping is just to identify the truffle, because the flavor is strong enough to contend with whatever I put on top.

By the way, our delivery sale is still on, and includes these new truffles while I have them on hand — any $30+ order gets free delivery within 10 miles of the shop. Use orders@kakaochocolate.com to make sure you don’t miss out.

A Celebration

Posted in Uncategorized on August 18, 2008 by Brian

Last week we accomplished a significant achievement — we fought city hall and won.

The details are silly, but suffice to say that once we explained our unique situation to the building inspection appeal board, and showed them how we crafted our lease to accomodate the layout of the building, they saw that they could easily grant a waiver.

In celebration of this feat, we’re having a sale: FREE DELIVERY of any chocolate order over $30, within 10 miles of the shop at 2837 Cherokee. So between now and Wednesday, August 27, check out our newly redesigned website at www.kakaochocolate.com, contact us at orders@kakaochocolate.com or 314.489.5617 and we’ll set you up with some chocolate, delivered to your home or office free.

By the way, I’ve got a limited amount of a new banana-rum truffle, topped with a sliver of dried organic banana. I’m sure they won’t last long, so let me know if you’d like some in your order.

Brian

That’s Funny…

Posted in Uncategorized on August 8, 2008 by Brian

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ (I found it!) but ‘That’s funny …'” – Isaac Asimov

With all due respect to Dr. Asimov, I suggest another exciting phrase to hear in the kitchen, one that heralds new discoveries: ‘Oh crap!’

Last big project to do before leaving town tomorrow was to dip my caramels so as to give them enough time to set before packaging. Got to the shop this morning, got the chocolate tempered and ready, cut up the caramels, put one on the fork and started dipping.

It was at this moment I realized I hadn’t ‘bottomed’ the caramels, and uttered a phrase similar to the one above.

Bottoming (or footing) is an important step in dipping, both for caramels and truffles, because the centers aren’t solid enough to be held on the fork when dipped — the fork can squish into them, which makes the whole thing rather messy.

So you temper a bit of chocolate, spread it over the ganache or caramel, let it set, and then cut it up. Much easier to bottom one big piece than 120 little pieces.

Oops.

Rather than try to bottom each piece, I decided to plunge ahead and dip them anyway. Caramel is more solid than ganache, but it’s much more sticky, so the first few were a challenge to get off the fork. But eventually I figured out how to stick the caramel on the edge of the fork, dip it, and then gently snap it off the fork onto the parchment paper. This might even work better than bottoming.

Eureka!

A Beautiful Mess

Posted in Uncategorized on August 1, 2008 by Brian

I made a mess this morning, but it’s a beautiful, glorious mess. And completely edible, although I think it’s capable of generating an instant food coma.

Remember those marshmallows? I carved some off the slab of white (with specks of vanilla seeds throughout), rolled them in powdered sugar, and considered the fact that I just made a marshmallow. Not the same form you see in the store, but still.

I stepped away from the marshmallows and toasted some almonds, just enough to get the flavor to make itself known. I cooled them off, and then spread them — generously — over half the white slab.

Then I took some chocolate from this morning’s dipping — Turkish coffee with cardamom, with a pinch of fresh-ground coffee on top — and covered the almonds. Then I folded the slab over onto itself, and made a sandwich, or omelet (although I think sandwich is a more appealing description).

Not done yet, though.

I then spread a layer of chocolate over the top of the sandwich, let that set, flipped it over, and spread chocolate on the bottom.

After lunch, when it’s nicely set, I’ll cut it into pieces — not too big, but not too small either — and give the sides a dusting of powdered sugar so they’re not sticky.

I’ll be here until 5 p.m. today, in case anyone wants to come over and give them a try. No promises about how long they’ll last…