Archive for January, 2009

Upcoming Confections

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 25, 2009 by Brian

We’ve been working on some really tasty treats that will be available for Valentine’s Day. ‘Working on,’ as in ‘playing with recipes and even if they don’t quite work they way we planned they’re still awfully good and so maybe they can be a totally different thing.’

(One wonderful thing about working with chocolate and candy is that even the mistakes are edible, and can often be re-worked into something completely new.)

So, to whet your appetite:

Passionfruit Pates de Fruits: What better candy flavor for Valentine’s Day? We’ve made other flavors of pates de fruits — raspberry, apricot, green apple, and even strawberry-basil — but these are far and away our favorite. The tangy passionfruit is mellowed by the sweetness of the sugar, and all contained in a delectable morsel some call ‘hard jam.’

Butter Pecan Toffee: Butter + Sugar + Pecans. Well, and a special ingredient that adds a kick of natural vanilla flavor. Our original plan was to coat this with chocolate, but it was so good by itself we decided to offer it au naturale.

New Truffles: In addition to our cherry truffles, we just made a new one from two of our favorite beverages. We’ll tell you more later this week — you’ll be surprised!

Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread: We’ve been selling this quietly since we developed it for the Cherokee Street Catering crepes at the Taste of St. Louis. It was so popular people asked us to bottle it up. Then it was discovered by Sauce Magazine, and now we can’t make enough of it! It’s kind of like Nutella, but not really — we’ve got more hazelnuts, less sugar, and no artificial ingredients.

 

We’re also pleased to announce that our network of retail outlets continues to grow. In addition to Local Harvest Grocery and Cafe, you can now buy Kakao chocolates at Pudd’nhead Books in Webster Groves and Cafe Ventana near St. Louis University. And we’ve got more in the works!

Meanwhile, be sure to catch us at the winter markets in Maplewood on January 31 and near Tower Grove on February 14.

Chocolate Show

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2009 by Brian

This past week I visited the Philadelphia Candy and Chocolate Show in Atlantic City. It was overwhelming, but I’ve had a bit of time to recover so you won’t feel like you just had 10 cups of coffee when you read this.

Your chocolatier is inspired, invigorated, and full of new ideas. The show was amazing, the seminars fantastic, and the camaraderie amongst fellow chocolatiers unbelievable

Yes, fellow chocolatiers. There are lots of them, all over the country, making really good chocolate and fighting the good fight against bad chocolate. Having said that, I also learned that there aren’t many who use all-natural ingredients (some of the “flavorings” and neon colors and fillings were truly incredible, and not in a good way) and even fewer who hand-dip truffles as a matter of course.

Here are a couple of things that I’ll be working on in the coming months:

  • Single-Origin Chocolate: I tasted some really great chocolate made in some specific countries and regions, and will be working on some blends that will still be single-country and with a unique Kakao twist.
  • Molded Chocolate: Lots of possibilities here for some really beautiful presentations of really great chocolate, plus some tools that will make it easier and less wasteful to fill the molds (who knew they had a contraption for that?). We’re going to have fun with this!
  • Peanut Butter: Quite a few of you have been asking about this, and yes, folks, we’re going to do it soon. I talked to several people who gave me great ideas about how to do it right. Stay tuned!
  • Cooking with Chocolate: No, chocolate isn’t just for dessert! We’ve actually been working on a few recipes that we’re preparing for the summer grilling season, and now we’ve got a bunch more ideas to develop for some savory sides and main dishes.

Cooking with Chocolate at the Candy Show

 Meanwhile, we’re headed into Valentine’s Day and have a lot of menu items in development. The Kakao cherry truffles have been a big hit, and we’re refining our beer truffles (yes, I said BEER) to take advantage of the great craft beers we have here in St. Louis. We’re also working on some really delicious butter-pecan toffee that we’ll have at the next market, and some other surprises. Stay tuned!

Chocolate-Covered Cherries

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2009 by Brian

Okay, not really. Let’s say they’re de-constructed chocolate-covered cherries. Or re-constructed. Maybe inside-out.

In any case, so far the taste testers are giving a thumbs-up to our cherry truffles.

Let’s start with the ganache inside. Butter-cream with semi-sweet chocolate, and a wonderful cherry liqueur. Not a cherry brandy or cherry-flavored vodka, but a Danish cherry liqueur made by mixing crushed cherries with spirits, sugar and spices and then letting the mixture soak for three years — the same all-natural recipe the company has used since 1818.  

Then we dip the ganache in a bittersweet chocolate, to contrast with the sweetness of the ganache. Well, and because the bittersweet blend of chocolate is just really tasty.

And then we top this truffle with a piece of dried cherry. Surprised? Maybe not. But we did it anyway. A really good dried cherry, with just as much sweetness as tartness, to meld with the bittersweet chocolate coating and sweet cream ganache, and make for a Kakao version of a de-constructed, re-constructed, inside-out chocolate-covered cherry.

We’ll be selling them through Valentine’s Day, online, at our shop on Cherokee, and at the farmers’ markets, including the Tower Grove Market on Saturday, January 10. See you there!

Why Chocolate is Good For You

Posted in Uncategorized on January 7, 2009 by Brian

You love chocolate, sure, but did you know that chocolate loves you back? In lots of ways, actually. It’s good for your cardiovascular system, your brain, and your immune system, not to mention all the antioxidant benefits it provides.

To get all the gooey details — and to sample some Kakao chocolates, along with some great wine — make it a point to attend the Chocolate and Wine Tasting event at Local Harvest Cafe on January 19th. My bud Rachel Katz, Certified Health Counselor, and I are planning a great evening of handmade chocolates paired with fabulous wines.

We’ll talk about the history of chocolate, what makes chocolate good, what makes good chocolate, and how chocolates and wine can be part of a ultra-healthy diet. And just in time for Valentine’s day, wouldn’t you like to hear about the aphrodisiac quality of chocolates and fine wines?

Here are the details:

When: January 19, 7pm
Where: Local Harvest Cafe, 3137 Morgan Ford Road, 63116
Cost: $20 early sign up, $30 at the door
To RSVP, email Rachel (rachel@naturalzest.com) today! Payments accepted via PayPal.

Oh, and check it out on Van’s Toasted Rav blog at http://toastedrav.com/post/5848_chocoholic.

See you there!

Chilly Chile Chocolate

Posted in Uncategorized on January 5, 2009 by Brian

On a cold winter’s afternoon — maybe it’s sunny but bitter, or maybe it’s overcast with a bit of that dreary rain that seems to seep into your bones — the warmth of summer seems years away. It would be nice to have something hot to drink, some coffee or tea or maybe even some hot chocolate. But you’re unfortunately not in a spot where you can have that spot of tea.

We’ve got just the thing to warm you up: chile chocolate!

Some of you have tried our chile-vanilla truffles, with ground chiles blended into the butter-cream ganache, which is dipped in bittersweet chocolate and then topped with cocoa nibs, which is raw, unprocessed chocolate. These are some of our most popular truffles.

Inspired by those, we’ve made a chile bark, using two different types of ground chile peppers, and just a touch of cinnamon, blended into semisweet chocolate. We then spread the mixture out on the table and sprinkle with those deliciously bitter-chocolate cocoa nibs.

Kakao Chile Chocolate

Kakao Chile Chocolate

The bark has just enough bite to give you a warm, tingly feeling when you eat it. Not so much that it burns — really good chiles are much more about flavor than heat, of course — but enough to take the edge of those cold winter days. And you don’t need a cup to enjoy it!

We’ll be selling Kakao Chile Bark at the upcoming markets, both at Tower Grove and Maplewood. See you there!