Archive for September, 2011

Chocolate and Asian Flavors

Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2011 by Brian

We’ve been at it again, combining chocolate with Asian Flavors in our last Peculiar Pairing of the year. All of these confections are available in both shops, so come in and give them a try while they last!

In the words of the confectioners who created them:

Miso Truffles – Kate

Miso is a fermented paste of rice and soybean. The confection I made for this peculiar pairing is a combination of ingredients that are sometimes included in traditional miso dish. I steeped ginger, lemongrass, and seaweed in the cream before making the ganache, and then I mixed in a mild yellow miso after I mixed the hot cream into the milk chocolate. The confection is has a somewhat salty taste, as miso is used to salt and season Asian dishes.

Black Garlic and Sesame Truffle Margaret

 

Some time ago, a customer asked me if we ever did anything with chocolate and garlic. “I’m not sure that it would be any good,” she said, “but I love them both!”

I had to agree, and I wanted to try it. I talked to a few people who grimaced at the thought, but I couldn’t help but think it could be delicious.

I poked around online and came across black garlic. Black garlic is touted as a Korean delicacy, made by aging and fermenting garlic for at least a month. It was described as sweeter and milder than regular garlic; I thought it would mix well with chocolate, and I knew I had my Asian flavor.

Indeed, black garlic is much mellower than regular roasted garlic – in my first attempt at the ganache the garlic flavor was barely distinguishable. I didn’t want to make a truffle that contained garlic but didn’t taste like it (what’s the point of that?!), so in my second attempt I doubled the amount of black garlic and let it infuse overnight in the cream. I also added a few cloves of regular roasted garlic to give it a little more dimension. I made the ganache with semisweet chocolate, dipped it in bittersweet chocolate, and topped it with toasted sesame seeds.

This pairing seemed peculiar at first, but I found it to be a regular savory-sweet dream.

Kurogoma, Kinako, & Matcha MeltsJenny

The Japanese have often been described as having the unique ability to take something foreign and make it completely their own (and in many cases, better). It is no surprise that their love for seasonality and regional variety have crossed over into the absorbed foreign confectionery traditions.

Take the ordinary Kit Kat bar. If you stop by the corner store in Tokyo, you will come across unexpected flavors like crème brulee, sakura, red bean, chestnut, Yubari melon, plum soda, sweet potato, or Hokkaido roasted corn. Such diversity in even “gas station” chocolate varieties is not only expected but anticipated.

When thinking about what I wanted to do for this pairing, I immediately recalled the chocolate meltaways I had in Japan; they are individually packaged, cube-sized blocks made of velvety chocolate, often coated in cocoa powder, which “gently melt in your mouth like a snowflake” (I should mention that the quote is straight from Meiji’s MeltyKiss branding.) The cool, melting sensation seems mysterious, but the secret to this irresistible confection is simple—coconut fat.

I am excited to introduce three of my favorite flavors commonly used in traditional Japanese sweets—kurogoma (black sesame), kinako (soy bean powder), and matcha (green tea). The kurogoma melt is made with semisweet coated in cocoa powder; kinako with bittersweet in kinako powder; and matcha in milk chocolate with matcha coating. Enjoy!

One Night in Bangkok BrittleShannon

Earlier this summer, I got a new ice cream cookbook because while I like to make candy, what I really love is ice cream. The book was written by a rock star in the ice cream world who uses a bunch of really crazy flavors in her products, kind of like what we do here at Kakao.

Anyhoo, one of the recipes featured Thai flavors and when I saw that, I thought, “Huh, I bet I could use those same flavors in a brittle.” In terms of chemistry, you have a little more leeway in confections than you do with ice cream, so that gave me a wider range of ingredients to draw from. I took our standard brittle recipe, but instead of bacon or chipotle powder, I used Thai flavors, including peanuts, fish sauce, curry paste and cayenne.

Wasabi Truffles – Brian

Because real wasabi is extremely difficult to get in the U.S., the green paste we so often enjoy at sushi restaurants is really a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring. Nearly as difficult to procure is this “Western wasabi” without food coloring – but we found some.

This wasabi truffle isn’t designed to give you the “nasal rush” that a spoonful of wasabi can, but more to give the taste of how chocolate and wasabi can work together. You’ll find that you can taste the spice, and a little of the heat, but you’ll also experience a distinctively different chocolate taste.

Asian Fruit Punch Marshmallows – Jess

I’ve been looking forward to this Peculiar Pairing all summer.  Asian flavors are usually what I revert back to using when I can’t think of anything to make at home. On my trip to Vietnam, I was amazed by all of the new fruit and vegetables that were introduced to me.  The rambutan was unlike any fruit I’d ever seen!  I find it interesting that lots of South East Asian fruits have a slightly sweet and refreshing start and more of a vegetable finish.

I feel like these Asian Fruit Punch Marshmallows have the same effect.  I pureed fresh rambutan, dragon fruit, mangosteen, and lychee for the base and bloom of the fruit marshmallow. Three of the four fruits were very mild in flavor, but very refreshing. The mangosteen was definitely my favorite of the fruits. It was slightly sour and really balanced out the flavor of all the fruits mixed together. I sandwiched semisweet chocolate in between two pillows of the marshmallows.

Iron Kids

Posted in Uncategorized on September 2, 2011 by Brian

I’ve always wanted to be on one of those shows like Top Chef or Iron Chef.

Of course it would be fun to compete, but I know I’m not anywhere close to that level. No, I’d want to be a judge. Or better yet, one of the people who get to eat the food, the people who’s time to eat starts when the chefs’ time to cook and prepare and plate has run out. Those people get to enjoy some amazing food, made under some special challenge or constraint, prepared by some of the best chefs in the business.

Now’s your chance. (And check out a special offer for Kakao fans below.)

On Monday, September 19, you’ll have the opportunity to sample food created by five teams comprising some of the best chefs in town and a team of children from the Discovering Options after-school program. Each team has been planning, creating and testing their dishes — which are all culinarily elevated versions of familiar children’s meals like spaghetti, hot dogs and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Kakao has been supporting Discovering Options for as long as we’ve been in business. Discovering Options helps at-risk children in St. Louis Public Schools through mentoring and comprehensive after school programs that encourage family involvement.

In short, they make a big difference for a lot of kids.

In addition to the Iron Kids competition and samples of the chef/kid creations, you’ll also get appetizers provided by Home Wine Kitchen (the hot new restaurant down the street from Kakao Maplewood), wine samples from Chaumette Vineyard & Winery, cheese samplings from Whole Foods Market and food-themed live and silent auctions. And a Build A Bark station with Kakao Chocolate.

The event will be held on Monday, September 19 from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Third Degree Glass Factory, 5200 Delmar in St. Louis. Tickets are $100, and you can purchase them online at www.discoveringoptions.org/event.php

As a special for Kakao fans, if you buy the tickets through either of our shops, we’ll give you a 25-piece box of truffles as a thank you. For each ticket you purchase. That’s $39 worth of chocolate, which brings your ticket price down to $61. Which is a pretty great deal to sample some of the most creative food around.