What are Sipping Chocolates?

Sipping chocolates are not the same thing as drinking your typical mug of hot chocolate. The cacao tree produces beans that are used to make a variety of drinks – one of which was a sipping chocolate originally flavored with spices, wine, and chili peppers. A cup of hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder (which has the fat of cocoa butter pressed out of it), while sipping chocolates are made from real chocolate using the cocoa solids, which are then melted to create a creamy chocolate drink.

History of Sipping Chocolates

Sipping chocolates have a long history that traces back 3,000 years to the Mayan and Olmec civilizations of Central America when cacao was an important part of the culture. In 1528, the Spanish explorer Cortes introduced chocolate to the rest of the world after his Central American conquests. When he returned to Europe, he brought back cacao beans and samples of the Aztec chocolate drink.

In 1585, the first shipment of chocolate arrived in Spain. The Spaniards took the original recipes and started heating the mixtures while adding sugar to offset the natural bitterness of the drink. Instead of using chili peppers like the Mayans and Aztecs, the Europeans added cinnamon, vanilla and other spices.

In 1657, the first chocolate house in London was established – serving the drinking chocolate that became an instant hit with the upper class in Europe. The sweet treat became a luxury by the late 1600s. Around the same time that London delighted in the drinking chocolate, Dutch colonists brought the drink to North America.

Buy Sipping Chocolates

If you are interested in sampling the sipping chocolates of today, consider some of the following:

Gluten Free Restaurant Desserts

If you have Celiac Disease, gluten intolerance, or even gluten sensitivity then, eating desserts outside of your house can be a bit difficult. Well now, it is not as hard as it used to be because so many chain restaurants now have gluten free dessert options.

GLUTEN FREE CHAIN RESTAURANTS

Houlihan’s has three homemade, ice cream flavors. They are caramel macchiato, chick-o-stick, and raspberry. Plus, their crème brûlée has a rich vanilla bean custard that has caramelized sugar all over the top.

Outback‘s dessert is called Chocolate Thunder From Down Under. It is an extra generous pecan brownie that is crowned with rich vanilla ice cream and drizzled with their classic warm chocolate sauce. To finish it off, they add chocolate shavings and whipped cream. This is simply a chocolate lover’s dream.

Pizza Fusion has a fresh, delicious homemade brownie. That is not only gluten free, but is vegan as well.

Chili’s has a stupendously sweet ending with their chocolate milkshake. A great choice on a hot summer day.

Photo Courtesy of Simon James Kent

Bertucci’sdessert is called Chocolate Budino. It is a rich, creamy, and bittersweet chocolate mousse that is topped off with a generous helping of whipped cream.

Lastly, Carrabba’s dessert is called John Dole. It is Blue Bell vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and roasted cinnamon, rum pecans.

A NIGHT OUT

So,don’t be afraid to have an evening out! Enjoy the sweet treats of your choosing anytime!

Decorating Desserts with Chocolate

For chocolate lovers, it’s only natural to top, garnish and decorate with more chocolate. When you’re looking for easy ways to duplicate some of the fancy embellishments and details on your favorite desserts, consider the following decorating tips for chocolate.

How To Make Chocolate Curls

To make chocolate curls, choose a vegetable peeler with a long narrow blade. You will need a chunk or bar of chocolate to make curls. First, slightly warm the chocolate and blade. Before making the curls, it is important that the peeler is completely dry. Draw the peeler along the smooth surface of the chocolate, and watch the magic unfold. Another way to make chocolate curls is to use a cheese slicer.

Chocolate curls make a dazzling complement to cream pies, chocolate cakes (especially flourless chocolate cakes), tarts, and cheesecake.

How to Make a Chocolate Fan

To make an eye-catching dessert, chocolate fans are often used in fancy restaurants. First, melt squares of baking chocolate according to the directions. Spread the chocolate with a spatula into a very thin layer across a baking sheet. Refrigerate the chocolate for 10 minutes or until it is firm yet not frozen. With a metal spatula or cheese slicer in hand, run the tool along the baking sheet with light pressure. To create a fan shape, use your hand to mold the strip of chocolate into folds, waves and fan shapes.

Top a torte, cupcake, cakes (especially flourless chocolate cake and wedding cake) with a chocolate fan.

How To Grate Chocolate

Before grating a block of chocolate, make sure that it is firm and cool. Rub the block across a hand grater – making sure to clean often to avoid clogging the surface of the blade. Some people have also grated chocolate by placing small pieces in a blender or food processor.

Grated chocolate makes a decent garnish for desserts and adds visual pizzazz to pudding pies, cheesecake, ice cream cake, mousse, tiramisu, and soufflé.

How to Use Melted Chocolate

After chopping chocolate into small, evenly sized pieces, transfer to the top of a double boiler. Heat the chocolate while constantly stirring. Remove from heat and continue to stir the chocolate until it is smooth. No double boiler? You can melt chocolate in a bowl placed over a pan filled with simmering water. After melting chocolate using the double broiler method (or in the microwave), there are a handful of ways to decorate your desserts, such as:

  • Drizzle melted chocolate over cream pies, cakes, ice cream cones, sundaes, cupcakes, cream puffs, fried dough, and cookies.
  • Dip strawberries and other pieces of fruit into melted chocolate.
  • Coat marshmallows, Rice Krispie treats, and truffles with melted chocolate.

Short History of Cupcakes

A cupcake, also referred to by some as a fairy cake, patty cake, or cup cake, is a small cake, often baked in a small paper or aluminum cup, and meant as a single serving. They are commonly frosted or adorned with sprinkles or other decorations.

Beginnings

The history of the cupcake can be traced back as far as 1786, when American Cookery by Amelia Simms mentioned something of “a cake to be baked in small cups”. It was first documented in 1828 in Eliza Leslie’s Receipts cookbook as “Seventy-five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats”.

Cupcake or Cup Cake?

iconThere were two different uses for the name: “cupcake” or “cup cake” in the early 19th century. Before muffin tins were widely used, the cakes were usually baked in individual pottery cups, ramekins, or molds, which their name evolved from.

  • Nowadays, the name cupcake is given to any small cake that is about the size of a teacup. Fairy cake, as they have also been referred to as, is a fanciful description of its size, and thought to be appropriate for parties of fairies to share.
  • Cup cakes, on the other hand, referred to a cake whose ingredients were measured in a standard-sized cup. Recipes whose ingredients were measured using a standard-sized cup could also be baked in cups, even though at the time, they were commonly baked in tins as layers or loaves. When the use of volume measurements was established in home kitchens some years later, the recipes became known as 1234 cakes or quarter cakes. This was because of the four ingredients they were composed of: 1 part butter, 2 parts sugar, 3 parts flour, and 4 eggs. Since they used about half as much butter and eggs as a pound cake, they were plain and yellow, less rich, and a little less expensive.

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Nowadays

Towards the beginning of the 21st century, cupcake shops began catching on as a trend in the United States, playing off the sense of wistfulness induced by the cupcakes. Cupcake shops like Magnolia Bakery out of New York City gained publicity by appearing on shows like Sex and the City. In 2010, Martha Stewart published a cook book solely dedicated to cupcakes.

Types of Cupcakes

A standard cupcake uses the same basic ingredients as standard-sized cakes: butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. Nearly any recipe that is suitable for a layer cake can be used to bake cupcakes. Because their small size is more efficient for heat conduction, cupcakes bake much faster than layer cakes. There are several variants of the classic recipe.

  • A “cake in a mug” is a variant that gained popularity on many internet cooking forums and mailing lists. The technique uses a mug as its cooking vessel and can be done in a microwave oven. The recipe often takes fewer than five minutes to prepare.
  • A butterfly cake is a variant of cupcake, also called fairy cake for its fairy-like “wings”. They can be made from any flavor of cake. The top of the fairy cake is cut off or carved out with a spoon, and cut in half. Then, butter cream, whipped cream or other sweet filling (e.g. jam) is spread into the hole. Finally, the two cut halves are stuck into the butter cream to look like butterfly wings. The wings of the cake are often decorated using icing to form various patterns.
  • A icon cake ball is an individual portion of cake, round like a chocolate truffle, that is coated in chocolate. These are typically formed from crumbled cake mixed with frosting, rather than being baked as a sphere.
  • A gourmet cupcake is a somewhat recent variant of cupcake. Gourmet cupcakes are large and filled cupcakes, based around a variety of flavor themes, such as Tiramisu or Cappuccino. In recent years there has been an uprising of stores that sell only gourmet cupcakes in metropolitan areas, such as Crumbs Bake Shop.

Cupcake Pans and Liners

Cupcakes were originally baked in heavy pottery cups and some bakers still use individual ramekins, small coffee mugs, large tea cups, or other small ovenproof pottery-type dishes for baking cupcakes. Specialized pans are made for baking cupcakes today, similar in form to muffin tins. These ovenproof pans are most usually made from some sort of metal, with or without a non-stick surface, and generally have six or twelve depressions or “cups”. They may also be made from stoneware, silicone rubber, or other materials. A standard size cup is 3 inches in diameter and holds about 4 ounces, although pans for both miniature and jumbo size cupcakes exist. Specialty pans may offer many different sizes and shapes.

Individual cups, or cupcake liners, may be used in baking. These are typically round sheets of thin paper pressed into a round, fluted cup shape. Liners can facilitate the easy removal of the cupcake from the tin after baking, keep the cupcake moister, and reduce the effort needed to clean the pan. The use of liners is also considered a more sanitary option when cupcakes are being passed from hand to hand. Like cupcake pans, several sizes of paper liners are available, from miniature to jumbo.

In addition to paper, cupcake liners may be made from very thin aluminum foil or, in a non-disposable version, silicone rubber. Because they can stand up on their own, foil and silicone liners can also be used on a flat baking sheet, which makes them popular among people who do not have a specialized muffin tin. Some of the largest paper liners are not fluted and are made out of thicker paper, often rolled at the top edge for additional strength, so that they can also stand independently for baking without a cupcake tin. Some bakers use two or three thin paper liners, nested together, to simulate the strength of a single foil cup. As an alternative to a plate of individual cakes, some bakers place standard cupcakes into a pattern and frost them to create a large design, such as a basket of flowers or a turtle.

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Know Your Chocolate

When baking or preparing a chocolate dessert, there are reasons that certain recipes specify the kind of chocolate you should use. It’s important to know that not all types of chocolate will produce the exact effect you seek. With varying flavors, melting points and end results, it certainly pays to know your chocolate.

Without cocoa beans, there would be no chocolate. The beans are dried, roasted and ground up to produce a dark, thick paste – also called chocolate ‘liquor’, cocoa solids or cocoa mass. It is this thick paste that is the basis of all chocolate and cocoa products. When you’re purchasing chocolate for your next dessert adventure, read the list of ingredients and check the percentage of cocoa solids and sugar. For example, if a recipe calls for bitter or dark chocolate, choose an option with a high percentage of cocoa solids (such as 70%).

Ready to bake or create?

Consider the following types of chocolate that may appear in your next recipe:

Plain Chocolate – Lots of recipes will call for “plain chocolate” because it is stronger. This kind of chocolate is also referred to as dark (made by adding fat and sugar to cocoa), semi-sweet (dark chocolate with half as much sugar as cocoa), or bittersweet (less sugar and more liquor than semisweet). A minimum of 35% cocoa solids for plain chocolate is needed to enjoy the best results. To create desserts (such as soufflés, mousse or truffles) with a richer chocolate flavor, choose plain chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids.

Milk Chocolate – Milk chocolate has added milk solids, which produces a sweeter taste that is smoother and creamier when compared to other kinds of chocolate. While milk chocolate is best for making candy bars, it sometimes finds its way into various desserts, pastries and other confections. Milk chocolate is sensitive to heat, so it doesn’t make a good choice for baking.

Unsweetened Chocolate – The purest form of chocolate is unsweetened, which is the cooled and hardened form of chocolate liquor. Since no sugar is added, it tastes extremely bitter.

Cocoa Powder – When a nice amount of cocoa butter is removed from chocolate liquor, cocoa powder is the result. With a fine texture, the taste is rich yet bitter. This means that you don’t have to use a lot of it when creating a dessert. Sometimes, the powder is used as a garnish for ice cream or a sprinkled topping for cakes.

Drinking Chocolate – When looking for a tasty coating for truffles, consider drinking chocolate, which is cocoa powder with added sugars and milk extracts. The flavor is quite sweet and makes a delicious beverage.

White Chocolate – The white chocolate chips often found in Macadamia nut cookies is technically not a chocolate at all. There are no cocoa solids in this type of sweetness, but instead, is comprised of cocoa butter. A high amount of cocoa butter is blended with milk solids, vanilla, and sugar to obtain its taste.

Chocolate Surprise Pecan Pie Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:
1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box

Filling:
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
Dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Topping:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled

photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com
photo courtesy of Pillsbury.com

Garnish:
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chocolate-flavor syrup

DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate as directed on box for One-Crust Filled Pie. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar, the salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 egg with electric mixer on low speed until well blended. Spread cream cheese mixture into bottom of crust-lined pie plate. Sprinkle with pecans and chocolate chips.

2. In small bowl, beat topping ingredients on medium speed just until blended. Carefully, pour topping over pecans and chocolate chips. Cover crust edge with 2 to 3-inch-wide strips of foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of bake time.

3. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool on cooling rack at least 2 hours before serving.

4. In chilled small bowl, beat whipping cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Drizzle each pie wedge with chocolate syrup. Spoon dollop of whipped cream on each pie wedge; drizzle with chocolate syrup. Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

 

Sweet Inspiration – 8 Chocolate Easter Treat Ideas

When it comes to seasonal candy, chocolate is one of those must-haves for an Easter basket. Whether you take pleasure in nibbling on the ears of a sweet bunny or cracking open the goodies found inside of a filled egg, the following Easter treat ideas could become your new favorite obsession:

1. Flavorful Easter Bunnies – Exotic-flavored chocolate treats emerge during the Easter season for the more mature palate. Consider the solid chocolate creatures from Vosges-Haut Chocolates, which offers the Barcelona Bunny made with hickory-smoked almonds and gray sea salt, and the Toffee Bunny with butter toffee, pink Himalayan salt, and deep milk chocolate.

2. Eco-Friendly Easter Treats – Whether they abide by eco-friendly business practices or offer organic products, eco-conscious loved ones will enjoy the fact that you took the time to locate treats that fit into their lifestyle. For example, the certified organic Easter bunnies (Organic Chocolate Hopp’n Bunny) from Lake Champlain Chocolates are a real winner. Available in milk or dark chocolate, the planet-friendly rabbits are organic and free of preservatives. They come wrapped in a compostable cellophane bag tied with ribbon made from recycled plastic bottles.

3. Easter Bunny with Personality – Talk about personality…Christopher Norman Chocolates makes the Racer Bunny, which is a hand painted hollow rabbit that sits inside of a convertible.

4. Stylish Easter Bunny – Courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue, this stylish Easter bunny is made out of rich milk chocolate with white chocolate accents. Wrapped in clear cellophane tied with a ribbon, the hollow bunny is hand-decorated and weighs 7.7 pounds. The Charbonnel et Walker Giant Chocolate Easter Bunny actually costs $370.

5. Decorative Springtime Chocolate Cups – Pastel colors and spring-related imagery are a common theme for Easter treats. You can use light blue, light purple, yellow, and light green to liven up a basket for loved ones. There are plenty of gourmet chocolate treats to consider. For example, Savorique offers the romantically decorated Spring Dark & White Chocolate Cups – dark chocolate and white chocolate cups made with a layer of salted butter caramel, handmade vanilla marshmallow and dark chocolate ganache. The outside is decorated with vintage flowers.

6. White Chocolate Bunny – Who says all Easter bunnies have to be brown? A white chocolate bunny makes a delightful addition to any Easter basket.

7. Miniature Easter Bunnies – Perfect for family and friends on a diet, choose the Easter treats that come in bite-sized portions. Cute and cuddly, Leonidas Belgian Chocolates creates a set of six hollow mini-bunnies in milk, dark and white chocolate. Each weighs 40 grams and is 3.25 inches tall.

8. Homemade Chocolate Bunny Lollipops – Pay a visit to the local crafts store and purchase an Easter-themed mold to make your own chocolate bunny lollipops.

Allergen Free Candy

Have you ever heard of a chocolate candy bar, that was not only gluten and dairy free, but sugar free too? Well, I’m here to tell you that there is one and it is called Endangered Species Chocolate.

TYPES OF BARS

All of these candy bars are sweetened with beet sugar and are made from dark cocoa. There are a variety and to name a few they include coffee, raspberry, mint, and supreme dark chocolate.

EXTRA CHOCOLATE TREATS

You can, of course, eat it piece by piece, but there are other ways to enjoy it too.

Photo courtesy of Endangered Species Chocolate Company

You can melt this candy in your microwave or even in a bowl over your stove. When it is all melted, you can reshape it and make holiday decorations. You can have designs like bunnies or eggs for Easter. Of course, depending on the holiday you can make a heart, a shamrock, or even a Christmas tree. Then, on an ordinary day, you shape smiley faces, stars, or balloons. This is actually a great activity to do with children.

Now, once you have the shape you desire place them into the refrigerator for a few hours, until they re-harden.

You also have the option of rolling the melted chocolate in a variety of fruits, such as bananas, apples, strawberries, or pineapples. Then, place the covered fruit in the re-fridge to harden and simply enjoy this sweet treat.

Lastly, you can leave the chocolate melted and have a fondue night!

CHOCOLATE BONUSES

Plus, with every purchase of candy you make, ten percent of the proceeds goes to support Endangered Species, habitat and humanity. Hence, the name of the candy company.