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:
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.
1 box Pillsbury® refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate, melted, cooled
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chocolate-flavor syrup
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.
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.
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!
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.
“Non dairy desserts: Part Two” is a continuation of our previous blog post. This time, instead of homemade treats, we’ll introduce you to some prepackaged ones. You can find them in your local grocery stores, health food stores, or in Whole Foods Market. You may have to kiss dairy goodbye, but not the types of treats you are used to enjoying. Having discovered these alternatives to dairy provides people with tasty options for enjoying decadent, creamy foods without the ramifications associated with dairy allergies.
PRE-PACKAGED TREATS: TOFUTTI & TURTLE MOUNTAIN
The first option is the Tofutti company. They offer Tofutti Cutie, which are snack sized ice cream sandwiches bars with delicious chocolate wafer cookies. Their flavors are vanilla, key lime, wild berry, chocolate, totally vanilla, and cookies ‘n cream.
They also have Premium Tofutti, which are prepacked pints of non dairy, frozen desserts. The flavors are vanilla, chocolate supreme, wild berry supreme, vanilla almond bark, vanilla fudge, chocolate cookie crunch, and better pecan.
The second on the list is Turtle Mountain. They offer coconut and soy based options. Coconut includes ice cream, sorbet, creamers, yogurts, ice cream novelties, and more. Coconut actually has a nice sweetness all on its own, so it’s a perfect choice to create ice cream. Especially, since milk has a natural sweetness to it from the lactose. As for soy based you have ice cream, ice cream novelties, and yogurts. To be more specific, the brand names go as followed: Purely Decadent, So Delicious, It Soy Delicious, and Sweet Nothings.
TAKE A BITE
Don’t just look forward to these tasty treats. Stop by your local grocery store and pick up a pint or a bar today! Then, you can curl up on your couch and enjoy your favorite dessert all over again.
Summertime means strawberries. Red, juicy, sweet with just a tiny bit of tartness, they are the queen of the May garden. We go to strawberry festivals, buy baskets of them at roadside stands, and even labor in the fields of the “pick your own” stands.
But once you have them, what do you do with them other than eat them with sugar, or pile them on a biscuit with whipped topping for strawberry shortcake? Sure, there are strawberry preserves to be made. Few of us do that any more. And there are chocolate covered strawberries. Those tend not to keep in the summer. What good are chocolate covered fruit when the chocolate runs off in the heat.
One thing you can do is Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches. Not exactly a sandwich, really, but they look like one, and they are easy to make.
Grilled Strawberry Sandwiches Recipe
To start, you have the option of buying a pound cake ready made, or you can make one, either from scratch or a mix. You can also make your own chocolate butter cream frosting, or buy it in a can. Buying is easier. Once you have that hurdle decided, you may proceed. Allow one “sandwich” for each serving.
Directions: 1. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Put some butter in the pan. 2. Once it is melted, place the slices of cake in the butter, moving the slices around so they soak up any excess. 3. Watch the cake carefully, as the sugar content will make them burn easily. Once they are golden and crispy on the bottom, turn them onto plates. 4. Allow the cake to cool so you can handle them without burning your fingers. Cut each slice in half diagonally. 5. Spread chocolate frosting on each half. Arrange some sliced strawberries on top of the chocolate, piling them several layers thick. 6. Using two spoons, cut quenelles of chocolate frosting, and place one on top of each half. You may also place a quenelle of sour cream beside each half.
1. These can be served using ice cream in place of the frosting, or whipped topping can be spread on the bread, then topped with the berries, and chocolate syrup drizzled over them. Or you can make them, as above, and put a scoop of ice cream in between the two halves.
2. You can also serve these with ice cream and blackberries or raspberries. Chocolate doesn’t fare well with these two berries, but white chocolate does. Spread the grilled cake with ice cream, cover with berries, and drizzle it with white chocolate sauce.
No decent berries in season? No problem. Use tinned, drained peach slices. Peaches and chocolate go well together.
Use your imagination. Use what you have on hand. Use a spoon so you don’t miss any of the good stuff.
So, you are on a gluten free diet? No worries! Not all desserts are made from wheat. There is actually a wide variety of gluten free options. Some companies include Larabars, Amy’s® Kitchen, and Enjoy Life®.
RAW FRUIT BARS
Larabars aren’t only gluten free, but sugar free, too. Now you might ask, how can that be a dessert? Well, in Italy, fruit and ricotta cheese is a traditional dessert. A Larabar is a blend of raw fruit, nuts and spices. There is a variety to choose from starting with ginger, coconut, cherry, lemon, key lime, to name a few. Each bar has a shelf life of 12 months and contains one or more of the following nuts: cashews, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans. This is one of those great “on the go” type of desserts or snack bars.
Then, the next option you have is a chocolate cake by Amy’s® Kitchen. It’s gluten free, non dairy, and a vegan friendly dessert. It’s made with organic cocoa powder and brown rice flour. You can eat this cake cold or warmed up with a cup of coffee. It is rich, smooth, and has a light texture that simply melts in your mouth. You can find this to be a little slice of heaven in Whole Foods Market or any health food store.
COOKIES AND MILK
Enjoy Life® has quite a collection of delicious cake like cookies. They are all very soft and chewy. Some of the most popular ones include chocolate chip cookies, no-oats “oatmeal”® cookies, double chocolate brownie cookies, and gingerbread spice cookies. They are great for an old fashion milk dunking!
ALWAYS HAVE A SWEET TOOTH
When you try any of the above listed desserts, you will feel like a kid back in the candy store all over again!