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.

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

The next time a dark chocolate candy bar with nuts is calling your name – you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in its rich, smooth sweetness. Dark chocolate actually possesses a handful of health benefits that goes beyond tasting good and serving as a remarkable comfort food.

There’s no denying the power of chocolate, as it contains ingredients that stimulate the body in more ways than one. The serotonin found in dark chocolate works to decrease stress and combats depression. Other ingredients increase the production of endorphins, which fills your body with that unforgettable feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Other substances, such as theobromine and caffeine, contribute an energetic and pleasing boost of energy that lifts the spirits.

The Health Factors of Dark Chocolate

Since chocolate comes from a plant, it offers some of the same health benefits as dark vegetables. Like other plants, it contains flavonoids, which provide beneficial antioxidants to the body. Eat dark chocolate in moderation and you can lessen the damage of free radicals, which contributes to heart disease and causes your body to age at a faster rate. When compared to strawberries, you’ll be surprised to know that dark chocolate contains nearly eight times more antioxidants.

It’s the flavonoids in dark chocolate that also aids in maintaining a healthy blood pressure and helps create a balance in hormones throughout the body. Studies have proven that daily consumption of just a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure in patients that suffer high blood pressure. An up to 10% reduction in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) is also linked to eating dark chocolate.

However, many people shy away from chocolate because they feel it contains a lot of calories, but you’ll be pleased to know that some of the fats in chocolate are healthy. Oleic acid is the same healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, while stearic acid provides a saturated fat with a neutral effect on cholesterol. The saturated fat linked to raising cholesterol levels and increasing the risk for heart disease only accounts for one-third of the fat content in chocolate.

5 Stay-Healthy Chocolate Tips

From promoting a physically fit heart to serving the cardiovascular system, you don’t have to feel guilty about routinely eating a small bar of dark chocolateicon. A few suggestions to help you get the most out of dark chocolate health benefits include:

  • Don’t exceed more than 100 grams (or 3.5 ounces) of dark chocolate per day in order to maximize health benefits.
  • Choose dark chocolate containing a 65% or higher cocoa content.
  • Resembling chocolate chips, many organic trail mixes contain raw cacao in the form of cacoa nibs – unroasted, unsweetened bits of healthy chocolate.
  • Add raw organic cocoa powder to soy ice cream or refreshing smoothies.
  • For a flavorful healthy treat, select dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel, and natural flavorings.

Great resources for dark chocolate: Chocolate.comicon, See’s Candies.
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Thanksgiving Desserts: Dark Chocolate Mousse

This recipe is courtesy of The Oaks at Ojai.

Servings: 24 Serving size: ¼ cup + ½ c. raspberries Calories: 60

Ingredients:
16 oz. silken tofu
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/3 c. cocoa
1/2 c. decaffeinated coffee
¼ c. agave

Directions:

Dark Chocolate mousse
photo courtesy of The Oaks at Ojai

In a food processor or blender, puree the tofu until smooth. Place the chopped chocolate cocoa powder, and coffee in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and mix in the agave. Stir until smooth. Add chocolate mixture to tofu and puree until well blended. Put in bowl and chill at least two hours. To serve, scoop 1/4 cup of mousse into serving dish and surround with fresh berries.

About the Source:
The Oaks at Ojai is an affordable fitness destination spa that includes overnight accommodations, three delicious and low-calorie meals a day, choice of 16 fitness classes per day and evening entertainment and seminars. The Oaks offers 46 guest rooms, including private rooms and suites, double lodge rooms and double cottage rooms. A charming 1920s hotel-turned-spa in the peaceful town of Ojai, The Oaks offers a variety of activities that allows guests to choose how to work out and take off excess pounds. Activities range from hiking, power walks and in-line skating, belly dancing, hula hoping, yoga, qi gong, water aerobics and other work out classes. A full menu of relaxing and therapeutic spa services is available as well as private consultations with a variety of health experts. The Oaks at Ojai is located at 122 East Ojai Avenue. For more information, visit The Oaks at Ojai online at www.oaksspa.com or call (800) 753-OAKS (6257).

Bubble Chocolate Giveaway – Now CLOSED

We mentioned Bubble Chocolate in a previous post; today they are kindly sponsoring a giveaway for our readers.

Known as Aerated Chocolate Worldwide, All-Natural Bubble Chocolate® Makes Its Debut in the United States. A Chocolate Bar that’s Light, Airy, Satisfying and Delicious; It’s Bubbles Wrapped in Chocolate®

Bubble Chocolate® a new all-natural chocolate brand that brings the global phenomena of aerated chocolate to the United States has arrived and it’s now available at www.bubblechocolate.com

BubbleChocolate.com

The Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only. Tell your friends and family!

Prizes: 5 winners will each receive one milk and one dark Bubble Chocolate bar.

How to enter (required): Visit www.bubblechocolate.com and then come back and leave a comment telling us the name of your favorite product!

For additional entries (leave a new comment for each additional entry):
– one additional entry if you become our fan on FACEBOOK;
– one additional entry if you grab our button from the sidebar and post it on your blog, please post the link;
– one additional entry if you follow us on Twitter;
– one additional entry if you send a tweet about this giveaway (once a day only); make sure to include @1happyblogger. You may use the following to tweet: @1happyblogger For a chance to win Bubble Chocolate, go to http://www.100cafestreet.com/bubble-chocolate-giveaway
– one additional entry if you fave us in Technorati;
– one additional entry if you blog about this Giveaway with a link back to 100CafeStreet.com and www.bubblechocolate.com
– one additional entry if you follow 100CafeStreet.com via email.

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The giveaway ends on Oct. 20, 2009 at the end of day, Pacific Standard Time. Bubble Chocolate will ship the prizes.

*Please make sure you leave a comment for each additional entry so you get credited.
*Also, please make sure you typed in the correct email address.
*The winners will be announced via e-mail and have 2 days to get back to us or other names will be chosen.
*Incomplete entries will be disqualified & deleted.

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And the winners are…

Here are your random numbers:

28
3
41
21
11

Timestamp: 2009-10-21 07:00:20 UTC

Thank you all for participating! Congratulations to: Tamara B., Sarah, Cori Westphal, Laura and Deborah!

Global Chocolate Phenomena Bursts Into the U.S.: Introducing All-Natural Bubble Chocolate®

Known as Aerated Chocolate Worldwide, All-Natural Bubble Chocolate® Makes Its Debut in the United States. A Chocolate Bar that’s Light, Airy, Satisfying and Delicious; It’s Bubbles Wrapped in Chocolate®

Bubble Chocolate® a new all-natural chocolate brand that brings the global phenomena of aerated chocolate to the United States has arrived and it’s now available at www.bubblechocolate.com .
 
Using the finest European chocolate, Bubble Chocolate® is available in 2.82 ounce premium milk and dark chocolate bars. The MSRP is $2.49.
 
Bubble Chocolate

While the sensation will be new to most Americans, it will be a taste of home to the millions of international citizens living in the States. With an estimated one billion dollars in annual international aerated chocolate sales (Mintel, 2009), Bubble Chocolate® introduces chocolate lovers to the light, airy, and unique melt-in-your-mouth experience.
 
“This is a new Bubble Chocolate® that’s all natural and reformulated to introduce Americans to the aerated chocolate craze that has dominated international markets for decades,” says Frank Drab, president Bubble Chocolate®. “The timing is right to bring something new and exciting to the U.S. market. Americans will love it, the international community will be happy to have it and it will be a favorite among dieters who are looking for a satisfying, yet lower calorie chocolate fix.”
 
People on restricted calorie diets, tend to prefer this type of chocolate. The nature of the aerated process makes the bars lower in calories than a regular chocolate bar, and despite the lower calories, it does not compromise the overall taste experience. In fact, since Bubble Chocolate® literally melts in-your-mouth, the taste is more immediate and the burst of flavor tends to satisfy chocolate cravings sooner. As the company slogan states, it’s “Just the Right Amount of Chocolate®.”
 
Drab has partnered with Paul Pruett who will serve as CEO of Bubble Chocolate LLC.  Pruett also is CEO of Bloomsberry, Inc., a chocolate company known for its clever and sophisticated packaging. Prior to Bloomsberry, Inc., Pruett helped to build the ZonePerfect Nutrition Company from $1 million to more than $100 million in annual sales.
 
“Americans don’t realize what they’ve been missing and it’s an honor to introduce Bubble Chocolate® to the marketplace,” says Pruett.  “Bubble Chocolate® is delicious and satisfying and we expect it will help make the chocolate aisle more interesting.” 
 
“Creating Bubble Chocolate® is both an art and a science,” says Drab. “Our proprietary procedure infuses bubbles throughout the chocolate at just the right temperature. Then it’s molded and cooled so the bubbly structure remains inside while a smooth outer shell is formed.
 
Bubble Chocolate® looks like a regular chocolate bar, but the inside has tiny bubbles. The best way to enjoy Bubble Chocolate® is to start by breaking off a small piece and chewing it gently until it begins to melt. Your mouth will change from slightly dry to moist and creamy. This delightful transition occurs when your taste-bud receptors are drawn to the chocolate bubbles as it starts to melt.
 
For more information about Bubble Chocolate®, please visit the company website at www.bubblechocolate.com.

Jer’s Peanut Brittle Bites Giveaway – NOW CLOSED

I have previously featured Jer’s Handmade Chocolate in our Chocolate Manufacturers – Guide for Chocoholics and in a separate post. Jer’s is one of my favorite chocolate manufacturers! I could eat those Peanut Brittle Bites all day long! That’s why I am honored to host a giveaway sponsored by Jer’s!

About Jer’s Handmade Chocolate: With unique, award winning flavor combinations, Jer’s uses all natural peanut butter and chocolate in combination with rice crisp, pretzel, toffee, or caramel. The award winning chocolate flavors now come in gourmet chocolate peanut butter bars and peanut butter brittles in decadent flavors. With more than 75% of all candy bars sold in the U.S. containing peanuts or peanut butter, Jer’s takes a classically loved combination of chocolate and peanut butter to a gourmet level.

Signature Collections:
• The Original Incrediball: Jer’s Original Crispy Peanut Butter Recipe, created in Milk, Dark, or White Chocolate
• Pretzo Change-O: Baked Pretzel Bits & Peanut Butter Center, offered in Milk, Dark or White Chocolate
• Toffee Break: Homemade savory toffee chips married with natural Peanut Butter in Milk, Dark or White Chocolate
• Cara Mella: Creamy Homemade Caramel & Peanut Butter center, double-enrobed in Milk or Dark Chocolate

Website: You can visit them online at www.jers.com.

Jer's Peanut Brittle Bites
image courtesy of Jer's

Jer’s Peanut Brittle Bites
Jer’s has reinvented a fun, classic favorite, Peanut Brittle, in new and exciting flavor bites! These heavenly brittle bites are blended into an all-natural, crunchy peanut brittle, immersed in premium Chocolate creating an experience like no other. Jer’s 1.6 oz. Chocolate Peanut Brittle Bites come in 4 exciting flavors.

Coco Nutty™ – Smooth coconut blended with decadent peanut brittle covered with dark chocolate.
Yippee Cayenne™ – Sweet peanut brittle with a spicy touch of cayenne pepper covered with milk chocolate.
Pretzo Change-O™ – Sweet and salty, with crushed pretzels and rich peanut brittle covered with premium milk chocolate.
Toffee Break™ – Rich, buttery handmade toffee mixed with crunchy peanut brittle covered in dark chocolate.

The Giveaway

This giveaway is open to US residents only.

Prizes: The two winners will each receive a pack of the Peanut Brittle Bites in the 4 delicious flavors.

How to enter (required): Visit www.jers.com and then come back and leave a comment telling us the name of your favorite product!

For additional entries (leave a new comment for each additional entry):
– one additional entry if you become our fan on FACEBOOK;
– one additional entry if you grab our button from the sidebar and post it on your blog, please post the link;
– one additional entry if you follow us on Twitter;
– one additional entry if you send a tweet about this giveaway (once a day only); make sure to include @1happyblogger. You may use the following to tweet: @1happyblogger For a chance to win Jer’s peanut brittle bites, go to http://www.100cafestreet.com/jers-peanut-brittle-bites-giveaway
– one additional entry if you fave us in Technorati;
– one additional entry if you blog about this Giveaway with a link back to 100CafeStreet.com and www.jers.com
– one additional entry if you follow 100CafeStreet.com via email.

#########

The giveaway ends on Sept. 30, 2009 at the end of day, Pacific Standard Time. Jer’s will ship the prizes.

*Please make sure you leave a comment for each additional entry so you get credited.
*Also, please make sure you typed in the correct email address.
*The winners will be announced via e-mail and have 2 days to get back to us or other names will be chosen.
*Incomplete entries will be disqualified & deleted.

Chocolate Manufacturers – Guide for Chocoholics – Vivani

We featured Vivani in our Chocolate Manufacturers – Guide for Chocoholics.

About Vivani Premium Organic Dark Chocolates

Chocolate. Tempting, seductive, irresistible, melt-in-the mouth-watering, creamy dark and delicious. Who wouldn’t go weak at the knees? Consumption of organic chocolate has also been rising. And if that’s a sin, it’s well worth paying for! Cocoa, the most important ingredient in chocolate, has been known to mankind since the fourth century BC. The Mayas and the Aztecs regarded the cocoa tree as holy. The drink of the Gods “Chocoatel” was made from its fruits. It was refined and improved through the centuries until it became what we know today as chocolate. Sugar was unknown in the early days, and flavorings like cinnamon and chili pepper were used instead.

vivani chocolate
photo courtesy of Vivani
Harvesting is still done by hand. The fruits of the cocoa tree are cut down and gathered by the farmers who cut them open with a sharp knife to get at the cocoa beans at the core. For many states in West Africa, Latin America and Asia, cocoa is one of the most important export commodities.

Fresh cocoa beans are white and covered in a sort of pulp. Their typical brown color is the result of special treatment. The beans are placed in layers between banana leaves where they ferment for between five and 10 days before being dried to preserve them for export. This process takes the edge off the bitterness and helps to develop the characteristic taste.

The owners of large plantations mostly make their profits from the use of excessive pesticides, to the detriment of the environment and the welfare of small farmers. Producing cocoa beans by organic methods is now helping many of the small farmers to stay in business. Vivani is also contributing to this development by ensuring that fair prices are paid for the raw materials they use. This not only helps small farmers to improve their living conditions, but also protects their health and environment.

vivani dark chocolate
photo courtesy of Vivani

All the ingredients in their organic chocolate are regularly tried and tested for their organic origins by independent controllers. Some of the production is still done by hand. In order to make chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted approximately 20 minutes to improve their flavor. After the roasting has been completed, other ingredients like raw can sugar or milk are added. It goes without saying that all these ingredients come from organically controlled producers. The unprocessed chocolate, which is still very lumpy, is passed back and forth between rollers until the ingredients are a mere quarter of a millimeter in size. Organic products contain more cocoa than conventional chocolate. The reason for this is that Vivani dispenses with the emulsifier, lecithin, because this is often made from genetically modified soy beans. To compensate for this, more cocoa butter is used. This not only ensures that the ingredients mix well, but that they also melt better on the tongue.

Vivani is truly the Art of Chocolate.

Location:

To see the whole Chocolate Collection and get more info on their products and chocolate in general, please visit Vivani online.

Chocolate Manufacturers – Guide for Chocoholics – Bake Me A Wish!

We featured Bake Me A Wish! in our Chocolate Manufacturers – Guide for Chocoholics.

Bake Me  A Wish, cake, gourmet food, gift, overnight

Founded in 2004, Bake Me A Wish! is a premiere on-line bakery offering handmade cakes based on award-winning family recipes.  Perfected by master pastry chefs and using the freshest and most decadent ingredients available, the cakes are priced between $20 and $66,  including shipping.  The fresh and mouth-watering delights arrive beautifully packaged in a customized box with a personal note.

Bake Me A Wish!icon has unveiled its Holiday Gift Cakes 2009icon.  Now you can celebrate the season by sending delicious cakes to your family, friends, clients and colleagues!  All of the cakes are decorated with an imported Belgian chocolate plaque, a “season’s greetings” salutation and are specially packaged in an elegant gift box to guarantee freshness. For corporate clients, Bake Me A Wish includes a customized gift card with the company’s logo accompanied by a personal message of gratitude. Best of all, Bake Me A Wish!icon cakes are both kosher and certified by Chof-K, perfect for this holiday gift giving season.

Here a few of the Holiday Gift Cakes 2009 offered that are under $35:

icon
iconCaramel Apple Crumb Cake
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A moist golden cake layered with apples, cinnamon and topped with a layer of thick, delicious, tender streusel.

Then, a layer of creamy caramel is drizzled on top.

Serves 6-8 people (7” diameter)

Price: $29.99

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iconCookies and Cream Cake
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A moist and fudgy brownie cake topped with crunchy chocolate sandwich cookie pieces .

Topped with a festive drizzle of white chocolate.

Serves 6-8 people (7” diameter)

Price: $34.99

icon
iconDouble Fudge Crunch
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A moist and fudgy brownie cake enrobed with mouth-watering chocolate chip and cinnamon oat streusel, with ribbons of dark chocolate glaze.

AS SEEN ON RACHEL RAY!

Individual Serving (4” diameter)

Price: $15.00

To order your gourmet cake gift or to inquire about Bake Me A Wish’s corporate loyalty programs, please call 888-987-9474.