Category Archives: Chocolate

Costly Candy from My Connecticut Hometown

$250 truffle from Norwalk chocolatier.

Knipschildt-logoI interrupt my usual Colorado fixation with this post about Connecticut. When I was growing up, Norwalk, which had been urban-renewed within an inch of its life, was the more vibrant of the two downtowns. South Norwalk was by the New Haven Railroad tracks. It had the railroad station, City Hall, the big library, the big  post office and a lot of vacant turn-of-the-last-century commercial buildings. Neglect turned out to be a good thing, since those buildings remained ignored.

That was then, and this is now, and the charms of old South Norwalk have been discovered. South Norwalk (promotionally and predictably rechristened SoNo) is now home to the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, hot clubs, cool restaurants and one-of-a-kind buinesses. Imagine my surprise when TheDailyMeal.com’s post and video about “The World’s Most Expensive ‘Cheap’ Dishes” included Knipschildt Chocolatier of South Norwalk.

This truffle doesn't look much different from others. but its rare ingredients make for a $250 price tag.
This truffle doesn’t look much different from others. but its rare ingredients make for a $250 price tag.

The Daily Meal wrote:

Chocolate Truffle: La Madeleine au Truffle, Knipschildt Chocolatier, Norwalk, Conn.: $250 

Master chocolatier Fritz Knipschildt is selling the most expensive chocolate truffle in the world from his shop in Norwalk, Connecticut. It’s made via a seven-step process and contains chocolate ganache made from 71 percent Valrhona dark chocolate, French Perigord truffle (or Italian white truffle if they’re not available), and truffle oil. If you want one for yourself (or for your significant other), you’ll need to order it at least five days in advance so Knipschildt can import the truffle.

Fritz Knipschildt also runs a cafe and retail shop called Chocopologie on Washington Street, the main drag of South Norwalk. Next time I return, I’m going to the cafe and will pay homage the over-the-top truffle with a cappuccino and a chocolate treat of some sort.

Chocopologie By Knipschildt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Easy & Interesting Dessert With Colorado Yogurt

Noosa’s new flavor worth tasting.

WP_20160211_001I had just finished a small container of Noosa 0% fat salt caramel  flavor yogurt the other day, when a package arrived. It held two containers of high-test Noosa blackberry serrano Greek yogurt, a new variety available only in Colorado. I opened one soon and loved the richness, the fruity flavor and the kick of serrano. But having only eaten non-fat and low-fat yogurt for years, I had to consume it in two helpings. Fortunately, it had a real lid and not that foil peel-off stuff.

I should add that I have a soft spot for Noosa Yoghurt, because it comes from tiny Bellevue, Colorado, north of Fort Collins and is made with local milk. My inspiration for the second container was a quick dessert recipe called “3 Ingredient Chocolate Strawberry Yogurt Bites” from a site called A Cedar Spoon and modified it to suit three main ingredients that I happened to have on hand. I didn’t take pictures, but here’s what a made for Valentines Day:

Chocolate/Blackberry Serrano Yogurt Bites

1 carton  of 15 ready-made phyllo shells
1 container Noosa blackberry serrano yogurt
2 ounces organic dark chocolate
4 strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place phyllo shells on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes to crisp. Set aside to cool.
2. In a glass bowl, melt chocolate in a microwave set on medium power for about 8 minutes or until melted, stirring once or twice.
3. Stir yogurt into chocolate and spoon into shells.
4. Cut strawberries into small pieces and place a few bits on top of each.

Serve before the phyllo gets soggy.

Science Museum Explores Chocolate

Special exhibition follows cacao from rainforest to candy.

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science debuted a new exhibition on chocolate, exploring its botanical, cultural, economic and culinary impacts. Called “CHOCOLATE: The Exhibition,” this modest visiting exhibition with its suitably bilingual captions was developed by Chicago’s exemplary Field Museum. It provides an enticing experience for the whole family during its brief stop in Denver.

As visitors progress from the Central American origins of the use of chocolate to the history and on to the present, the chocolate aroma becomes stronger. The captions are appropriately bilingual, as suits an exploration of a food that originated in Central America. At the exit, there is a chocolate  shop and a little café.  Double dare you not to stop.

The members’ opening event included tasting tables set up among the dioramas. Grand Junction-based Enstrom’s provided samples from dark and bitter to sweet milk chocolate. No special ticket is required, for this exhibition is included in the general admission. It is in town through May 8. Photography was challenging, so here are just a few images — the best I could manage:

Cacao tree in the rainforest.
Cacao tree in the rainforest with its robust pods that  produce a little seed that eventually yields what we know as chocolate.
Close-up in a case.
Close-up in a case.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world's most beloved sweets.
Docent explaining the ins and outs of one the world’s most beloved sweets.
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite,
As chocolate reached Europe, it inspired a the development of elegant cups and pitchers to further its enjoyment by the elite.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.
Café and chocolate shop at the exhibition exit.

 

 

Two Single Sources = One Trendy Pairing

Single-vineyard wines + single-estate chocolate a fortuitous pairing.

WineChocolateSingle sourcing seems to be a thing these days — single-vineyard wines and single-estate coffee, tea and now chocolate are capturing connoisseurs’ fancy. Boulder’s Settembre Cellars hosts a Valentines Weekend pairing of four of its own single-vineyard wines with four sweet bites of Boulder’s Fortuna Chocolates — two bonbons made with single-estate cacao and two ganaches.

I’m familiar with Settembre Cellars’ traditional, Italian-inspired wines, and I learned about Fortuna from a Daily Camera piece called “For the Love of Chocolate.” The take-away is that cacao beans grown in the shade of mango trees possess unique flavor characteristics that have captivated the trio that runs Fortuna Chocolate in its “mobile chocolate lab,” which is a glamorous way of describing a trailer

Frankly, this might all be too subtle for me, but I will rely on the refined tastebuds of those who can judge the merits of single-sourced chocolate or, for that matter, single-vineyard wines. Meanwhile, I do know that nothing says Valentines Day like the combo of wonderful wine and divine chocolate, regardless of the provenance. The Settembre Cellars tasting room is hosting this inspired local pairing this weekend  — Saturday and Sunday, February 13-14 from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost is $17 online or $19 at the door. The tasting room is at 1501 Lee Hill Road, Boulder.

Cured West Now Open

Second location for gourmet food shop.

006Cured has opened a second smaller shop just a few blocks from my house. Color me happy that exquisite charcuterie, excellent cheeses, unique imported and artisanal American grocery items and small assortment of mouth-watering sandwiches and salads are to be had less than a 10-minute walk from my door. Oh yes, and chocolate.

Coral Frischkorn at the meat slicer.
Coral Frischkorn at the meat slicer.
Carefully selected imported and US food items in packages, jars and cans include seasonings, oils, jams, teas and more that are difficult to find anywhere else.
Carefully selected imported and US food items in packages, jars and cans include seasonings, oils, jams, teas and more that are difficult to find anywhere else.
Cured West's wall of chocolate bars.
Cured West’s wall of chocolate bars.

Will and Coral Frischkorn’s original Cured a few blocks east of the Pearl Street Mall has a greater selection, but proximity has its benefits. The shop is simple, pared-down and classy with quality finishes to its shelves, counters and islands as a suitable backdrop for the quality items.

2019 10th Street, Boulder; 720-389-8096.

Buy Chocolate with Your Conscience

Hershey uses cocoa beans picked African child slaves.

HersheyHalloween is upon us, and if you haven’t yet stocked up on candy, you soon will. The Food Revolution Network’s “Is There Child Slavery in Your Chocolate?” is a disheartening report on horrid and abusive child labor practices in West Africa and a series of broken promises by First World candy companies who say they will but are slow to source more ethically.

The worst offender, according to this report, appears to be Hershey’s.

“Buying cocoa from farms that employ such abusive child labor practices enables Hershey to keep its costs down and its profits up. In early 2010, the company reported a 54 percent jump in profits because of what it called “improved supply-chain efficiencies.” Such “efficiencies” allow Hershey’s CEO, David J. West, to make $8 million a year while unpaid children are forced to labor under cruel conditions on the farms growing the company’s cocoa.

….But while Hershey’s primary competitors have at least taken steps to reduce or eliminate slavery and other forms of abusive child labor from their chocolate supply chains, Hershey has done almost nothing….In 2010,  the Hershey company issued its first ever Corporate Social Responsibility Report. Long on platitudes and promises, it was classic example of the practice of greenwashing – a PR effort to mislead the public into thinking a company’s policies and products are socially responsible, when in fact they are not.

…[a] carefully researched report pointed out that the Hershey company lags well behind its competitors in taking responsibility for the impact the company is having on the local communities from which it sources cocoa around the world.

Fair trade chocolate does cost more, but isn’t it worth it to help protect vulnerable children? Here are some certified fair trade companies: Cadbury’s, Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Divine Chocolate, Equal Exchange, Gardners Candies, Green and Black’s, John & Kira’s, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma’s Chocolates, NewLeaf Chocolates, Newman’s Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, Shaman Chocolates, Sweet Earth Chocolates, Taza Chocolate, The Endangered Species Chocolate Company and Theo Chocolate.

In fairness, public press is steering some big companies’ practices in an ethical direction. “Even Kraft Foods and Mars, Inc., hardly icons of social responsibility, have begun to purchase cocoa certified by the Rainforest Alliance to be free from the use of forced labor, child labor, or discrimination,” according to article, adding, “Hershey has announced that they are moving towards Fair Trade certification by 2020. That’s a nice step. But why does it need to take them that long to end participation in a horrendously exploitive system? There’s nothing sweet about manufacturing 80 million Hershey Kisses a day, using cocoa that may very well have been produced using abusive child labor.”

New Flavors from Endangered Species Chocolate

Three new dark chocolates — yum. And ethically produced too.

EndangeredSpeciesChoc-logoI love dark chocolate, and I’ve become a bit fanatical about buying products that bear the “Fair Trade” logo, as well as being organic, non-GMO and non-mega-corporate. Yes, I know it costs more, but such products please my palate and soothe my conscience. With all that, I welcome the news that Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC), the first American-made chocolate brand made with fully traceable Fairtrade cocoa from West Africa, has three new 60 percent cocoa bars. These are Dark Chocolate with Lemon Poppy Seed, Dark Chocolate with Blackberry Sage and Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne and Cherries, formulated to today’s current food trends. I share the  millennials’ taste for  lemon poppy seed, blackberry sage and especially the combo cinnamon, cayenne and cherries that balances heat and sweet.

ESC’s chocolate bars are Fairtrade International certified, Non-GMO Project Verified, vegan, gluten-free and support wildlife preservation efforts – differentiating factors among other chocolate bars. I expect that they will be relatively easy to find in one of Boulder’s several natural grocers and many specialty shops.  I know such products are premium-priced, and I’m willing to pay it.