Three new dark chocolates — yum. And ethically produced too.
I 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.
Beaver Creek selects this season’s official chocolate chip cookie.
Beaver Creek Resort opened on November 26 with 589 acres of terrain, six feet of snow in November and the new Centennial Express combination gondola/chairlift. But for chocolate chip cookie addicts, perhaps the best part was the afternoon taste-testing of 5,000 cookies at the 11th annual World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition.
Cookie bakers submitted their entries to Beaver Creek Resort Company back in October, and the five finalists were chosen by local judges. Entries came from all over Colorado plus Texas, California, Wisconsin, Georgia, Oregon and elsewhere. Conveniently, the finalists all came from Colorado, because each one had to bake 1,000 cookies to be judged. Finalists were Lori Lavicka of Avon, Cassie Sewell of Eagle, Kristen Gorrell of Gypsum, Hannah Bailey of Lone Tree, and Julianna Kopec of Avon. After sampling all of the cookies, guests had the opportunity to vote on their favorite recipe. Kristen Gorrell and her “baker’s Dozen” recipe took home the top honors and $1,000.
Her recipe is the new “official” Beaver Creek cookie for the season. Second place winner, Hannah Bailey won third place and $750 for “Hannah’s Mile High Chocolate Morsels,” and third place winner, Julianna Kopec took home $500 for “Cookies of Prey.” Fourth place recipient, Lori Lavicka’s “2015 Champion Chip Cookie” earned her two tickets to Dancing Like Pros Live performance at the Vilar Performing Arts Center, and fifth place netted Cassie Sewell two tickets to the Cirque Mechanics Pedal Punk at the Vila for her “Cassie’s World Class Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
Cookie Time is Beaver Creek’s guest service program daily at 3 p.m. when Cookie Time chefs in chef whites serve warm, fresh, chocolate chip cookies on silver trays. The tradition started in 1985 and evolved into the cookie competition in 2004 providing opening day guests with a village celebration. More than 500,000 cookies are served annually and the new Beaver Creek Cookie & Crepe Company, located by Beaver Creek Lodge, now allows guests to purchase their favorite Beaver Creek cookies to take home or to their resort accommodations.
Kristen Gorrell’s Baker’s Dozen Cookies
Ingredients: 2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, partially melted
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons additional brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Beaver Creek did not provide baking instructions, but typically all ingredients are combined (I’m guessing first dry ingredients, then butter, then sugars followed by eggs and finally chips). The dough is dropped in balls about two inches apart on cookie sheets often lined with parchment. Without instructions, I’m mystified by the divided brown sugar, but perhaps you will figure that out and post a comment. Bake at 350 to 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges begin to brown and crisp. Remove to a wire rack to cool slightly. Devour.
Some of the items, like the sipping chocolate, are regularly or irregularly available at the downtown Boulder shop, but the chocolate glyphs were specially molded for the museum and the Mayan chocolate truffles are larger than the regular ones. The Maya-related chocolate items are on sale only at the museum shop and at the Boulder retail location.
Top trade publication names Robin’s one of top ten on the continent
Dessert Professional, a trade publication, has named Robin Chocolates of Longmont one of the top 10 chocolatiers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Founder Robin Autorino describes as “bold, beautiful and delicious chocolates and pastries” made by hand, using traditional, time-honored artisanal techniques from top-quality ingredients imported from France, Belgium, Switzerland and Venezuela. Her suppliers work directly with growers and cocoa plantation owners to ensure that the GMO-free cocoa powders and additive-free fruit purees and nut butters are produced in a fair trade manner.
Autorino was a Navy satellite communications technician/ electronics tech for 14 years, a position most often held by men, and after getting out of the service, worked as a pastry chef at the Brown Palace Hotel, the Flagstaff House and the Dushanbe Tea house, with a detour into the software business. Then, in February 2008, after years of making caramels and hand-rolled truffles for friends, Autorino received her first order for chocolates from a local florist for 12 four-piece boxes to sell for Valentine’s Day.
That was it. With the support of her husband, she quit her job and formed Robin Chocolates, first supplying local resellers and marketing via the company’s website. A retail shop followed in October 2011. Robin has a way with truffles. Her previous awards include:
Lavender molded truffles won the Best Truffles award at the Say It With Chocolate event, both in 2010 and 2011
The shop is located in the L-shaped shopping center with its back to the streets at the intersection of South Airport Road and Nelson Avenue. The address is 600 South Airport Road, Longmont; 720- 204-8003. Hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Stop in to congratulate her — and pick up some of those award-winning sweets.
If you think baklava or halvah whenever someone mentions Turkish sweets, think again. Bosphorale created by the executive pastry chef of Çırağan Palace Kempinski İstanbul was named the Kempinski Dessert of the year. Granted, William McCarrick, said executive pastry chef and also a master chocolatie, is not Turkish. More importantly, he was open-minded in adapting Turksh ingredients into an international confection, also made with Bergamot-scented tea from the Black Sea sweetly paired with delicately dried Malatya apricots and Valrhona chocolate.
“With our focus at Çırağan Palace Kempinski to use local culinary products as inspiration, my cake is symbolic of a trip to Turkey,” states McCarrick,said. “I combined the best of these regional flavors for my creation, as Turkey produces 80 percent of the world’s dried apricots. and it is among the world’s top five tea-growing countries.”
Among the ingredients ingrained in Turkish cultural traditions and creatively used in the cake are dried fruits, including apricots that are usually served at village festivals, weddings and other celebrations, while tea has become a culture of its own, with specific brewing techniques and drinking customs. Offering tea and drinking it together are considered a gesture of friendship and hospitality throughout Turkey.
To enter the competition, Kempinski chefs submitted original recipes using specific guidelines. This year, the key ingredient had to be chocolate, the dessert had to be presentable both as an individual cake and as a platable dessert and it could not be a soufflé, dessert à la minute or ice cream. Bosphorale was chosen as the Kempinski Dessert of the Year in a blind tasting by 80 judges from recipes by submitted by some 50 executive pastry chefs. It will be offered in all Kempinski properties worldwide throughout 2013. Alas, there’s not a single Kempinski hotel in North America.
Having just written about the new Bocuse Restaurant replacing the former Escoffier Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America, I have la cuisine français on my mind. Now comes word via David Liebovitz’s Living the Sweet Life in Paris about a new venture from super-chef “Alain Ducasse…along with pastry chef Nicolas Berger, who is now running La Manufacture de chocolat, their chocolate atelier not far from the center of the city.” Liebovitz, an American pastry chef and Chez Panisse alum who now lives in and blogs from Paris, points out that the “bean-to-bar” concept actually started in the US and is one of the few (other than the unforunate migration of American fast food) to transfer from here to there.
Liebovitz notes, “It’s very hard to make chocolate on a small-scale and I was skeptical when friends launched the first of those businesses way-back-when in America, which has become very successful.”
Ducasse is a notable chef, restaurateur, hotelier and owner of Ecole Cuisine Alain Ducasse, a cooking school in Paris (they offer classes in English too). Liebovitz’s most recent blog post, “La Manufacture de chocolat Alain Ducasse,” describes Chef Ducasse’s newest venture, a five-year process of bringing this American concept to Paris. It features wonderful images of the process that begins with roasting chocolate beans and ends with mouth-watering chocolate bars. Liebovitz also relates his own work with chocolate while still in the Bay area.
Liebovitz’s very French directions to the manufacture and atelier include the not just the address and phone number but also the arrondissement and the Métro stop: 40, rue de la Roquette (11th) Métro: Bastille Tél: 01 48 05 82 86. He adds that it is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Just the other day, I wrote a post about Colorado Proud and its promotion of Colorado-made agricultural products. The program is very broad-stroke, including produce, meats, farm-raised fish, poultry and other farm products, both organic and conventional. Cured, a small European-inspired shop that offers a hand-picked selection of cheeses, cured meats, table wines, fresh-made daily sandwiches and other unique grocery items, presents a free all-Colorado holiday tasting focusing on small-batch gourmet products on Thursday, December 13 from 4 to 6:30 p.m.