Understanding white chocolate

Generally speaking, when we encourage patrons to try new things in the shop, they’re pretty receptive – and really, why not? Hand anyone a little chunk of chocolate to nibble on and they’re almost certain to like it, or at least appreciate the attempt.

The only glaring exception is white chocolate. This is not to say that we don’t get a lot of customers who adore the stuff – we do. Nor is it to say that we haven’t converted a fair chunk of former white chocolate-haters – we have; most are floored when they taste the different kinds we have in the shop, from our own Chocophilia ‘Lemon Dream’ and ‘Roses Are Red’ bars to the absolutely fantastic Amedei ‘Pistacchi’ bar. But it is perhaps the most polarizing chocolate we carry, and there are many who just can’t get behind it.

Still, if any of you reading out there are thinking of giving it another chance, be sure to consider the following:

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Cookies and Ice Cream and Nibs, Oh My!

If the shop smells even more delicious to you today, it’s because we’ve been doing some baking! Our rich, chewy cocoa cookies are fresh out of the oven.

They are best enjoyed, in our opinion, with a scoop (or two) of 80% Valrhona gelato and a smattering of cocoa nibs. What says summer better than an ice cream sandwich?

Here’s how we do it at the shop:

Chewy Cocoa Cookies

adapted from Alice Medrich

140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

57g (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter

133g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

73g (1/3 cup) light brown sugar

48g (7 tbsp.) good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (we use Valrhona)

90g (1/3 cup) full-fat plain yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt and stir to mix.

Melt the butter, either in a bowl in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop. Add the sugars to the butter, stir to mix, then add the cocoa and stir to mix. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Lastly, add the flour mixture and stir just to combine.

Drop the dough by tablespoons onto a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, until the tops of the cookies have cracked slightly and look set.

Makes about 15 medium-sized cookies

‘Chocolat’ + Frozen Drinking Chocolate

This past Saturday evening on 104th was quite lovely – after a day full of Al Fresco festivities, a bunch of Edmontonians gathered outdoors at 10pm to watch Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp in ‘Chocolat’ . We had bars, creme fraiche and bacon brittle peanut butter truffles, and frozen dark drinking chocolate on hand to complement the title of the film.

We hope you made it out to the show, but if not, stop by the Shop to try our summer creations listed above – hickory smoked bacon, peanuts and chocolate are an amazing combo, while the creamy creme fraiche truffle has a hint of bright tartness that is perfect for increasingly warm days.

We are still working on our frozen drinking chocolate recipe to offer in the Shop, but here’s a recipe you can try at home:

Frozen Drinking Chocolate

Adapted from a recipe by Serendipity 3

Makes 1 Serving

1/2 ounce dark or milk chocolate (try your favourite bar, or the Valrhona Caraibe 64% is lovely here)

2 teaspoons of Kerstin’s Dark Drinking Chocolate

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (reduce a little if you’re going to use milk chocolate)

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3 cups ice

Whipped cream for serving (optional)

Directions:

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until melted. Add the drinking chocolate mix and sugar. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly add ½ cup of milk until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the room-temperature chocolate mixture and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth. Serve in your glass of choice with whipped cream if desired… and maybe a sprinkling of some Cocoa Nib Caviar.

Enjoy!

Second Anniversary Bash

Thank you to everyone who came out to celebrate the Shop’s second anniversary with us! We had a great time, and hope you left with all your chocolate cravings satisfied.

Shop talk

Thank you also, to all those who gave us input on the new Saffron-Rose bar. We ended up making versions in both white and dark chocolate, and asked everyone attending to vote for their favourite, as well as names for the new bar. We’re still tallying the votes, so keep an eye out for the results.

Kerstin was busy in the back of the Shop all evening whipping up Mint Chocolate Martinis and they were a hit! You all looked so chic shopping for chocolate with martinis in hand! Lots of you asked for the recipe to re-create the drink at home, so here it is:

Mint Chocolate Martinis

This recipe makes two martinis

Ingredients:

4 ounces Valrhona Dark Chocolate pistoles (we were using 64% and 72% throughout the evening)

8 ounces water, boiling

12-16 mint leaves (or a couple drops of mint oil)

3 ounces Vodka

Bit of Kalhua to taste (optional, but we added it for some sweetness)

Ice cubes

Method:

Muddle the mint in a cocktail shaker or pint glass.

Add the chocolate pistoles and boiling water. Stir until the chocolate pistoles have melted and let cool to room temperature.

Add the vodka, Kalhua and ice. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glasses.

Garnish with a fresh mint leaf and serve immediately.

You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe and make it in advance if you’re entertaining a large group. Simply make the chocolate-mint base in a pitcher or blender, refrigerate until ready to use, and strain it before serving.

Enjoy! And please let us know how they go over with your guests (and you) below.

The Multi-purpose Valrhona Pearl

The shiny Valrhona Pearl is deceiving – the lustrous 55% chocolate exterior hints at a smooth, flavourful (though small) confection. But after trying one, you find a hidden surprise – a crunchy cereal centre that adds a unique and delightful texture.

Of course these little treats are beautiful to snack on (in moderation, of course), but they are also a fun and unexpected addition to everything from your morning bowl of cereal, to a scoop of ice cream, or your favourite cookie.

I recently added a couple packages of Pearls to a batch of chocolate chip cookies, and they were just the thing to add some contrast to this classic, soft cookie. You can swap the following recipe out with your own favourite cookie dough, but here is mine just in case.

Soft and Chewy “Valrhona Pearl” Cookies

*makes about 3 dozen

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon coarse salt (or Fleur de Sel, etc., if you’ve got some handy)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or vanilla paste)

2 large eggs

2 cups Valrhona Pearls (I used two of the cones pictured above, ~12 oz)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour and baking soda; set aside. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Reduce speed to low. Add salt, vanilla, and eggs; mix until well blended (about 1 minute). Stir in Valrhona Pearls.

2. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing cookies 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges turn golden but centres are still soft (about 10 – 12 minutes). Let cool on sheets on wire racks for 2 minutes, the transfer cookies to racks, and test one out! To store, let cookies cool completely, then transfer to and airtight container, with parchment between each layer. These cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature.

*This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Holiday Cookies” magazine, 2005 edition.