Category Archives: chocolate recipes

Santa Barbara Chocolate

I have just tasted one of the best single origin chocolates, and that’s saying a lot, as there are plenty of excellent options out there. It’s a 73% bulk wafer from Vietnam offered by Santa Barbara Chocolate. The flavor is round, full, fruity, floral, balanced, and complex with a slightly dry finish. Like an edgy criollo. I love criollo beans, but they can sometimes seem a bit too gentle and predictable on the palate. This chocolate, which contains cocoa butter and vanilla, delivers all its fascinating flavors in a velvety texture.

Making this a 73% was inspired as it heightens all the nuances of the cacao with just the right amount of sugar. At $39 for a three pound bag it’s also an incredible bargain. One two ounce bar tempered into an ornate mold in fancy packaging would easily fetch $10, or more. I would suggest transferring some straight from the bag into a pretty glass jar and giving it as gifts…economical, unique, and luxurious.

While I temper chocolate as a moving meditation, I found these Vietnamese wafers almost impossible to adulterate with anything. They’re irresistible right out of the bag; and, their size and shape couldn’t be better for a perfectly timed melt at body temperature. At some point, I will make mendiants with maple glazed pecans or pistachios and thinly sliced dates or dried mango, but not now. Today I want to bask in the glory of this bean. (Two days later…ever the experimenter, I tempered some of this extraordinary chocolate and added dehydrated raspberries. The acidity of the fruit brought out even more floral fruity notes from the chocolate. So, even though it stands alone, it also plays well with others.)

I also sampled their organic Hispaniola 100% chocolate wafers sourced from the Dominican Republic. They have a very robust, intense, super chocolatey flavor noticeably without leather, soil, licorice, or tobacco notes that makes them perfect for baking. I tempered some and added 25% demerara sugar. The slight sweetness and crunch of the crystalized sugar was a fascinating foil for the Hispaniola flavors.

The 60% version of this bean is very versatile with its lush fruity flavor and lends itself to tempering, baking, or just eating out of the bag. A fun fact about this bean: it was the first cacao Christopher Columbus tasted when he arrived in the New World.

Then there were the 70% organic dark chocolate chips without soy lecithin. I can’t remember having mini-chips with such a deep, refined chocolate presence and a sublimely balanced flavor profile. They were a great addition to a batch of maple tahini chocolate chip cookies.

My last treat was their Caribbean 67% which also had a fruity presence and a slightly dry, lingering finish. In my experience, these fruitier beans are just excellent for couverture and desserts as they support a galaxy of flavors, like citrus, berries, nuts, seeds, coffee beans, and spices.

In addition to a great selection of products for the professional or avocational chocolatier, Santa Barbara Chocolate makes beautiful large organic truffles. Mine arrived in a stunning tall red faux leather box adorned with a sumptuous black silk ribbon. The box itself opens up sideways to form four smaller boxes that each contained four truffles. These are incredibly rich, vegan, and infused with organic coconut milk and organic honey. A memorable gift for someone you love or want to impress.

Santa Barbara curates a very special collection of cacao. Each item is handpicked for its unique properties, whether organic, Rainforest alliance certified, or coconut palm sugar sweetened, you can be sure it will be both high quality and a good value.

I focused this review on their dark offerings, but they also have milk, white, and compound chocolates, cocoa, drinking chocolate, and beans.

While I didn’t sample the Belgian Dark Chocolate Grand Aroma, I thought you might enjoy the following recipe from Santa Barbara’s owner and chocolatier Jason Vishnefske.

INGREDIENTS FOR BELGIAN BEER CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES

Beer Ganache:

8oz. Belgian Beer
3oz. Honey
1lb. 4oz. of our Imported Ever the experimenter, I tempered some of this Vietnamese chocolate and added dehydrated raspberries. The result was just what I had in mind: the acidity of the fruit brought out even more floral fruity notes from the chocolate.
3oz. Butter

Additional Chocolate Ingredient:

Belgian Milk Chocolate Couverture

PREPARATION OF BEER TRUFFLES:

Boil the Belgian beer with honey.
Pour onto the Belgian Dark Chocolate and mix so it is smooth.
When the ganache reaches 87F add butter and mix with a hand mixer.
Pour ganache into a parchment lined sheet pan and let it crystallize for 14 hours at 60F.
Temper the milk chocolate couverture and spread a thin layer of the tempered Belgian Milk Chocolate on the ganache side.
When it’s crystallized, turn the ganache and spread another thin layer of tempered Belgian Milk Chocolate on the other side.
Cut into 1/2″ by 2″ rectangles.
Lastly, dip each ganache rectangle into tempered Belgian Dark Chocolate Grand Aroma.

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RECIPE: Blue Cheese Chocolate with Maple Roasted Pecans and Rosemary

I have been tempering chocolate in the microwave for many years. (Here’s a link to how: https://chocolateratings.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/quick-and-easy-chocolate-tempering/) My latest obsession is mendiants, those beautifully adorned small chocolate discs with a mosaic of fruits, nuts, and/or spices on top.

One of my favorite mendiant recipes is made with blue cheese powder (see link below for the one I use) and maple roasted pecans. Today, I added a bit of freshly chopped rosemary to the recipe. They looked lovely and tasted divine. Of course, when adding blue cheese powder I find it best to keep these in a covered container in the fridge.

Here’s my recipe for BLUE CHEESE CHOCOLATE WITH MAPLE ROASTED PECANS AND ROSEMARY

Lay out a large piece of aluminum foil on a flat surface.

MAKE THE NUTS by adding 2 TBSP real maple syrup to a frying pan with, at least 2″ high sides. Cook on medium heat until syrup bubbles.
You can add a little cayenne or Serrano chile powder if you like a bit of extra heat, or skip it.
Quickly add about 1 1/2- 2 cups of pecan halves.
Stir on medium heat fairly continuously until all the moisture from the syrup is absorbed, about 5-7 minutes. You want them golden brown.
Dump out on the aluminum foil, separate any nuts that have stuck together, and let cool completely.
(I make this recipe with all sorts off different nuts and keep them in the fridge in jars. They are also wonderful on salads.)

Temper the chocolate. I usually only make a small batch, using 8 TBSP 70-75% good quality chocolate, chopped.
Set aside 2 TBSP from your total of 8.
Put the remaining 6 TBSP chopped chocolate in a one cup Pyrex measuring cup and nuke for 30-70 seconds on high or medium high power. When all the chocolate can be stirred to a smooth mass it’s done. This can be tricky because the chocolate make look as if it’s not melted, so you have to stir it after 30-40 seconds to check how far it’s come.

Add 1 TBSP of the remaining chocolate. Stir until amalgamated.
Do the same thing with the last TBSP chopped chocolate.

Add 1/2-1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary, if using. Stir well.

Add 1 1/2 TBSP blue cheese powder. Stir until combined.

On a large piece of waxed paper, put about 1/2-3/4 tsp melted chocolate in a blob and make it into a circle using the back of a teaspoon.
You should have about 25 discs about 1 1/4″ in diameter when you’re done.

Top each with 1-2 pecan halves.

They should solidify at room temperature, but if, after an hour, they haven’t, put them in the fridge.

https://www.amazon.com/Heaven-Cheese-Shaker-Rogue-Creamery/dp/B00CU6VWVS/ref=sr_1_1_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1493909725&sr=8-1&keywords=blue%2Bcheese%2Bpowder&th=1
(Note: This lasts well when refrigerated for years. Yes, years.)