Tag Archives: chocolate and cheese

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.


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.

(Note: This lasts well when refrigerated for years. Yes, years.)


Rogue Creamery

Cheese is not typically a topic for this site, however, when it can be paired with chocolate in new, easy ways it’s an exciting and interesting departure.

You may recall a review I did a while back of Lillie Belle Farms. They still make a dark milk chocolate bar with Rogue Creamery’s Powdered Blue Heaven Cheese, a Truffle spread that’s just marvelous on thin slices of crisp apple or pear, and a Smokey Blue Cheese Truffle.

When I heard that Rogue Creamery was making a powdered blue, aptly called Blue Heaven, that could easily be incorporated into my own truffles, ganaches, brownies, and ice creams I was eager to try it.

Owners Cary and David have been working on this challenge for over ten years. It is made with rBST free milk, and comes in a three ounce container.

For those of you who like to temper your own chocolate, this blue cheese powder will catalyze your creativity, whether stirred into a mendiant base, truffle, or mousse, it effortlessly allows you to add the piquancy of blue cheese without worrying about immediate refrigeration. I adore the pairings I tried from Lillie Belle, and now have the flexibility to make my own confections and concoctions.

If you would like to try a simple starter recipe, you can either make a ganache and add some Blue Heaven, or create a batch of my favorite quick chocolate fix: a water ganache (see the recipe on this site) with some Blue Heaven stirred in. You will have to experiment with the amount by adding, tasting, and adding; however, that shouldn’t prove to be much of a hardship.

Or, make life really easy and simply stir some into your favorite chocolate ice cream, gelato, or hot fudge sauce.

Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates

I first heard about Lillie Belle Chocolates when they were only available at a farmer’s market clear across the country. Everything sounded fabulous. Luckily, you can now buy their creative chocolates, caramels, truffles, and bars online.

While there are a number of things that make these chocolates noteworthy, an especially appealing one is how Jeff Shepherd uses organic fruit from his own farm. I sampled an assorted box that included some really excellent examples of the chocolatier’s art.

The Maker’s Mark Cup, filled with pecan butter, Maker’s Mark whiskey ganache, and topped with a large, super crunchy caramelized pecan was absolutely fabulous. The balance of bourbon, chocolate, and pecan was as good as it gets. I will be thinking about that little gem for some time.

Jeff’s Lavender Caramel sprinkled with Fleur de Sel entranced me with its chewy texture, floral notes, and salty edge.

The Lemon-Coconut Buttercream had a tart Meyer Lemon butter cream hand rolled in white chocolate and finished with toasted coconut. Another great textural expedition. Every bite sparkled with the lemon’s acidity.

Hazelnut Chew spoke to the nut and caramel lover in me. It was a perfect rendition of crunchy, chewy caramel covered in dark chocolate.

Jeff’s Strawberry Cordial filled with organic strawberry preserves was just the ticket to heighten my Spring frame of mind.

Marzipan Fig, with rum and spice poached black mission figs, wrapped in marzipan, dipped in dark chocolate and rolled in almonds, was a gustatory shape-shifter. First a bit of chewy fig, then a hint of rum, followed by sweet nutty almond paste, dark chocolate, and crunchy almonds. Jeff certainly doesn’t bore you. Each creation stands alone as a complete chocolate experience. There are others that I would love to try, like Peanut Butter Pattie, and their own farm grown Fresh Mint Ganache, but this was already an embarrassment of riches.

Jeff makes a dark bar called “Do Not Eat This Chocolate.” I would add a slew of exclamation points after that, as this is definitely the hottest chocolate I have ever tasted, by far. It contains Ghost Chile, Aji Amarillo, and Arbole. The tiniest bit assaults your taste buds, building heat from the front of your mouth to the back, and the intensity keeps on keeping on even after the chocolate has vanished. It’s a wild ride and only recommended for people who adore extreme foods. If the picture of a skull with fiery eyes isn’t enough to alert you to this bar’s intensity, Jeff has kindly added a stern caveat on the front of each wrapper that reads: “A full metal death chile and chocolate bitch slap. You have been warned!” I had a Mexican friend taste some. One small square lasted him the whole day. On reflection, I’m sure if you dole it out that way you get a fairly continuous endorphin rush from the mild discomfort (Jeff actually uses the word pain on the wrapper). I know chocolate has all sorts of mood-altering chemicals, but this rockets the whole affair into a gustatory-mind-body dimension at warp speed. The question is, would I seek it out? Yes. Most experiences in life are simply repetitions of past encounters. This bar is so vastly different it sets up its own neural pathways and fascinates every cell along the way.

Once your taste buds have calmed down, you might want to try Lillie Belle’s Ocumare 70% bean to bar chocolate, a supremely satisfying deep, rich, almost chewy, earthy chocolate with a hint of sophistication lingering with its slightly dry finish.

It may be hard to believe, but I’ve saved the wildest for last. Jeff sent me a small tub of his Smokey Blue Cheese truffle mixture, a combination of Rogue Creamery’s Smokey Blue Cheese, dark chocolate, buttery ganache, and finished with finely chopped almonds. The instructions said nuke for 10 seconds and spread on crackers. Well, I tried it straight, so I could get a sense of the Smokey Blue Cheese Truffle’s texture, and I was blown away. In the wrong hands this combination could be a complete disaster, but in Jeff’s it was novel and noteworthy. The edgy, dry piquancy of the cheese and the creaminess of both cheese and chocolate were sublime. Ingenious!

As someone who samples chocolates almost daily, I really appreciate the pretty paper cups Jeff uses to house his creations. Each white, fluted container was adorned with a purple flower. A far cry from the ubiquitous brown cups most chocolatiers use.