Share The Love With Charles Chocolates

What makes a better gift than chocolate? Well, good chocolate, of course. But how do you one up that? Use a coupon code and use the money you save to buy more chocolate!

And to make that happen Chocolate Obsession is happy to share with you an exclusive coupon code for 15% off at the Charles Chocolates online store. The coupon is good through next Monday, the 17th so act fast!

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Click the lovely little graphic above to access the store and use the promo code CHOCOBSESSION and you'll get a quick and easy 15% off. If you're a regular reader you'll know by now that I love Charles Chocolates and recommend them without reservation.

So share the love, save some green, and have a happy holiday!

August 11, 2010

Sorbet You Say?

Well, the recipe I posted a link to seems to be lurking behind a paywall now so here is a link to the recipe at the Sun Sentinel. This past Sunday I was out shopping for some breakfasty type snackage and decided to wander over to the small appliances aisle to see what they might have that might be fun to play with. And leave it to Anderson's to have the ice cream maker I want.

So the ice cream maker came home with me and the freezer bowl went into the freezer to set up and I gathered my ingredients for making sorbet. I still had no Chambord (well, not enough) so I went with Grand Marnier instead as a compromise. The mixture comes out tasting heavily of the liqueur, but the taste slips into the background when it's properly set in the freezer. Aside from some texture issues it came out really nicely. It certainly tastes great.

Next recipe to make in the ice cream machine... Fresh Mint Chip ice cream a la David Lebovitz. The Man's got skills so I figure his recipe has to be a great one and I want to do fresh mint. So fresh mint should be happening sometime between now and Friday (dessert potluck thing at work or something so I need to bring something).

Cheers y'all!

July 27, 2010

Recipe: Chocolate-Chambord Sorbet

Recipe time! I see a lot of recipes flow through my inbox, but tonight's recipe just seemed like such a great thing given the heat of the season (and it has been yucky hot). The recipe du jour is for a Chocolate-Chambord Sorbet. That'll help you beat the heat. Well, it'll help ME beat the heat. At least once I get an ice cream maker. It does require one. But I've been dying to get the ice cream maker attachment for my Kitchenaid stand mixer, so this could be just be the excuse I need.

Anyway, if you direct your browser toward the Grand Forks Herald you'll fine where Chef Jeff shares this piece of love alternate link at the Sun Sentinel to avoid some paywallage. I have a feeling that I might be making some of this in the near future. Not sure I have Chambord, though. I might need to try it with Grand Marnier instead. Which sounds just lovely to me.

July 21, 2010

Hot Chocolate Summer

Well, things have been... interesting. I'm working and this is good. As a result I've not been putting a lot of time into the blog. Again. And I've been eating lots of chocolate and baking and all sorts of fun stuff. I've just been busy with getting used to the new job and stuff and therefore not writing about the chocolate happenings. Tonight, however, I feel like posting so I'm going to go on a bit about what I've been up to.

First thing to address is the Weekend of Disastrous Chocolate (fully deserving of those capital letters). I was tasked with the creation of some decadent dessert for my brother's birthday. I tend to aim high and normally I hit my target close enough that things are all good. This time, well, I'm not exactly sure how it went. I decided that I would make something from my favorite cookbook, Alice Medrich's Cocolat. I decided to shoot for Chocolate Decadence - a torte with a name that summed up what I wanted to deliver. It sounded easy enough. And things seemed to go quite smoothly until I reached one point where things didn't feel quite right. I was folding my egg whites into the chocolate mixture and it just didn't seem to go well. I don't know if I over-whipped my egg whites, under-whipped them or possibly what I was folding them into was too hot. Or maybe I just had wrong expectations. It just didn't seem quite right so after the baking I set it aside as a failed experiment. One that tasted just lovely with a little raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Yes, I have odd standards.

So with one "failed" recipe behind me I decided to do something foolproof: brownies. Not the traditional cocoa brownies, but chocolate ones. So I reached for another Medrich cookbook, Bittersweet. I like the book because it has a great variety of recipes and has variations on some of them that are nice and easy to play with. I picked the version of the recipe I wanted to do and started flipping back and forth between the main recipe portion and the variant and got to work. I was certain I had everything right this time. Until I started looking into the oven to check on the progress that is. It really seemed to be sort of seething on top. Like it was over moist. The top looked almost like it was boiling. When I finally slipped the brownie slab out of it's pan the parchment in the bottom of the pan was stuck to the pan by an enormitude of liquid butter. The main recipe called for about twice the butter that the variant did. So my replacement dessert was just a wee bit over-buttery. Rich as all get out and not too bad tasting at all, but not what I was shooting for. Brownies should not leave you with greasy fingers.

So I turned to the cupboard to see if I had any bulk chocolate left. I had some old old old baking chocolate of dubious quality left and that was it. And I needed to get baking immediately. So I made another batch of brownies, this time with the right amount of butter. In fact it had the right amount of everything if you ignore the fact that the chocolate was old and sub-par. And in spite of the shortcomings of the chocolate itself the brownies turned out really pretty tasty. Finally I had a dessert I was reasonably happy with. At least happy enough to serve.

So to recap: it took me three tries to get to a dessert I felt confident serving. I should have just served the torte I made in the first place. It was tasty and people kept picking at it at the party. Not my best work, but I should have had a little more confidence in it. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Moving on, I've not eaten a whole lot of interesting chocolate of late, but I did pick up some Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate with Caramel squares to take into the office. I like to keep a candy bowl at work for the community at large. It's my little way of trying to help others through the day. It's all about sharing the power of chocolate. Anyway, they're really pretty darn tasty. Not the cheapest of chocolates, but not outrageously priced given the quality. And it's a bit better than the Snickers and Milky Way Midnight I like to stock the bowl with. Not that I plan on switching over to them instead of the cheaper fare or anything, but they make make an appearance in the bowl from time to time.

The other little item I've been picking up at the store is Coconut M&M's - yes, they're back! I've been running into them in stores again and I quite like to have them available to me once more. Well, available to me without me having to hit my big zipper bag of them that I've been slowly snacking on since last year when they first made the scene. They make me happy. Next to the Peanut variety these are my favorite M&M's.

Finally, for some odd reason I really felt the need for a mug of hot chocolate the other night. And if there is one thing I have a lot of it's hot chocolate. There are literally more than a dozen hot chocolate options in my cupboard - I kid you not. I decided to go for the good stuff and reached for my canister of Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate. I used a bit more milk than the instructions call for, but it was still awesome tasty. An odd choice for a really hot summer day, but it's what I craved.

So that's a bit of what's been going on in my little world o' chocolate. Not sure if or when things will get back to normal around the blog, but normalcy if overrated.

Cheers!

June 27, 2010

Quick Hits: Pretzel M&M's

The last few years have seen some interesting experiments within the M&M's brand and they've generally been good with the odd exception along the way. The latest of these experiments is the Pretzel M&M. Simple concept - an M&M with a pretzel in the middle - like the Peanut M&M only different. Pretzels and chocolate go together like two things that go really well together so this really seems like a slam dunk.

The concept is a good one, but the proof is, as they say, in the pudding. So how does the Pretzel M&M deliver? Pretty good actually. The crunch is nice and the pretzel tastes like, well, pretzel which is, I suppose, exactly what one would hope. I'm not sure I like the pretzel crunch after the candy crunch on the outside, though. It's a little different than the crunch of the peanut in the Peanut M&M's and I guess I'm just unfairly comparing the two. The Peanut M&M's are near perfect so I'm biased toward them. But all that aside it's a nice combo in terms of taste. The little pretzel nuggets have a nice bit of salt to them which gives that wonderful sweet and salty combo that just hits the spot so well.

A simple concept combining two great tastes into one little bundle of candy-coated goodness. I'm actually curious as to why it took them so long to do this. It really seems to be a natural extension of the brand to me while some of the other ideas they've tried (PB&J anybody?) have been a bit of a stretch. Score-wise I'm going to have to give these a 8.75 out of 10 as they are pretty darn yummy. They make a nice alternative to the classic Peanut M&M's and are quite a nice addition to the brand.

Oh, and there are NO yellow Pretzel M&M's. What's up with that?

June 20, 2010

Mental Health Chocolate

I've gotta say, I've been pretty happy during this whole job search thing. I've been eating healthier and exercising more and have generally been really pretty happy and positive. One thing that has helped is chocolate. I've got rather a lot of chocolate lurking about my home - some of it candy some if it high quality bar chocolate - and I've been going back to my reserves and my experimental chocolate cellar for treats on a regular basis (tonight is Amedei Porcelana). I'll admit chocolate has been something of a nightly ritual for me, but I've always been picking up a lot of extra chocolate along the way. This last couple of months has been different in that I've only bought a couple of things (a few Godiva truffles, Pretzel M&M's and a Raspberry Zzang! bar). I will be reviewing these last two at some point soon, but things have been really pretty busy the last few weeks so I've been a trifle distracted from the blog yet again. I do think that things are settling down a little, though, and plan to get up a review of those darn M&M's this week and hopefully get to the Zzang! (with the obligatory exclamation point) next weekend. I don't think there are enough World Cup games to distract me from posting them.

But back to the original point regarding the whole nightly chocolate ritual. I found myself lucky enough to have a lot of excellent chocolate around so my desire to not spend money on unnecessary items (like chocolate) didn't end up leaving me dying for a good fix. I haven't had to go without and if I had to I could probably go a year or more on what I've got on hand. And after a long day of the this that and the other of job searching a little chocolate goes a long way toward making everything good. It hits my tongue and starts to melt and as it does so does any lingering stress. I've got to say that it's been no small help in keeping me happy. It's the little things that make life livable and a tiny bit of chocolate each night works wonders for me. And it's my obsessive chocolate searching that built up the amazing stash that sustains me.

So hurray for hoarding!

May 25, 2010

Review: Godiva Ice Cream Parlor Truffles

Summer is just under a month away and it's time to gear up for all the great tastes of the season. And what taste screams summer more than ice cream? Seriously. Since I was old enough to chase the ice cream man summer and ice cream have gone hand in hand. And to get into the spirit of the season Godiva has brought back their Ice Cream Parlor Truffles. They've even stepped up their summertime swing with new flavors. This year they're introducing Double Dark Chocolate, Pistachio, Lemon Sherbet, and Rocky Road. These are in addition to the existing flavors of Mint Chocolate Chip, Neapolitan, Hazelnut Gelato, Oranges and Crème, and Pecan Caramel Sundae. That's a pretty tasty sounding lineup. I was lucky enough to be sent a sampler of the new flavors in what is some of the coolest packaging I've seen in some time.

You see, they have these great little lidded cups that look like pint ice cream containers - awesome way to work with the theme, no? You can get pre-made pints or get a custom pint made at a boutique. Even cooler, if you do happen go to a Godiva boutique you can get an Ice Cream Truffle Cone - yep, they give the truffle a little dip and stick it in a mini-cone. And if that isn't already enough summertime fun they also have these cute Milk Chocolate Popsicle Lollipops. They look - surprise! - like a popsicle and are available in orange, green and brown tied with a pink satin ribbon. And that's still not all. They've gone whole hog on the ice cream with Ice Cream Parlor Truffle Bars! These are available in Oranges & Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, Hazelnut Gelato and Vanilla Sundae. So if a single truffle isn't enough to satisfy your ice cream urge, they've got you covered. They've even stepped up availability by making the classic flavors available at department stores and online where last year they were boutique only. The new flavors are only available at Godiva boutiqes, though. But it may be worth it to go to an actual Godiva store so you can try those cool little mini-cones and get a custom packed pint container with your choice of flavors, old or new.

Love the theme and the killer packaging, but it's the taste that's important, right? Well, they've done some pretty impressive work on some of these. The Double Dark Chocolate is great - dark on dark is a sure winner in my book and this delivers. The Lemon Sherbet is nice and lemony, but I don't know that I've got any basis for comparison - I've had lots of orange and lime sherbet, but I don't know if I've ever had lemon. It's not my favorite, but it's still good. The rocky road is really nice and hits close to the mark of the classic ice cream flavor with a nice hit of marshmallowy vanilla along with the nuts and chocolate. And then there's Pistachio. I'm not sure how I managed to avoid the flavor for so long, but once I started on it I've been unable to stop and I love the combination of Pistachio and white chocolate. And that's what we've got here and it's really tasty.

As for the "old" flavors, well, I couldn't settle for just trying the new flavors, could I? So I nipped off to the mall and grabbed some of the classics to taste test. I haven't tried them all just yet, but the ones I have are some seriously good stuff. The Neapolitan is a home run - I just had Breyer's Strawberry Ice Cream on Saturday and the strawberry in the Neapolitan Truffle is close to a dead ringer for that natural strawberry ice cream flavor. Paired with some vanilla and all wrapped up in chocolate it really nails the flavor combination well. And good golly gosh the Mint Chocolate Chip.... dead on perfect and totally to die for. They are so wrong they're right. Gooshy, minty and chocolaty – they are a thing of beauty. Oh, and the Oranges and Crème matches up to a Orange Creamsicle pretty darn well, too. Then there is the Pecan Caramel Sundae. After the other truffles turned out to be so solid I had some pretty high expectations for this one. Luckily it lived up to expectations with some lovely gooey caramel and vanilla sections – with nuts even! Absolutely awesome.

So how do they all rate? I’d say they run from a low of 7 out of 10 for the Lemon Sherbet up to a good strong 9.25 out of 10 for the Mint Chocolate Chip and Pecan Caramel Sundae. Overall I’d probably drop an 8.5 for the whole line. Very tasty stuff and a fun change of pace. The prices aren’t terrible for Godiva either. A four-truffle pint will run you $10 and a three pint pack with Neapolitan, Mint Chocolate Chip and Pecan Caramel Sundae will run just $25 (they call it an Ice Cream Social – hee hee). And the cones will only set you back $3, the lollipops are $6 and it's only $2.95 for one of the Ice Cream Parlor Truffle Bars. It may be more economical to go with per pound pricing for your truffles, though. I love the packaging and all, but I tend to go that route because I don’t see a whole lot of reason to waste a box on chocolate that is just for me and my friends. But do what makes you happy. Just do it fast, because they're only here for a limited time!

May 16, 2010

Pseudo-Review: John & Kira's Chocolates

As much as I love John & Kira's Chocolates I'm really surprised to find that I've never really reviewed anything they make. I've been a big fan of their fabulous drunken pumpkin figs they do for the holiday season, but up until a few months ago I'd really not had anything else they make outside of the New York Chocolate Show. But this spring they were doing a bit of a half-off dealie on some of their stuff in the wake of Valentine's Day and I took that opportunity to try a few more of their treats. Doing so was a great move - I got to try two of the best pieces of chocolate I've had in the last year - maybe ever.

The first thing I got was a box of their tri-color Ladybugs (they're painted to look like little ladybugs). It comes with three bugs each in red (raspberry), yellow (honey lavender), and green (garden mint). Great write-ups on the ingredients at those links. Oh, and it comes in a really nice box. Totally love their packaging. When you pull a bug (or a bee - we'll get to those) from the box there are these lovely little facts about ladybugs and bees lurking in the spot vacated. Now, the flavors. The raspberry was good, but not over the top amazing - I may be jaded to raspberry as most raspberry things don't impress me any more. This one was relatively mild raspberry with nice chocolate and pretty balanced overall. The honey lavender was fantastic. You could really taste the honey and the lavender. This one was over the top amazing, but it still wasn't as over the top amazing as the garden mint. There are so many generic mint chocolates out there that finding one with a beautiful real fresh mint flavor is so nice. Absolutely incredible stuff.

And speaking of incredible stuff the other item I ordered was a box of their caramel chocolate bees. Like the ladybugs they're painted to look like cute little bees. They're salted caramel with a little honey all wrapped in chocolate and they are unbelievable good. I was expecting a nice salted caramel, but that touch of honey makes them - you guessed it - over the top amazing. Maybe even better than that. Killer stuff.

Let's see, did I miss anything? Oh, yeah. They use Valrhona for their chocolate. It's all good stuff on top of more good stuff. Of course it comes at a price. They are kinda expensive. But when you look at a, say, Godiva, you'll find that they're pretty competitive. It may not be for everyday consumption, but when you want something exceptional it fits the bill. It's been a while since I ate them so I feel a little bad about giving them a score from memory, but I don't remember them as anything but awesome. The ladybugs get a 9.25 out of 10 for being amazingly awesome and the bees get a 9.5 for being darn near perfect. Yummy yummy stuff.

May 12, 2010

Free Ice Cream! Häagen-Dazs Even!

Häagen-Dazs is celebrating their birthday and they want you to come out and celebrate with them. On Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 they're giving free scoops of their classic flavors (vanilla, chocolate and coffee) "at participating locations" between 4pm and 8pm. I do love the Häagen-Dazs and I do so love free chocolate so I'll be heading over to the mall next Tuesday in hopes that my local H-D will be participating. There's a little search thing on their site to find the store nearest you. Hopefully there's one near enough that you can take advantage.

Hmm... I wonder what flavor I'll be getting. Heh.

May 11, 2010

Chocolate Stress Relief

It's once again been a long while since I last posted. The long and short of it is that the last two years have carried a lot of job-related stress that left me having little desire to do anything when I got home from work. So I would come home, take care of the rabbit, eat chocolate and vegetate.

Recently things were looking up and I was feeling a bit more positive and confident with regards to the future and was getting geared up to start posting again. And then I get informed that my position has been eliminated. Lovely.

So now I find myself between jobs with spare time on my hands (I can't focus on the job hunt ten hours a day - I'd go insane) and a wealth of chocolate all around me. And oh how that chocolate helps matters. I'm a bundle of stress and anxiety right now, but a tiny piece of chocolate can just dissolve the stress and improve my mood and outlook. I think the important thing will be keeping it down to eating just a tiny piece of chocolate. I don't want to start gorging myself on chocolate in the name of stress relief. It's all down to the thing I've been saying for years - you get every bit as much flavor and joy from a small bite of chocolate as you do from a big one.

So, as I deal with the stress of job-hunting (something I've never really had to do) I'm going to be nibbling on some chocolate and once again sharing my thoughts. It'll be a nice way to break up the day.

Cheers!

December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Felt I should come out of hiding to wish everybody a happy holiday, whatever they may be celebrating (or just finished celebrating). Nobody should be terribly surprised that I'm celebrating with a little fine chocolate. Anyway, hope everybody had/has a good holiday and some good chocolate along the way!