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November 30, 2005

Review: Dagoba Brasilia

The other day I stopped in at Whole Foods Market to get some Chocolove and ended up coming home with this instead. This was the first time I remember seeing this variety at the store and I really liked the sound of it so I decided to pick it up. Well, that and they were out of the Chocolove bar I wanted, but that doesn't matter. What matters is I bought an Organic Dagoba Brasilia bar and it was very good.

The Brasilia bar is a 37% cocoa content (they say cacao content on the wrapper) milk chocolate bar with coconut and Brazil nuts. The first thing I thought of when I saw coconut on the label was the traditional Mounds bar. A big fat wad of sweetened coconut enrobed in chocolate. I was very pleased to find that this was nothing at all like that. This is a chocolate bar with coconut in it, not coconut with a little chocolate on it.

Before I go any further I need to say this: I am by no means a chocolate expert. Prior to a month ago I had never tried single origin chocolate and I don't know how to properly taste chocolate and savor and apprecite it's nuances like a real expert. What I do know is what I like. And I like chocolate.

My inexpertise aside, I really enjoyed this bar. The chocolate didn't have the strong aroma of a dark chocolate and there was something I can't help but describe as earthy about it. It's something I seem to notice in each of the handful of organic chocolates I've tried so far. There is a hint of it in the taste as well. The chocolate is a very good creamy milk chocolate. The coconut in it seems like it might be raw (though I can't be sure) and adds a very faint hint of coconut flavor to the chocolate. The nuts I could tell right off were Brazil nuts (though the front label calls them 'exotic nuts') and they also added to the flavor of the chocolate. Between them the coconut and nuts did not overpower the chocolate but really complemented it. To me, that is what you are supposed to aim for in chocolates. You want the flavors to exist in harmony and with no single one overpowering or being overpowered by the others. And that is what I found in this bar. The flavors went very well together and nothing was too strong.

If I had to be forced to give it a rating on a scale of 1 to 10 I would rate it a 9.5. It has found a place on my short list of favorite chocolate bars.

November 29, 2005

Recipe: Dolce Torinese

recipes.jpgBella Online have posted a new recipe on their site for a Dolce Torinese (chocolate terrine). Ok, the name may not have clicked for me right away but when I saw the words "rum-soaked chocolate terrine" I was sold. The sixteen tablespoons of butter (2 sticks) don't even give me pause given everything else this recipe is offering. One more recipe to add to the ever-growing list of things I need to try. It sounds absolutely sinful, but in a good way.
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Chocolate Spa Treatments

fun.jpgEver since I saw a feature on Food Network about the Chocolate Spa at the Hotel Hershey I've been curious about the whole chocolate spa experience. Today an article posted at the Japan Times Online prompted me to do some sniffing around. The article documents the writer's trip to the spa and the cocoa bean scrub she received there and is an interesting and amusing read.

Of course chocolate spas will, if Spa Claudia Aoyama and the Hershey Chocolate Spa are any indication, use cocoa and cocoa butter as opposed to chocolate. That doesn't in any way make them any less attractive. You are going for the spa and some chocolate immersion and when it comes down to it chocolate is really all about the cocoa.

The article and a quick perusal of the Hershey Chocolate Spa site have got my curiosity piqued. I've been thinking about a trip to Hershey and I might just have to consider a trip to the spa there as well. In the end, the way I figure it is this: if spa services are good and chocolate is good then mixing the two has to be spectacular.

Article Link
Hershey Chocolate Spa

November 28, 2005

Sugar Prices On the Rise

News.jpgThis could be bad news for chocolate lovers. Sugar prices are climbing rapidly due to refineries being hit by 2005's particularly nasty hurricane season and those price increases will be flowing through the producers and out to the consumers in the form of higher retail prices. Columbus Business First has an article talking about how the price hit is being felt at local favorite Anthony-Thomas Candy Co. and at Pure Imagination Chocolatier (of the North Market and available at Whole Foods Market on 161 for the locals). Unless the companies we buy our chocolate from are willing to take it in the bottom line for their customers then it looks like we will be paying more for chocolate. Personally, I'll be focusing on quality as opposed to quantity, but I am a bit of a chocolate snob these days anyway (albeit an ignorant chocolate snob).
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November 27, 2005

Review: Whooppee Cocoa Cream Soda

On my first ever visit to Jungle Jim's I hit the small company soda aisle pretty hard. I bought a wide variety of things to try but the true stand-out of the batch came to me as a total surprise: Whooppee Cocoa Creme Soda.

I had very low expectations for the drink. I had never thought that chocolate had any place in soda pop. So I was a bit shocked when I found this drink to be absolutely wonderful. At first you don't taste the cocoa at all, just creme soda. I love creme soda and this was a soft and refreshing one. The cocoa made it's presence known just after my first swallow. The cocoa flavor is very subtle and complements the creme soda very nicely. I had gone into things expecting the cocoa to be overpowering but I found it to be anything but. It lurks in the background and takes you by surprise.

Overall the drink is very refreshing, not overly sweet, and has only a subtle, pleasant cocoa aftertaste and I recommend it without hesitation.

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November 26, 2005

Godiva In-Store Event

godiva_logo.gifOur friends at Godiva are constantly offering in-store events ranging from demonstrations to tastings. December 1-3 and 8-10 they will be having a tasting event featuring their 'Pop Chocolates' - truffles with an effervescent zing to them. I've had fizzy chocolate beverages before, but not fizzy truffles so I'm looking forward to giving these a try, especially for free. The two flavors are CranOrange Dark Chocolate Dazzler and White Chocolate Raspberry Sparkler. I'm not sure if I'm up for cranberry in my chocolate so I'll probably go for the raspberry if I have to choose between the two. Be sure to stop by for the tasting, though you might want to check with the store ahead of time since it is, like all of their events, at 'select locations' only.
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Recipe: Cinnamon Chocolate Brownies

recipes.jpgI love the combination of cinnamon and chocolate. The two flavors are so different but complement each other so well. AZCentral has posted up a recipe that combines these two flavors into one of my favorite types of food: the brownie. I'm considering trying these. Sounds good. My only issue is the name. Isn't 'chocolate brownie' redundant? I'm just picky.
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Washington Post on Premium Chocolate

News.jpgThe Washington Post have up a nice article discussing the growth of premium chocolate in the marketplace. They compare premium chocolate to coffee via what they call the 'Starbucks Effect'. It's an interesting read and its nice to see that people are beginning to recognize that there is more to chocolate than candy bars you can get at the gas station and dime a dozen assortments from the grocery store. And, of course, there is mention of the potential health benefits. Can't talk chocolate these days without the desperate hope that it could actually be good for you (personally, I feel that it doesn't matter - it's chocolate for gosh sakes - you don't need an excuse).
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*EDIT*
I have locked comments on this post due to incessant comment spam. Sorry for any inconvenience.

November 25, 2005

Newtree Chocolats

newtree.jpgThere has been a lot of news in the past year about how chocolate is actually (maybe) good for you. Well, Newtree is taking the concept one step further by combining the miracle food that is chocolate with other beneficial all-natural ingredients to make what I would tend to think of as holistic health chocolate. For instance their Serenity bar uses bitter orange for it's soothing effect and their Vivacity bar is overflowing with naturally occurring caffeine and other stimulants (creating the chocolate bar equivalent of an energy drink). An interesting concept. Their bars are divided into categories based on their effect: Stimulating, Harmony, Relaxing, Pleasure, Digestion, and Antioxidant. I like the concept but would like to see them take it one step further and go with Fair Trade chocolate. It would be good for you and for the people who work the plantations as well. That little quibble won't stop me from trying their chocolate if I see it, though.
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Ovidias Belgian Chocolates in the Freshpack

This is a new one on me. Ovidias, a maker of fine Belgian chocolates, has a special "freshpack" can that you can buy their chocolates in. The can seals in the chocolate and seals out light and prevents condensation and delivers perfect chocolate to the consumer. It's pretty neat, it looks like a soda pop can except the entire lid pulls off with a pull-tab. To make a neat idea even better you can get your company logo printed on the can.

I found out about the product in a press release announcing that Hospitality Confections LLC is bringing the product to (presumably) the hospitality industry in the United States. Seems like a good fit. A can of chocolates in the mini-bar would be a neat thing. I'm mentioning the press release because it has some really nice pictures attached to it that you should check out if you have any interest at all in this product.

Ovidias Home Page
Press Release

November 22, 2005

Manager Assaulted with Chocolate Cake

News.jpgStrange and unusual news is a little hobby of mine and this news item falls firmly into the chocolate arena as well as the weird news pool!
When a Raley's store manager and store security approached a woman attempting to shoplift from their store the woman struck out, attacking the manager with a German Chocolate Cake. Not a lot more to report than that. I will say that if I have to be assaulted I would prefer that it be with chocolate cake.
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Fairmont San Francisco to Install Massive Gingerbread Village

News.jpgFirst let me say that I am aware that gingerbread is not chocolate. I'm posting about this because the gingerbread village they are building will be using 265 pounds of chocolate. So long as there is chocolate involved it's news to me. Plus, at 16 feet by 6 feet it's guaranteed to be an impressive sight. I can't wait to see the photos from this one. You can read the press release at the link below.
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November 20, 2005

Photos: Chocolate Safari Review

It's been a while since I posted about the safari (see this post here) and I promised to post a quick selection of pictures of all the chocolate I bought. It's time I made good and posted some of the fun stuff I bought. Also, it's Sunday and there isn't anything newsworthy to post. So, in absence of real news I'll make some up. Just like the real media!
First off, the picture leading off the article is what I'm happiest about: a full set of the Chocolatour single origin bars from Chocolove! I've been dying to try them and I finally have my chance! Chocolove is one of my favorite companies due to their dark chocolate and crystallized ginger bar (among others) and the love poems you get in the wrapper. My week would be incomplete without some Chocolove.

Next up is a trio of Dagoba chocolate bars. One of the things I went down to Jungle Jim's to find was the Xocolatl bar. I love chiles with a passion and this bar has chili and nibs and nutmeg and vanilla.... what's not to be excited about there? I'm looking forward to trying it out. In addition to the Xocolatl I grabbed a Lime bar - with dark chocolate, lime, and macadamia nuts - and a Latté bar - with some espresso and cinnamon. So far I've tried the Latte and I'll post my impressions later on.

The packaging is what sold me on these two bars from Dolfin. Ok, the contents sold me as well, but the packaging is spectacular. The bar comes in a plastic pouch which I've been told is like a tobacco pouch and looks fantastic. The two varieties I grabbed were a dark chocolate with nibs and a dark chocolate with fresh ginger. I was curious what the difference between the crystallized ginger I'm used to and the fresh ginger would be so it was an easy choice. The other bar just sounded good. I've sampled the dark with nibs and it's excellent.

I have a weakness for Kahlúa. Kahlúa and milk. Black Russian. White Russian. Mudslide. I love them all. When I saw these bars I tossed them in the cart without a second thought. I kind of feel bad that I went with my favorite flavor as opposed to trying more new and interesting things, but I haven't had these before so I don't feel too bad.

There isn't much to say about these next few. This I had to get because I love the combination of chocolate and Irish Creme. It was a near thing, though, because they had come with Chambord as well and I love Chambord.

This is just a batch of miscellaneous chocolate. The small bar is Irish Creme with Jameson whiskey (and I have a soft spot for Jameson), the Kit Kat and Reeses are just 'special edition' creamier versions of the normal ones, and the Pocky is just Pocky. Just a few impulse buys from around the store.

That is pretty much it for the chocolate I picked up with one exception that I will be posting about in the next day or two: Whoopee Cocoa Creme Soda. It deserves a post all it's own. It's special like that.

November 19, 2005

Recipe: Chocolate Pecan Pie

recipes.jpgThe Seattle Post-Intelligencer (big name) has posted an article that combines two of my favorite pie types in one evil confection, a Chocolate Pecan Pie. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of chocolate in it, but it still sounds absolutely scrumptious to a chocolate fiend like me. Somehow I see this, warm, with some fresh whipped cream, as being just a spectacular way to end a meal (or, if you're ambitious like me, it could be a meal in itself).
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Exhibit: The Amazing Chocolate Tree

chocolatetree.gifFranklin Park Conservatory, here in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, has a new exhibition called "The Amazing Chocolate Tree" running now through February 20. The exhibit looks at the history, cultivation, and manufacture of chocolate and ends in what they describe as a "life-size chocolate factory" so you can roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. The exhibition sounds like a treat for kids of all ages and I'm going to see if I can't talk my family into going either Thanksgiving weekend or maybe Christmas weekend.

There is a nice write-up about the exhibit in one of our community papers at this location. The site for the exhibition is located here.

One last item of note: while there you should check out the Dale Chihuly Glass Exhibition which is permanently housed at the Conservatory. Chihuly is a wonderfully talented artist and it is a great chance to see some of his work and enjoy a little chocolate edutainment at the same time.

Recipe: Chocolate Pie

recipes.jpgJamie Dexter of the Marshall County, Kentucky Tribune-Courier has posted a recipe for Chocolate Pie. It's an old family recipe and I have great faith in old family recipes. When a recipe is good enough to be handed down through the family I tend to think that it's got to be good.
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Recipe: Best Chocolate Cake Ever

recipes.jpgTammy Page, Bella Online's Chocolate Editor, has posted her recipe for the "Best Chocolate Cake Ever" and it looks like it is worth giving it a try. The mocha icing recipe that she posted along with it also sounds great!
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November 18, 2005

Coupon: Mrs. Fields Chiller

mrsfields.jpgMrs. Fields Cookies has a new product! Like Godiva and Krispy Kreme before them, they are now offering a blended drink featuring their lovley products, the Mrs. Fields Chiller. And, through the end of the year, you can get a dollar off of one of these interesting confectionary beverages by paying a visit to (and registering at) their special promotional site. While you are there play with the cookies - it's fun to make a few million fly around the screen all at once. I have a feeling that I might be 'forced' to give one of these a try before long (I've stayed away from the Krispy Kreme one so far but the cookies might win me over). They look too tasty to pass up.
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New Hershey's Product Announcement

hersheys.gifThe Hershey Company announced yesterday that they will be bringing to market a new variation on their ever-popular Hershey's Kisses: Hershey's Kissables. The Kissables are miniature, candy-coated versions of the familiar Kisses we all know and love. The candies - colored in blue, red, yellow, green, and orange - will be available in single serving packages though there is no mention as of yet as to when they will be available.
Would I be wrong in assuming that these are aimed to directly compete with M&Ms?
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*UPDATE*
They have a picture up over at Junk Food Blog (another site I love)

November 17, 2005

Truffles at 20,000 Feet

News.jpgUnited Airlines is offering fine chocolate truffles for business and first class customers of it's transcontinental service. The Chicago Tribune reports that Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream Co. of South Lansing was chosen from confectioners from around the world. It's a nice service from the airline and it's been good for Gayety's business so it seems to be a win-win. Unless you don't fly first class in which case you have to bring your own truffles.
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Recipe: Chocolate Pumpkin Cake

recipes.jpgFarm & Ranch Guide have posted an interesting recipe that I might throw together for Thanksgiving. It's for Chocolate Pumpkin Cake and it sounds like an interesting combination to me. Chocolate and pumpkin is one of those combinations that I just can't help but be curious about. I've seen recipes before but I've never gone so far as to bake anything. This might be a nice opportunity to broaden my horizons a little.
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Recipe: Homemade Marshmallows

godiva_logo.gifThe Idaho Statesman have up a nice little article singing the praises of Godiva's Cocoa (which deserves to have it's praises sung) and include a nice looking recipe for homemade marshmallows with a candy cane twist. Sounds good to me and I've been meaning to try to make my own marshmallows for some time now. I think this is probably the recipe I'm going to try out first.
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Recipe: Chocolate Ganache Tart

everydayfood.gifEveryday Food, one of the family of Martha Stewart magazines, has some of it's November issue's recipes on their web site and this one caught my eye. It's for a Chocolate Ganache Tart and it looks quite good. I figured that since Martha was spreading the chocolate wealth as it were that I could do no less. And while you're there you can get a free trial issue of the magazine if you are so inclined. Double score!
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Quaker Oats Holiday Recipe Collection

quakeroats.jpgI read over at Slashfood that Quaker Oats has their Holiday Recipe Collection online for everybody to enjoy. Of course I had to check it out and it turns out there is some great looking stuff in there. Things like Raspberry-Topped Chocolate Oat Torte and Mocha Chip Cheesecake Bars. And it's all made with the goodness of Quaker Oats so it isn't quite as terribly unhealthy as it might otherwise be. Be sure to check it out, there is bound to be something to your liking in there.
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Godiva's G Collection

godiva_logo.gifGodiva has sent out the announcements that their limited edition G Collection is now available (it became available on the first of November). The G Collection is made up of 15 true artisan quality chocolates designed by their exceptional pastry chef, Norman Love, and will be available through February 14, 2006. The pieces in the collection are beautiful and the flavors all sound wonderful.

In addition to announcing the G Collection, their e-mail gives notice that you can try free samples (while they last) of their Candy Cane Bark in stores November 21-23 (limit one per customer, of course). Be sure to head out to your local Godiva for your free chocolate and while you are there take a look at the beautiful pieces in the G Collection. They a truly gorgeous.

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New Häagen-Dazs® Newsletter

haagendazs3.jpgHäagen-Dazs® have sent out the holiday edition of their newsletter and it is crawling with chocolatey goodness. First item of note is the return of their ever popular German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream. In response to consumer demand they are bringing it back as a limited edition flavor this January. Also coming in January is a new flavor: Mayan Chocolate. It features dark chocolate and a tinge of cinammon in honor of chcolate's Mayan roots.

Also of note, though not chocolate, is the introduction of their limited edition Bailey's Irish Cream® ice cream.

I plan on trying all three.

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November 16, 2005

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory Opens 300th Store

rmcf.jpgRocky Mountain Chocolate Company announced in a press release yesterday that they have opened their 300th store. I have a soft spot in my heart for them since they have those lovely dark chocolate coated marshmallows and I can't help but be happy to see their success. You can read the press release here.
Congratulations RMCF!

November 15, 2005

Dark Chocolate M&Ms Return!

darkside.jpgWhen Star Wars: Episode III came out earlier this year M&Ms had a little promotion where they slapped Star Wars all over every product they made. But they did something else. They made dark chocolate M&Ms. And oh, were they good. The problem was that you couldn't find the darn things anywhere to save your life. I managed to find a store that had a big box and kept going back for more until they finally disappeared. Disappointed, I thought that the love was gone and I would never again enjoy my dark chocolate peanut M&Ms (they are like crack I tell you).

I was wrong. They're back! Revenge of the Sith indeed. I was under the impression that they were bringing them back for the holiday's but it's the same packaging as before so I guess it's all for the big Episode III dvd.

Whatever the reason, I'm just glad they're back.

Chocolate Booze In the News

The Lansing State Journal have put up a nice article about the lovely marriage of alcohol and chocolate. For some of us the cocept of chocolate and alcohol is old hat, but the article treats it as if it were something new and interesting. Whether it is familiar or new and exciting is beside the point as they include some really nice sounding recipes. Check it out!
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November 14, 2005

Chocolate Safari

chocolatour_200.jpgI had a little vaation Thursday and Friday last week and since I hadn't been there in ages I decided it was time to take a little trip down to Jungle Jim's International Market, a monster grocery store with nearly anything you can imagine (and more than a few that you can't). Knowing that I was getting ready to open the doors on chocolateobsession I decided to go overboard and buy a bunch of chocolate. This post is a little write-up of my expedition.

Jungle Jim's is one of my favorite places to go when I have time to go off and do my own thing. I have to have the time off because it's in Cincinnati which makes it nearly a two hour drive. On top of that the store is enormous. It is the only word that fits. I have trouble going there and not spending three or more hours just wandering around the store looking at all the neat stuff. To give you an idea of how big the store is do this: picture a normal grocery store. That normal grocery store would fit twice in the international section at Jungle Jim's. It's really that big. Heck, the produce (which is amazing in it's quality and variety) takes up more space than some grocery stores. Everywhere you look there is something new and cool to see.

But what I was going for on Friday was the chocolate.

Ok, the chocolate and the soda, but mostly the chocolate. And I was looking for Green Tea Sugar Wafers, too. But, really, I was going for the chocolate.

I can buy great chocolate locally. I have a Trader Joe's, a Wild Oats, and a Whole Foods Market all a reasonably short drive away (actually I can walk to two of them) so I have access to a wide variety of great chocolate. Really, I can, and do, buy great chocolate all the time without driving two hours each way. But there is always something that I want to try that I just cannot find, no matter where I look. And when I want something I can't find in Columbus I head for Jungle Jim's.

I'll skip to the action. Prior to the chocolate isle the highlight was finding a chocolate chipper and a little pack of dipping tools. Both were great finds and, once again, things I can't seem to find in Columbus so I headed off to the chocolate aisle feeling quite pleased.

Now, you might have noticed that I said chocolate aisle. If not, then take note. I said chocolate aisle, not candy aisle. The chocolate aisle at Jungle Jim's is as big as the candy aisle at a normal store and that doesn't even take into consideration all of the chocolate spread throughout the international section. There are chocolate products from all over the globe all through the store, but the main event is the chocolate aisle.

Talk about your kid in a candy store. It took me nearly a half-hour to try and figure out what to get. There were tons of different brands and varieties that I had never seen before and I was dying to try them all. There were a few surprising omissions from the chocolate aisle, though. For some reason there was no Chocolove, Green & Black's, and only two boxes of Dagoba (dark and chai).

I was disappointed. I had hoped to find some more variety in Dagoba since there are only four varieties at Whole Foods and I had really hoped to find the Chocolatour offerings from Chocolove. I actually thought that Jungle Jim had let me down.

Silly me. It was all hiding in the natural foods section. I thought I was in the organic foods but Chocolove was there so it must be 'natural' foods instead. Either way, they had all the varieties of both Chocolove and Dagoba including the Chocolatour bars. Ah, life is good.

All in all I found more varieties of chocolate than I could eat in a year. I'll probably post a few pictures of my massive haul tomorrow. I bought a ton of chocolate. A lot more than I could eat on my own. Thank goodness chocolate is better when shared.

Movie: How Chocolate Is Made

The lovely people at Slashfood (one of my favorite sites) posted a link to a great video on how chocolate is made up at the Manufacturer's Blog. The video, clocking in at 15 minutes, was made by the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and follows chocolate through history and the production process. Good stuff!
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November 13, 2005

First Post

I've been toying with the idea of a chocolate blog for some time now and now, at long last, that blog is a reality. It isn't much of a reality just yet, but all things have to start someplace. I'll be posting chocolate news, recipes, and reviews as well as my experiences with chocolate in the course of my everyday life.

I have a few things I plan on posting over the next couple of days but for now I'm mainly trying to figure out my way around Movable Type and get my basic theme under control (it's terrible, but I plan on working on it). So things may be a little chaotic for a little while. I ask that you bear with me while I get things under control. Great things are on the way.

Welcome to chocolateobsession.com!