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October 30, 2008

Hot Chocolate Comfort

I've had trouble coming up with anything chocolate I really considered to be comfort food. In general it's such a normal part of my life that I don't reach for it any more than normal when things get rough. Tonight I figured out that hot chocolate is it - my chocolate comfort food. Things have been more than a trifle stressful of late and I've had trouble getting my mind into the right place to deal properly (raging arrogance seems a good place at the moment). With the weather turning and the stress mounting I absent-mindedly mixed up a dose of hot cocoa and kicked back with it instead of a beer and everything was good. Sure it only works until I get to work the next morning, but it sure drives ones problems away for a bit.

This season I'm going to try to stick to the hot cocoa end of things as opposed the the drinking chocolates. There are a couple of nice benefits to going the cocoa route. If you get the good stuff you get a lovely dose of all those healthy antioxidants and such and you miss out on all that fat and all those calories that come with actual chocolate. Total win all around, right? Sure, a little drinking chocolate now and again is nice, but some of that stuff is just crazy heavy. And even my personal simple recipe hot chocolate is loaded with chocolate and heavy cream. Hmmm... maybe it's time for me to come up with a nice simple cocoa recipe.

Anyway, it's hot chocolate season and it got here just in time. I needed it.

October 8, 2008

Melamine Comes Closer to Home

By now most of you have probably heard some chocolate made in China was found to contain melamine. Last month there was a huge mess with melamine in milk in China which sickened tens of thousands and even killed four children so it's clearly not something you want in your chocolate. Well, now it seems that a lot of chocolate coins sold at Costco and some dollar and bulk stores across Canada are tainted as well. It was sold under the name Sherwood Brands Pirate's Gold Milk Chocolate Coins. Apparently this is the sixth recall for melamine in Chinese made products in Canada - yikes! The levels are supposedly not dangerous, but it's still worrisome. I try to keep things on happier subjects around here, but figure its worth posting a word of warning as it's getting to be more than a localized problem. Keep an eye on where your chocolate is from. In the Western Hemisphere probably all of the name brand chocolate (unless you consider Sherwood Brands to be name brand chocolate) will be fine. It's going to be the chocolate from companies you've never heard of that needs to be watched.

So the long and short of things is that there is bad chocolate from China as close to home (my home at least) as Canada and that would lead me to believe that there is probably bad chocolate in the US as well. If you buy a name brand chocolate you should probably be fine. If you buy from a chocolatier you should be fine. If you buy chocolate with no real name brand you had best make sure it's from someplace other than China. Just to be safe.

October 6, 2008

Credit Crunch Chocolate

This may just be too much for me. Honeycomb chunks covered in chocolate. Good chocolate, too! It's Valrhona. And the questionable combination is called Credit Crunch. Fabulous marketing, especially given that premium chocolate sales were up in spite of the real-world credit crunch. The perfect name at the perfect time. I'm just not sure it's the perfect confection, but I'm in no position to try it so I'm in no position to judge. I just find the concept interesting and the name and timing fantastic. Anyway, it's on the shelves at Selfridges in the UK now and available through that link a couple of scentences back. If anybody tries this I'd love to hear how it is.

Now excuse me while I stray a little off topic.....

And while I'm not entirely sure of the idea of chocolate covered honeycomb chunks, I do have to wonder what else could you do that's at least semi-original and still fits the "crunch" in the name? All the standards (krispies, nuts, and to a lesser extent pretzels, potato chips, and corn flakes) are right out unless you combine them or change them up somehow (taking a cue from Charles Chocolates we could do the caramelized rice krispies and throw in some pistachios and a little salt maybe). But the idea is that it's getting harder to come up with something new and different. There are only so many possible combinations of chocolate and associated other bric-a-brac you can create. Admittedly, that represents a LOT of different combinations, but you get what I'm going for here, right? Or am I wrong?

Anyway, I'm tempted to grab a bit of honeycomb and whip up a batch of my own to see what it's like. I have to admit I'm curious.

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