Chocolate University Online Blog
Weekends are always fun for me. I always like to keep it fun and filled with activities I can’t do during weekdays. However, when things don’t go my way and they don’t go as planned for my weekend, I get devastated. Do I sound bratty if I say I get upset when my weekend plans don’t pull through? A little bit?
Times like this, the idea of some chocolate going into my mouth is not so bad. Nice to hear about the open access journal Genome Biology backing me up. They have launched a fully sequenced genome for the cacao plant which could supposedly yield even better tasting chocolates.
Juan C Motamayor from Mars Incorporated has worked alongside his colleagues in the field of chocolate breeding. Yup, sounds too awesome until you realize you have to study a whole lot of genetics stuff and you’re not in it for the chocolate eating. They have been aiming to sequence the genome of the most popular variety of Theobroma cacao L., namely the green podded Costa Rican Matina.
They believe that through highlighting the gene that has something to do with color variation, they might come up with a way cross-modify the Matina, which has a very high yield, with another variety, one that is better tasting but that has a lower yield.
Traditional cross breeding had gone through several experiments over the years. In Ecuador, a high yielding plant with red pods was mixed with a better tasting plant with green pods. However, this only lessened the overall quality of the chocolate.
Experimentation refers to the act of getting things wrong a couple of times, truth be told. The genetic markers could probably be used to screen young seedlings and choose the best plants even before they reach a mature stage.
Can you imagine? EVEN. BETTER. TASTING. CHOCOLATES. Hah! My weekends will never be sad ever again.
chocolate in the news
, chocolate science
The idea of being able to make desserts using a slow cooker is always fascinating. It’s like it opens up a whole new world of boundless possibilities in terms of chocolaty desserts! Yes, it’s all about chocolate. What else would it be? This time, lava cake has the spotlight.
If you love pudding cakes, you will surely love this. It follows the same basic principles: cake batter, sprinkle sugar-cocoa over it, cover with boiling water and let bake (in this case, slow cook). Sometimes, this is referred to as chocolate cobbler.
No matter the name, this is a sure hit in anyone’s kitchen. You can feel its homey decadence since it’s not meant to be plated in a sophisticated manner. You can just put it into tiny dessert dishes, pour chocolate lava on top, and then serve with ice cream.
Slow Cooker Chocolate Lava Cake
• 2 cups brown sugar
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 4 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup milk
• 4 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1-1/2 cups brown sugar
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 3 cups boiling water
For the cake: Mix together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Stir in milk, melted butter and vanilla until combined. Spread the batter over the bottom of a large crock pot.
For the fudge topping: Mix together the brown sugar and cocoa. Sprinkle mixture over the cake batter.
Pour the boiling water over the top. Do not stir! Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2-1/2 hours.
Turn off heat, and remove lid. Let sit 20-30 minutes before serving, so its still warm but won’t burn your mouth.
Tags: choco lava cake
, chocolate desserts
, chocolate lava cake
, slow cooker
We can all agree that one of the best things in life and one of the greatest gifts of God is food. It is, in fact, one of our few physiological needs. One can never do without food.
On that note, I personally think the best meal of the day is breakfast. I totally dig breakfast food. I get thrilled at the thought of breakfast food. So many times have I drifted to sleep thinking of what’s for breakfast.
I love waking up to the smell of breakfast food in the air. Why of course, when we say breakfast, bacon is always at the top of my mind. No, scratch that. Bacon always tops my list when it comes to food in general!
It’s no secret that I love chocolate, too. I still haven’t tried chocolate-covered bacon, despite the fact that I wrote about it several times already. It never fails to get my attention, though. And now, this… 23-Karat Gold Chocolate Bacon. Yup, you read right.
This unique porcine delicacy is the work of Wesley Klein at the New York food store Baconery, with the tagline “Bacon meets Bakery. Their love child: Baconery.”
“Like a mad scientist, I spent months in the kitchen with breakfast chefs, pastry chefs, and more, until we stumbled upon the exact formula for infusing these two ingredients into the perfect culinary combination,” said Klein.
This rich treat, made of Nueske’s cherrywood-smoked bacon smoked bacon and Guittard semisweet dark chocolate, all dusted in edible gold flakes. You can have them for $39.99 a pack, and you can get them online at the Baconery website.
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Tags: chocolate bacon
, chocolate pairings
, chocolate-covered bacon
There’s always something bewitching about homemade treats, homemade chocolate-covered pretzels being one of them. Fancy pretzel rods are everywhere, and they tend to ostentatious. They can get quite intimidating at times, but we should not forget how easy they are to make at home.
You can whip them up for a party, or during a typical day with your family. They are easy to make, and boy are they delish!
Red, White & Blue Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel
• 1 12-ounce package milk chocolate chips
• 1 12-ounce package white chocolate chips
• 24 large pretzel rods
• Assorted red, white, and blue sprinkles
Place the milk chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and the white chocolate chips in another. Microwave one bowl on high for 1 minute. Remove and stir with a rubber spatula. (The chips should melt while you are stirring, but if they don’t, you can continue to microwave for 15 more seconds, then stir again.)
Wash and dry the spatula. Microwave the other bowl on high for 1 minute, and stir until the chocolate is melted. Dip one pretzel rod into the milk chocolate; use a spoon or butter knife to spread the chocolate about halfway up the rod. Twist the rod to let the excess chocolate drip off.
Hold the rod over a piece of wax paper and shake sprinkles on all sides. Place the pretzel on another piece of wax paper to cool. Coat another pretzel with white chocolate and sprinkles. Repeat until you’ve coated all the pretzels, half with milk chocolate, half with white chocolate, and let dry completely, about 24 hours.
Tags: chocolate covered pretzels
, chocolate desserts
Carmit Candy in Israel has launched Grow Strong Chocolate Coins, a milk chocolate candy that has vitamins. They target children as their market with the coins containing calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K.
Adrian Sagman, vice president of international sales and marketing at Carmit, stated: “It’s a milk chocolate for children on a daily basis to get some calcium in their body. This one also has a tooth-friendly sugar ingredient so the parents don’t have to worry about their kids taking too much sugar.”
Evaporated cane juice, palatinose, is used as sweetener. Also, the company chose coins as format because that way, the chocolates are going to be portion-controlled, foiled, and maintains a fresh format. However, their chocolate may also be manufactured in in slab or bar form.
Every 6g coin has 150mg of calcium. And based on the Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended calcium intake for 4 to 8-year olds is 1000mg and 1300 for those aged 9 to 18.
For a certain product to be considered as a calcium source, it must at least have 15% of an 800mg recommended daily allowance per 100g (120mg). This chocolate also has 5mcg vitamin D3 that helps calcium get absorbed into the body, along with 15mcg of vitamin K.
Moreover, Carmit Candy has these Antioxidant-Rich Dark Chocolate Coins that have Astapure as an ingredient. It is a form of astaxanthin, which Algatechnologies gets from red sew weeds that are grown in Israel. It tastes like seaweed per se, but dark chocolate masks the taste. Each chocolate coin has 1mg of it. Sagman claims that you should eat at least two of these chocolate coins to reap the health benefits.
This is just so interesting to me, as one of my earliest chocolate memories involved chocolates. I swore by it as a kid. If I could lay a hand on one of these, the kid in me is sure to have a blast!
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, Carmit Candy
, chocolate coins
, healthy chocolate
Anisette refers to an anise-flavored liqueur popular in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and France. It is colorless and, unlike other famous anise-based liqueurs, it doesn’t have licorice.
This liqueur has a strong and overwhelming flavor when you drink it straight, and could even irritate the throat because of its high alcoholic content. In mixed drinks, though, it yields a sweet tolerable flavor. What about in sweet treats?! Try this on for size!
Chocolate Anise Truffles
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/4 cup anise liqueur
• 2 cups pulverized anisette cookies
In a double boiler melt the chocolate, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon. When the chocolate has melted, add the butter and slowly stir it into the chocolate as it melts. Continue to stir for another minute until it is well mixed and smooth.
Add in the liqueur and stir until well mixed, then sprinkle in the pulverized anisette cookies (a little at a time, as sometimes it takes less) until the mixture is slightly thickened but still smooth. (You want the mixture to remain as a thick sauce at this point.)
When you have thoroughly mixed in the cookies, rest the top of your double boiler in a bucket of ice and WHISK the truffle mixture slowly until it has cooled (about 15 minutes). Do not stop whisking or the butter and liqueur will separate out of the chocolate-anisette.
When the sauce is completely cooled it should have a soft, but solid, consistency which you can then spoon out and form into truffles and coat with chocolate powder or powdered sugar.
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A recently published study in Australia claimed that dark chocolate enhances one’s mood by means of boosting calmness and feelings of contentment. How is this possible? It’s all in the polyphenols that cocoa is known to be rich in.
Polyphenols are naturally found in plants and are a basic element of the human diet. Such compounds are proven to lessen oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to a lot of diseases. Also, polyphenols are said to have outstanding psychological effects.
“Anecdotally, chocolate is often linked to mood enhancement,” Matthew Pase, a PhD candidate at the University of Swineburne in Melbourne and lead author of the study, claims. “This clinical trial is perhaps the first to scientifically demonstrate the positive effects of cocoa polyphenols on mood.”
Such research has been based on a randomized study which involved 72 healthy men and women aged 40-65 years. Those who participated each received a dark chocolate drink mix standardized to have either 500mg of cocoa polyphenols, 250mg of cocoa polyphenols or none.
The participants were then provided with the drink mixes in identical packaging in order for the investigators and participants to be unaware of which treatment they were getting. Participants drank their assigned drink once a day for 30 consecutive days.
30 days after, participants who were given the high dose concentration of cocoa polyphenols claimed to have much more calmness and contentedness than the one who consumed either of the other drink mixes.
The researchers didn’t find any evidence that cocoa polyphenols hugely improved cognitive performance, though. Only participants who drank the highest amount of polyphenols reported any substantial positive effects. Participants who consumed a moderate amount (250 mg a day) reported no dramatic effects.
We all get bummed out at one point or another. It’s quite often because of our job, but it could be for other personal reasons as well.
However tiring and time-consuming things can get, you should never fail to squeeze some Zen into your life. You can get it from going to a spa, spending a night out with friends, sitting and eating at the dinner table with your family, or lounging around in the living room with your significant other.
But if all of the above just seems undoable right now, you can just grab a bite of your favorite dark chocolate. That’s not doing much, but it always does the trick. Especially now that you have science to back it up!
How do you like to unwind? Leave me some comments below!
chocolate in the news
,fun chocolate facts
Tags: chocolate research
, dark chocolate
Ever since I came across a red velvet cupcake some years back, I’ve been in love with red velvet cakes/cupcakes. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s one of the prettiest looking cakes known to humans.
Red velvet cake is described as a cake with either a dark red, bright red, or red-brown color. It is typically prepared as a layer cake that has cream cheese or cooked roux icing as topping. You get the reddish color by adding in beetroot or red food coloring.
The most commonly used ingredients are buttermilk, butter, and flour for the cake and cocoa, beetroot, or red food coloring for the color. The amount of cocoa differs depending on the recipe.
Red Velvet Chocolate Cake
• Unsalted butter, for cake pans
• 2 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 1/2 cups canola oil
• 2 large eggs
• 1/4 cup red food coloring
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 2 teaspoons white vinegar
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk cake flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and oil, and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
In a small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and beat for 10 seconds. Evenly divide batter between the prepared pans.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove from the pans, and return to the rack to cool completely.
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Twins Jodi and Stella Kean initially planned on having a tea bar, but when such plan didn’t come about, they started their own novelty tea business.
“When the lease on the shop fell through we came up with the idea for choclateas. I don’t think people realize how many calories and how much sugar is in a cup of hot chocolate. We wanted to create something that felt like a treat but was healthy,” the Daily Express quoted Stella as saying.
They found a tea supplier and worked with an array of different flavors to come up with their tea containing fewer than 20 calories per cup. Last December, the twins were given start-up loans of 5,500 pounds. Melissa Middleton, who has plenty of businesses in the Newscastle area, also became their mentor.
“We struggled a bit at the start to get the contacts we needed to sell our teas. Melissa kept us on the right track and told us how to attract customers,” Stella said.
Almost year was spent just perfecting the flavors they were striving for, considering they had to know the right ratio of tea to chocolate. What other method would they use besides the undying trial and error?
“The main taste you get is tea, followed by the undertone of the flavor, such as pure dark chocolate and cocoa powder in the traditional-style choclatea,” she said.
Among the other flavors in this particular range are chilli chocolate, peppermint chocolate, vanilla chocolate, and wild berry chocolate.
Their loans were also used in producing their second line of teas, sweeteas. They base this on traditional sweetshop favorites like rhubarb and custard, mint humbugs, liquorice wheels, and lemon sherbet. They also plan on having other lines of tea flavors and are on the lookout for 150,000 pounds turnover within the span of five years.
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Tags: chocolate drinks
, chocolate novelties
, chocolate tea
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According to Wikipedia: “Kahlúa is a Mexican coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur. It is dense and sweet, with the distinct taste of coffee, from which it is made. Kahlúa also contains sugar, corn syrup, and vanilla bean.”
This fudge recipe is a very rich and flavorful one. When you set it up nicely, it’s a fantastic addition to any party tables. It depends on how strong you want the Kahlua taste, you can add to the amount of Kahlua stated.
You need not use a candy thermometer, you just need a timer and it always turns out great. It’s definitely a keeper!
Kahlua Creamy Fudge
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• 7 ounces marshmallow crème
• 2/3 cup evaporated milk
• 1/4 cup butter
• 1/4 cup Kahlua
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate pieces
• 1 cup milk chocolate pieces
• 2/3 cup chopped nuts
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
Line 8-inch square baking pan with foil. In 2 quart saucepan, combine sugar, marshmallow crème, milk, butter, Kahlua and salt. Bring to a rapid boil, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add all chocolate, stirring until melted. Add nuts and vanilla. Pour into the prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm. To serve, cut in squares.
Tags: chocolate desserts