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Monday, December 29, 2008

If chocolate in and of itself weren’t good enough, someone had to go and add cream to the mix, creating the first chocolate ganache. This wonderful mix is the base for so many treats they’re impossible to list.
Credit perhaps goes to the Swiss, who in perfecting the art of chocolate making, were the first to add powdered milk to the chocolate mix. True ganache, however, involves the use of cream, giving the chocolate made from the process a truly heavenly taste.

Ganache in its best form is used as the base for truffles, cakes, mousse and more. While it might seem making the chocolate formula for ganache would be a well-kept secret that’s hard to replicate, that’s simply not so.

Making ganache at home isn’t terribly tough if patience is applied and the maker is set for a possible failure or two at the start.

Ganache itself is simply a mixture of equal parts of cream and chocolate. It’s heated and mixed together and then used with other ingredients to form the basis for a whole slew of delightful confections.

While some of the best makers of chocolate might use a more complex method, there are two worthy of trying in home kitchens.

The first involves taking the chocolate for the mixture and melting it. Then bring it to room temperature and beat cream into it until the mix is creamy and smooth.

The second and perhaps the most foolproof method for making ganache at home is to bring the cream to a boil first, remove it from heat and then beat the chocolate into the cream. This avoids burning the chocolate in the mix, which is a very easy thing to do, unfortunately. While cream will burn, too, it’s easier to watch and, thus, this method is a preferred one for home chefs who want to create their own ganache.

Using this base, chocolate chefs at home can create their own mousse by adding more cream or they can create a sifter product for candies by adding a bit more chocolate. Experimentation is key, try adding some of your favorite fruits, jams or nuts to the ganache for truffles or layer it in between cake sections for a desserts that’s to die for.

Remember, though, the expert ganache makers from world famous chocolate houses have spent years perfecting their craft. What’s made at home is not likely to taste the same as a ganache imported from a famous maker in France, Switzerland or elsewhere.

By George Murray

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate and Anxiety - Can Chocolate Help Relieving Anxiety?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. It is the skill of the chocolate maker that creates the fine chocolate from the cocoa beans that arrive from countries which grow cocoa. Production techniques have undergone a lot of changes, as the technology has advanced. But the process of making chocolates remains the same. It involves roasting, grinding, refining, conching and tempering. The secret of good chocolate lies in the expertise of the maker, who should follow the process with care.

Roasting: The ultimate quality of chocolate depends on the process of roasting and cocoa seed fermentation. There are several roasting processes.

Pre - roasting: The beans are heated in infra red radiant heaters to separate the nibs from the shells. They are roasted at temperature from 100 degree C to 140 degree C (212 degree F to 300 degree F) for twenty to forty minutes.

Direct roasting: As an alternative the beans are roasted and then shells are removed. This traditional method allows retaining the flavour. The temperature for this process is maintained at between 150 degree C and 160 degree C (300 degree F and 320 degree F) for 40 to 50 minutes.

Even though both the methods are followed today, the pre -roasting is more productive, but the problem is that some varieties of beans get damaged when removed from shells due to severe temperature fluctuations. The roasting is very important in the process of chocolate making. The cocoa gets dried and become brown and develop the flavour, thus completing the first stage of manufacturing.

The fermentation which is to be carried out earlier enhances the flavour. It reduces the sugar, glucose, fructose and amino acids. In fact it is the fermentation that brings the flavour and the roasting process only augment the results of good fermentation. Proper care should be taken to carry out fermentation. The possibilities of beans getting spoiled are very high if the process is not carried out carefully.

The quality of the chocolate will be superior if the shells are removed thoroughly after or during the roasting. The process of shelling includes milling, sifting, and winnowing. Each of the process is important. When shelling completes the grains should be uniform in size and there should not be any residual shells.

The roasted and crushed beans are milled to fine flour. During the milling process, care should be taken to maintain the required temperature to avoid smoky or burnt off flavours. The refining converts the milled cocoa into a thick liquid form as cocoa butter.

Conching with powerful machines to stir the chocolate to make it a homogeneous mixture must follow. This is done in two stages. One is dry conching that is, stirring the chocolate at a temperature of around 80 degree C (175 degree F) to get rid of any residual moisture and to add viscosity.

Liquid conching is followed immediately after the dry conching. It is done the same conch as a continuous process, to maintain the texture and viscosity. Add cocoa butter if necessary. Tempering is a very delicate process of making chocolate from the liquid or semi liquid to a solid form. The chocolate is then heated until the cocoa butter crystals have melted completely. The product is then cooled to an appropriate temperature. The tempered chocolate when perfected is a smooth, glossy and brittle product with good flavour and tempting aroma.

The tasting chocolate involves skill. Those who enjoy different flavours of chocolates can identify the origin of the beans that are used in its making. Like coffee or wine, different people enjoy chocolate according to their tastes. Chocolates should be kept at a temperature of 66 degree F to 76 degree F to retain its taste and flavour.

There are different types of chocolates, depending on it filling. Some may be bitter or salty. Chocolates are made with the following flavours. In plain chocolates there are flavours of cocoa, pineapple, banana, passion fruit, vanilla, cinnamon or a blend of these.

In filled chocolates, all, the above aromas coupled with the flavours of almond, pistachio, hazel nut, wall nut, honey and fresh fruit are used. A tint of salt highlights the above flavours.

As for the texture, the chocolate should not leave any grain on the tongue, when you taste it. The ingredients should be grounded and blended to 12 to 20 microns. Plain and dark chocolate tasting technique involves keeping it in you mouth for a few seconds, to taste the base and primary flavours. Wait for a few seconds and chew it for 5 to 10 times to enjoy the secondary flavours.

Keep the filled chocolate in your mouth until it melts to release the base and primary flavours. Then chew for 4 to 5 times to blend the filling and coating and enjoy it. Finally, note how long the flavour lingers on the tongue.

By Victor Thomas

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate History - Part I

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Almost everyone loves eating gourmet chocolate. Since chocolate was first discovered, this delicious treat has continued to evolve in form and taste. However there are some people, especially those who are figure-conscious, who do not want to indulge themselves. This is because gourmet chocolate is often associated with weight gain. This may be true to some extent, but only when chocolate is eaten in excessive amounts.

How come gourmet chocolate is very popular? Gourmet chocolate stands out from other forms of chocolate through a variety of characteristics. Gourmet chocolate, unlike chocolate products of inferior quality, boasts a smooth and glossy appearance that is not marred by streaks and dots. Gourmet chocolate also gives off a rich aroma of cocoa, not an unappetizing chemical odor. When broken, this kind of chocolate snaps sharply, instead of crumbling or bending. Lastly, gourmet chocolate melts in the mouth and leaves a velvety texture. It does not taste too sweet or too bitter, nor does it leave an aftertaste in the mouth.

Gourmet chocolate is not only a delicious treat but has been proven to provide a number of health benefits. This kind of chocolate contains essential elements such as calcium, potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E. Gourmet chocolate also has high levels of chromium that help control blood sugar, as well as magnesium that alleviates premenstrual symptoms by increasing progesterone levels.

There is an impressive array of gourmet chocolate products available in the market today. In fact, a number of chocolate brands have become household names. But aside from the number of brands to choose from, gourmet chocolate comes in a variety of exciting flavors that include Caramel, Java Truffle, Jamaican Rum Caramel and Raspberry Truffle.

Gourmet chocolate not only tastes good but provides health benefits as well. Now, indulging oneself with a generous serving of chocolate need not be a guilty pleasure.

By Eddie Tobey

Do you want to know more about chocolate such as "Buy a Chocolate Fountain", yes.. you can read that article by access this link "Buy a Chocolate Fountain"

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate History - Part I

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some people (with little vision or desire to entertain) would be forgiven for wondering why anyone would want to buy a chocolate fountain? It all depends. If you are the type of person who invites people around then rations the food and drink and expects your guests to like it or lump it, then perhaps it’s not for you. (I’ve certainly been to those kind of parties, where the hosts were so mean you were searching for takeout on the way home!)

However if you are a generous host or hostess who wants to really send your guests away happy, then the thought that you might buy a chocolate fountain won’t seem so strange to you. Sure, the sort of person who wants to show off would also want to buy a chocolate fountain for their next party, but there’s nothing wrong with trying to make an impression on your guests.

Entertaining is just that – it’s your turn to make sure that your guests are amused, fed and watered to the very best of your ability. You might want to buy a chocolate fountain if you are planning a grand party like a wedding reception, or a retirement party or special birthday. Conversely you might want a fountain just to make a small, intimate party have that “wow” factor which will put a smile on the face of your guests.

Imagine if at dessert time at the end of a dinner party you produced a chocolate fountain and a big dish of strawberries? How great would that be? If you go ahead and buy a chocolate fountain you won’t regret it because you can use it in so many different circumstances. Once you’ve used it once, you can rest assured your guests will be hoping to see it again, so it’s probably best to buy a chocolate fountain rather than rent.

In order to obtain a fountain you can try Party Rental firms who might be selling off used ones, try a manufacturer, try local party good suppliers and also of course surf the internet in search of the bargain you really want when you go to buy a chocolate fountain.

By Dianne Davies

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate History - Part I

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In this article we're going to briefly review the history of one of the largest manufacturers of chocolate in the world, Nestlé.

It was in the 1860s that Henri Nestlé, a pharmacist, developed a food specifically for babies who could not breast feed. He first used this successfully on a premature infant who couldn't tolerate his mother's breast milk. This product saved the child's life and people soon began to see the value of it. Soon, Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé was being sold all over Europe.

In 1905 Nestlé merged with a condensed milk company. By the early 1900s they had factories in the United States, Britain, Germany and Spain. With the outbreak of World War I, there was a great demand for these products. By the end of the war Nestlé's production more than doubled.

Unfortunately, after the war, contracts dried up and the buying public went back to getting fresh milk. In response to this, Nestlé streamlined their operation and reduced their debt. By the 1920s the company had expanded its operation with chocolate being its number two selling product.

Then World War II broke out and Nestlé immediately felt the effects. Their profits dropped from $20 million a year before 1938 to under $6 million a year by 1939. In spite of this, Nestlé began setting up factories in developing countries expecting a turn around by the war's end. Ironically, the war was responsible for Nestlé introducing one of its most popular products, Nescafé instant coffee, which was the number one drink of the United States military.

The end of World War II, just as Nestlé predicted, was the beginning of a great phase of growth for the company. Nestlé acquired many other companies during this time. In 1947 they merged with Maggi, Crosse & Blackwell in 1960, Libbys in 1971 and Stouffers in 1973.

By the mid 1970s, Nestlé's growth in the developing world offset their slowdown in the more developed countries like the United States. By the mid 1980s they had acquired several additional companies, the biggest of which was the American company, Carnation.

After the mid 1990s, because of the breakdown of trade barriers, Nestlé enjoyed what was probably their biggest growth in history. Their acquisitions included the giant company Ralston Purina, which mainly sells pet food.

In spite of Nestlé's diversification, they are and will always be mostly known for their ever popular chocolate bars and drinks such as Nestlé's Crunch Bar, which is now also made into an ice cream bar, Nestlé's Quick, which is a chocolate flavored powder to put in milk, Nestlé's Carnation, another popular chocolate drink, the Kit Kat Bar, Smarties, Nestlé's Maxibon, Nestlé's Extreme and a host of other products, a list that would take days to go through.

In closing, it should be pointed out that a lot of Nestlé's success was a stroke of good luck. It seems that a man named Daniel Peter figured out exactly how to combine milk and cocoa powder. The result was milk chocolate. Well, Peter just happened to be a good friend of Henri Nestlé. Peter started the company, but ultimately Nestlé took it over as was destined to happen.

By Michael Russell

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate and Health

Monday, December 15, 2008

Belgian chocolate biscuits is the biscuit which is covered with creamy Belgian chocolate. The creamy belgian chocolate will be in different varieties such as milk chocolate, dark chocolate and also white chocolate. Because of the demand of the belgian chocolate biscuits there are belgium chocolate biscuits producers all over the world.

There are variety of belgian chocolate biscuits that you can taste at least once. Some of the varieties are

1. Amouretto Chocolate Biscuits

2. Diavola Chocolate Biscuits

3. Grand Biscuit Selection

4. Ophelia Chocolate Biscuits

5. Amandaggio Almond Biscuits

Belgium Chocolate Cookies:

Cookies when combined with the famous Belgian chocolates gives you the best taste. There are cookies available in the market with Belgian chocolate morsels. It may resemble chocolate chip cookies, but instead of the regular chocolate as the cookie morsels, Belgian chocolates are used.

You have to expect that cookies with Belgian chocolate as morsels may be on the expensive side. However, just like purchasing Belgian chocolates, you can be sure that after tasting a Belgian chocolate cookie, you will say that it's worth every penny.

These are some of the Belgian chocolate biscuits brand that you have to consider buying. It is made from high quality biscuits and also high quality Belgian chocolates.

Chocolates is considered as a great medicine for depression. It is well known that if you present a Belgian chocolate to your depressed friend or family member, or eating yourself one if you feel depressed then you will find that your mood is uplifted by these tasty Belgium chocolates

By Ramya Balaji

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate and Health

Sunday, December 14, 2008

There is no better cookie in the world than a well-made chocolate cookie. Read on to find out how to make the perfect chocolate cookie.

The Perfect Chocolate Cookie

The best chocolate cookie is the cocoa drop cookie. Not only are they delicious, but they are easy to make as well.

The ingredients required for this recipe are: ¼ cup butter, softened; ¼ cup shortening; 1 cup sugar; 1 egg; ¾ cup buttermilk; 1 tsp vanilla; 1 ¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour; ½ tsp baking soda; ½ tsp salt; ½ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened; and 1 cup of chopped pecans.

First, cream the shortening and butter with sugar; beat in egg. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla next, and then sift the dry ingredients together and add to the first mixture. Stir in the pecans, and chill the cookie dough for about an hour. Use a teaspoon to drop the dough onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between the cookies. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for about 8-10 minutes, or until set. Then cool and frost with a simple chocolate or vanilla icing if desired.

Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Another great recipe is the chocolate covered shortbread cookie recipe. For this you will need: 8 ounces butter at room temperature; ½ cup powdered sugar; 2 cups all-purpose flour; ½ teaspoon baking powder; 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted; and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract.

Combine all ingredients; knead with your hands to made sure they are well mixed, press into lightly buttered pans, and bake at 325°F for about 20 minutes. Cut into wedges while they are still warm or break them apart.

There are many fabulous recipes out there. Remember these recipes around the holidays and you can present your friends and family with delightful treats that will be remembered the rest of the year.

By Dave Owen

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate and Health

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chocolate fondue that was a rage in the 1970's is on a role again. Back then there was probably not even a single party that didn't have them - actually it was unthinkable to have a party without them. Chocolate is something that appeals to both young and old the world over, and chocolate fondue are a favorite among all.

With time everything changes and chocolate fondue is no exception? At today's parties, chocolate fondue is served and presented differently and there are various ways in which it is done. White chocolate is getting more attention, and the white chocolate fondue is becoming more popular at get togethers and parties.

The Popularity Of White Chocolate Fondue

Having a party and wish to impress all who attend? Need something that is simple to prepare with a sophisticated flare? Then what you need is white chocolate fondue. You will need… twenty four ounces of white chocolate, 1 cup of heavy whipping cream and two ounces of cherry liqueur. Melt it all in a double boiler or fondue pot, add fruit such as fresh strawberries or pineapple for dipping. My family loves to dip marshmallows.

You can also spice up your chocolate for variety with a fruit or a mint flavor. These are wonderful for dipping shortbread cookies, pretzels, and a number of other finger foods along with your favorite fruit. Try bananas, apples and orange sections too. Use your imagination, anything goes.

How To Display Chocolate Fondue At A Party

Many people serve the chocolate in fondue pots. But another idea that is really catching on is a fondue fountain - this is always impressive. The chocolate fountain will become the focal point of the event as your guests gather around to dip.

The chocolate fondue fountain doesn't have to be limited to special parties, treat your family on a rainy night. Relax, talk, play a board game and enjoy your time together.

By Michelle Moglia

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate Gifts

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The term chocolate bar is a popular way of describing a confectionery treat in the form of a bar. This is usually packaged in a bar shape with individual perforations or in a long, narrow, shaped log covered with chocolate. Many types of chocolate bar exist and there are thousands of companies that create chocolate bars. Some of these companies produce many choices of fillings in their chocolate bar, such as nuts, fruit, mint, coconut, marzipan and many more.

The chocolate bar evolved in approximately the late 1900s. Chocolate had become popular many years before the introduction of the bar but the idea of creating a chocolate bar was to provide a more convenient way of consuming the chocolate. The bars could be packaged and sold to eat easily by hand or while on the go. Up to the invention of the chocolate bar, chocolate had been sold by bulk with loose, irregular or formed pieces.

During the Great Depression, the cost of a chocolate bar was five cents. The price rose to ten cents after World War II and remained that price for many years. More advanced packaging and advertising contributed to the increase in cost to the consumer of many types of chocolate bars. Many chocolate companies still make the same bars they started out with, also adding many more varieties. Some popular chocolate bars that are still popular today are Clark Bar 1917, Baby Ruth 1920, The Charleston Chew 1922, Three Musketeers 1932, Fifth Avenue 1936 and many more. The Hershey Chocolate Company makes several chocolate bars that have been enjoyed for many years. The Krackel Chocolate bar was introduced in 1938 and the bars first contained almonds and then in 1939 peanuts were added alongside of the almonds. In 1941 the Hershey company changed the direction of the Krackel bar and removed all nuts and peanuts, which is the way we know the Krackel bar today. The shape of the York Peppermint Pattie may be round but it is still considered a chocolate bar. The Peppermint Pattie was introduced in 1940 and is still enjoyed today.

Chocolate bars can be used for fundraising, as where a sports team, corporation or school uses the chocolate bars to raise money for needed supplies. There are companies that put their corporate logo on the chocolate for use at promotional shows, incentive programs, and customer appreciation or to encourage attendance at board meetings. Wedding favors and other special parties, such as Bar Mitzvahs or milestone birthdays or anniversaries, are perfect occasions to use personalized chocolate bars to mark the day.

By Terence Roberts

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate Gifts

Monday, December 1, 2008

Take advantage of this fun and easy to prepare Chocolate Birthday Cake! All of the information to make this delicious treat are outlined below:

Here are the basics for the chocolate birthday cake...

-Prepare Fudge Cake and cool thoroughly.

-Prepare Cherry Filling and chill well.

-Prepare Chocolate Butter Frosting.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Using 1 cup of frosting, make a border around the edge of the layer 1/2 inch wide and 1 inch high. Using 1/2 cup more of the frosting make a solid circle in the center of the cake layer about 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Spread the chilled filling between the frosting border and the circle.

Place second layer on top. Frost with the remaining frosting. If desired, garnish with dollops of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. You can even top it of with a cherry on top! Chill. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Makes 12 servings.

Chocolate birthday cake ingredients:

* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1 ¾ cups sugar

* 1 teaspoon baking powder

* ¾ teaspoon baking soda

* ¼ teaspoon salt

* 1 1/3 cups water

* ½ cup shortening

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 2 eggs

* 3 squares (3 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Chocolate birthday cake preparation:

1.Grease and flour two 8 x 1 ½ inch or 9 x 1 ½ inch round baking pans. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add water, shortening, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium till combined. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and melted chocolate; beat 2 minutes more.

3. Pour into baking pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.

4. Cool on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. Makes 12 servings.

Cherry Filling for Chocolate Birthday Cake

* 1 15 to 17 ounce can pitted dark sweet cherries

* 1 tablespoon cornstarch

* 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur

Drain fruit, reserving 2/3-cup liquid. In a medium saucepan combine reserved liquid and cornstarch; add fruit.

Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Stir in liqueur. Cool. Cover; chill thoroughly without stirring. Makes enough to spread between two 8-9 inch cake layers (about 1 ¼ cups).

Butter Frosting for Chocolate Birthday Cake

* 1/3 cup butter or margarine

* ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder

* 4 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

* ¼ cup milk

* 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

* Milk

In a bowl beat butter or margarine till fluffy. Beat in ½ cup of sugarless cocoa powder. Steadily add 1 ½-cups of the powdered sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the ¼ -cup milk and vanilla.

Slowly beat in remaining sugar. Beat in additional milk, if needed, to make spreading consistency.

By Krissy Leighton

Check Out the Related Article : Chocolate Gifts

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