Tag Archives: chocolate

Happy Valentine’s Day

I hope everyone is able to enjoy Valentine’s Day even if plans got a little messed up with the weather.  I feel sorry for florists and chocolate shops because they may have lost a lot of business.  Luckily, my flower delivery went through and so did my chocolates!  I’m a happy girl!  I got double chocolates for Valentine’s Day.  First, I got a box from Anna Shea Chocolates in Illinois.  I always wanted a box of artistically decorated chocolates.  These are so lovely with bright colors and glitter.  Some of my favorites from this collection included the candied bacon caramel (smooth with nice smoke–who knew I’d like bacon and chocolate?), aged balsamic caramel, cinnamon swirl (just like a cinnamon roll), cherry baby, raspberry blush (I love the taste of raspberry puree and chocolate), and vadelma.

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I also got chocolates from FIKA, the Swedish coffee shop in NYC I mentioned in my Dina’s Guide to NYC Chocolate Shops.  These truffles were melt-in-your-mouth good.  Many were exceptional like the incredibly good goat cheese, macadamia nut, water sea salt caramel and hazelnut gianduja.

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Two for Tuesday: Sea Salt Dark Chocolate

I love dark chocolate and one of my favorites is sea salt dark chocolate.  In Raleigh, NC, there are two chocolate makers, Escazu Artisan Chocolates in Mordecai on Blount Street and Videri Chocolate Factory on West Davie Street in the Warehouse District.  Escazu’s sea salt dark chocolate bar is 65% cocoa; Videri’s, 60%.

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I decided to do a taste test involving three other people.  We tasted both of these (they blind, me knowing) and it was 50/50 split of which is best.  Two tasters thought Videri was too bitter and preferred the flavor of Escazu’s chocolate.  (Escazu’s chocolate also has vanilla in it.)  Two tasters thought Escazu’s was too salty while the other two thought Videri’s was too salty.  Go figure.  The taste and texture of both chocolate bars is different.  For a taste test yourself, visit both shops.  For $5, you can tour Videri’s factory.

6 Christmas Cookie Trends

Here are 6 cookie trends this holiday season that I’ve noticed from perusing the web.

1.  Chocolate and orange.  What a great combination and they come together perfectly in this cookie, Candied Orange Peel & Chocolate Chunk Cookies by Goodies a Volonte.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Goodies a Volonte

2.  Jazzed-up snickerdoodles. Snickerdoodles are a classic cookie, but this season they are being jazzed-up with brown butter, sea salt and caramel.  Try this delicious version–Toffee Speckled Snickerdoodles by Very Culinary.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Very Culinary

3.  Oreos. Another Christmas trend is using Oreo cookies to create another yummy cookie like these Chocolate Peppermint & Oreo Cookies by Mandy’s Recipe Box.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Mandy’s Recipe Box

4.  Peanut butter.  Classic peanut butter cookies get a holiday twist with Peanut Butter Molasses Cookies by Chocolate Moosey.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Chocolate Moosey

5.  Creative cutouts like these Highland Christmas Cookies from Outlander Kitchen.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Outlander Kitchen

6.  Meringues–Adorable shapes with meringue like these Christmas Tree Meringues from Crumbs + Corkscrews.

photo used with permission

photo used with permission of Crumbs + Corkscrews

Two for Tuesday: Halloween Foodie Items

Halloween is not a gift-giving holiday, but it can be if you want to give a gift to someone special or to yourself!  I found some cool Halloween- and fall-related gift items.

The first is this adorable pumpkin-shaped cookbook of pumpkin recipes I saw at Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookstore in Manhattan.  (They even have ones on potatoes, eggs and pasta too.)

pumpkin book

If you want something a little more eerie, opt for the chocolate skull at Fika, a Scandinavian coffee shop in Manhattan.

chocolate skull

5 Fun Fall Foodie Gifts

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

1.  Platinum harvest mini loaf pan from Nordic Ware–How cute are these with fall designs like leaves and pumpkins?

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

photo used with permission of Nordic Ware

2.  For Mid-Autumn Festival, September 19: Godiva Mid-Autumn Festival Gift Box–The chocolates in this assortment sound divine–apricot and peach ganache with a hint of ginger–I’m there!

3.  Stonewall Kitchen Apple Cider Doughnut Mix from Sur la table–I’ve always wanted to try apple cider doughnuts. It would be fun to make my own!

4. Owl Cookie Jar with frosted buttercream cookies in the shape of leaves and pumpkins from Cheryl’s–I love owls, and this jar is so cute! I like Cheryl’s buttercream cookies, and she even has maple buttercream for fall.

5.  Spiced pecan pumpkin pancake and waffle mix from Williams Sonoma–What better way to enjoy a cozy Sunday morning?

Two for Tuesday: Spumoni

National Ice Cream Month is nearly over, so I’m featuring spumoni.  I have a memory of the best spumoni at Villabate Bakery in Brooklyn (before it became Villabate Alba).  Where better to try spumoni than at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.  L&B is a pizzeria that sells spumoni and ices as well.  It’s still owned by the same family as the original owner.  There are outdoor tables outside, and you can walk up to the window and either order pizza or spumoni/ices.  On my visit, I got both.  I saw a lot of people with plastic cups of the signature spumoni with its distinctive green, brown and yellow color representing pistachio, chocolate and vanilla.  So I got one too while my friend got plain vanilla.  While it was a smooth treat, I prefer my spumoni with pink cherry in it.  Also, I prefer the lemon ice at L&B to the spumoni.

Spumoni L&B

The second spumoni I sampled was at the recent Giglio Festival in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from an Uncle Louie G’s stand.  It had the same vanilla, chocolate and pistachio in yellow, brown and green.  However, it was smoother than L&B and had more flavor.  I really enjoyed this one.

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Ice Cream Monday

OK, Sweets Week is over, but National Ice Cream Month isn’t!  On every Monday in July, I’m going to feature some yummy ice cream or frozen treat!

Today’s ice cream comes from an unlikely place, a chocolate shop.  Vosges Haut Chocolat is probably my favorite chocolate shop.  The flavors are exquisite, and the chocolate just melts on your tongue.  Well, a few of those wonderful flavors are also available as ice cream!  Their popular chocolate Naga®–sweet Indian curry + coconut +41% deep milk chocolate is one of my favorites.  Now, they have Naga curry and coconut soft-serve ice cream.  And it’s creamy and delicious.  The flavors are subtle, so if you’re afraid of curry in ice cream, don’t be!  This is one of the most delicious ice creams I’ve had in a while.  And the waffle cones are made in house, and they, too, are delicious.

Vosges