Tag Archives: cacao

Chocolate is “Yes”!

Jack-Fruit of Hearts

For those out there that are chocolatiers, you are familiar with the intoxicating smell of cacao butter melting in the dehydrator and also with the way cacao powder seems to gravitate towards all things white. I spent last night in the kitchen preparing chocolate for a promotional holiday party. Free raw chocolate is a great way to promote your business. What’s my business these days? Good question. As usual I’m playing “the Jack” as in “Jack of all Trades”. The Jack is cool and all. It’s royalty, but it ain’t The King or even The Ace. So I’m selling super foods, teaching classes, consulting, hosting dinners and preparing packaged foods… oh yeah and occasionally making videos, posting blogs and working on a recipe book. Wow, when I look it like that I feel like I’m spreading myself thin. Don’t get me wrong it’s not like I’m doing all of those things everyday, some of them I’ll only do once a month. Believe me I find time in there for surfing and other forms of recreation.

So where was I? Making free chocolate for a promotional event, ah yes. That’s the whole dynamic of “you’ve got to spend money to make money”, but whose in it for money? My motto is “you gotta do what you love to love what your doing”, which I can affirm. So playing The Jack(fruit) and occasionally The Joker is cool with me…

Here’s a sampling of what I made last night:

Candied Pecans dipped in chocolate, I made little sandwiches by dipping the flat half of the pecan and then placing another flat half

Hearts and Caramel Squares

on top of the other. This way you can pick up the choccie pecan sandwich without it melting in your fingers.

Chocolate Caramel Squares: I busted out the casserole dish, layed down some wax paper and poured a layer of chocolate for this creation. I set the chocolate in the fridge, made a caramel, poured that over set chocolate and spread it within a quarter inch of the edges of the chocolate, back in the freezer to set and the caramel layer with a layer of chocolate that went to the edges. At this point I should have set it in the fridge because I eventually had to cut it into squares. A casserole sized chocolate caramel bar is a little excessive. Trying to cut it directly out of the freezer caused some of the chocolate to crack… little patients and thawing allowed me to make clean cuts.

Chocolate Hearts with Goji and Coconunt: this is a Valentines Day classic that never fails to please. I sprinkled the goji and coconut into the molds before I poured the chocolate in. This heart molds are super easy to use. I scored them at Target in the bargain bin just after Valentines last year… Score!

So that was it for free chocolate schwag. I’m hoping that I’ll have some left overs to share with family and friends. Myself I’m choco’d-out. Making chocolate takes its toll on me with all the sampling you have to do. By the end of the night I feel like flying and I this funny sensation in my chest like my heart is radiating out of my chest: raw chocolate is a true heart opener. So I’ve come down of the cacao cloud. I tend to burn out quick on cacao powder and that’s why I stick to the nibs.

Choco Candied Pecans

Here’s the basic chocolate recipe I used:

Cacao Butter – 10 oz. about 1 1/2 C melted

Agave – 1/4 C

Palm Sugar – 1/2 C

Lucuma – 1/4 C

Cacao Powder – 8 oz about 1 3/4 C

pinch of Himalayan salt

Chocolate dipped Candied Pecans

I melted the cacao butter in the dehydrator in a metal bowl with a fork laying in the bowl. I do this to draw heat into the center of the melting cacao. The metal bowl conducts heat better than glass or pyrex which are actually an insulators. I then moved to my double boiler set up which is a crock pot filled enough to float the metal bowl. I check the water temp. with a small thermometer and turn the crock off and on accordingly. Next I mix in the agave, salt and palm sugar with the melted butter. I do this in the bowl using a blending wand. These things are cheap and very useful for blending directly inside of bowls and even wide mouthed jars. It’s good to have a second set of hands at this point but it can be done alone… Once the cacao butter, agave and palm sugar is blended I start adding the cacao butter and mixing. You can sift the cacao powder into the mixture as well which makes things easier. With the hand blender there is the danger of spraying chocolate all over the place. I like to live on the edge. I only had minor splatters from this undertaking.

A couple tips for using the hand blender.

  1. Make sure your bowl is wide and deep enough to prevent from slinging your mix everywhere.
  2. Lift the mixing wand up out of the mixer to create a vortex of chocolate spray. Do this carefully because this the “wall splatter”danger zone. Tilting the wand on an angle will also pull floating ingredients down into the blending vortex.
  3. Unplug hand blender before licking the blade.

Joker is Wild

Cocoa Butter on Foodista

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Durian is back on the menu

Most of you out there probably weren’t aware that during the summer we were in the midst of a durian drought. Not to worry, the drought is over. For those of you who haven’t been formally introduced to durian or had an official durian experience… allow me to make the introduction:

Meet Durian: King of Fruits

Meet Durian: King of Fruits

Durian, commonly referred to as the “King of Fruits” is a tropical fruit that grows on some the oldest living and tallest fruit trees in nature. Durian has 3 properties that make it the King and make it unique: smell, texture and taste.

First off durian has a high sulfur content, which is the chemical that gives garlic, onions and eggs their distinct odor. The potent odor given off by a durian has gotten it banned from public transportation and places like theaters and hotels in Southeast Asia. Don’t be surprised if you hear comments from unschooled observers first encountering durian like, “is there a gas leak?” or “did the cat pee in the corner?” No two durians smell the same and the smell evolves as the fruit ripens as well. It’s this smell that attracts tropical wild life like tigers, orangutan and elephants who are known to savor a good durian.

So if you’ve made it past the smell, now comes the texture. Durian is one of the few fruits having a high fat content like avocado and olives. Durian also has the highest protein content of any fruit. Durian is the total package: fat, protein and sweetness (carbs). No wonder they call it the King. This combination of fat, protein and sweetness give durian the texture of custard when fresh and ice cream when frozen.

It all comes down to flavor and durian is not lacking in that department. In truth, the taste defies all description and any attempt to describe the taste is an injustice that has the potential to deter an individual from having their own durian experience. I’m not going to lie to you, many of the descriptions you will come across regarding the taste of durian is unflattering at the least extreme and hostile at the greatest extreme.

What's that smell?

What's that smell?

One critic compares Durian to “crème cheese onion sauce and sherry wine” another “its taste can only be described as indescribable, something you’ll either love or despise… Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” I know what you’re thinking, “why the hell would I want to eat that?” I’m not sure I can persuade you with words. Let me just say I equate eating durian with a religious or shamanic experience. The durian fruit is considered a warming food, stimulant and aphrodisiac. It’s funny that the foods that compliment durian are aphrodisiacs as well like nutmeg, vanilla and cacao. When consuming durian, especially for the first time,  preparing yourself and the dining environment is a must. Durian can’t be consumed casually like picking up a slushy at the Quickie Mart. A certain amount of reverence has to be shown to a fruit that weighs in at around 8 pounds and is protected by a hard spiked shell. Light some candles, turn down the lights, put on some tribal rythymns and open your heart and mind. Enjoy this brief video introduction to Durian, the King of Fruits:

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Banana Lama Ding Dong Finale

Part 3 in the epic saga of Crust, Filling and Chocolate Sauce. May the Bliss be with you.

Chocolate Sauce:
1/2 C agave
2 T cacao powder
1 T mesquite powder
1 T lucuma
1 T carob
2 t agave powder
1 T coconut oil
pinch of salt

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