Friday, February 08, 2008

A Life Without Chocolate Is Not One Worth Living

There are few things I find more delicious than good quality chocolate. It's great after dinner with a cup of Joe (or latte, or cappuccino), I love it as a cake, I love it in brownie form, pretty much any way you slice it, I like it. I'm not as much of a chocaholic as my husband; it's because of him that I almost exclusively bake chocolate treats. One thing I have yet to find is a great chocolate cookbook. Any suggestions?

For Christmas, my sister enrolled me in a "Make and Take" truffles class at Cooks of Crocus Hill. I've always wanted to take a class there, but I'm also a tightwad, so shelling out $60 (or more) for one night of "entertainment" seemed a bit spendy to me. But, I got my chance to check it out last night.

Let me start by saying that I completely screwed up by not paying attention when I wrote down the class start time in my planner, and then by getting lost on the way to the class. Long story short I was 40 minutes late and missed most of the demonstration. Nevertheless, I caught the demo on how to make caramel, and that was informative. Also, I got a tip out of my fellow classmates that I also must have missed: when you melt chocolate in a double boiler, first let the water boil, then put your bowl with the chocolate on top of the pan, and then TURN OFF THE HEAT! Otherwise, you risk burning the chocolate. Not good. OH! And, the reason why you don't "ever" melt chocolate chips for uses in things like truffles is that they are specially formulated to not melt, for things like chocolate chip cookies where they need to be semi-intact when baked. Who knew? I thought that rule only applied to food snobs, not average pumpkins like me.

Our instructor was Robin Asbell, former head chef in the deli at one of our local co-ops. After we watched her demos, we broke into groups and tackled some of her recipes. I was on the "Peanut Butter White Chocolate Truffles" team. I felt a little weird at first, since I was the only person there without a "buddy" of some sort, but I just embraced my nerdiness and broke out my camera. Nothing says "outsider" like a single girl at cooking class shoving a camera in everyone's truffles.

After the class was over, and all the truffles were nestled into the fridge to cool, Robin talked to the group about the wonderful local resources for chocolate, and some of really yummy and unique things being done with it, like bacon chocolate bars by Voges Chocolate out of Chicago. I've had the pleasure of eating their Red Fire Bar and I can definitely attest that it is some fantastic stuff — super spicy, so dark, delicious! Locally, she gave shout outs to BT McElrath, Legacy Chocolates, Chocolate Celeste, and also a local candy making supply store called Sweet Celebrations. Now, my real homework of visiting all these places begins!

Thanks, sis. Wish you coulda come with!


Granny said...

Yummy! I want some! Remember, I have a birthday coming up in May!


Anonymous said...

I'm coming over for chocolate. You can't stop me.