willandmegan

"Stuart rose from the ditch, climbed into his car, and started up the road that led toward the north…. As he peeked ahead into the great land that stretched before him, the way seemed long. But the sky was bright, and he somehow felt he was headed in the right direction." (from Stuart Little by E.B. White)


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Oatie Nib Cookie (Oatmeal and Roasted Cocao Nib Cookies)

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“Oatie Nib Cookies

– 22 Good Sized Crunches of Heaven-

I love oatmeal. I love a sweet treat. And goodness, I love texture. And suddenly, I had a revelation! Why not use our crunchy, unabashedly enticing leftover cocao nibs to add just the right crunch to cookies?! (Note to readers: before editing this blog I realized I accidently wrote ‘add just the right CRUNK to cookies. These are things no one ever knows).

And thus, the oatmeal nib cookie was born! Before we embark on the recipe (and I know, if you’re like me, you’re ignoring these first few paragraph babbles) but I wanted to give a quick blog to Dandelion Chocolate out in California. While working at a local coffee shop I had the pleasure of encountering these little bits of crunchy heaven. They were so good, Will and I ordered a bag and had it sent to us in the mail. I will spare you my pretending-to-be-super-cool-on-wordpress and quote Dandelion directly on the natural flavor attributes of the bean (and boy is there!), “Our Madagascar bar’s crazy fruit notes are present even straight from the bean, but here they show an acidic bite punctuating the nuttier undertones.” So, there ya have it. And it animates these cookies in a way that no amount of walnuts or raisans can!

Ingredients:

The Big Schtuff

2 cups of oatmeal (some say quick oats, some say regular. I used regular)DSC_0909

1/2 cup of Dandelion Chocolate Cocao Nibs

1 cup wheat flour and 1/2 cup all purpose (variations of this would turn out fine)

1/2 cup ground flax (or not. or more. but it gives you some Omega 3)

1/2 cup butter (that’s a giant stick of fat thrown in a bowl & melted in microwave)

1/4 cup honey (in place of 1/2 cup white sugar)

1 cup raw cane sugar (or brown)DSC_0908

2/4 cup applesauce

1 egg (or eggwhite? haven’t tried that yet)

1 cup peanut butter chips (or whatever you want)

The Not-So-Big Schtuff

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 3/4 teaspoon vanilla (or however much you want it to taste like vanilla)

1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice (which really means some clove or nutmeg or allspice or pumpin or or or)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:DSC_0931

1- Preheat to 375 (I preheat to 389 because my oven hates me)

2- Grease a cookie sheet or use a super cool silpat

3- Big bowl for the dry stuff: oatmeal, flour, baking soda & powder, salt, flax, spices<–StirDSC_0930

4- Not as big bowl for the ‘wet’ stuff: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, egg, applesauce<–Stir

5-Drop wet stuff into dry stuff and mix

6-Drop them on your baking sheet, however big you want (I made 12 1st round, 10 the second)

7-Service with Almond Milk.

8-Eat them all in one day.

Seriously, the best. I’m gonna fatten’ up William Head.

Cheers,

willandmegan


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New Tree Display edit

Just when William and I thought we had reviewed the entire selection of chocolates offered at our surrounding stores, a brand called New Tree Gourmet Chocolate popped up! This fresh, modern brand focuses on the added flavor attributes of natural extracts to compliment the taste of their chocolate. They also use non-GMO emulsifiers which is positive for those seeking a sweet treat without modified or artificial ingredients. With a line of bars extending from the standard Dark (66% cocoa solids minimum) to a vibrant Ginger, it’s worth noting that New Tree focuses on creating Belgian chocolates with “all-natural” flavors and extracts. This includes a product that “features 2 times more fiber than regular chocolate”.

To avoid both the possibility of being critical or biased we aimed to compare overall experience to the broad spectrum of store bought chocolates vs. artisan small batch chocolate. In this tasting the array of textures were notable as well as how well the chocolate contained naturally infused flavors.

All chocolates were “Belgian Chocolates”, 66% cacao, and weighing in at 2.82 ounces.

New Tree Cherry edit

Cherry Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Tiny granules, truffle

Flavor: Confectionery sugar, graham cracker, this is a straight-up cordial cherry chocolate with a flavor that builds and ends on bright fruity notes.

New Tree Ginger edit

Ginger Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Generous amounts of candied ginger

Flavor: Bright, warm, up-front ginger flavor. Sweetness of cane sugar compliments while ginger climbs to a “nose-clean”. This is a great bar for those who can’t handle intense ginger.

New Tree BlackCurrant edit

Blackcurrant Chocolate (Origin: Latin America)

Texture: Rich, fibrous

Flavor: Tart fruit pulp, minerals, “Smuckers Jelly”, overall fruit taste with bitterness of currants.

New Tree Dark edit

Dark Chocolate (Origin: Dominican Republic and Peru)

Texture: Syrupy

Flavor: Molasses, oats, overall subtle flavors with little complexity.


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Intoxicating – Chocolate tasting with liqueur and whiskey

germ choc arrangement

 

Last Saturday afternoon Megan and I set up a relaxing back porch chocolate tasting. As she labored in the kitchen preparing a cauliflower/curry dish I took out coffee beans, cacao beans and picked up a bottle of Wild Turkey Rare Breed Whiskey.

 

In order to prepare these aesthetically pleasing arrangements we often become manic and focus on color, quality, form factor, lighting etc. We included relevant ingredients such as vanilla, ginger and whiskey. Yes, you heard right. These bars are made using whiskey and egg liqueur. This is our first tasting of chocolate made by an Austrian company called Zotter. Meg managed to pick these up in Germany as they are found in other European countries.

 

Fur Lang edit

 

für langschläfer (50% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar actually translates to “for late risers” in English. The reason being that is contains coffee beans and whiskey. The overall taste is a classic malt flavor with the inner consistency of truffle creme. It contains subtle hints of oak and bourbon with notes of sweet, honey graham cracker. The lack of coffee flavor and texture was a bit disappointing, but overall this bar was quite satisfying.

 

eiertanz edit

 

Eirtanz (40% min cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “egg dance” in English. Why egg dance? Well this bar is made with egg liqueur and chili. It is creamy and has both the inner appearance and consistency of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. However, the overall quality is higher containing less artificial and more natural certified fair trade ingredients. The initial satisfaction of flavors come from unique cinnamon undertones and overall sweet milk chocolate flavor. The experience increases with intensity as a strong chili kick emerges and remains until the end.

Hasenjagd edit

 

Hasenjagd (46% cocoa)

 

The name of this bar translates to “hare hunting” in English. Does it contain rabbit meat? No! The additional ingredients include apples, carrots, ginger and brandy. This bar transforms the typical smooth chocolate experience to a subtly tangy one. Notes of buckwheat honey can be tasted beneath the zest of light lemon. Small chunks of fibrous fruit pieces (likely dehydrated) creates additional flavors and texture throughout.

 


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Crack It Open – Coconut Chocolate Tasting

coconut full display edit

Last night we created one of the most elaborate tasting displays to date in our long awaited Coconut Chocolate Tasting. To gauge the level of my anticipation for said tasting, 4/5 of the bars shown were purchased a month in advance along with the coconut and coconut milk (for aesthetic purposes). The final installment is a brand called RitterSport and was purchased by Megan a week ago during her trip to Germany. Whoot for our first German brand chocolate included in the lineup! The first thing I noticed upon a quick overview of packaging is the occurrence of blue/turquoise as a color choice from brand to brand. Does blue indicate the cool refreshing feeling of a bite into raw coconut? Well this tasting is equally about the chocolate as it is the coconut. Which chocolate company effectively blends the flavor and texture of coconut with milk/dark chocolate?

*Note* I’d like to state that the bars we chose cover a variety of approaches to the inclusion of coconut. Our tastes may vary differently from yours. We felt that a broad spectrum of very simple additives to extremely complex spices/flavor would make the tasting more interesting. We hope you feel the same. Enjoy!

-w&m

alter eco coc edit

1.) Alter Eco Dark Coconut Toffee (47% cocoa) ~$3.88 2.82 oz.

This bar opens up with a bright warm flavor that has the crunch of toffee bits and sweetness of a frappucino. The overwhelming abundance of large organically shaped chunks of toffee removes any opportunity for coconut to shine through. However, the satisfying bite of salt, undertones of butter and oats make this bar hard to put down. Think of it like a dessert!

good cacao coc edit

2.) GOOD CACAO – Coconut Omega-3 (72% Dark Cacao) ~$4.89 1.5 oz.

The super dark tone of this bar is intriguing along with its bright white flecks of coconut on the underside. The flavors are slow to release, but gradually move from cool notes of floral to dried fruit and cinnamon. It has a very fine and fibrous texture throughout. Imagine the subtle aroma of good perfume and taste of apricot. By far one of the most complex bars we have tasted to date. Take one look at the list of ingredients such as Raw Lucuma and Nutri Plankton and you won’t feel guilty indulging on this bar.

ritter sport kokos edit

3.) Ritter SPORT KOKOS (45% Milch-Creme) ~$1.20  3.52 oz. (price conversion from Euros!)

Meg describes this German native bar close to the Almond Joy, but more specifically “Heaven On Crack”. It has a rich creamy outer layer with a coconut frosting-like inner layer. In my mind it tasted like someone took a box of Samoas Girl Scout Cookies and condensed them into one chocolate bar. If you aren’t a health freak with concerns for emulsifiers, corn syrup and the like, this bar is for you.

sweet riot kickin coc edit

4.) sweetriot KICKIN’ COCONUT (70% Dark Chocolate) ~$3.99 3.5 oz.

The use of texture in this bar is well done, however it doesn’t have much coconut flavor. The buttery notes of the chocolate itself stand out along with a hint of floral that wants to jump to your taste buds, but never quite makes it. A sweet tasting bar with great texture, but doesn’t deliver in overall flavor.

theo coc curry edit

5.) theo Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate (45% Cacao) ~$3.25 2 oz.

The first warning I heed is that this is not your mamas chocolate bar. The level of spices and fiery intensity that comes in this little package is quite delectable to some.  The oily consistency comes with a bitter twist of dried spice bits that bite your tongue periodically. Expect the cardamom to overcome your senses along with undertones of cayenne and mustard. From start to finish this bar delivers in flavor complexity, intensity and some level of texture, but no coconut flavor.


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SHAKE IT UP – Organic Shamrock Shake Recipe

shamrock presentation edit

On Saturday March 9th we spent the day still basking in the pride of a successful homemade wine tasting from the night before. By one o’clock our hunger brought us to Wegmans for food items, mint leaves and coconuts. After the sadness of realizing organic coffee was $11.00 finally subsided, we decided to pass on that purchase. With the fridge stocked heavily Meg and I brushed off the lack of french press and became excited for the preplanned frozen treat that was in store.

Items you will need:

dye. flavor. ice cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Organic Almond Milk
  • 1 cup Organic Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoonNatural Mint Extract
  • Tru Whip Natural Whipped Topping (optional)
  • 4 drops Green Food Coloring (optional)
  • Alter Eco Mint Chocolate Bar (optional)
  • Mint Leaf Garnish (optional)
  • Organic Cane Sugar (optional for rim of glass)

Directions:

1- Prepare rim of glass ahead of time by dipping in water and then in a bowl of green colored sugar. Wait for milkshake.

2- Mix ice cream, milk, extract, and green food coloring in blender. (1/2 a bar of Alter Ego Dark Mint Chocolate for delicious, crunchy affect).  Mix until creamy.

3- Pour into glass carefully to avoid ruining the rim

4-Place a few dollops of whip cream in the center.

5-Shave off a fair amount of Alter Ego Dark Mint Chocolate on top of the whip cream.

6-Add mint leaf for garnish.

alter eco mint display edit

Cheers,

willandmegan


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Tocoti Micro-Batch Chocolate Tasting

tocoti display watermark

On Valentine’s Day, Meg and I stopped into Joe Bean Coffee Roasters for their S’more special. The marshmallows and gram crackers were provided by a local company and made with natural ingredients .  Also, the dining arrangement included chocolate by Tocoti! We were intrigued by the packaging, excited they were a new and local chocolate roaster, and happy to hear they are small-batch artisan roasters. Several days later Meg put in an order and it was delivered to our door!

Single Origin Tocoti Chocolates.

Walworth, NY.

Tocoti Website

Dominican Republic 79% Cocao

dominican republic edit

Meg: Freeze-pop juice, pineapple

Will: Spicy wood oil aroma, dried raspberry, almonds, minerals, dried dates

Wild Bolivian “Jungle Love” 77% Cocao

jungle love edit

Meg:Peanuts

Will: black pepper corn, wheat, oats, bread

Venezuelan 74% Cacao

venezuelan edit

Meg:Pepperoni pizza, sandalwood, coriander

Will: Floral, pollen aroma, marshmallow, caramelized sugar, wild flowers

Taste Preference Rating:

  1. Dominican Republic
  2. Venezuelan
  3. Bolivian

P1040053

Enjoy! willandmegan


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Dandelion Small – Batch Chocolate Tasting

Yesterday afternoon we both had the pleasure of sampling three wonderful chocolate bars from Dandelion Small-Batch Chocolate. They are a new factory located in the Mission District of San Francisco and took honors as a Good Food Award finalist for 2012. As a fresh business with an awesome bean-to-bar approach, they won our taste buds over in the past and we couldn’t pass up a side by side sampling.

dandelion bundle edit

Our first observation upon splaying out the bars was evidence of lustrous and elegant wrapping. The appearance of delicate gold-foil like designs create the impression of an antique gift. The next examination we made was based on a clear presentation of cacao origin. Included as a part of the packaging text was also a note of recognizable flavor characteristics made by the roasters from Dandelion. Personalized initials on the back side really emphasized the sense of Small – Batch as it erased the possibility of mass production. In this we concluded that comparatively it felt more intimate to be tasting chocolate from a young company with smaller output vs. an international company such as Lindt, Godiva who mass produce their “chocolate”.

3 bar series edit

dandelion vertical edit

dandelion package edit

dandelion bar edit

So, let’s talk taste! While Will & I definitely have very different interpretations of the chocolate during our tasting experience, I will share them all. (Note that mine are probably less refined and slightly more obnoxious) 🙂

Rio Caribe-

Aromatics-cane, oats, mud

Flavor-pine needles, smoke, s’mores, cedar, woodoil, bread

Elvesia-

Aromatics-soil

Flavor-fruit punch, sour patch kids, cheap wine coolers, plum, raisan, tangy finish

Ambanja-

Aromatics-N/A

Flavor-malts, beer, dates, fig

These, honestly, were the most incredible chocolates we have ever had. The intense spectrum of flavors challenged our ability to define taste using specific raw foods we had experienced. We were sad to see them slowly (not really) disappear. So, grab some online. It’s WORTH IT!

http://www.dandelionchocolate.com/store/