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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Lemon Chili Chocolate Pasta

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The other night, I decided to dig out the pasta I had bought from my trip to Venice two summers ago. It had sat there, not for lack of want or even because it was a novelty, but because I could not figure out what to do with it. I mean, let’s be honest. If you read “Chocolate Pasta” what sauce comes to your mind?! Red sauce, gross. Alfredo, weird? Oil and butter, boring. So…apparently I needed two years to mull it over in my head. And then I just thought… spicy and sour! And it was delicious!

Ingredients

  • .5 pound of chocolate pasta (local stores/online/or use it as an excuse to travel to Venice!)
  • 2-3 tbs Butter
  • 1 lemon
  • Local and organic honey
  • 2 1/2 whole, dried chilis
  • 100% unsweetened natural cocoa powder (I use Scharffen Bergen)
  • Asparagus

Directions

  1. Bring water to a boil
  2. While water is heating up, start the base for sauce. Begin melting 2-3 tbs of butter in a pan.
  3. Slice 2 slices off of the lemon before using it for juice. Set aside to garnish dish for later.
  4. Combine 2 tbs honey, 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 2-3 tbs of honey.
  5. Warm up and mix. Take 1/2 dried chili and crunch between your fingers. Allow some (but not a lot) of the seeds to drop into the sauce. You will want more of the outside chili.
  6. Add some lemon zest from the squeezed lemon and a teaspoon of cocoa powder. Save some lemon zest to place on top of the dish.
  7. Mix and let sit for another 3 minutes.
  8. When the pasta is finished, place some sauce on the bottom of the plate. Add pasta to dish and sauce on top.
  9. Place 2 slices of lemon and 2 whole dried chilis on the side of the plate for garnish.
  10. Sprinkle some cocoa powder on top.
  11. Pair with some lightly steamed asparagus and enjoy!

Will and I decided it tastes like a spicy lemon head! Let us know what you think.

xoxo,

willandmegan

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Orange you glad we did another chocolate tasting?

On Friday September 14th we decided to challenge our taste buds and indulge in another chocolate tasting. Upon selecting a consistent theme for flavor and style, orange stood out as an incorporated element that could easily improve or blanket the superior quality of a well made bar. With a similar approach to our previous mint chocolate engagement we started by selecting a high quality assortment from the local natural foods store. USDA Organic, Fair Trade  and a cocoa content of 60-70%were also a concern as we support the proper care for international workers, the ingredients found in high quality products and ultimately the origin of cacao beans.

We discussed some factors before hearing that satisfying snap of a well tempered chocolate bar. How would each company represent an ideal level of orange. With chocolate already existing as a perfect combination of naturally sweet and bitter flavors would the inclusion of citrus and tang be obtrusive. Would the flavor profiles emerge as subtle or harsh? Orange is used for its abundant vitamin c content, zesty flavored peel and sweet satiating juice. Will it succeed within the finely crafted bars of origins ranging from Latin America to Africa?

So what is a chocolate tasting without results? Here is a conclusive series of notes for each brand broken up by TEXTURE, FLAVOR and OVERALL EXPERIENCE.

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Alter Eco – Dark Twist, crystallized orange peel VIBRANT AND TANGY

Texture: Well tempered snap, quickly melts, smooth, chunks of crystallized peel throughout, peel similar to consistency of raisins

Flavor: Primary flavor mild citrus with undertone of bitter nut oil. Vibrant warm secondary flavors, bright clear “Sunny D” punch,

Overall: This bar contains the complexity of odd textured orange peel that leaves a raisin like feel in the mouth. It’s bright bold sweetness is enjoyable, but to us it seemed that too much was going on and it obstructed many of the flavor characteristics of the raw chocolate.

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Theo – Orange, DARK CHOCOLATE

Texture: Light/airy seeming, matte finish, sharp snap, well tempered

Flavor: Mild tang, slight bitterness, hint of citrus, secondary flavors intensify, flavors dissipate quickly

Overall: The composition and structure of this bar screams quality chocolate while the flavor experience says basic. In the initial moments expect very little flavor with the primary being standard dark chocolate. Citrus can be detected, but ultimately only intensifies in the final seconds of consumption.

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Equal Exchange – Orange Dark Chocolate

Texture: Oily, softer snap, dense, smooth, slow melting rate

Flavor: Essence of fruit from start to finish, balance of oils and added ingredients with natural chocolate flavor, undertones of vanilla

Overall: The simplicity and quality of this bar allowed for the pairing of orange and chocolate flavors to shine. A consistent fresh fruitiness with less elements of tang seemed to make the whole tasting experience enjoyable.


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A Tuesday “Engage-mint” (Chocolate Tasting For Two)

Yesterday night (August 28, 2012) Meg and I extracted our stash of heavenly cocoa from the fridge in a long awaited mint chocolate tasting event. After allowing the three bars to reach an adequate temperature (room-temp, ideally) we splayed them out on the table and took note of packaging graphics, appearance and any major notable variables. Before our tasting took place, Megan very intentionally selected three quality brands with as many of the same constant variables as possible. These variables include: 60-70% cocoa content, organic, fair trade, dark – high levels of flavonoids/cocoa liqueur, and containing mint as a contributing primary flavor.

In a manic, but connoisseur-like approach we carried out a series of consistent tasting techniques throughout the event. We started by taking note of the wrapping quality and appearance. Then we proceeded to observe the dimensions and finish of the chocolate bar. Is the piece matte or shiny? Does it break with a snap or feel more pliable? Is it somewhat resistant to body heat or does it melt like the wicked witch of the west?

Using our fingers we increased the temperature of each segment, releasing aromas and flavor qualities for ten seconds. Then we transferred the chunks to the surface of our tongues to be shifted at mouth temp for another ten seconds. The final flavors were released as we started to chew, exposing a variety of decadent, rich, bitter tones coupled with moments of salivation. Water was used as a palette cleansing device after the completion of every brand.

So what is a chocolate tasting without results? Here is a conclusive series of notes for each brand broken up by TEXTURE, FLAVOR and OVERALL EXPERIENCE.

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Divine – Mint Dark Chocolate

Texture: Hard, snaps, high concentration of crystallized chunks distributed throughout, medium matte, low sheen

Flavor: Subtle (almost unnoticeable) mint, zest, earth

Overall: While this brand excels in crunchy texture and mouth feel, it severely lacks in overall and lasting flavor

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Green & Black’s – Dark Chocolate infused with peppermint oil for an intense mint taste

Texture: Soft, smooth, creamy, pliable, less snap, medium sheen, low matte

Flavor: Mint, sweet, clean mouth feel

Overall: Clean mouth feel, lasting flavor of mint from start to finish, quality in packaging and taste is evident

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Alter Eco – Dark Mint, cool crispy mint BOLD AND BRISK

Texture: Fine mint crystals, grit/sand feel, less snap (and subsequently more pliable)

Flavor: Subtle, permeating mint, high level of sweetness

Overall: Best overall mint experience, this bar successfully accomplishes what both other bars separately could not: A combination of finely distributed mint flavor in both bar and crystallized chunks, texture and creamy mouth feel from start to finish.

Grab yourselves some of these and try!

Let us know if you have different brand/bar recommendations…