Chocolate lovers unite!

203

by J. Allen Shults
Personal Chef & Food Critic

Chocolate in the last several years has been researched intensively for its aphrodisiac properties, and it comes to find out there very good for you too.

Chocolate is packed with antioxidants. Some believe even more than tea and blueberries. I have learned so much in the last couple of years about this delectable item. It can be so versatile and used in savory dishes, sweet delicacies, custards, cakes, truffles and drinks.

Don’t be afraid to start experimenting. Create your own fantastic combination. Some new artisan chocolate combinations have also emerged in the last couple of years. These have been dubbed as Artisan Chocolates Shoppe’s. Combinations such as curry, cayenne, imported cinnamon, cardamom and even rosemary have been paired with an impressive outcome.

We have known for many years that red wines and port wines are traditionally paired with chocolate, but I have enjoyed the sweet dessert wines such as Rieslings and Ice Wines. These are delicious with such a crisp clean taste that plays so well with the depth and spiciness of dark chocolate. And I do have to say. I cannot get enough of it. From white chocolate mousse, dark chocolate molten cake and an aztec chocolate drink that is the best hot chocolate you’ll ever have, but with a kick of chili peppers that will warm your soul.

I have compiled a few of my favorite recipes that aren’t very difficult. With practice and some work you can work with chocolate like an experienced pastry chef does.

Here is a recipe that is probably known as the bedrock of any pastry chef’s repertoire. This recipe will feed two people, just multiply by how many ever people you will be feeding. 

Chocolate Ganache & Fondue

  • 1 Pound of Semi Sweet Chocolate
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Heavy Cream 

Once you learn how to temper chocolate you can use it to cover what ever your little heart desires. Strawberries always come to mind. But I love to cover apples, grilled pineapple and homemade potato chips.

First you will need a deep sauce pan and a stainless steel or Pyrex bowl. When you chop chocolate make sure to chop it in to small bite size pieces. This will help it melt evenly and smoother. Put just enough water in the bottom of your sauce pan so when you put the bowl on top of the sauce pan the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Pour the cream and chocolate into the bowl and place onto the sauce pan over medium heat. Stir consistently until the mixture is smooth and completely melted. Take the bowl off the heat and wisk. This will give the ganache a shiny sheen. This now can be flavored with liqueurs and even champagnes. Try some grand mariner, raspberry liqueur, or kentucky bourbon. About 1 oz of your choice. Keep on stirring the chocolate until the mixture has cooled down to where it’s not hot to the touch. This is the perfect time to cover those cakes and use to decorate dessert plates. Just drizzle on cookies or fruit. Serve these items with Whiskers Blake Tawny Port Wine or a Johannesburg Riesling. It’s a very dramatic presentation to use this as a fondue just add about 1 cup more heavy cream. 

This next recipe is sure to be a favorite in your house. Any chocolate lovers will swoon to this easy recipe. Chocolate peanut butter squares are so sinful. The smooth peanut butter and the rich chocolate. Could it be better than sex? It might be. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate 61% or greater finely chopped
  • 6 oz milk chocolate finely chopped 41% is good
  • 5 tablespoons of room temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of chunky natural peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar sifted

Butter an eight-inch square pan and set aside. Melt the chocolate and 1 tablespoon of butter in a double boiler. Stir until very smooth. In a bowl of an electric mixer cream together the remaining butter, honey, and slowly mix in the sugar. Don’t pour it all in at once. If you do be prepared to have powdered sugar all over your kitchen. Pour and evenly distribute the peanut butter mixture in the bottom of the pan. Pour the melted chocolate over the peanut butter mixture. Chill up to two hours in the refrigerator. Just until it firms up. Then let it come to room temperature. Cup into squares with a warm sharp pairing knife. Just dip the knife into hot water and dry off before you cut the squares. Enjoy and the simplicity of this recipe lets you play with it. The addition of toasted nuts, dried fruit, and spices can be very successful.  

White Chocolate Mousse & Toasted Coconut with Farm Fresh Berries

  • 4 oz white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut liqueur
  • 2 teaspoons of unsalted butter
  • 3 extra large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup of toasted coconut 

Put the chocolate and the liqueur in a double boiler, like we did before with the ganache. When the mixture is smooth add the eggs one at a time, and wisk until fully combined. Set aside. In a spotlessly clean mixing bowl wisk the egg whites until you form stiff peaks. Add put about 1/4 cups of the beaten egg whites into the chocolate and try to gently fold in the rest of the beaten whites. Don’t over mix. This will cause the mousse to loose its airy texture. With a piping bag pipe this into your favorite dessert glass. Champagne glasses work with a dramatic presentation. Simply layer the mousse, coconut, and some organic berries. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving. Top of with a sprig of mint. You can serve this with a chocolate covered spoon. Just dip the end of a dessert spoon in melted chocolate several times to your desired thickness. Let that rest in the fridge for about four hours to fully set up and harden. 

I love to share what I have learned over the years. Working and cooking with some terrific professional chefs has given me the chance to learn so much. Now I want to share that knowledge with my community. If you would like any recipes just email me at [email protected].