Friday, February 12, 2016

BRING ON THE CHOCOLATE!


These delectable shots are by cinematographer Roger Pratt, and are from the 2000 film Chocolat.
They were featured on the site of Cinema Fanatic.

With Valentine's Day coming, chocolate is one of those things, I naturally think of.

To tell the truth, I don't need V-Day to think of C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E.

I like dark, dark chocolate; BUT I AM WILLING TO TRY ANY COMBINATION.  Just a subtle, passive aggressive, suggestive, statement.  Just in case you're curious, I am not receiving any compensation, of any shape or form, from any of the chocolatiers that I have listed below.  Not that I know of at least.  That would be a lovely surprise... (wink wink)...oh well, back to the post at hand.

Chocolate is one of those lovely things in life, that just adds to the loveliness.  Grab the joy as often as you can.  Have you ever come across one of those people, who claims, "I really don't care for chocolate or sweets,"?

I immediately don't trust those who say such a thing.

Whatever you like, here are links & lists along with a few recipes to make sure you get your fill of the wonderful decadent treat.  I've tried to list their locations, but I think all will ship.  Most of them have a staggering array of chocolates.  Treat your self to at the very least a visual treat!  Have fun looking over the sites!


*Holl's Swiss Chocolatier Vienna, WV~ I grew up with Holl's chocolates, and they're still my favorite.  Pure and simple, but absolutely delicious.  Fritz Holl's Family History

*Vosges Haut Chocolat Chicago, IL~ Very good.  Expensive artisan chocolates.  Lots of fun flavor combinations.  

*Compartes Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA~ Listed as one of LA's best, and has been around for more than 50 years.  The selection is mind boggling.  Sadly, I never heard of it when I lived there.  Would love to try the Love Nuts.

*Valerie Confections 3 locations in Los Angeles, Ca~ Valerie Gordon is a force.  Self taught with a long resume of culinary successes she opened her shop in 2004.  Chocolate covered toffees, and petits forts are specialties.  Although only available locally, the cakes look scrumptious.  If you live in LA, lucky you; Valerie caters.

*Madame Chocolat Los Angeles, CA~ This was Hasty Torres' shop; one of LA's best; but I think the business is moving to the Big Apple so she can join her husband, Mr. Chocolat, aka Jacques Torres. UPDATE: She is on her way to NYC!  Lucky islanders!  I saw a photo of a chocolate dipped cookie, that you just know it would knock the socks off of any prepackaged uh... wafer.

*Jacques Torres Chocolate New York Several locations in NYC~ For Valentine's Day has a chocolate lolly with "Spank Me" along with many other fun options.  Still the focus is on the chocolate.  There's a reason Mr. Torres is affectionately known as Mr. Chocolat.

*John Kelly Chocolates Hollywood and Santa Monica locations  ~ Two men with varied backgrounds founded the shop in 2004.  The Truffle Fudge is their specialty and looks amazing.  Great reviews.  What they do, they do well.
   
*Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland  Several locations in North America, Europe and Asia~ Wonderful Champagne Truffles and chocolates since 1932

Valrhona Several locations around the globe.~ Began in Tain L'Hermitage, France in 1922 by a pastry chef for pastry chefs.  Has 4 cooking schools, L'Ecole Du Grand Chocolate, in Tain L'Hermitage, Paris-Versailles, Tokyo, and Brooklyn.  Their site even has recipes!

Ghirardelli Several locations in the US~ America's oldest maker of chocolate, started in 1852 by Italian born Domenico Ghirardelli.  I try to keep on hand one of their bars of Twilight Delight, with 72% cocoa at all times.  Their site has gobs of recipes, some even enhanced by videos.  Also, if I'm not in the mood to make brownies from scratch, their mixes, will never disappoint.

Hershey's Namesake stores found in Hershey, PA; NYC,NY, Chicago, IL; Niagra Falls; 2 locations in Shanghai; Dubai; and Singapore~ Couldn't have a chocolate list without Hershey's.  It was their Special Dark that started my love of dark chocolate.  And who doesn't love Kisses?

*All Chocolate Kitchen Geneva, IL~ Alain Roby's eye popping amazing creation houses so many of his other amazing and delicious creations.   That stove; the saxophonist:  the astronaut: are all created from chocolate!  Wonderful and lots of fun to visit, and the great news is they are working on getting set to formally ship. 
Till then email Esther at info@allchocolatekitchen.com with anything that catches your eye!

*Le Chocolat du Bouchard Naperville, IL. ~ This is a wonderful local shop that I could not leave out, however the only thing they ship is their 6 Week Chocolate Regimen.  They have some decadent hot chocolate concoctions along with other tasty delicacies.

*La Maison Du Chocolat Paris~ If you have reached this point on the list, here's one last opportunity.  La Maison Du Chocolat was started by Robert Lynxe in 1955 and today has boutiques around the globe.  I think they're the clever ones that create the chocolate haute couture dresses.  They also have an extensive online boutique for all of your chocolate needs. 
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So can I be honest?  After compiling this list, somehow I doubt that anyone would put forth effort for any recipe I feature.  So, I'm only going to feature one, and then I'll include links to a couple of recipes that I know simply sing with chocolate, and if you want to take the trip~ BON VOYAGE!









World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
I found this recipe in a small cookie cookbook, from the 1980's, among my mom's cookbooks.  It makes cookies that are rich, filled with chips, and have body.  There's only one person that disagrees with the assessment of "World's Best"; and that's my youngest daughter.  Go figure.

1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon of Vanilla Extract (be sure to use real; I use a "double strength" from Penzeys Spices.)
3 cups of all purpose unbleached flour
3/4 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of semi-sweet chips (1 1/2 12 oz bags)

Preheat oven to 350F
Cream butter and sugars in large bowl.  Add eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add dry mixture to creamed mixture.  Add chips, and 1 cup of nuts if desired.  DOUGH WILL BE VERY STIFF.

Spoon out onto cookie sheet.  The original recipe states that the recipe yields 2-3 dozen.  However, keep in mind, these cookies are rich, so I keep them small.  I use a soup spoon and globs are about the size of a ping pong ball.  Yields around 60 cookies.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, and cool on wire racks.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Molten Chocolate Cakes
I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Vongerichten on a few occasions while managing Vong in Chicago.  He's as nice as he looks.  And the cake oozes warm yumminess.  Also, since you probably won't be serving it in a 4 star restaurant, don't fret if it breaks- just be sure to enjoy!

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse
Found this recipe at Epicurious.  One of my favorite ways to get chocolate.

Need a new combo for your Hot Chocolate?  Be sure to visit:  She Knows!  She has more than twelve delicious ways to redo an already delicious winter treat.

Hope you enjoy my research!  
Be sure to pass on the love.

Have a great Valentine's Day.