Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chocolate Pairings for New Years

I often get questions about pairing chocolate with wine and other liquors. Actually, more often than not, it's a question about pairing red wine with chocolate. While red wine can be paired with chocolate, it can be a challenge.

The advice I give my customers is to pick wines and chocolates that have similar flavor profiles. If you have a wine with strong red fruit and citrus notes, then a chocolate made with cacao from Madagascar might be just the ticket. But if your wine doesn't have red fruit and citrus notes, it's probably not going to pair well with chocolate from Madagascar.

One of my new year's resolutions is to try red wine with chocolate more often so I can provide better guidance to customers who would like to pair these two treats. I thought for New Year's I'd provide some of my favorite liquor and chocolate pairings.

Single Malt Scotch and Chocolate
One of my favorite pairings with chocolate is single-malt Scotch. Make sure to choose a Scotch that isn’t too smoky or peaty. Some suggestions:

Port and Chocolate
My husband and I went to the Douro Valley in Portugal during harvest season for our honeymoon. We had the opportunity to "tread" grapes with the locals, and I got to know and love Port well.

One of my favorite treats is chocolate with a glass of colheita Port (a tawny that's been barrel aged since harvest). It's not a treat I can afford often, so my sips come only once in awhile. If you’re looking for a special Port for New Year’s, try a Quinta do Noval Tawny Colheita. The richness of an aged colheita is an incredible experience with any fine chocolate.
Anise Ganache Fig

If you’d prefer to pair a vintage, late bottle vintage or ruby Port with chocolate, our award-winning Anise Ganache Filled Figs are a fantastic option. We stuff black mission figs with a chocolate truffle that's been lightly infused with anise, and then we dip the whole thing in chocolate. Our figs won Judges Choice for Best Confection at the NW Chocolate Festival. We made a few too many last week, so we've put them on sale for $1 this week, while supplies last. It's not likely you'll see such a bargain on our figs again.

Quinta do Noval is hard to find in Seattle, but those of you in other major cities should have no problem. If you're in Seattle, try The Spanish Table or Wine World. They're your best bets for a good selection of Port.

Champagne and Chocolate
The acid qualities of champagne and sparkling wines can make them tough to pair with chocolate. Chocolate dipped fruits like our apricots or pears are the perfect complement to a glass of bubbly. We dip dried California apricots and Extra Fancy Pears in Valrhona dark chocolate made with cacao from Africa. Delicious and elegant-looking, our pears and apricots are sure to be a hit on your New Year’s table!

I don't know much at all about Armagnac, but I do know it pairs well with chocolate. Our friends, Dawn and Eric Wright, shared some with my husband and I shortly before I opened Chocolopolis, and it really was a treat. If your budget permits, I highly recommend it.

May your 2012 be filled with health, happiness and fantastic chocolate!


Chief Chocophile

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bar of the Week: Patric's PBJ OMG

Our very last bar of the week of  2011 is a real doozy:  imagine the peanut-butter and jelly sandwich of childhood dreams dunked in dark chocolate and you'll have an idea of Patric's PBJ OMG.  The Missouri-based small-batch chocolate maker blends sea salt and peanut butter into a dark chocolate whose naturally fruitiness stands in for jelly.  The resulting bar is smooth, rich, and juicy--pair with a tall glass of milk for the perfect after-school snack, even if you graduated a few decades ago!

Since this nostalgic treat is one of Patric's seasonal specials (only available through Valentine's Day), make sure to stop by on Saturday, December 31st, for a taste; we'll be open until 5pm. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bar of the Week: Valrhona's Palmira

Prepare yourself to say hello and goodbye to our new bar of the week, Valrhona's Palmira.  Made from criollo cacao grown on the Palmira plantation in west Venezuela, this 64% dark chocolate features notes of high-pectin fruits such as apple and quince, underlined by a pronounced honeyed sweetness that lingers for a long finish.

Valrhona has announced that it is discontinuing this delectable bar, so quantities are limited and once they're gone, they're gone for good.  If you haven't yet tried Palmira, don't miss this chance to get acquainted.  And if Palmira is one of your favorites, you might consider stocking up (consider that properly stored dark chocolate will keep indefinitely.  

Stop by on Christmas Eve to savor a sample of Valrhona's Palmira--and of course, to pick up any last-minute treats or gifts for the chocolate lovers on your list. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bar of the Week: Grenada 71%

Send your tastebuds south for the winter with our new bar of the week.  Grenada Chocolate Company's 71% dark chocolate is a tropical treat with an effervescent acidity that reminds many tasters of fresh, ripe pineapple.  Grenada Chocolate Company is a cooperative chocolate maker owned by its cacao-farming shareholders.  The cacao and other ingredients are organic and the factory runs on solar energy. 

Come by on Saturday, December 17th, to have a taste of Grenada 71% and pick up great gifts for everyone on your holiday shopping list. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gifts for Your Entire List

Having trouble finding the perfect gift? We've got a gift for every person on your holiday list, including the person who has everything.

For the Person Who Has Everything...
Chocolate Tasting Party in a Box
...we recommend our Chocolate Tasting Party in a Box. Filled with some of the best single-origin chocolate the world has to offer, it’s a chocolate tasting experience in a box! Featured in Zagat’s Holiday Gift Guide, it includes 6 artisan chocolate bars from different countries, chocolate-covered cacao beans, cacao nibs, instructions for hosting a chocolate tasting party, a Chocolopolis Flavor Wheel and sheets for up to 10 participants to record tasting notes. If you’re good, maybe you’ll be invited to the party.

Chocolopolis Mint Meltaways
The Chocoholic
When one box of chocolates isn’t enough, we’re here to help. Chocolopolis is packed to the rafters with artisan chocolate of every kind to suit the Chocoholic. Whether your favorite chocoholic prefers bars or confections, we have something they’ll enjoy. Gifts that will sate their cravings include our ½ pound box of Peppermint Bark, our 15-piece box of Chocolopolis Mint Meltaways, our 19-piece assorted truffle box or any of the 200 artisan chocolate bars on our shelves.

The Chocolate Connoisseur
Know someone who sniffs their chocolate before eating it? Then you have a Chocolate Connoisseur in your life.  Let us take the fear out of purchasing chocolate for the connoisseur. We’ve put our taste buds and palates to work creating the perfect gift for the connoisseur, our Chocolate of the Month World Tour. Each month brings a new delivery of artisan, single-origin chocolate to the Chocolate Connoisseur’s door. What’s more, we encourage them to sniff their chocolate as much as they’d like. They’ll think of you every month when their package arrives, and they’ll happily sniff away in privacy. Chocolate of the Month World Tour comes in 3-month and 6-month packages. There are three levels, Beginner, Advanced and Connoisseur. The levels are appropriate for any chocolate lover. The Advanced and Connoisseur levels were developed for returning Chocolate of the Month Club members who have already been through the first year.

The Foodie
Anise Ganache Fig
Do you know someone who is always in the know about the hottest new restaurants and food trucks? Impress them with your knowledge of the hottest new chocolate, our award-winning Anise Ganache Filled Figs. Made by hand in our chocolate kitchen, we stuff these delicious black mission figs with a chocolate truffle that has been lightly infused with a hint of anise, and then we dip each one in chocolate. Winner of the Judges Choice for Best Confection at the NW Chocolate Festival, these chubby chocolate figs will leave your favorite foodie craving more. Packaged in a box of 4.

The Perfect Hostess
Her day has been spent baking cookies, running errands, cleaning the kids, and putting the breakables away. You arrive at her house and it is filled with more people than it can hold, adults sipping wine and nibbling on sliced rosemary turkey breast, kids running up and down the stairs, not staying in the designated “kids” area. Yet she handles it all with aplomb, grace and a smile on her face. How do you say “Thank you” to the perfect hostess? With chocolate, of course! An elegant and delicious gift, she’ll appreciate a box of our Chocolate Dipped Extra Fancy White Peaches or our Chocolate Dipped Extra Fancy Pears. Each of these fruity confections is dipped in Valrhona dark chocolate. We marry the peaches with Valrhona Manjari, its tart red fruit and citrus notes pairing beautifully with the sweetness of the peach, and we top the pears with Valrhona Nyangbo chocolate, its chocolaty notes pairing perfectly with the pear. Peaches come five to a box and are packaged in a clear rectangular box. Pears come six to a box and are packaged in a clear round box.

Clients and Colleagues
Chocolate Filled Sleigh
Thank your clients and colleagues with chocolate gifts to share. From our 19-piece assorted truffle box to our selection of chocolate treats from around the world, we have plenty of choices to tempt an entire office. Choose from boxes of Recchiuti’s Cherries Two Ways or boxes of Mademoiselle de Margaux Mint Twigs. Need chocolate nibbles for an entire office? Let us put a selection of treats in a gift basket that will leave an impression on clients and colleagues and keep them nibbling chocolate until the holidays.

Peppermint Marshmallow
Kids and kids at heart will love our Peppermint and Gingerbread marshmallows. Made with candy canes, our Peppermint Marshmallows are cut into circles, dipped in chocolate, topped with pieces of candy cane, and wrapped to look like a peppermint candy. Our Gingerbread Marshmallows are made with ginger and molasses, cut into the shape of gingerbread men, dipped in dark chocolate and decorated with faces in white chocolate. They’re adorable and addictive!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bar of the Week: Fine & Raw's 78%

From Brooklyn chocolate maker Fine & Raw, our bar of the week is a 78% dark chocolate with an extra kick.  The organic Ecuadorian cacao beans from which the bar is made are carefully processed at low temperatures, resulting in a chocolate that's rich, earthy, tantalizingly textured, and maintains more of the cacao's inherent nutrients and antioxidants.

Feeling like you might benefit from a healthy treat?  Come by for a sample of Fine & Raw's 78% bar on Saturday, December 10th.