Welcome To Chocolate Musings where 'Chocolate Rules', and all your other cares and worries are left behind amid a flurry of shiny whisks, empty bowls and worn out spatulas.

I have decided to do a spin-off of my Food Blog "
Platter Chatter With Patricia" and devote it entirely to Chocloate, as I think it might have some appeal to all the chocolate lovers. Here you will find monthly features relating to all things about chocolate, and many fine chocolate recipes and chocolate culinary delights. There will be many videos for presentation as well as opportunities to Listen Live to Internet broadcasts about chocolate as well. I trust you will enjoy your visit and find some items of interest to you.

Now before this luscious chocolate truffle on the plate sitting beside me disappears into the mouth of my precious cat, I best lunge for the last bite.

Sweet Dreams!


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

If there is one difficult thing about moving to another country other than adjusting to new cultures and missing family and friends from back home, I think it would have to be adjusting to not being able to find certain food items that you have been use to for so many years. Almost ten years ago when I moved to New Zealand I had a longing for pretzels and they were no where to be found. I had tried all the major supermarkets in our region and no one had even heard of them here. I then made it my crusade to find a grocery store that would be willing to go the extra mile to find a distributor that would able to supply the store from some of the food manufacturers back in America. After a few months the New World Supermarket started stocking their shelves with hard pretzels....the little twisty ones. After several more months it started to catch on in the other supermarkets and now pretzels are a major craze at barbecues and parties. However I have yet to see the long log pretzels come along, so that will have to be my next endeavor as those are my favorites, especially for making chocolate covered pretzels. Now you can use the smaller twisted hard pretzels for making chocolate covered pretzels too, so don't let the lack of the log pretzels stop you from making a very special treat. Chocolate and pretzels go so wonderfully together.

Here is a recipe for Chocolate Covered Pretzels, and bear in mind too that you can use either milk chocolate, dark chocolate or white chocolate for this recipe. They are all wonderful and make a fantastic snack for any party.


2 (10 ounce) packages pretzels
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Melt chocolate and cream in double boiler over low heat, stirring constantly. Dip pretzels one at a time quickly to coat while mixture is still very warm. Decorate with sprinkles or jimmies.
Place pretzels on wax paper to set and cool.

History Of The Pretzel

As we are with a lot of foods the exact origin of the pretzel is unknown.
As early as 610AD at a monastery somewhere in Southern France or Northern Italy, where monks used scraps of dough and formed them into strips to represent a child's arms folded in prayer. The three empty holes represented the Christian Trinity.
The monks offered the warm, doughy bribe to children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers. The monks called it a Pretiola, Latin for little reward. From there, the pretzel transformed into the Italian word, Brachiola, which means little arms.
The Pretiola journeyed beyond the French and Italian wine regions, hiked the Alps, wandered through Austria, and crossed into Germany, where it became known as the Bretzel or Pretzel.
In medieval times merchants traveling to the Frankfurt Fair risked being robbed by bandits. In order to guard the tradesmen, the towns' people would ride out, greet the vendors and offer them pewter pitchers of wine and loads of crisp dough on their spears, called Geleit-pretzels.
The Whimsical Pretzel shape worked its way into the culture not only as a reward but as a symbol of Good Luck and prosperity. I suppose it had the same effect as a logo did appearing in festivals and celebrations, as well as a quick snack available from street corner vendors.
Probably two of the most fascinating things about the pretzel is it was served on Easter with 2 hard boiled eggs and hidden around the farms, for the kids to find. This very likely was the forerunner of the Easter egg hunt. Weddings in Europe for a time used the tradition of the bride and groom tugging at a pretzel like a wishbone, the larger piece assured the spouses fulfillment of their wishes.
There are pictures of pretzels in paintings that help us to find how old their existence really is. Here is a one of the more famous pictures in which we find pretzels, called "The f ight between carnival and lent" by Pieter Bruegel in 1559. You can see the pretzels in the lower right hand corner.
From this came the saying we still use, "Tying the knot".
So how did the hard pretzel spring into existence? Skip ahead to late seventeenth century Pennsylvania. A baker's helper fell asleep tending pretzels baking in the hearth. When he awoke, the flames had died, he believed the pretzels hadn't cooked long enough and started the fire up again. When the Master Baker came in, he was furious that an entire batch of pretzels wasn't fit to eat. In the process of throwing them out, he tasted one and realized he was on to something big! Not only did he like the taste of these delicious crunchy morsels but realized due to the moisture being baked entirely out, that freshness was preserved and they would keep longer to sell.
It was the immigrants from these countries who brought the "bretzel" to our shores during the 1800's, later becoming known as the "pretzel". Some believe that the pretzel recipe was brought over on the mayflower and they were made and sold to the Indians who loved them.
The first commercial pretzel bakery was established in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania by Julius Sturgis in 1861. The modern age of pretzel making began in 1935 when the Reading Pretzel Machinery Company first introduced the automatic pretzel twisting machine. Prior to that, most commercial pretzels were actually shaped by a cracker-cutting machine, then placed on baking pans and put into the baking ovens by hand. This innovation made pretzels available to people in all parts of the country, and helped the fledgling industry grow...
Some more modern bizarre pretzel facts include these noteworthy items: Largest pretzel ever baked:40 lbs, 5-feet across, by Joe Nacchio of Federal Baking, Philadelphia, PA; Pretzels in the movies: 20 lb., 4’ pretzel in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad World”—same baker; Pretzel capitol of the world: Reading, PA., where one plant can package over 10 million pretzels per day!
Annual pretzel sales top $180 million and are the second most popular snack, right behind potato chips and just in front of popcorn.

Source: Snack Food Association

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Essence Of Chocolate: Book Review

The Essence Of Chocolate
Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger

Book Review By Laurie Hartzell

The name "Scharffenberger" is synonymous with chocolate, so even the thought of a collection of recipes by this king of cacao may make mouths water. The Essence of Chocolate, by Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger, unites drool-worthy recipes with legends and narratives about the world of this decadent delight. The combination of all these elements—food, history, chocolate factory mechanics, cacao cultivation and more—results in a huge tome of knowledge; this is no ordinary cookbook. Whether you are in the mood to cook or learn, The Essence of Chocolate will serve you well.
Titles of recipe chapters are based on the role of chocolate in the dish: "Intensely Chocolate" (for those whose desire for the flavor can never be quenched), "Essentially Chocolate" (recipes where chocolate has an important but supporting role), "A Hint of Chocolate" (where chocolate is a minor theme) and "Basics and Add-Ons" (simple sauces and additions to bring desserts to the next level). The recipe chapters include classics like That Chocolate Cake and Factory Store Hot Chocolate as well as unique creations such as Chocolate Chunk Challah and the savory John’s Cocoa Rub to give meats a kick. Those interested in recipes alone will have to page through chapters on subjects like how Scharffen Berger sweets are made, but anyone with a true love for chocolate will find this entire book thought-provoking and comprehensive. And as for the decadent recipes...chocolate never tasted this good.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Chocolate Nutmeg Soufflé with Spiked Cremé Anglaise

I have been sitting here contemplating making this recipe for 'Chocolate Nutmeg Soufflé with Spiked Cremé Anglaise, but unfortunately I do not have Godiva Chocolates available for the recipe so I will probably have to improvise with another brand. Actually I have not seen Godiva Chocolates here in New Zealand, not to say that they are not availablve here but just have never seen them in the specialty shops. I must admit they are my favorites and I would often buy Godiva Chocolate for gift giving during the Christmas Holidays when I lived in New York. I always especially loved the gorgeous gold boxes they would be in. Anyway my dear husband has a Birthday coming up this week, so I think I will make this Chocolate Soufflé as a little surprise. The following Soufflé is a Godiva Chocolatier recipe which is available also on the Godiva Website.
Chocolate Nutmeg Soufflé with Spiked Cremé Anglaise
Yield: 4 servingsDifficulty:
Advanced Preparation: 45 minutes plus baking time Special
Equipment: 1-quart soufflé dish

Spiked Crème Anglaise:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons Cognac
Chocolate Soufflé:
2 bars (1.5 ounces each) Godiva Dark Chocolate, broken up
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg plus more for garnish
1 tablespoon Cognac
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Make spiked crème anglaise:

Combine milk and heavy cream in heavy, medium saucepan and bring to gentle boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat.
Whisk egg yolks with sugar in medium bowl until blended. Whisk some of cream mixture into egg yolks, mixing to blend. Return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, about 2 minutes or until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove pan from heat and immediately strain sauce through fine-mesh sieve into metal bowl set into larger bowl filled with iced water. Stir sauce for 10 to 15 minutes or until cool. Stir in nutmeg and Cognac. Remove bowl of crème anglaise from bowl of iced water. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble. (Sauce may be served warm or cold over soufflé.)
Make chocolate soufflé:

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Butter 1-quart soufflé dish, leaving 1/4" near rim unbuttered. Dust with granulated sugar, tapping out excess.
Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium (50% power) 1 minute. Stir. Microwave 1 minute more or until chocolate softens. Stir until smooth. Cut butter into small pieces and whisk pieces, a few at a time, into chocolate. Whisk in nutmeg and Cognac.
Lightly whisk egg yolks in medium bowl. Gradually add warm chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and set aside.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar in medium bowl just until frothy, using electric mixer at medium speed. Gradually add sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until whites are stiff, but not dry. Fold half of beaten whites into chocolate and then fold in remaining egg whites.
Turn mixture into soufflé dish and smooth top. Bake 30 minutes or until puffed and lightly browned. Serve immediately with crème anglaise and sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Raspberry White Chocolate Trifle

Even a genius knows that any 'Chocolate Trifle' is not to be reckoned with. Here is a lovely recipe for Raspberry White Chocolate Trifle from the DVO RECIPE CENTER,with Melanie and DVO Enterprises President, Daniel Oaks Jr. Click on the link above to view the complete video. Here is the recipe!

3 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
12 ounces high-quality white chocolate chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
7 ounces lady fingers
1 cup raspberry jam, melted, divided
1 1/2 12-ounce packages frozen raspberries, divided
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
3/4 cup sliced almonds

Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Beat 2 1/2 cups cream and 1/2 teaspoon extract in large bowl to soft peaks. Fold in white chocolate mixture.
Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Mix in 3/4 teaspoon extract; remove syrup from heat. Quickly submerge 1 biscuit in syrup; shake excess back into pan. Place dipped biscuit in bottom of 14-cup trifle dish. Repeat with enough biscuits to cover bottom of dish.
Spread 1/3 of melted jam over biscuits in dish. Top with 1/3 of partially thawed berries with juices. Spread 1/3 of whipped chocolate cream over. Repeat layering with dipped biscuits, melted jam, partially thawed berries, and whipped chocolate cream 2 more times. Mound fresh berries in center of trifle. Sprinkle almonds around edge. Cover and chill at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours.

The Rules Of Chocolate

1. If you've got melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.

2. Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

3. The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car. The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

4. Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It'll take the edge off your appetite and you'll eat less.

5. If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

6. If I eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate, is that a balanced diet? Don't they actually counteract each other?

7. Money talks. Chocolate sings.

8. Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

9. Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done.

10. A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?

11. If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?

~Author Unknown