I'm a little late to the party (fashionably, I hope?) -- I had some technical difficulties with the pictures so I'll have to post those later...
Me: I met the Chocolate King once.
Greg: Abe Frohman?
Me: No, he would be the Sausage King of Chicago.
(I am so grateful every day for my spouse and my friends. You just can't buy this kind of context.)
Years ago, I served as a consultant for the man who is the chairman of Barry Callebaut, the world's largest manufacturer of cocoa, chocolate, and confectionary foods. Why oh why didn't I keep in touch? Why oh why didn't I hand him my resume and beg him for a job? On the other hand, I accidentally insulted his gummy bears. We were meeting at a conference center, and he was scrutinizing the plate of gummy bears that had been set out by the hotel's hospitality group. We spent a few minutes discussing the finer points of gummy bear textures. Then:
"I love these best," I said tactlessly, forgetting that one of his other assets, a candy company, was also a leading purveyor of gummy bears. "I hate the squishy kind."
He paused, studied the firm gummy bear poised between thumb and forefinger, then squashed its head. In a dulcet, patrician voice, he said, "My gummy bears are soft."
So scratch being buddies. But still. Barry Callebaut! Damn.
Kelli, at Lovescool is the host of this anniversary edition of Sugar High Friday, the Domestic Goddess' monthly paean to all things dessert. For this month's event, Kelli challenged us with dark chocolate.
Like single vineyard wines, chocolate connoisseurs swear by "single source" chocolate -- that is, chocolate made solely from the cocoa beans of one region, thereby exemplifying all the best traits of the region, or terroir, borrowing the term from winemakers. The global bean supplies come from Ecuador, Grenada, Venezuela, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Madagascar, Indonesia and Trinidad and each region has its own distinct flavor and characteristics.
Cocoa beans are taken from the pods of the cacao tree, then dried carefully to preserve their fresh taste. They are fermented, to reduce the bitterness and develop the chocolate flavor we know and love, then like coffee beans, the cocoa beans are roasted. Their shells are removed and they are crushed and heated until they yield the thick chocolate liquor which is then combined with cocoa butter, sugar, milk, and vanilla. After days of refining, the chocolate is ready.
The bars that I found at Trader Joe's are more on the low end of varietal chocolate (definitely not grand crus like Valrhona and Guittard), made by a Spanish company called Chocovic (Guaranda, from Ecuador and Ocumare from Venezuela), but they're a good place to start for now.
Armed with my bars of chocolate, I made one more pass at Chocolate Ravioli. Unlike my previous, less-than-stellar (okay, horrifying) attempt, I found -- and used -- a recipe created by a professional: Eric Ripert's Chocolate Ravioli in Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce, from his book, A Return to Cooking.
And unlike my mascarpone horror, I got the smooth, creamy filling I wanted with the dark chocolate pastry cream. I also found a ravioli mold and making the ravioli jumped up a notch on the easy meter. Paired with a luscious single vineyard cabernet, this was almost too much heaven; but better to go out on a chocolate high!
Happy Anniversary, Sugar High Fridays!
P.S. Kelli has already done the round up! Go check out some fabulous looking desserts!
Chocolate Ravioli in Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
Chef Ripert's recipe is on the Epicurious site.