Inspiration and Ideas

jcoco

jcoco

Last Thursday, we officially launched jcoco in New York City with the help of chef Amanda Freitag of Chopped and Margaret Purvis CEO of the New York Food Bank. Amanda prepared a 5 star, 5 course meal using ingredients from our jcoco bars including toasted quinoa lamb meatballs, sesame agave yogurt with harissa, and cayenne & Veracruz orange glazed pork belly with wilted kale. Members of the press and friends sampled dishes paired with wines from the Northwest and experienced first-hand, the inspiration behind “couture chocolate”. Jean spoke about the core pillars of the brand:

• Five-star flavors
• Portioned for sharing
• Giving Back to our community

Margaret issued a stirring plea to end hunger where we live and demonstrated her enthusiastic support for jcoco. All in all it was a great success and we look forward to planning our next event (possibly in SF) in the new year. Following the event, a gift to the FBNY of more than 1,000 fresh healthy servings was made a result of a #jcocogives campaign which kicked off the same evening.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szlO3Lirl9U

Uncategorized

hopelink

hopelink

Jean and team spent a day at hopelink preparing backpacks for back to school.

Since 1971, Hopelink has served homeless and low-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in King County Washington through their integrated array of programs that enable families in crisis to make progress toward and achieve self-sufficiency.

learn more about hopelink at http://www.hope-link.org/

Inspiration and Ideas

Shop for Gilda

ShopForGilda_480

Posting from Jean:  December 13

As a child of the 70’s, I grew up watching, laughing and often quoting Saturday Night Live skits. Gilda Radner was one of the original dream team of comedians who would change the landscape of comedy in the 70s and 80s. When she died of ovarian cancer in 1989, I felt robbed of too many years of laughter.

Gilda told friends that having cancer made her part of an exclusive club that she’d rather not belong to. She said the hardest part was having no community to turn to who understood what she was going through.  She felt all alone.

Gild’s Club, founded in 1995 by her husband Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka himself in the class version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is all about providing this sense of belonging and understanding to anyone with or affected by cancer. This includes kids whose parents have the disease and are scared to death about losing that parent, but no one around them wants to talk about it.  Gilda’s Club offers support groups, lectures, summer camps, socials, references, connections and a place to go when you need your spirits lifted. The best part of all is that they do all of this for free. There are no boundaries to getting the help and support you need during this battle for life. After all, cancer itself does not discriminate.

I love how pure Gilda’s mission is. I love how selfless the director and staff are about delivering the mission. When I watch them in action, I am struck by how very comfortable they make their clients feel. Everyone who walks through those doors is a friend and leaves with a sense of hope and belonging.

This Saturday, Seattle Chocolates is going to donate 25% of all sales in our retail and on line stores, as a salute to Anna, Marlene, the Gilda’s Club staff and in memory of the late great Gilda Radner. Please help us support this great organization as you shop for your chocolates this holiday season.

xo

Inspiration and Ideas, Uncategorized

xo, Jean

Posting from HQ:  December 3

One of the greatest parts about being a small business is that we can be ourselves and live out what we believe in every day.  No red tape or complicated corporate structure to weigh us down.

And around here we believe life is in the details.  So we spend a lot of time fussing over every little thing, like bringing you only the purest all natural ingredients, even if it means making a little less profit.  Like wrapping every chocolate in gift-worthy style.

And like Jean handwriting cards on behalf of our online customers so that their chocolate gifts arrive with a personal touch.  Necessary?  No.  A good use of time for the CEO?  Hard to say.

The way we roll?  Absolutely.

Since we are on the subject…this was a great little shout out for small businesses we found a few weeks ago on one of our favorite style blogs coco & kelley!

Holidays, Recipes, Uncategorized

Chocolate Caramel Tartlet

Posting from HQ:  November 16

It’s a big cooking week coming up.  So before everyone gets started, we wanted to share this little gem with you.

Our Chocolate Caramel Tartlets were adapted from a recipe by David Leibovitz, a man whose recipes we trust.  He is an American living in Paris and has been a professional cook and baker most of his life.  Among his many credentials, he has a certificate from Callebaut College in Belgium and Valrhona’s Ecole du Grand Chocolat in France.  He has written 6 books, including The Great Book of Chocolate and critically acclaimed Room for Dessert.

While his resume is impressive, we became true fans because of his blog, The Sweet Life in Paris.  In it, David chronicles his daily wanderings through one of our favorite cities and his musings on pure food, made with honest ingredients.  The recipes he posts are for real people, like us.  He is also funny.  And takes beautiful photographs.

This tartlet is the perfect example of having just a little bit of something very, very good.  The rich, dark ganache balances the sweet caramel and salt.  Finished in a slightly crisp tart – you will be completely satisfied after one.  Or two.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Dough:

4 ounces unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

6 T Dutch process or natural cocoa powder

Caramel Filling:

4 ounces soft butter caramels

3 T heavy cream

Ganache:

4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (our extreme dark is also great here)

6 T heavy cream

Instructions:

To make the tartlet dough, beat the butter and sugar until just smooth, using a mixer or by hand.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.  Then combine with the creamed butter mixture.  Butter the indentations of a mini muffin tin.  Roll dough into 3/4 inch balls and work each ball into the indentations of the muffin tin using your thumb to press dough firmly against the bottom and sides.  Freeze the pans of dough for 20 minutes.  Quantity should make approx 24 tartlets.

While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough appears dry.  Remove from the oven.  While hot, use the handle of a wooden spoon to push down any puffiness and widen the inside of the tartlet.  This helps create a nice clean edge to the outside of your tartlet and any imperfection caused on the inside will be happily hidden beneath the caramel and ganache!  Then let cool completely.

For the caramel filling, heat the caramels and the cream over low heat, stirring until smooth.  Spoon the caramel into each tartlet shell.

For the chocolate ganache, start by heating the cream in a small saucepan or double boiler.  Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for a minute, then whisk the chocolate into the cream until the mixture is smooth.  Top each tartlet with the ganache and then swipe the excess* with the back of a spoon.  Finish each tartlet with a sprinkle of sea salt.

*We must admit that we continued to pretend we were with David in Paris by dipping a baguette into the leftover ganache.  Ahh, the sweet life!

Holidays, Recipes

Dark Chocolate Bark with Goji Berries, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds and Ginger

Posting from HQ: October 29

Chocolate bark is a great recipe to have on hand throughout the holidays for an easy dessert or beautiful hostess gift. This dark chocolate version showcases simple, pure ingredients high in antioxidants and known for their powerful health benefits. We love the contrast of sweet sun-dried Goji berries with the crunch of salted pumpkin seeds.

But don’t be shy! This recipe is easily adapted to kid-pleasing combos including crushed cookies and candies or bits of toffee and granola.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup roasted almonds, slivered

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sun-dried Goji berries

1/2 cup crystallized ginger, thinly sliced

16 oz. dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

a pinch of sea salt

Notes:

To achieve a finished result that is both tasty and gift-worthy, it is important to temper, rather than simply melt, your chocolate. This is because as chocolate cools and solidifies, the cocoa butter in chocolate forms a crystal structure. If chocolate cools on its own, the crystal structure will be loose and your bark will be soft and malleable with a dull finished appearance. Instead, if the melted chocolate is held within the ‘tempering range’ (88-90 degrees Fahrenheit for dark chocolate, 86-88 degrees for milk chocolate), the cocoa butter will form a more dense crystalline structure. So when the chocolate cools completely, it will harden into a very stable chocolate with an appealing sheen, and satisfying snap. It will also keep for months at cool room temperature.

It can be tricky to temper chocolate. A good rule of thumb is to remember that chocolate melts at around your body temperature and should be worked with near that temperature. Many people are accustomed to working with chocolate at closer to boiling temperature. Chocolate should never rise above 115 degrees at full melt. So using a thermometer is key.

Instructions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Melt 2/3 of your chocolate in a double boiler, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Using an instant-read thermometer, bring the dark chocolate to just under 115 degrees. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/3 chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will gradually melt the chopped chocolate, slowly bringing down the overall temperature. Stir constantly until completely smooth and melted and the thermometer reads 88-90 degrees. Your chocolate is now tempered!

Using a spatula, spread the chocolate on the parchment paper in a layer approximately 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with Goji berries, pumpkin seeds, ginger, almonds and sea salt. Gently press the ingredients into the chocolate. Allow bark to cool completely.

Use a sharp knife to cut into pieces. Enjoy!

Inspiration and Ideas

Reaching Out Luncheon

Posting from HQ:  October 17

jcoco, Seattle Chocolates’ newest brand, was thrilled to help sponsor Hopelink’s Reaching Out Luncheon on Monday.  We heard from Author Jeanette Walls, and Connie Chapin, a former Hopelink client.  Both women did a fabulous job articulating their personal stories of how poverty has shaped their lives.  Connie explained, ‘going hungry is not the hard part, it’s the shame.  That’s what you remember’.  Many millions of readers already know Jeanette’s story from The Glass Castle, which was written because of Jeanette’s decision to face, rather than hide, her shame of growing up in poverty.

Although their circumstances were different, both of these women ultimately told an infectious story of hope and optimism.  Both have successfully found a way to self-sufficiency and both passionately support Hopelink for its mission of lifting people and families out of crisis.

jcoco is thrilled to be building partnerships with organizations like Hopelink across the country.  At a time when 1 in 5 people in America are living in poverty, we believe it is critical to use what we do to make a difference.  One fresh, healthy serving at a time.