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!

Holidays, Inspiration and Ideas

Ideas for Dad

Posting from HQ:  June 1

We love gifts.  That is why each truffle that leaves our factory is made with pure ingredients and dressed up ready to give!  But Fathers Day gifts are hard.  Grilling tools feel equivalent to giving Mom an appliance (and we know that’s a bad idea).  And who really needs more golf club covers or a beer making kit?

We think a more original way to honor Dad would be to give him the gift of good health.  Happily … dark chocolate qualifies!

A lot has been written about the health benefits of chocolate.  Dr Andrew Weil has published a useful anti-inflammatory food pyramid with chocolate sitting at the very top.  A recent article from health.msn.com suggests dark chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease.  And Beth Reardon, director of Duke University Integrative Medicine, talks about chocolate’s ‘health halo’  for it’s association with everything from improved vision to easing a chronic cough.

Yippee, we say!  Pair it with a nice bottle of (antioxidant rich) red wine.  Remind your Dad that when it comes to premium quality, a little satisfies.  And you’ve got yourself a meaningful fathers day gift!

Holidays

Happy Mother’s Day

Posting from HQ:  May 13th 

Thanks for coming to the Mother’s Day event at the retail store yesterday.  We hope your Mom enjoys her treats!

At Seattle Chocolates we have a great appreciation for this day because an overwhelming number of us are Moms.  That includes our fearless leader Jean, who took over as CEO shortly after her youngest started kindergarten.  Ever since, Jean has created the kind of culture that understands the amazing juggle, the crazy compromise, the irreplaceable gift that is motherhood.  So when it comes time for that 2nd grade piano recital, or it’s the day of the senior class presentation, we get to be there.  Which makes the time we spend at Seattle Chocolates even sweeter.

So we thought today would be a good day to say thank you, Jean.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Holidays

Doodle it for Mother’s Day

Posting from HQ:  April 25

Do you remember being told when you were little that the best gift is the one you make yourself?  Usually it was your adoring mother saying this, or perhaps your art teacher.  And the truth of the matter was that you couldn’t drive to the store anyway, not without your Mom.  And parting with your allowance was completely out of the question!

So, when it came to Mother’s Day, we did it ourselves.  Years and years of lumpy vases, Popsicle picture frames and jewelry made out of bottle caps.  And Mom opened those gifts as if they were precious gems.  Priceless masterpieces.  And she placed them on her windowsill or by her bed just where she could see them everyday.

Makes us teary just remembering.  Because now we are the Moms.  So we plan to doodle a little something this year.  We’re pretty sure Mom will love it.

Holidays

AJs Fine Foods

Posting from AJs Fine Foods:  April 5

With Easter just around the corner, we wanted to post a few more beautiful basket ideas.  Who knew the hunt would take us all the way to Arizona!  This week our bunnies turned up at AJs Fine Foods in Scottsdale.  AJ’s is a foodie fantasyland and we like to go there when we have lots of time so we can gather inspiration in our carts along with the shopping.

Of course, the chocolate aisle is always our first stop, but there is also a gift section worth checking out.  And today it was filled with colorful easter baskets made out of bright crepe paper, beeswax candles and decorative eggs.  Our dark chocolate bunnies paired with AJs Espresso Blend, makes for a basket every Easter Bunny can appreciate.

But for the little egg hunters in your life, we think the bright straw basket filled with white bunnies is just the thing!

Holidays

Curtsy Bella

Posting from Curtsy Bella: March 31

There is a little store tucked behind the University Village in Seattle called Curtsy Bella.  And we think it’s a find – filled with gifts that dazzle, dare and delight.  It’s the kind of place you’ll want to browse through slowly, preferably with a girlfriend who likes to giggle.

So we took our bunnies over there, knowing they would settle in nicely.  And they did.  And then the Curtsy Ladies started to work their magic…

For The Purist – just put those bunnies on a pedestal!


French Country Easter – wine, chocolate, linens and lavender…oh la la!

Sweet Whimsy – a darling, felt flower basket full of sparkly eggs, truffles and candies.

Thank you Curtsy Ladies.  We love it!

Holidays

The Chocolate Bunny

Posting from HQ:  March 26

The chocolate bunny is to your Easter basket…

what a crisp white blouse is to your wardrobe, fresh-baked bread is to your sandwich, or what warm sun is to a day at the beach.

It simply needs to be there.  It’s the foundation!

But because we might be a little biased, we asked around to see what other people put in their Easter baskets.  In addition to sweet treats, it seems people get fairly creative – from springtime PJs to puzzles to plush toys.  But the thing that almost always hops in there along with family traditions, is an irresistible chocolate bunny!

So stay tuned.  For the next few weeks we will be posting some of our favorite Easter basket ideas.  Featuring those adorable bunnies, of course!

Holidays

Happy Valentines Day

Posting from HQ:  February 14

Roses are red, Violets are blue, Happy Valentines Day from HQ!!  Here is a snapshot of the last heart shaped box we packed up and sent out into the world yesterday.  Whew!  We hope your sweetie gets the sweets of their dreams today.  And it’s true what they say – the more love you give out, the more that comes back.  So we hope you get a little something too.  Whether it comes heart shaped, in a bag or a tidy little bar, we wish you a choco-lata love!!!