Chocofrolics

A blog about chocolate travels, news, and reviews

White Chocolate Kumquat Cupcakes August 8, 2008

Filed under: Chocolate Recipes — Theobromita @ 12:42 pm

Normally I’m not a fan of white chocolate. I admit it, I’m a snob that way. Don’t try to pawn off some cocoa butter as chocolate–I need actual cocoa solids. I like my chocolate to have chocolate in it. However, I made this for my boyfriend (an avid white chocolate fan) several years ago for Valentine’s Day after stumbling across the recipe in Bon Appetit. The results were delicious, and I have returned to it often, always to rave reviews. There are a couple of key points for success. First, the batter is a bit finicky, so follow directions exactly in terms of order of mixing and ingredient amounts, and getting the egg whites nice and fluffy. Second, it is crucial not to over-mix the batter. Doing so will result in a dense oily cupcake, rather than a rich fluffy one. Trust me, I love dense cake, but this is not the good kind of dense. You want to aim for the rich and fluffy. I’ve modified the original recipe a bit to include diced kumquats in the cupcake batter, and sliced fresh kumquats on top, rather than candied ones. The result is a delicious mix of rich cake and tangy-sweet citrus. Enjoy!

Cupcakes
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped

13/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1/4 cup finely diced kumquats, seeds removed

3 large egg whites
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line three 6-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Place white chocolate in metal bowl set over pan of barely simmering water. Stir until melted and smooth.

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and diced kumquats in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until blended. Add hot white chocolate to sugar mixture; stir to combine. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with coconut milk in 2 additions, beating batter just to combine between additions.

Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold egg white mixture into batter in 3 additions.

Divide batter among muffin cups (about 1/4 cup each). Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)

For frosting:
4 1/2 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
6 ounces (3/4 of 8-ounce package) cream cheese, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

3 kumquats, sliced thin, seeds removed
Stir white chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Cool slightly. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt in medium bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate. Let cool until thickened to spreadable consistency.

Spread frosting over cupcakes. Arrange kumquat slices decoratively atop cupcakes. (Can be assembled 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

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Welcome to Chocofrolics August 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theobromita @ 12:10 am

Chocofrolics was born of a love of chocolate. This site will contain details on chocolate-related travel, reviews of chocolates we have loved, and interesting & exciting chocolate-related news. If you have suggestions for chocolate destinations or chocolate treats, please tell us! We love hearing from other chocolate lovers, especially if there are lesser known chocolates that deserve attention and praise. More will be added soon!

 

La Iberica Milky August 6, 2008

Filed under: Chocolate Reviews,Peru — Theobromita @ 11:46 pm

I discovered this chocolate bar on a recent trip to Peru. La Iberica is one of the top two chocolate companies in Peru, and their standard is the “Milky” bar. While it does contain milk, it’s a fairly dark chocolate, which I consider the best of both worlds.

The bar itself is fairly standard–tall and narrow rather than flat and wide, and the ingredients don’t list anything out of the ordinary. However, one bite lets you know that this is no ordinary chocolate. I’ve eaten several of these bars now, and just before i bite into a new one, I think “Ok, it can’t possibly be as good as I’m making it out to be in my head.” But it is. There’s something extra that I haven’t tasted in any other chocolate bar, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s dark chocolate, but not too dark. It has vanilla extract, but this isn’t overpowering. It’s sweet, but not overly so. I’m stumped. Having spent years in Southeast Asia, I’m inclined to think that the secret ingredient in anything deliciously addictive is msg, but I’m guessing that’s not it. I’m going to have to chalk it up to Peruvian water, because I don’t know what else it could be. My friend Anna says that Peru is the greatest country on earth besides the US, and based on this chocolate bar, I just might have to agree.

 

Hot Chocolate Spanish Style

Filed under: ChocoFrolics,Spain — Theobromita @ 10:45 pm

My first ever venture outside of the US was to Spain the summer after my first year in college.

I have had a lifelong obsession with Spain for no particular reason. I think lots of people have countries or regions they have always been fascinated with for reasons they can’t quite put their fingers on, and for me, that was Spain. I still remember the first glimpse I had as we approached–olive groves amid an arid landscape. My first week was spent on a tour of the major cities: Madrid to see the famed works of Goya and Velazquez; Sevilla for the best flamenco; Granada to admire the Moorish Alcazar; and finally Salamanca where I would live with a Spanish family for the next month. I spent my days in classes trying to pay attention to lectures on Spanish literature, and my nights dancing like it was my job. In fairness, I am pretty certain that dancing is the job of all Spaniards. No matter what night of the week it was, the clubs were always full of Spaniards until the wee hours (3…4…5 am). I have no idea how anyone actually functioned at a “real” job after dancing all night, every night.

Aside from dancing, one of my greatest memories of that time was the hot chocolate I enjoyed at cafes in my neighborhood. I remembered it being thick and creamy…so thick it was like hot pudding. Rich and delicious and the kind of hot chocolate that makes you realize what hot chocolate is supposed to be like. Not warm milk with the flavoring of chocolate. I am talking about HOT. CHOCOLATE.

After leaving Spain, I had hoped to encounter this again, in a Spanish or hispanic restaurant in the US, or even in Mexico, but no dice. After several years of searching in vain, I began to think that i had created this delicacy in my head…that the Spanish chocolate I remembered was a Shangri-La of chocolatey goodness, and that I was doomed never to taste such chocolate again.

Then in April my boyfriend took me to Barcelona for my birthday. On our 2nd day in the city, we walked up Las Ramblas to visit the famed La Boqueria market. I snapped a couple of photos of the market entrance, and noticed a coffee & hot chocolate vendor to my left, and immediately thoughts of Spanish chocolate came rushing back to me. I grabbed my beau, sidled up to the counter, and ordered two chocolates con churros. Several minutes later we were served miniature cups of HOT. CHOCOLATE.

Ahhh….it does exist! So if you have not yet had the fortune of traveling to Spain, and you love chocolate, do yourself a favor and book a trip to Barcelona. You can find the chocolate anywhere, but only in Barcelona can you enjoy it in one of the world’s greatest markets, before a day exploring the works of Miro, Gaudi, and Picasso, as well as the quirky chocolate museum. But that’s a story for another time…

 

Sukhothai Chocolate Buffet

Filed under: ChocoFrolics,Thailand — Theobromita @ 10:01 pm

I know what you’re thinking: chocolate? in Bangkok? It’s true. And what chocolate it is!

I first visited the chocolate buffet while doing my graduate research in Thailand in 2005. A friend of mine who worked at the American Embassy in Bangkok told me about it, and one visit was all it took to hook me for life.

In the gorgeous Sukhothai hotel, just south of Lumphini Park, the Chocolate Buffet is a high tea buffet served every Friday-Sunday from 2-6 pm in the hotel lobby. As it is a high tea, you are served a pot of tea of your choosing (I recommend the earl grey or the darjeeling) and/or coffee. When I first asked for water, i was pleasantly surprised to receive instead lemongrass water–a deliciously refreshing palate cleanser that is now one of my favorite drinks.

There are two buffet tables–one sweet and one savory–on either side of the lobby. The savory side has amazing bite-sized sandwiches like green apple and brie on pretzel bread, roasted veggies on tomato-pesto bread, and salmon and dill on mini croissants. There is a modest selection of simple but fresh sushi (rolls of cucumber, tuna, salmon) along with plentiful fresh wasabi, and two rotating asian savory dishes such as shu mai or spring rolls or satay. All of this is peppered with fresh fruit like mangosteen, rambutan, pineapple, and the best passionfruit around.

The sweet side has traditional high-tea sweets like sticky toffee pudding and scones. But you know you’re not in Kansas anymore when you see the passionfruit jam. The kid in you will delight at the 3 silver urns of house made ice cream, and the adventurous gourmand in you will delight at finding out that the yellow-orange one is indeed pumpkin, and that’s not vanilla, but white chocolate with olive. This latter daring flavor is representative of the risks the creators of the chocolate buffet are willing to take: alongside traditional bonbons, you find panna cotta in individual shot glasses: cream on top and chocolate on the bottom infused with red chili. Next to a flourless chocolate torte, you find a cross between a chocolate and a fudge topped with sea salt. There are several flavors of macaroons, and countless other chocolate cakes.

But the crowning glory to the whole thing is the chocolate cart. It has about 16 types of chocolate including 2 types of gianduja, and ranges from white chocolate all the way thru 100% cacao. Each individual bowl holds bite-sized chocolate nibs you can taste, and all are labelled with their cocoa percentage and origin. The cart is manned by an attendant who will take whatever chocolate/s you choose, combine them in a pot with milk, and melt them together to serve you a chocolate shot. Hi. A chocolate shot. HEAVEN.

The last time I went, the cost was Bt 800++ which comes out to about US$25. A little pricey, but worth every penny. If I ever manage to earn more than a grad student salary, I plan to treat myself to a stay at the hotel on a weekend so that I can enjoy the buffet and then collapse in my luxurious room in a glorious chocolate coma.