Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Fromagerie Elgin: Sudbury's hot spot for fine chocolate

While passing through Sudbury on Thursday, on my way home to Manitoulin Island, and I decided to take a little detour to the Fromagerie Elgin.  They always have a nice selection of chocolate and the selection seems to grow with each visit.  So what did I get this time?  These great finds:

1. The Peanut Butter & Banana Milk Chocolate Bar by Wild Ophelia is one of the most delicious chocolate bars that I have ever tasted, and I thank the Fromagerie for providing me with this  chocolate experience.

Being a HUGE fan of chocolate and peanut butter (I have fond memories of my mother's rolled peanut butter and banana sandwiches that were so neatly packed in foil in my school lunch bag), this chocolate certainly satisfied my cravings. With a whopping 41% cacao solids, dry roasted peanuts, dried Hawaiian bananas and sea salt, this milk chocolate leaves a lingering flavour that won't soon be forgot. Wild Ophelia is the sister brand to Vosges Haut-Chocolat; you can learn all the yummy details here.

2. Another delicious product that you should run out and try TODAY is Fractals, a cashew butter crunch with Belgian milk chocolate, which tastes "spectacular", just as described on the package. This is an Ontario-made product from Aurora. Since I tend to go for solid chocolate, I might not have tried it if the owner of the Fromagerie had not recommended it to me.  And I am so happy that he did. It is the type of toffee crunch that we all aspire to make at Christmas time. And a little maple sugar in the ingredients goes a long way. Seriously delicious.

3. The Fromagerie also carried some of the new line of blended origin chocolate by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I purchased the absolutely delicious milk chocolate Orinoco "Anillo Del Fuego" Blend with 38% Cocoa and the Tsaratana "Anillo Del Fuego"  Blend with 61% Cocoa solids. With only five ingredients, this dark chocolate is sweet but full of chocolaty flavour. Rocky Mountain does not provide much information on these products on their website, but it looks as though they use the American brand, E. Guittard, origins blends to create a Canadian product. See here for more info on the Orinoco and here for more information on the Tsaratana bar.

So once again, the Fromagerie brightened up my trip back to the Island (which is rather cold and windy right now) with a wonderful selection of chocolate. Visit here to learn about other great chocolate  that I have purchased at the Fromagerie Elgin, including Michel Cluizel and Vosges Haut-Chocolat. You can also learn more about this awesome hot spot for music, food, cheese and wine in Sudbury on Facebook, or on the business' website:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cooking up Cacao with Christian Faure

Cacao Barry's ambassadors are known for their exceptional master chocolatier skills and artistically creative talent in pastry. And Christian Faure is no exception.  He makes the most complicated desserts look easy to create, and can instantaneously turn a simple cake into a beautifully layered masterpiece. Anyone who has stepped into his pastry shop, Maison Christian Faure in Montreal, or attended his pastry school will tell you so.

Mr. Faure also has a very impressive resume.  He has worked in pastry at many of France's top hotels, and later became the  Executive Pastry Chef at the Hotel Royal Riviera Palace. More recently, he has showcased his talents at the VIP villages of two past Olympic Games and was also guest of honor at the G8 G20 Summit in Toronto. And he was awarded with the ‘Best Pastry Chef of the World” title by The American Academy for Hospitality Sciences" (ref).

To top it all off, Mr. Faure divulged during the demonstration that he sculpts ice on the weekends!  Now that is a man overflowing with creative talent!

So when I was invited by Cacao Barry to attend a demonstration by Christian Faure last Wednesday, I excitedly jumped in the car and made the seven-hour trip from Manitoulin Island to Toronto. And I can tell you that it was worth the drive!

Christian Faure wowed the large group that filled Humber College's auditorium with several chocolate demonstrations. He started the class with a dark chocolate ganache using fresh blackcurrant purée (purée de cassis). Then he very quickly made large chocolate 'petals' that were to be filled with the spongy flourless chocolate cake and luscious chocolate mousse that he demonstrated next. By the end of the class he put everything together to create a beautiful cake that looked like a chocolaty flower on a plate. And by adding Italian meringue pieces, icing sugar and beautiful chocolate fans, he created a winter-style cake masterpiece layered with richness beyond the imagination.

At the end of the class, we tasted some of the delicious treats.  My only regret was that I could not taste the chocolate crème Anglais that he magically made in the last 15 minutes of class (I knew I should have swiped a jar when I had the chance!).  I guess I will have to make the 10-hour drive to the Maison Christian Faure shop in Montreal for that experience. Or I will just have to learn to make it myself.

Overall, Cacao Barry hosted a lovely seminar and treated us to an abundance of chocolate for tasting, including the new Purity from Nature line of fine chocolate, as well as organic and regular origin chocolate. I will write another article in the coming days about Cacao Barry's chocolate - available to both professionals and amateur chocolatiers and bakers through online suppliers like

For more information on Maison Christian Faure in Montreal or the man himself, visit:

There are a few more pictures on the Maison Christian Faure Facebook page, including one of me getting my picture taken with Mr. Faure: see here.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Honey-Almond-Nougat Dark Chocolate Truffle Recipe

These decadent dark chocolate truffles are made with President’s Choice Suisse 72% Cocoa (Swiss dark chocolate with honey almond nougat). I used this instead of the 'original' brand because the ingredients were more natural, had no artificial flavouring or colours, and the chocolate tasted pretty good! You can also choose to use the competitive brand, or any plain 70% dark chocolate for a similar result. Enjoy!

You need:
  • 8 oz of President’s Choice SUISSE 72% dark chocolate (240 grams)
  • ¾ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter (you could also use salted)
  • Remainder of PC Honey Almond Nougat chocolate bar, shaved (or finely chopped) for rolling the truffles in. Alternately you can chop PC Caramelized Almonds (or another brand) finely for rolling the truffles in as shown in the picture on the right.
  • 8 to 12 oz of dark chocolate for dipping and en -obing the truffles (PC 72%, or any 50% to 70% dark chocolate)


Step 1:  Chop the 8 oz of PC Almond & Nougat chocolate into ½ to 1-inch pieces.

Step 2:  Place the 8 ounces of chocolate in a stainless steel, plastic or glass bowl.

Step 3:  Place cream in a small sauce pan.  Heat to the boiling point and immediately pour over the chocolate.  Stir with a wooden spoon slowly (keep spoon on bottom of bowl at all times to prevent air bubbles from forming) and stir until all chocolate is smooth and lump free.

Step 4: Stir in the melted butter until smooth.

Step 5:  Place cellophane wrap directly over chocolate truffle mixture to prevent a film from forming on the top.  Also place a lid on the bowl.  Let set on counter top for 6-8 hours or overnight. 

Step 6:  Once the mixture is set (solid enough to roll balls – you may need to refrigerate it for one to two hours to make it easier, although this is not recommended if you are dipping it in pure chocolate), scoop out spoonfuls, then use rubber gloves to roll balls in the palm of your hands.  Make whatever size you like – about ¾-inch diameter is standard. Place the truffle balls on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Seal and leave out for a few hours to bring to room temperature.

Step 7:  Shave or finely chop slivers of the remaining PC Suisse chocolate and place in a wide bowl or on a plate. Set aside. If using chopped caramelized almonds, do the same.

Step 8:  In a large glass or plastic (if microwaving) or stainless steel bowl, melt and temper the other 12 oz of milk chocolate (see tempering instructions below) and bring to ‘working’ temperature (88 F to 90 F for dark chocolate - if it starts to thicken, carefully bring it back up to this temperature with the microwave or over a double boiler).
Step 9:  Dip truffles using a regular dinner fork, tap truffle on side of container to ensure there is no excess chocolate and then roll each ball in the shaved chocolate or almonds.  Place on wax paper to set.  Once set, can be frozen in an airtight container for consumption at any time!  Otherwise, keeps up to 10 days in, or out of, the fridge.  Tastes best if consumed at room temperature.

Makes 30 large, 40 medium, or 48 small truffles.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Tempering chocolate:

If you are comfortable tempering chocolate, then use our own method with a double boiler or marble slab.  Otherwise, follow these directions for easy tempering: Melt the other 8 ounces to 12 ounces of chocolate in a microwavable DRY heatproof bowl for 2 minutes on MEDIUM Power (50%).  Take out of microwave and stir until completely melted.  Feel the chocolate with the back of your baby finger - if it is the same temperature as your finger it is ready.  If too cold, warm for just five seconds in the microwave.  If too warm, continue stirring until it cools, lifting the spoon high in the air to cool the chocolate as you stir. Ensure no water drops or moisture get into the chocolate.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Creamy Milk Chocolate and Sour Cream Truffle Recipe

Consume these sweet and sour delicacies within 5 days, or freeze immediately for consumption at a later point in time. They also taste yummy frozen and make a great topper for a gourmet ice cream sundae.

You need:

·       12oz or 340g of chopped good quality milk chocolate (above 35% cacao solids makes a lovely bitter truffle)

·       1 cup of sour cream (I like GayLea Gold 18% SourCream - it is thicker than Greek Yogurt and unlike most sour creams, it is has natural ingredients!)

·       1 tbsp agave syrup (or simple syrup, or even flavoured syrup) – optional if you prefer a slightly sweeter truffle.

·       1 cup of Skor bits and 2 ounces of finely chopped milk or dark chocolate, OR 1 cup sifted cocoa powder, set aside in a wide bowl or on a plate.

1. Melt 12 ounces of chopped milk chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes on HALF power or over a double boiler (take off heat when there are a few chunks left and stir until melted).

2. Warm up 1 cup of sour cream to room temperature (or slightly warmer) in the microwave. If adding, mix the agave or other syrup into the sour cream until emulsified.

3. Beat the warmed sour cream into the chocolate with a stand or hand mixer.  Stir in the chocolate on the sides with a spatula. Work quickly as this mixture may stiffen on you.

4. Once smooth, cover with plastic wrap or a lid and set aside on counter and wait until the truffle sets to firm (most truffles require 8 hours or overnight on the counter; this may only take one hour, as sour cream truffle mix sets quicker than cream-based truffles).

5. Scoop out spoonfuls of truffle and roll between the palms of your hands to form balls (wearing gloves helps prevent melting). If it is hard to work with, refrigerate for one hour before rolling (if you are not planning to dip in tempered chocolate as refrigeration can cause cracking). Place each truffle on a piece of waxed paper on a cookie sheet.

6. Roll each truffle into a bowl of sifted cocoa powder OR 1 cup of finely chopped chocolate, OR a mixture of finely chopped chocolate and Skor bits (or any other chopped hard caramel). The milk chocolate and Skor mixture adds a bit of sweetness to balance the bitterness of the truffle. It also looks great.

7. Place each truffle in mini cupcake papers to serve.  Store in an airtight container for up to five days or freeze.  Makes about 50 to 60 small truffles.

The truffle mixture is also great as a filler in between layers of chocolate cake - it is rich, slightly sour and sweet all at the same time.  It takes the phrase 'sweet and sour' to a whole new level!
Note: This recipe is all my own. It came from experimentation in my commercial kitchen, because I was inspired by the idea that cream is not the only thing that could make up soft-centred truffles.. Other sour cream truffle recipes may exist out there, but this one is (obviously) my favourite!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

FEARLESS CHOCOLATE: A brand that shows being 'fearless' means being 'better'

Definition of Fearless: 'without fear; bold or brave; intrepid' (Ref)

Why is it called FEARLESS CHOCOLATE? Perhaps because:
  • the flavours are 'bold'?
  • the customers are 'brave' because they try new flavours and support a good cause?
  • or the company is 'fearless' by working hard to be socially and environmentally responsible, despite the added costs that comes with that challenge?

Likely, the reason is all of the above. But actually, the company says their chocolate is called 'Fearless' because it is 'inspired by those who have the courage to dream and act.' (Ref: B Corporation).

Either way, this bean-to-bar chocolate company, based in Berkeley, California, is a great example to other start-ups with a dream of being socially and environmentally responsible. FEARLESS CHOCOLATE not only makes chocolate with 'direct trade' organic cacao beans, but they also donate a portion of their proceeds to  'champions who fearlessly work to fashion a better world'. 

In addition, they use packaging that is printed on 100% post-Consumer Recycled Paper and they use environmentally responsible materials within their organization. And they are held accountable for this by being a Certified B Corporation, which means they have proven that they meet 'rigourous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency.' (Ref

Recently, my sister attended a conference in Texas, where she bought me a 70% dark FEARLESS CHOCOLATE bar called 'Exploding Coconuts'. The chocolate was bold, tangy and bitter, with a nice toasted coconut flavour. With just three ingredients, I felt good about eating this chocolate (no post-consumption-sugar-remorse for me on this one!) because there were no artificial flavours, no colours and no soy lecithin, among other additives usually found in commercially sold chocolate. And although very bitter, I truly enjoyed eating this chocolate bar for its texture and flavour.

I hope I soon have a chance to try one of  FEARLESS CHOCOLATE's other bold flavours, including 70% Super Seeds Crunch, and 70% Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger, among others.  These are available for purchase to U.S. and International destinations online, or in a number of stores across the U.S.

Here are the package details of the chocolate that I tasted this week:

70% Cacao Exploding Coconuts, 2oz (56.7g)
Ingredients: Organic Cacao, Organic Raw Shredded Coconut, Organic Cane Sugar.
May contain traces of dairy, peanuts, and soy from shared equipment.