Friday, May 30, 2014

Great Chocolate in Toronto: Soma's Newest Fine Chocolate Creations

Every visit to Soma Chocolatemaker in Toronto brings new surprises.  The last time I dropped in was in February, and found some new fine chocolate flavours (like wine-infused chocolate) to enjoy at Soma's King Street West location. And just last week, I visited again and found these new, tasty items by Canada's finest chocolate maker:

The Black Science Madagascar NIBS - Certified Organic Criollo cocoa beans (the best kind you can get) from the Sambirano Valley in Madagascar, roasted perfectly and tossed in dark chocolate. I loved this crunchy treat - it did not have any of the acidity that many other brands of chocolate-covered nibs have. Very healthy too with a whopping 82% Cacao Content. Certainly a new favourite of mine.

Walnut Flourless Chocolate Cake - oh yum!  They sold them in full size (about 6 servings) and in individual serving sizes.  This is like a giant truffle on a plate, and I actually enjoyed the walnuts. I purchased the small one and ate it for breakfast the following morning - delicious!

Dark Chocolate Gelato - wow! That was my first time trying Soma's Gelato and it was absolutely delicious and perfectly rich. What a treat.

Soma Black Science 70% Bahia Black chocolate bar - the cacao used to make this chocolate is grown in the volcanic soil of Brazil's Cadundós mountains, so it was bursting with flavour.  Soma's packaging described it as having hints of brownie and roasted grains, but I tasted a lot of sour red fruit - like a bold red wine.

Cacao Nib Bar 67% - this chocolate bar is on the sweet side with crunchy cacao nibs tossed into it for a good crunch. Good for a dark chocolate lover who does not like their chocolate to be "too" bitter. It has the bold aroma of Peruvian chocolate, but a mild and sweet chocolaty taste.

Soma's Chef's Blend of chocolate couverture - Since Soma's bean-to-bar chocolate is so highly revered and so very smooth, it only makes sense that they make chocolate that will enhance a pastry chef's creations.  This was my first time trying Soma's Chef's Blend.  It was smooth, low in acidity and had no specifically strong flavours other than the great taste of fine chocolate, which is good for a chef's blend chocolate so it can pair well with many different ingredients. I felt it would pair nicely with espresso, so I made an espresso torte on a toasted coconut crust with a whipped coffee-caramel topping. I will share the recipe in the very next post on this blog, so stay tuned!

If you are looking for great chocolate in Toronto, or want to order online or via e-mail, visit to Soma's website:  In addition to King Street West, they also have a location in the Distillery District of Toronto.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Häagen Dazs Delivers on New GELATO Italian-Style Ice Cream

Nothing feels like summer as when you are eating an ice cream cone in the sun.  And nothing compares to the richness of Häagen Dazs ice cream. New this summer by this quality ice cream maker is a line of Gelato Italian Style Ice Cream, a superbly rich product with fantastic flavours and add-ins.

When the sun finally came back to Canada this week, my ice cream cravings came back too.  So when I saw Häagen Dazs' Gelato in the freezer section of an Ontario Independent Grocer, I could not resist tasting this decadent looking frozen treat.

I chose the Dark Chocolate Chip (of course my all-time favourite style of ice cream is chocolate with chocolate chips in it). This treat truly delivered on taste, texture and, well, my expectations of indulgence. The best parts?  Simple and real ingredients, including real cream - so few other ice cream brands include it these days - and it was so very CHOCOLATY.  I think it was richer and creamier than any of the other Häagen Dazs products that I have tried. Delicious!

The other flavours in Häagen Dazs' Gelato line include, Caramelized Banana Chip, Limoncello, Sea Salt Caramel, and many more unique flavours. Learn more on the Häagen Dazs U.S. website at:

My other new favourite ice cream by Häagen Dazs (and perhaps of all time) is their Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bar.  If you love chocolate and peanut butter, this might just become your 2014 summer favourite.

Happy summer!

(P.S. I have not been paid or compensated in any way to write this article, I just truly want to share my love of Häagen Dazs Gelato with you!)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What's New in Chocolate on Manitoulin Island?

On Canada's Manitoulin Island, there is a superb chocolate destination in the town of Kagawong, where the tourists gather each summer to view the lovely Bridal Veil Falls. That chocolate shop is called Manitoulin Chocolate Works, which is jam-packed with treats for all kinds of chocolate lovers. And each year, the shop offers something new for its customers, which is much appreciated by the 'regulars' like myself.

The store re-opened for the 2014 summer season at the beginning of this month, and I had the pleasure of visiting this weekend. I was happily surprised to find some new items.  My most favourite was the chocolate-coated chips in both milk and dark chocolate.  I had not yet had the pleasure of tasting this sweet and salty combination and Manitoulin Chocolate Works really delivered on taste.  The dark chocolate was a perfect bitterness and paired very well with the salty chips. And even better was the crunch. Add to that the ingredients were natural, which makes it a winner in my book.

They also had some new imported chocolate bars, including the U.K.-based Chocolate and Love brand of organic chocolate, which included a deliciously bold-flavoured Coffee in a 55% dark chocolate and a tasty Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt in 55% dark chocolate.

I also found the Canadian brand, Brockmann's Truffini Chocolats, which are 100 gram chocolate bars with truffle-like centres. I chose the Double Dark flavour, which was rich with a melty-soft centre. The manufacturer is from British Columbia and focuses on making all natural chocolate truffle bars.

So if you are a Manitoulin resident or just visiting the Island this summer, stop by the Chocolate Works for your fix!  Learn more at:

And if you are a true chocolate lover or a traveling foodie and want to check out all that Manitoulin has to offer, also swing by the Loco Beanz Coffee Houses in Gore Bay and Little Current, The Island Jar in Little Current or Huron Island Time at Providence Bay beach for some organic chocolate creations by Ultimately Chocolate. You'll find the chocolate TOFFLE and the CacaoCookie, as well as some gourmet chocolate truffle tarts by Lisabeth (that's me!).

Have a great - and chocolaty - summer everyone!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's New with Godiva? Truffles, Truffles and more Truffles!

If you find yourself often wandering through the Godiva section of your high-end department or book store and wishing to find something that you have never tried before, well, here are a few relatively new chocolate truffle products that might interest you.

The Godiva Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar is made with real cream and has a very soft, delicious interior. For a packaged truffle with a long shelf life, this one is definitely superior. It is designed to blow the minds of milk chocolate lovers, but even the dark chocolate-loving crew will enjoy this chocolate bar.

I bought it at an Ontario-based Chapters-Indigo right at the cash register, next to my all-time favourite Godiva bar - the Raspberry Dark Chocolate.

Godiva also recently introduced the 'Truffle Flight' collection.  A box of the Dark Decadence was given to me at Easter.  My favourite was the 72% Extra Dark Truffle, and I also liked the Chocolate Soufflé.  The Lava Cake truffle did taste like a lava cake and was rather good. However, I was not particular to the 50% Dark Chocolate truffle - it was rather sweet to me. But overall, the collection was a nice gift for a person who prefers dark chocolate.  

The other flavours in the Truffle Flight Collections are: Nut Lovers, Milk Chocolate Lovers, a Cake Flight Tasting, Heavenly Mousse and the Ultimate Dessert Truffle Flight, including a Red Velvet and a Crème Brûlée. The Nut Lovers looks the best to me, because of the Hazelnut Crunch. Yum!

For more information on this collection of chocolate truffles in Canada and the U.S., check the Godiva websites: (US) (Canada)

Happy Tasting!

Monday, May 12, 2014

If you like chocolate in your coffee, or more like, coffee in your chocolate, this product is for you!

A new concept in chocolate?  This French product under the brand Le Chef Patissier is called All Natural 'Truffled' Coffee Beans. They are considered 'truffled' because they are dusted in cocoa powder (not because cream or butter are included in the ingredients list, as in most chocolate 'truffles'). 

The shape is the most unique part of the product, which makes it totally fun to eat. And they taste like a good moka. In fact, plop these in some hot milk and stir and you will have a fantastic coffee-infused hot chocolate!

This box was purchased at an Ontario-based HomeSense. They were imported by Overseas Food Trading Ltd ( in New Jersey.

These can also be purchased on the igourmet website:

Other 'truffled' chocolate products include 'truffled' walnuts under the Le Chef Patissier brand.

Here are the package details of the product reviewed today:

All Natural Truffled Coffee Beans, Le Chef Patissier, 100g/3.5oz
Product of France
Imported by: Overseas Food Trading, LTD. (Fort Lee, NJ)
Ingredients: Sugar, roasted coffee beans, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, cocoa powder, soy lecithin. May contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk and wheat.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Whipping Up Some Low-GI Chocolate From the Bean!

 Whether you call it 'low-GI chocolate', 'Paleo-Friendly Chocolate' or 'Cane sugar-free chocolate', it is still delicious!

As an owner of a chocolate business, I regularly need to find ways to reduce my intake of cane sugar in all areas of my diet. So I often try alternate forms of sugar. Lately, I've been using Organic Coconut Palm Sugar for cooking, baking and chocolate-making. There is an abundance of information online about how it is low-glycemic or 'low GI', which means it does not spike our blood sugar in the same way as cane sugar. But more importantly, experience has shown me that it does not cause the same wild high in my children that they get from cane sugar.  And for me, it seems to reduce that emotional roller coaster that can happen with regular sugar intake.

So when I was craving chocolate yesterday, but NOT cane sugar, I decided to quickly whip up some chocolate from the bean (well, nib technically) to satisfy my craving.  Who knew that chocolate could be made in just 5 to 10 minutes, and enjoyed much more thanks to the satisfaction of making it myself?

Here is how:

1.  Grab your single blade coffee grinder or your blender.

2. Toss in 2 ounces of cacao nibs and one ounce of coconut sugar. 

3. Grind together until the beans get fairly fine and start to melt.  Stop and stir. 

4. Continue grinding until you have a liquid. 

5. If you have some on hand, throw in a little cocoa butter (i.e. up to 1 tsp) to help move along the process (it is best if it is melted first).

6. Once you have a liquid, pour it out onto waxed paper and spread around.  As it is setting, cut whatever sized pieces you want. 

7. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes in order to set and harden the chocolate.  Then remove it from the wax paper and enjoy!  It is a little bit crunchy, but well worth the crunch. What's more, it is guilt-free!

If you want your chocolate to be pretty and shiny, then after it sets be sure to temper the chocolate. Go to this article for a how-to on tempering chocolate:

For other ways to make chocolate from the bean at home, check out these articles:

Using Cacao Nibs to Make Chocolate at Home:

Making Chocolate from the Bean Using Madre Chocolate's Bean-to-Bar Kit:

A month of Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Making:

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Askinosie Chocolate - a trip from Missouri to Ecuador

I had been waiting to try Askinosie Chocolate for a very long time. And I was beginning to think that I would have to wait until I finally go to visit a friend who lives in Missouri, where the chocolate maker is located. But suddenly, a local café & restaurant started selling a few bars of Askinosie chocolate and I was delighted.  So I purchased a Toasted Happy Hemp Seeds chocolate bar and an Ecuador 70% Dark Chocolate.

I loved the Hemp bar for its crunchiness, which contrasted the smooth chocolate that lay under the hemp seeds.

With the 70% Ecuadorian bar, I used The Chocolate Tasting Kit to assist with identifying and describing the flavours, and I found it to have a mix of fruity, woody, and smoky flavours with a nice roasted finish. Askinosie offers their own list of the flavours on the back of the bar that one might taste (see photo to the right), which was more specific than I could be. 

The chocolate maker, Shawn Askinosie, has long been known to do great things for the people who grow the cacao that is the heart and soul of their chocolate. They believe in direct trade with the farmers, which means paying fair prices and getting top quality cocoa beans. And they go one step further by profit-sharing with their farmers.  What's more, they include the community by providing learning experiences to local elementary and middle school students. They also accept applicants from the local high school for their annual Chocolate University, where the group of accepted applicants take a trip to Tanzania, to learn about growing cacao, culture and making chocolate (secretly every year I wish I was in high school again so I could apply to this chocolate university!)

I have developed respect for Askinosie's philosophies over the last few years and now that I've tasted it, I've also developed respect for their chocolate.  It was smooth and delicious, and clearly a quality bean-to-bar chocolate product.

For more information on this chocolate maker and their products, visit the website:

I purchased these chocolate bars in downtown Sudbury, Ontario at the Fromagerie Elgin.