Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate

If you saw the title of this post, or the label of the chocolate bar pictured here, and thought "that sounds weird," you're not alone. My wife brought this back for me from Seattle after a recent business trip. I like coconut curry, and I like milk chocolate. But would I like the combination? The short answer is "yes."

Theo is a small chocolate company based in Seattle. They emphasize the use of fair trade, organic ingredients, and they have a penchant for creating unusual flavor combinations. What makes this bar work is the wise decision by the folks at Theo to go with a creamy, mild milk chocolate, instead of putting the curry into competition with the strong, complex, bitter flavor of dark chocolate. I will admit to a bit of disappointment that the coconut didn't come through more, but the yellow curry powder played perfectly against the sweet, rich, smooth chocolate. This might not be the chocolate bar you'd seek out if you were having a serious chocolate craving, but it's perfect for a small bite. It also is a fun novelty item, and one that your coworkers won't be mad at you for making them try.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chocolate Velvet

Recently I attended an event at the fancy-shmancy J.W. Marriott in Washington, DC. (That's just how I roll. Or not.) Imagine my delight when, following a delicious plated dinner, I learned that there was a dessert buffet. As you might imagine, leaving a dessert blogger alone with a dessert buffet is a bit like leaving a fox alone in a hen house. I didn't sample every item on the table, but I did try several. One item, labeled "chocolate velvet," I tried three times. They could have been called feathers. They were so light, I thought they might float away. The base was some sort of delicate chocolate cake, very thin, and the rest had the texture of something in between a marshmallow and cotton candy, but with a rich chocolate flavor enhanced by the cocoa powder dusted on the outside. I don't know how they made them, and I regret that I may never have the opportunity to enjoy them again, but I'm grateful I had the opportunity at least once!

Beard Papa Cream Puff

Okay, so I don't get out to the west coast very often. Surely that's the reason that I had never heard of Beard Papa, the oddly named chain of cream puff shops. Yes, shops that specialize entirely in cream puffs. I don't know whose sick, twisted idea this was, but when I encountered such a shop near the Moscone Conference Center in San Francisco, I wasn't going to pass up a taste.

The cream puffs are filled to order with your choice of cream flavors. They had the standard white/vanilla, chocolate, and a couple exotic flavors, including mango. Having never had a mango cream puff, I went with that. They offered powdered sugar (yes, please!), and after watching the mango cream get injected with something that looked like a surgical instrument from the middle ages, I was ready to eat.

I'm no expert on French pastry. My baked good tastes tend more towards the American-style brownie or chocolate chip cookie. Still, this seemed like quite a good cream puff. Flaky, light, with just a slight chew. The mango cream was great. Imagine a sweetened mango puree whipped up into a mousse. The combination worked for me. In fact, if I hadn't been eating my mango cream puff while meeting with a business associate, I might have gone back for a second.

If you find yourself in California and looking for a light snack, look for the crazy shop with the crazy name.