Tag Archives: chocolate

How To Pair Wine & Chocolate

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Although wine and chocolate are popular gifts and are frequently given concurrently, most people view the pairing of wine and chocolate as being more unusual than, say, combining wine and cheese. But the truth is – allowing for some variation in personal taste, of course – just as with cheese, the right kind of wine can serve to bring out the flavors in chocolate, making for a delightfully complementary combination. So which types of chocolate go with which types of wine?

White Chocolate

White chocolate differs from other kinds of chocolate in that it contains cocoa fat, not cocoa. This makes it mellower and more buttery in terms of flavor.

Try pairing white chocolate with sherry, or a Moscato d’Asti or an Orange Muscat. Alternately, port – especially a Rosé port – can add a hint of strawberries to the combination, while a bottle of 2000 Vintage Graham’s Port paired with white chocolate can taste delightfully of blueberries and cream.

If you’re interested in more contrasting pairings, try a wine like a Zinfandel – the heavier tannic and higher alcoholic content are softened by the creamy, buttery white chocolate. This results in a particularly memorable blend of flavors.

Milk Chocolate

A Pinot Noir or a lighter Merlot can go nicely with milk chocolate; equally, Muscats and dessert wines are particularly good milk chocolate complements. Sparkling wine and champagne are pretty standard favorites when it comes to chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Ultimately, I find that a good Ruby Port makes an excellent companion for milk chocolate. However, an aged Montilla-Moriles paired with milk chocolate can result in a wonderfully caramel-like flavor.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolates should not be paired with particularly bitter or non-sweet wines – they go best with wines that have a roasted, robust flavor with perhaps some chocolaty notes. Think Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.

Your choice of wine may also depend on the level of cocoa solids in the chocolate – if it’s around 55%, then a Pinot Noir or a Merlot may go nicely. Consider a Tawny or Vintage Port as well.

Caramel Chocolate

If you dislike sweet wine pairings, perhaps look away now – pretty much all the flavor pairings on this list tend towards the non-bitter. For wines that particularly match the flavor of the caramel, think sherry, or Tawny Port, or a Madeira. For flavors that are a little more complementary, try a Moscato d’Asti, a sweet Demi-Sec champagne, or a Lambrusco.

Nutty Chocolate

Whether you’re a fan of peanut butter cups or just a good old bar of hazelnut chocolate – or almonds, or peanuts, or any kind of nut you care to name, frankly – the obvious thing to do is to pick a wine that accentuates the flavor of the nuts. That can be an Amontillado Sherry or an Oloroso Sherry – or Madeira.

Chocolate Mousse

A light chocolate mousse goes well with an equally light wine – something bubbly, if you’d prefer. A good option is a lightly sparkling, low-alcohol semi-sweet Brachetto – sort of like a red Moscato, but with more of a fresh strawberry flavor. You may not want sweetness to the point of being cloying though, so consider a more acidic Birbet from Cascina Ca ‘Rossa.

Molten Chocolate Cake

This dessert is pretty much the opposite of mousse – and can therefore handle a more intense wine. A aged and fortified wine goes nicely with the warmth of the molten chocolate and the general richness of the cake – Banyuls is good, or Maury, if you’re looking for something a bit less pricey.

As with all flavor combinations, there’s something different for anyone – I know people who love a Shiraz with chocolate cake, yet I know people who refuse to combine red wine and chocolate. So what are your favorite wine and chocolate combinations?

Bio:

Elise Lévêque is a wine lover with a taste for new flavour combinations. She shares her advice on the subject by blogging for Hay Hampers.

http://www.hampers.co.uk/ 

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Ten Guilty Pleasures

That’s right, you can have your cheesecake, eat it, and lose weight too; all you need to do is remember that it’s all about moderation. It’s also about not beating yourself up if you overdo it at lunch, or have one of those weak moments and eat a gallon of ice cream; just get on that treadmill and run it off; does that make sense? Anyway, this article is about the top 10 guilty pleasures you should treat yourself with once in a while, and even some good-for-you options that make you feel a tad bit guilty; they’re just that good!

Here’s something fun, watch this sneak peek of Glee’s Guilty Pleasures episode.

1. Whose mouth doesn’t water at the thought of eating a crispy piece (or 2) of bacon? If bacon is your guilty pleasure on the weekend’s fine, just keep in mind that bacon is loaded with saturated fat and sodium so eat responsibly.

2. Next on the list; French fries, those heavenly tasting, fat loaded guilty pleasures. There’s no point in calling them your “vegetable helping” for the day because the minute they’re deep fried any redeeming value goes away. These fat loaded treats are okay once in a while but get in the habit of ordering small helpings and avoid super sized anything.

3. Everyone’s favorite cookie seems to be chocolate chip (warm with a glass of milk – skim of course) and while eating a couple of cookies isn’t going to blow your diet (unless they’re as big as your head); most of us don’t stop at 1 or 2. These sugar loaded treats are guaranteed to pack on the pounds if you don’t use self control. Instead of baking dozens at home when the mood hits you, buy a couple from a local bakery, feed your craving, and don’t bring any home with you, even if you’re telling yourself they’re for the kids or hubby.

4. You know how it goes; “we all scream for ice cream!” If your guilty pleasures include ice cream (high in saturated fat) go for lighter versions whenever possible (and 1/2 cup) or stop by your favorite ice cream parlor and order a cone of small sundae. Same tip as above here; if it’s not in your home you won’t be tempted to overdo during those late night cravings.

5. Chicken isn’t a bad thing to eat, it can actually be good for you if it’s not covered with salt loaded batter and deep fried; then it turns into bad news when it comes to your blood pressure, and a ton of other health issues. If fried chicken is a guilty pleasure, thoroughly enjoy the moment as you eat it but then get back on track.

6. Pizza is a favorite food for most of us but, yet again, can be full of artery clogging ingredients. The good news is that most pizzeria’s offer “delite” versions now that taste as good as the full fat versions. The lower calorie pizzas usually come on a thin crust and have a lighter amount of toppings on them, but they’re still tasty, and if you top it off with fresh veggies you can treat your body to a healthy serving of veggies as well.

7. Would you still want to treat yourself to cheesecake if it meant no more goodies for the rest of the week? Probably . . . if so that’s okay. You can get creative and whip up some healthy sweet treats during the week like a fresh berry parfait with yogurt, or sugar free chocolate pudding.

8. How about Macaroni and Cheese? This all time favorite guilty pleasure contains a hefty 900 calorie per serving! The good news is you can cut those calories with just a few simple changes. Make your own Mac and Cheese using skim milk and low fat Parmesan and cheddar cheese; delish. For a little more pizzazz add some garlic powder and experiment with some of your favorite spices.

9. Yes you can have mashed potatoes; boy this yummy side dish gets a bad rap! A medium sized potato is a great source of fiber, contains 25% of the recommended amount of vitamin C, and 18% of the suggested daily intake of potassium. It’s only when you load in full fat milk and butter that it turns into a diet crasher. Instead go with skim or 1% milk and a butter substitute with no Trans fats. Or skip the milk and butter and add some lower-salt chicken broth instead, with some green onions or garlic. (Cook a couple of garlic cloves in with the potatoes, and mash them right in).

10. Now for the top guilty pleasure . . . Chocolate! Chocolate is A-Okay; just don’t eat the entire box (more importantly – don’t buy a box of chocolates!). Instead, treat yourself to a couple of pieces of your favorite chocolate and savor every creamy bite. Chocolate actually has several health benefits but that doesn’t mean you should eat a ton of it.

Bottom line, you can enjoy your guilty pleasures, just indulge yourself in your favorites once in a while and don’t blindly eat something just because it’s there. If you don’t have a sweet tooth (yeah right!), don’t eat dessert just because it’s there; make the calories worth every delicious bite.

Cheryl, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Why do most women crave chocolate?

You know you do. I certainly do. But why do  most women crave chocolate? Why is it that 9/10 women say they’d rather have chocolate than sex? (This is documented, although if you add the word “Great” before the word “sex, the numbers change dramatically).

Here’s a quick video on how to make chocolate-covered strawberries. Mmmmm.

If the chocolate craving is true for you, MagicKitchen can help out. I had the chocolate ganache cake last week, and wow is all I can say. But the question remains. So I did a little research.

Chocolate contains:

-theobromine and caffeine, providing a little extra mental energy
-phenylethylamine, which increases your nervous system and produces “Feel-good” hormones.
-anandamide, a built-in flavor enhancer that some say has a structure very similar to that of tetrahydrocannabinol, the active constituent of marijuana.

So there it is! Chocolate really does make you feel better. But keep in mind that dark chocolate is better for your health, and in this case moderation is definitely the better part of weight watching.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate

You know, there should really be a chocolate monster to rival the cookie monster. It’s that important. History itself shows us how vitally important chocolate is.  The Mayans and Aztecs in Mexico are known to have used it first, making a spicy frothy drink out of the ground cacao pods. From there it was taken to Spain. At some point the French got hold of it, and that’s where it began it’s real journey of transcendence. Because they invented chocolate mousse and ganache.

Here’s a video on how chocolate is made by El Rey chocolate factory:

Of course, chocolate desserts are found worldwide now, and pastry chefs make the most of chocolate to create delightful concoctions. Our chefs have prepared a chocolate bundle that I mentioned in an earlier blog, 8 Guilty Pleasures.

Allow me to rhapsodize.

First you get our Chocolate Ganache cake. Moist chocolate cake with layers of Ganache.  Ganache, in case you don’t know, is a French term for a smooth, creamy and rich mixture of chocolate and fresh cream.

Next Madeleines dipped in chocolate. Madeleines are elegant little French cakes with distinctive shell shapes. Rich and buttery, soft with lightly crisped edges. These little delights are dipped into rich dark chocolate.

Our family size chocolate cake is so good that Greg said he would eat the whole thing in a single sitting, given the chance. Incredibly moist chocolate fudge cake, filled and iced with a delicate sour cream chocolate frosting.

Gourmet Cookie Selection: Three chewy cookies. Dark Chocolate Cranberry Cookies, Snickerdoodles and Dr. Midnight Cookies make a sweet trilogy. Indulge in chocolate-y goodness!

Double-fudge Brownies-Don’t the words double fudge make your hair stand up?  Made with Guittard Chocolate, this dense and decadent no-nut double fudge brownie is laced with chocolate chip.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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8 Guilty Pleasures

Holiday time means we let ourselves go! Otherwise what would we have to make New Year’s Resolutions about? Here are ten guilty pleasures to indulge in this season.

Moms discuss their guilty pleasures:

  1. Desserts: The number one guilty pleasure has to be desserts. Say no more, we have some amazing ones that ship right to your door.
  2. Lingerie: Check out some of Victoria’s Secret sleepwear. Sexy and comfy, win-win!!
  3. Sleep/Relaxation: One of the luxuries we deny ourselves is actually a life necessity. Give yourself, a friend or a spouse a day or hours off, to allow them to relax and recoup their energy.
  4. Spa: Or go directly to relax, do not pass go!!  Find the most high-end spa in your town and give yourself an afternoon of pampering.
  5. Ice Cream: A scoop of creamy ice cream (my favorite is and always has been Mocha Chocolate Almond). What’s your pick?
  6. Movie night at home: Get your favorite person to join you. Get your favorite old flicks like Dirty Dancing, Grease, Monty Python’s Holy Grail (or Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Goodfellas, my old favorites), get in your jammies, crack a bottle of wine, pop some popcorn and close the blinds. Enjoy!
  7. Chocolate!: Everyone’s -or at least every womans’- secret delight. We can accommodate you with our new Chocolate Lover’s bundle.
  8. Pizza! It also deserves an exclamation mark.  Whether it’s your favorite local custom pizza place, a national chain or your best homemade recipe, pizza with its drippy cheese, warm soft bread crust, and decadent toppings is one of the all-time guilty pleasures.

Go ahead, drop the guilt and indulge in one or all of these guilty pleasures.  2011  will be here all too soon.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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