Tag Archives: chocolate

Luscious Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Oh, you better believe I was skeptical about this one. I never pass on chocolate, but c’mon… chocolate tofu? Ew, I dunno. I’ve never been a big fan of tofu or soy products, but exploring Eastern cuisines helped me to accept it and occasionally enjoy it. Now, I’m learning to cook with it. Welcome to my kitchen, tofu.

vegan chocolate raspberry mousse dessert

There are no eggs, cream, or butter in this dessert, yet it is fluffy, creamy, and quite pleasant on the palate. Maple syrup is the primary sweetener (use the real thing), along with raspberry jam and some melted chocolate to make it extra rich. Seriously, if you don’t tellem it’s tofu no one will guess.

Vegan Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS Cocoa
  • 1/2 C (melted & cool) Chocolate Chips
  • Dash of Almond Extract
  • 2 300ml packs of SOFT TOFU (about a pound)
  • 3 TBS Raspberry Jam
  • 3-4 TBS Maple Syrup
  • Fresh Raspberries

Let the tofu come to room temperature. Gently melt the chocolate chips (use very low heat or microwave) then blend in the olive oil and cocoa powder. Set aside to cool.

Whip the tofu, raspberry jam, almond extract, and maple syrup until smooth and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate mixture and a big handful of fresh raspberries. Chill thoroughly before serving.

*NOTE: This makes yummy frozen popcicles!

Vancouver’s First Cupcake Challenge

The moment I found out Vancouver was having a cupcake bakeoff, I looked at GingerMan and said, “We’re going. They’ll have free samples.” He smiled at me and said, “You had me at Free Cupcake.”

My choice for Best Cupcake: The Neopolitan by Frosting Cupcakery

It was an overcast Vancouver morning, but it was all sweet frosted happiness at Yaletown Roundhouse. Throughout the day, 1110 people came by to taste the wares of top-notch local bakers and cupcakeries. My only suggestions for improvement: a slightly larger room and a free glass of milk. 8)

Vancouver Cupcake Challenge organizers Nicole Marie Events and Follow Me Foodie invited the public to sample delicious treats and help select the People’s Choice cupcake, while a panel of judges (including a few local foodies) put in their votes for the Judges’ Choice and Blogger’s Choice.

Fabulous door prize at the Vancouver Cupcake Challenge.

Congrats to Frosting Cupcakery and Big City Cupcakes! You guys take the cake. As a cupcake connoisseur, I appreciated the unique flavour combinations presented by all the contestants. Several memorable participating bakers (including the challenge winners) are profiled below.

Frosting Cupcakery ~ Winner of Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice

Smiling bakers from Frosting Cupcakery!

Cake and ice cream is a birthday party classic. Frosting Cupcakery immediately won me over with their Neopolitan cupcake: a vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry combination that really tastes like ice cream! Their exotic Love Potion cupcake marries flavours of mango and passion fruit, and the Caramel Crunch is a divine confection of buttery caramel and madagascar vanilla with bits of Skor Bar.

Based in Langley, I’d say this cupcake shop is definitely worth a trip! They have a fantastic assortment of delicious treats and wonderfully creative recipes for holidays or any days, plus they host birthday parties for kids and offer custom cupcakes for special events and weddings. Take a peek at their cupcake menu!

Scrumptious samples from Frosting Cupcakery

Big City Cupcakes ~ Winner of Blogger’s Choice Award

When they say “big” the’re talking about the cupcakes, too. Way more than a mouthful and loaded with yummy frosting. No skimping on the good stuff. Many of their cupcakes also have fillings! The best of the bunch is the Lemon Drop: Vanilla cupcake with tangy lemon filling and lemony buttercream frosting. They also offered samples of the Strawberry Cheesecake (yes it has cheesecake filling) and the Truffle, which has a ganache truffle filling.

Big City Cupcakes has three Vancouver locations: Downtown (1015 Howe St.) ~ Kitsilano (2206 West 4th) ~ Point Grey (4481 West 10th). See their website at bigcitycupcakes.com for a complete list of locations and menu of yummy flavours, including gluten free or egg & dairy free options.

Indulgence

Sweet ladybugs and flowers!

Pastry chef Clare Thomas offered three luscious little cakes including Pistachio Cupcakes with White Chocolate Buttercream, Vanilla Bean Cupcake with Tangy Lemon Buttercream, and a perfectly delectable Dark Chocolate Cupcake with Sweet Caramel Buttercream. The texture of the cake was divine (moist and not too dense) and it had a lovely deep chocolate flavour. I loved that some of their baby cupcakes were topped with candy flowers and tiny little ladybugs. So cute!

Cake Tease

Really creative and artistic bakers in North Vancouver with excellent taste. Their unique Oreo Cookie cupcake even had cookie crumbles in the cake! NOM! Not only does Cake Tease make yummy cupcakes, they also do fabulous structured and sculpted cakes, too. Have a look at their photo gallery.

Pink Sugar Cupcakery

Fresh ingredients, small batches, and no dairy or eggs! Pink Sugar calls their sustainable goodies “eco-chic party treats” and offered three fantastic little cupcakes to sample. The toasty coconut cupcake was a huge hit with Gingerman, and the Peanut Butter filled Chocolate cupcake was moist and delicious. An excellent flavour combo! The Chocolate Strawberry cupcake was also supertasty, with real strawberry puree in the frosting. People in Victoria are lucky to have Pink Sugar in their neighbourhood. Check out their inspiring menu of designer cupcakes.

S’mores Day Cookie Bars

Roasting Marshmallows by ninahale

Roasting Marshmallows by ninahale

I love S’mores. Melty chocolate and gooey marshmallow sandwiched between crisp graham crackers is a time-honored campfire treat. Countless times, I sat staring into the flames, twirling a big puffy marshmallow on on the end of a hand-picked green stick whittled to a fine point, waiting for the perfect browning. Too close or too long in the wrong spot, and it would burst into flame. Sometimes accidents happen on purpose. Please hand me another marshmallow.

In honor of National S’mores Day (August 10th) and the Girl Scout tradition, I present to you this glorious S’moresel from my kitchen. All that traditional smoresy taste in a convenient cookie bar form. I guess that’d be a S’mookie!

Gimme S’more Squares

The recipe for Warm Toasted Marshmallow S’more Squares @ Betty Crocker is pure genius. No eggs required, and totally EASY! Whenever I find the sugar cookie mix on sale, I like to stock up so I can make quick treats like these. They’re totally delicious, pack perfectly in lunches, and go great with coffee or a big glass of cold milk.

Golden Toasted Chocolatey Delicious

Golden Toasted Chocolatey Delicious

I tweaked the recipe a little to produce a smaller batch with more graham flavour and decided to break out some gourmet chocolate bars for the topping. I used Dagoba Organic Dark Chocolate, but many other flavours would be yummy. Also, try your local store brand graham crackers; Safeway’s grahams have an excellent texture and taste and cost less.

Get Ready
  • Preheat oven to 375° and grease a 9×9 pan.
  • Chop fancy chocolate bars to make about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate bits.
  • Bash or food process about 8 graham crackers to make 1 Cup of crumbs.

Make a Grahamtastic Cookie Crust

  1. Mix 1 Cup of Graham Cracker Crumbs with 2 Cups (about 1/2 bag) of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix.
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter, stir in 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract, and add to dry ingredients.
  3. Press dough into pan and bake 18 minutes.

Add the Chocolate and Marshmallows

  • Lightly browned!

    Lightly browned!

    When the cookie crust is done, turn off the oven and preheat the broiler.

  • While the crust is still warm, sprinkle 1 1/2 cups chopped chocolate over top and let it melt. Spread melted chocolate to edges of crust.
  • Top with 2 cups miniature marshmallows and return pan to oven about six inches below the broiler.
  • Broil until marshmallows are lightly browned ~ 1 min (watch them carefully!)
  • LET THEM COOL—I know it’s hard.
  • Cut into squares and NOM!

Other S’more recipes:

Flickr Creative Commons
ninahale

Candy is dandy, but crickets are bugs.

Today, I did a brave and stupid thing. I stopped in our friendly neighbourhood candy store (which was sadly all out of TimTams) and decided to have a bit of a spree for the sake of a good blog. This place carries all kinds of interesting sweets from over the border and across the pond, and their selection varies slightly from time to time. You never know what you’ll come across.

I made a beeline for the American imports right away and picked up the following:

  • assortedcandyPopeye “Tasty Candy Sticks
  • Jelly Belly Sours
  • Hoffman’s CupoGold
  • London Mint chocolates
  • Zero Bars (Dark and Milk)
  • Pop Rocks Wild Berry
  • Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate 70%
  • Kinder Surprise Chocolate Egg
  • Walkers Crispy Duck & Hoisin crisps
  • Scorpion Sucker Banana Flavor
  • Crick-ettes Bacon & Cheese

Crick-ettesWhen I decided to purchase the box of Crick-ettes, it was all I could do to hold them in my hand. At one point I forgot what I was carrying, and when I looked down and saw their dead buggy faces staring back at me from behind the cellophane, I nearly threw them down and ran screaming out the door. But, I didn’t want to make a scene in the candy shop, so I composed myself. “Stay strong . . . they’re just for pictures. You don’t have to eat them.” Or so I told myself at the moment.

cricketsReally, what kind of foodie would I be if I didn’t at least have a wee nibble? Just to educate my taste buds . . . clearly I had  lost my mind. Ginger Man pretty much agreed, but I got him to try a hind leg with me. Perhaps if I had just popped one in whole and crunched it up like a brave girl, the experience might have been more informative, but no, it wasn’t worth it to me. I had a cricket in my hand and a steak in my freezer; the choice was clear. Still, a taste test was in order.

There was sufficient fake bacony cheese dust to impart a flavour of some kind, but the texture completely turned me off. It was like I had just bitten into food and my tongue found an inedible particle, a thing that didn’t belong, and was trying in vain to evict it from my palate. Ptooey sums it up best. I must say, however, the crows were very pleased with the Crick-ettes.

scorpsuckaI was quite happy to move on to the badass banana scorpion sucker. There was a whole lotta sugar between me and that critter, so I was game for a lick or two. Examining the little scorpion, delicately preserved in the center of a golden confectionary window made me feel like a paleontologist. At the same time, whatever morbid human curiosity the goodie satisfied, I couldn’t help thinking how many of those little animals had gotten their stingers ripped off and died in a suffocating yellow goo so that geeks like me could throw down some money for a laugh. Curiosity satisfied, that’s the last one I’ll ever buy.

chipsThe duck and hoisin chips weren’t half bad. The taste reminded me of brown gravy. The Walkers Crisps company in the UK recently held a contest with 6 new flavours including Crispy Duck & Hoisin, Fish & Chips, Chili & Chocolate, Onion Bhaji, Builder’s Breakfast, and the one I really wish I could have tried: Cajun Squirrel. I don’t usually like weird flavours on chips, but Canadian dill pickle flavoured chips are rather addictive. Salty, vinegary, herby. Ketchup chips aren’t as interesting, but they are kinda tasty. What I really miss are authentic Moore’s Cheesies, which are no longer produced. There is no substitute. I’ve searched everywhere and have yet to find any cheesy poof that comes close. I’m sure they were made out of crap and plastic, but darnit they were yummy! I occasionally miss those phantom childhood tastes. Those things that I haven’t had in forever and I remember them being incredibly delicious beyond imagination, like HoHos and Moon Pies and those six packs of sugary doughunts and YooHoo! Then when I actually get one, it’s inevitably disappointing.  Sometimes the nostalgia factor is enough to make it alright, even if it’s stale and plasticky tasting and nothing like what I remember.

kinder apeI handed over all the jelly belly sours—Ginger Man’s reward for trying the cricket, and because I love him. He wants me to eat the orange ones, but I like the red ones, and I’m cute, so I get my way. He got the pop rocks, but we split the Kinder egg (he gets the chocolatey outside; I get the toy inside). This time it was a real cutie: a fuzzy green ape! So much better than a dumb robot with weird chicken arms.

popeyecigsThe dreamy London Mints are for after dinner for the next couple days, and the “candy sticks” are for whenever I feel like putting my feet up and having a fake smoke, cuz we all know those are candy cigarettes. In order not to start smoking rebelliously the last time I was home for a visit, me and my sisters stopped at every convenience store in the county looking for candy cigs. I went through about a pack of Round Ups a day.

The CupOGold, that’s for a special afternoon with a big ol’ cuppa coffee. Marshmallow and chocolate. Save the best for last.

Daniel Le Chocolat Belge

Daniel ChocolatesOn an early April foodie safari along Granville Street, I came upon a little chocolate shop, just in time to add a few goodies to my Easter basket. Daniel Le Chocolat Belge had plenty of goodies to choose from. In addition to their regular supply of truffles and molded belgian chocolates in the candy case, there were shelves and displays filled with adoreable bunnies, chickens, and delicious praliné eggs. It was hard to decide what to pick!

I didn’t want to blow my basket budget, so I went with a small box of peanut butter bunnies, four exotic truffles, and a few praliné eggs. I’ve waited ages to break into them, but now I can tell you all about how delicious they are. These are some of the creamiest chocolates I’ve ever had, with gorgeous mouth-feel and flavour. Not grainy in the slightest, not too sweet, and the exotic truffle flavours were fun.

Here’s a rundown of my sampling:

Easter TrufflesDark Advocaat Brandy
Lush and velvety smooth

Milk Cinnamon-Nutmeg
Interesting. Snickerdoodley.

Dark Chipotle
Good. Super creamy, not peppery.
Flavour is a little hidden.

Peanut Butter BunnyMilk Mojito
Excellent! Creamy chocolate with
a fresh hint of mint and lime.

Praliné Eggs
Creamy, crunchy, sweet, delicious.
Milk or dark chocolate with a creamy chocolate filling made with ground caramelized almonds or hazelnuts.

Peanut Butter Bunnies
Melt-in-your-mouth cuteness.

About Daniel’s Divine Chocolates

View Daniel’s Chocolate Map

Daniel Poncelet (Chocolatier) was born and raised in Belgium, where he says “chocolate was an inseparable part of my daily diet. I still remember how good it was to let it melt in my mouth and try to make the piece last as long as possible in order to be the last one in the family still enjoying it.”

He learned his craft from Clovis Harmegnie, “an exceptionally passionate Belgian master chocolatier,” and grew to appreciate not only the art of making chocolates but also fine quality ingredients. According to Daniel, this inspired his determination to create chocolates “without compromise, with zealous adherence to purity.”

Daniel uses only 100% natural ingredients to make chocolates that are preservative free with no artificial colorings and flavors and no hydrogenated oils or tropical fats.Daniel sources premium chocolate from world renowned chocolate manufacturer, Barry Callebaut. Callebaut’s chocolate heritage spans more than 120 years, and the company actively supports cocoa farmers and communities as part of its commitment to maintaining a sustainable cocoa industry.

Daniel’s Belgian Chocolates is located at 2820 Granville St. Vancouver, BC with additional locations in Metro Vancouver and Toronto as well as an online shop.

A tisket, a tasket, what’s in your Easter basket?

shy-bunny

Easter Sunday (April 12, 2009) is this weekend. It’s a time for remembrance, repentance, resurrection, communion, and CANDY! Secularizing holy days into Holidays is the best thing American capitalists ever did for the chocolate industry.

Respect to religion, but lets talk about the basket. Mommy Dearest would set up Easter baskets well ahead of time, tantalizing us for weeks while our Peeps went stale (not that it mattered) and those cheap-ass jelly beans turned rock hard. To make it worse, the baskets were wrapped in multiple layers of clear Saran Wrap so we could see everything, touch nothing, and be sufficiently tempted.

Important Easter Tip: When breaking into an Easter basket, cover your tracks. Do not leave a hole that shows, and above all do not leave chocolate fingerprints.

Easter Bunny

Easter Bunny

After weeks of temptation and attempted basket burglary, we’d put on our Sunday Go-To-Meetin’ clothes (including the itchy white lace ankle socks and a pair of too-tight black patent Mary Janes) and do our hair up in ribbons and sit in our regular church pew trying to tune out the hellfire and brimstone rendition of our Lord & Saviour’s crucifiction and resurrection until the wine and wafers came around. Then, after a little nosh, it was time to shake the preacher’s hand and hightail it home to the egg hunt (providing no one was getting baptized).

eggbasketWe’d color eggs and make a big mess, then Daddy would go hide the eggs in the yard and my dog Patches followed him around, eating them. Then the kids would rush outside screeching and laughing with baskets in hand, frantically scouring one grass patch and underbush after another. Kids take egg hunting very seriously. I’ve seen deadly hair-pulling and UFC-quality kindergarten takedowns all because somebody saw the glitter egg first. I played it safe and followed the dog, collecting all the half-eaten eggs . . . they still count!

jbeansOnce the fights were over and the eggs had been tallied, we’d retire to a quiet corner and rip into those tantalizing treasure baskets, pink ribbons and easter grass flying. Oh, thou hollow chocolate bunny with the big long ears, I shall save you for last. You and your sweet candy eyes. First, we have to get rid of those black jelly beans (it was not  unusual for me to sneak in and remove all the black beans I could find, replacing them with cherry and lemon beans I stole from other baskets . . . it’s okay, I gave them all my black ones, so we’re even).

For the second course: Peeps, heads first. If no one dropped into a sugar coma at this point, it was probably time for Easter supper. Mommy Dearest would usually cook a ham, glazing with honey mustard and decorating with pineapple rings and cloves. I know, it sounds good, but after 24 hours in the oven, it gets a wee bit dessicated. Thank God for Easter hot dogs on the grill.

Once I left home, there were no more Easter hams or Easter baskets for me—until I started making my own (baskets, not ham). It just doesn’t seem right to have Easter without a basket. This year, I have a very tiny basket, so the candy has accumulated all around it, and I haven’t touched a thing. Come Sunday afternoon, that’s gonna change.

Easter Basket 2009Easter Basket Essentials

  • Basket: any size, any kind
  • Grass: raffia, plastic, or real
  • Ribbons: for decorating the bunnies and basket
  • Jelly Beans: to lose in the grass and find next year
  • Peeps: Yellow Chicks and Pink Bunnies
  • Chocolate Bunny: Any kind, must have long cute ears
  • Assorted Candy: Any kind, lots of chocolate
  • Toy Bunny: fuzzy and cute
  • A Prize: This year, it’s a book by Robert Rankin called The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse and a DVD of Wallace & Gromit’s Curse of the Were-Rabbit

bunnyineggs

Leaving a comment? I’m curious: What’s in your Easter basket?

S’mores + Peeps = Smeeps!

Pretty peeps all in a row.

Pretty peeps all in a row.

Easter is hopping right around the corner, and marshmallow Peeps are popping up on store shelves everywhere. They are certainly an essential part of my annual Easter basket.

I love Peeps. All the fun of a marshmallow with a vibrant sugar coating. I bite their heads off . . . so they don’t suffer. Okay, really so I don’t have to look them in their little candy eyes. Exactly the opposite of how I consume a chocolate bunny. I don’t know why that is.

Peeps are best fresh out of a brand new package, but don’t think I won’t eat them a little stale and chewy. It also didn’t take long for me to figure out what would happen if you put one in the microwave. Try that on some ice cream or a brownie . . . or both. Have mercy!

Forked PeepThen one day, Easter came around and Peeps were once again plentiful. The weather was becoming fine and clear where I lived at the time, and I was buying groceries for a lovely weekend for camping. Of course, where there’s a campfire, there must be marshmallows, and where there are marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers cannot be far away. I thought to myself, “Self, what do you reckon would happen if we stuck one of them there Peeps on a stick and roasted him over the fire?” *DING-DING-DING*

I had to run a few tests right away. Microwave heat is very different that fire heat (which is much less predictable, to boot). I no longer had a gas stove (sigh), so I fired up the electric burner and contemplated the possible outcomes as I poked a long-handled fork into a marshmallow chicken. What would happen to that sugar coating? I silently prayed for carmelization.

meltyCarefully, I positioned my peep for maximal even heat, rotating it slowly and watching for the slightest change in color or shape. The chick began to expand. It rapidly became lopsided, threatening to droop off my fork, but years of marshmallow toasting had provided enough skill to regain control just as the yellow sugar coating began to brown.  Oh here we go . . . carmelize, you beautiful marshmallow. A bit of color here, a bit of color there, and away you go. Once off the heat, the sugar coating began to harden slightly . . . like the top of a creme brulee.

Perfectly toasted.

Perfectly toasted.

I have to say, this is one of my most favouritest ways to eat a Peep. The outside is crispy, the inside is melty, and it takes on a whole new flavour.

CAUTION: Count to 10 before you try to eat the Peep or you will burn your mouth. Caramelized sugar is VERY HOT but will cool off quickly.

You can make a s’more with these guys, just as you would with a regular marshmallow: sandwich the toasted Peep between two graham crackers with a piece of chocolate. However, I often prefer to toast them under the oven broiler to and serve them open-faced. They are also exquisite with a little peanut butter.

How to Make a Smeep:

  1. S'more + Peep = Smeep!

    S'more + Peep = Smeep!

    For each serving, place a graham cracker on a cookie sheet.

  2. Top each graham cracker with a square of chocolate (milk or dark) and a marshmallow Peep (bunny peeps work great for this because they are flat and brown more evenly).
  3. Place under a broiler for a few minutes until the chocolate softens and the top of the Peeps are slightly browned and carmelized.
  4. Cool slightly before eating.

Can’t get enough Peeps?