Do you love chocolate so much that you dream of bathing in a pool of the stuff? For most people this is going too far and in our opinion a complete waste! But have you ever thought about snorting it?! Well a Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone has invented a chocolate shooter for that very purpose. He originally invented it as a gimmick for a private function with the Rolling Stones 10 years ago.
It's basically a tiny catapult, with two small, spring-loaded spoons that fling 100% cacoa powder into the nostrils. Yes fling! Not sure this would work when wearing a white top and I would definitely recommend closing your eyes. The point of it is to enhance the chocolate experience. Apparently a lot more tastes can be experienced through your nose rather than your mouth. I can only liken the experience to being too eager to woof down a tiramisu and accidentally inhaling the cocoa powder off the top instead of remembering to breathe and eat separately. The thought of putting the brown stuff up my nose doesn’t fill me with excitement I have to say. Have a look at this video and make up your own mind. Hilarious!
Mr Persoone is not the only one to make the most of people’s addiction to chocolate. In Western Europe there's a craze sweeping the night clubs where legal 100% cacao replaces illegal highs. Relying on research that chocolate increases levels of endorphins, these chocolate ravers claim they get a high from using 100% cacao, and that it gives a sense of euphoria and relaxation. They take this trendy substance in beverage, powder and pill form (hot chocolate, cocoa powder and m&m’s to you and me!)
There are a lot of cynics that claim it is all caused by a placebo effect, and to some extent I am sure that is true, but everyone knows that chocolate is a guaranteed mood enhancer, so why not embrace this and wake up without the hangover the following morning? Just to be clear, we are certainly not suggesting you go and snort the Nesquik you’ve got lying around in your pantry. But why not try making a hot chocolate with our 100% raw cacao powder? It’s great if you prefer your hot cocoa to be chocolatey and not full of sugar. If you like a bit of sweetness then add your own to get the balance just right for your palette, we like coconut sugar. Also it’s great with almond milk, which adds its own nutty sweetness. Our 100% cacao powder is also FULL of antioxidant properties, given the cacao has not been roasted and no other ingredients have been added. Try giving yourself a mid-winter chocolatey boost, either curled up on the sofa watching telly or in a night club surrounded by hipsters. Up to you!
We treated ourselves to a night at Orphans Kitchen on Saturday night. And when I say treated I say it because we LOVE this place. There are so many new eateries in Auckland, it is a constant challenge not to run out of the office for breakfast/lunch/dinner/coffee every time the weekly Denizen arrives in your inbox with yet another new and notable. I know, life is hard in Auckland!
So unless you have enough disposable income to justify going out 5 times a week to get through everything there is on offer, you have to make some tough decisions. As foodies we love trying new things and feel the pressure to make the most of Aucklands new offerings. And that is why I say it feels like a real treat when we go back to Orphans Kitchen, again.
It has everything we love in a good restaurant. A small menu with simple yet surprising dishes. A warm and friendly atmosphere with people that are there to enjoy themselves and not just appear like they are. Amazing service that is welcoming, casual and attentive all at the same time. Awesome wine list. Nice smelling hand wash. And homemade bread with your meal. Tick! Oh and the bread is rolled with kawakawa and served with truffle butter. Double tick!
We would argue that Orphans is another ambassador of 'honest food'. Or as they call it 'unadulterated food'. Not trying to create an end product that is so far from what it started life out as that it becomes unrecognisable. Instead making the most of the ingredient itself and working on showcasing its best qualities. Similar to what we do with our chocolate. We don't use cream in our chocolates because we want to make the most of the amazing flavours that are present in the chocolate we select. We don't want to cover it up. This always means that a high quality product must be used to start with, because there's no hiding.
We are toying with the idea of going for their breakfast, that we have heard such good things about, which should give us our fix of trying something different AND a return visit to the Orphans Kitchen. Although I'll have to check if wine is served with breakfast?!
We had a great weekend chatting to people about chocolate at the market. It was interesting to see so many people 'resisting the urge' to try our chocolate because of their belief that chocolate is in some way bad for them. But the truth is that chocolate can be good for you! Hurrah! Obviously this statement is purely based on the superior quality 70% chocolate that we use in all of our products as we know exactly what goes into it and we cannot be held accountable for the healthiness of other chocolate products :)
So what are the benefits of a regular square of high quality 70% chocolate or two per day? The following are statements made based purely on internet research. There are quite a few other supposed benefits but these seem to be the most commonly cited:
- Chocolate is high in antioxidants
- Chocolate is rich in minerals such as Fibre, Iron and Magnesium
- Chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease
- Chocolate can help people to deal with stress and anxiety
- Chocolate is good for the brain
- The flavonols in dark chocolate can protect the skin against sun damage, although you would have to eat way too much to protect your skin fully (especially with NZ sun so you better still slip slop slap and wrap!)
- Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you fall in love, otherwise known as feel-good endorphins. Great as a romance inducer!
We're not saying load up on huge amounts of chocolate every day. We believe in everything in moderation. Except certain things, like fizzy drinks. These should just be banned! At the end of the day, chocolate is the ultimate comfort food and we take great comfort in knowing that our chocolate puts a smile on people's faces. We see it as good for the soul, and much more than that when we know it has come from fair trade sustainable sources like ours. The raw cacao starts it's journey by being cared for by trained farmers who are fairly paid and rewarded. And then the skillful chocolatier has put time and care into making something that is truly delicious and beautiful, because they love what they do. Yes I'm talking about our Nico.
Have a square or two of our chocolate after dinner and savour them. Or as a little afternoon pick me up to keep you going til home time, and best of all don't feel bad about it!
It has been a very busy couple of weeks for us at HC. It’s no easy feat starting your own business, but it’s chocolate, so whenever things get tough we know how to pick ourselves up! It’s a very exciting time for us as we have just received our Honest Chocolat packaging and have wrapped our first chocolate bars. We feel like proud parents!
This weekend we will be launching our product at the La Cigale Market in Parnell. Where could be better for our Nico to sell his French chocolates?! We have made many visits to the market ourselves since living in Auckland. It is the closest thing we have found to remind us of living in France. There’s nothing like a fresh baguette with Comté cheese or a pain au chocolat with a black coffee when you’re feeling homesick (even if you are British!)
This weekend we will be selling 6 different flavours of our chocolate tablets: Pistachio and Citron; Toasted Buckwheat; 70% Cacao; Blueberry and Raspberry; Feijoa and Coriander Seed; Marlborough Sea Salt. All our tablets are made with amazing Original Beans 70% chocolate.
We will also be selling 8 different flavours of our hand crafted chocolate bonbons. These are Toasted Fennel Seed; Salted Caramel; Raspberry and Ginger; Coffee Bean; Coconut and Lime; Cardamom and Blood Orange; 70% Water Ganache; Lychee and Rosewater. We are offering these packaged up in our small but perfectly formed gift boxes of six. We are working on larger gift box options currently, so hope to be able to also offer these soon. All our bonbons are made with a ganache centre that includes no dairy. We believe this showcases the taste of the chocolate and its quality.
We will also be selling chocolate coated almonds and quality dry store ingredients such as cocoa nibs; chocolate couverture; cocoa powder and cocoa butter for any keen home chocolatiers or pastry chefs.
The Market is open on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm, and Sundays from 9am to 2pm. It is a great way to start the day before getting on with other weekend activities or for those days when you have nothing planned and just feel like moseying along to see where your mood takes you. Come rain or shine it is always on and has plenty of cover for those wet days when no one knows what to do with themselves. We love the atmosphere of all those foodies in one place. Oh and did I mention there is also an amazing French wine shop?! Double points! We hope to see you there soon…
Do you know what the percentage means on a chocolate bar? To be able to explain this we're going to have to look at some chocolate terminology.
Cacao Mass - is used to describe all products coming from the cacao pod. This includes cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
Cocoa Butter - is the fat content of the cacao pod.
Cocoa Solids - is the dry content of the cacao pod.
When we talk about 70% chocolate it means the total percentage of ingredients by weight that come from the cacao bean (cacao mass). The other 30% is generally made up of sugar, but also sometimes other flavouring ingredients, such as vanilla. The 70% is made up of a mixture of cocoa butter and cocoa solids. Now if you're eating a square of 70% chocolate as part of a healthy diet then it is the cocoa solids that you want. This contains the antioxidants and health properties that researchers talk about when they say chocolate is good for you (to be discussed - this deserves a separate post all together!)
The problem is you won’t find a breakdown of solids versus butter on your packaging. This varying ratio contributes to the difference in flavours when comparing two 70% chocolate bars, but more importantly so does the origin and how the chocolate is processed from bean to bar. So it's not always true that chocolate with a high percentage has to be bitter. Generally a higher percentage correlates with higher quality chocolate, simply because there is less ‘other ingredients’ there to mask the flavour of any low quality beans. There should really only be cacao mass and sugar in a 70% chocolate.
If someone says they don't like dark chocolate we challenge them to try our 70%, because we know it’s not like any other. We use 70% chocolate in all our bars and bonbons because it tastes so damn good! We can also tell you that it contains 61% cocoa solids compared to 9% of cocoa butter. Good for you and delicious?! Oh go on then…