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The Chocolate Nerd

All That And A Bag Of Chips!


















Chuao's potato chip bar is completely cravable: salt, sugar, chocolate, crunch, need I say more? I picked it up for my beloved hubby who's a connoisseur of all things crunchy. He gave two crunches up to Chef Michael Antonorbi who cooked up this brilliant confection consisting of salty kettle chips and creamy, "CHEW-WOW!" milk chocolate. I fell in love with Chuao years ago, when I tasted my first chocolate covered olive at a Meetup years ago. The name remains synonymous with excellence.
Today I received a crash course in moxie from Lithuanian hailed chocolate team Chocolate Naive. Producing chocolate in the middle of nowhere, the self taught startup creates world-class origin bars that boldly put Lithuania on the map! Marked by unaffected simplicity, the mini bars which feature origin chocolate sourced from farms as far as Java/Papua New Guinea and Trinidad and Tobago are flavored with equally exotic ingredients such as dark amber honey from the Sambirano Valley near Madagascar. I love the packaging, Artist designed, it is as gorgeous, classy and modern as the chocolate. I believe they're shipping to your home town. 
Food For Thought
Making your own chocolate with Glee Gum's Organic Kit is easy as boxed cake. Complete with a stick of raw cocoa butter, cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, starter crystals (powdered chocolate bars for tempering), thermometer and liners, it's really a brilliant hands on learning project for any age. We used a double boiler, but you can totally do it in the microwave. It was relatively glitch free save my little helper helping himself to the starter crystals...we lost a few to his tummy! The chocolate still managed to taste great. We most enjoyed sampling the raw cocoa butter and nibs and customizing our confections with walnuts and raisins. The kit includes an engaging history of chocolate and makes for a fun project for little chocolate nerds everywhere. 





Hip Hop Chocolate
I just received a set of turntable lollipops from Marcus Gray CEO/Cultural Engineer of LA based The Original Hip Hop Chocolates. Here's his deal: he molds chocolate out of everything Hip Hop: Adidas, Boom Boxes etc. His operation is all handmade and totally guerrilla. It wouldn't be hardcore otherwise now would it? I love the photos of Pos from De La Soul, Crazy Legs, and other Legendary Hip Hop heads "Representing" with the candy. Word.

Mother Knows Best

Since gaining membership into the International Sorority of Motherhood 2.5 years ago, my respect for mothers, as well as for chocolate, has grown exponentially. I wish I could deliver a box of The Sucre Mother's Day Collection to each and every mom as it will remind our dear mothers of the important things in life: to stop and smell the rose petal infused milk chocolate ganache; that if life gives us lemons, to indulge in sweet milk chocolate blended with fresh lemon zest! And most importantly, that life, like red raspberry encased in rich dark chocolate, can be bitter sweet. And at the end of the day, or box, it's all about love. Happy Mother's Day! 
Sweetly Demented
So, this young chocolate maker named "Sivonne Imnottelling" contacted me today about their brand new confectionary line called Sweetly Demented, ranging from the "morbid, shabby chic & just plain rude." There are chocolate bird skulls, brains, hypno pops and...well, you'll have to see for yourself. I find it creative, dark and charming in a raw, art school kind of way. 
Curiouser and Curiouser!

As an Alice in Wonderland fan, one of my fav quotes from Alice: "But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!" I was quite attracted to these Wonderland inspired mini honey cakes and brownies by UK based Lucky Chocolate. The mini cakes are handmade and coated in Grand Cru and Valhrona chocolate and individually packaged in their own box - so each one is almost like a little treat or gift. Their larger gift boxes are also fun, like the Honey Time Gift Set with 'rabbit fur' which includes collections of their larger Mad Hatter Bars. "It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits!"

New York's Finest
C&M Chocolatier epitomizes everything I love about New York from the success story to the diversity of flavor. Founder Chris Martorano started cleaning floors in a chocolate factory at the age of fourteen, nowadays he makes his own handmade chocolate. Each flavor is a brilliant nod to New York's East Village neighborhood and its wide variety of foods and flavors. I can't quite decide which is my favorite. I savored them all very slowly. The Peanut Butter Pretzel is amazing, a gianduja truffle rolled in crushed, salted pretzels YUM! The Black Sesame Tahini which features a sesame tahini filling flavored with honey and black sesame seeds was a fantastic taste experience. The Truffle truffle is a foodie's paradise featuring 70% dark chocolate ganache infused with white truffle oil. Put simply, this chocolate rocks! As Martorano is the new kid on the block, you can say you were one of the first in the know. I think he's about to blow way up! 
Sample Size
There may be times when you find yourself weighing your options: the chocolate cake? or that killer dress? The answer isn't always so simple especially for a chocolate lover. Author Debby Maugans has our backs! Her sample sized desserts are just enough to indulge without creating the bulge and most recipes call for just a tiny bit of ingredients like one egg, so they're easy to whip up in a pinch. I loved her first book, I thought that baking out of tin cans was a brilliant way to recycle while creating adorable little portion aware cakes. Needless to say, I was over zealous when I learned of the chocolate lovers release! Pick up a copy and shred those spanks!
Flight Of Fancy
In 1600, in the spirit of expansion, Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to The East India Company. The company was sent East to explore. They returned with magical flavors that would change the West's palate forever. I feel like the Queen herself seated in front of a box of chocolate treasure packaged so artfully that it resembles an old tome that could belong to The Royal Collection itself. The confections inside feature flavors such as Creme Rose, Hazel Praline and Cafe Latte and reflect a heritage of quality and tradition along with a new found sense of adventure. My favorite among the truffles happens to be the Mimosa: cream, marc de champagne and orange essence. The taste is so right on it should be served in a flute! 
 
C Is For Cookie
so I've been totally obsessed with cookies as of late specifically Momofuku Milkbar's chocolate- chocolate variety. Also Vosges' Naga cookie is brilliant. Fans of the Vosges Naga chocolate bar know that the sublime combination between chocolate, coconut and curry is a winner. The soft, chocolate chip, coconut, curry cookie's base is cake-like pumpkin which really carries the spice well. The cookies are only available in store for now and the sales staff exhorts you to eat them asap. Not a problem! I don't have an image, mostly because I forget to take one, wrapped up in the moment I suppose. Here's an image via Munichbavaria.
Married Well
It's no secret that I'm nuts about toffee especially when coupled with chocolate. I'm equally inspired by a great family recipe: "It's my husband's," says Lisa Schalk whose been in the biz of making heirloom toffee with hubby Jim for the past 6 years. I was especially lured by the white chocolate macadamia which Lisa describes as "addictive." I'm gonna have to agree. The classic toffee is perfectly crunchy, buttery and smooth, packed with generous chunks of macadamia, then layered between delicious white chocolate. It sticks to your teeth. Grab a box at Toffee To Go.
Fine Print
These cute little ‘printable chocolates’ by Jamie Wieck can help you seal the deal by impressing the lucky recipient with originality and wit. The chocolate pegs are arranged inside the box so that when the top is closed, they print a word or customized message inside the top. The chocolate is especially formulated with a low melting point in order to enable the printing to take place. Although still in the concept phase, wouldn’t it be nice to surprise someone with a box of these next Valentine’s? It does bring new meaning to the phrase ‘say it with chocolate’.
Via designmilk.
Not For Noobs
Someone in the Chocolate Nerd camp ate my shiitake mushroom truffle...I believe the culprit is 11 years old and was caught red handed with a mouth full of truffle and a scowl when he exclaimed "Yuck! What kind of chocolate is this!? Gail Ambrosius' Adventurous Collection is not for everyone. I was looking forward to experiencing the earthy 65% Peruvian chocolate and the chewy bits of dried shiitake first hand, le sigh. I spent a minute or two savoring what was left in the box: Lemongrass with Ginger, Cinnamon/Cayenne and Sweet Curry with Saffron which I quite enjoyed. The rich, 55% Hawaiian chocolate ganache is intensely flavored with sweet curry, coconut bits and an unexpected touch of saffron. It was a taste experience rich with dazzling, sophisticated flavor for the grownup palate. Not for Noobs as the little Chocolate Nerd would say.
Yumtastic
"Awesomeness" is the word an 11 year old chocolate nerd used to describe the taste of Qbel's selection of all natural chocolate treats created by a husband and wife team with the kiddies in mind. The entire selection from the Belgian milk chocolate crispy rice bars made in the Netherlands to the crunchy, crispy peanut butter wafer rolls taste pretty good. Best of all, you can pack your kids lunch with a treat they'll enjoy sans artificial anything. As a new mom, I can totally dig that.
Stir It Up
I find these Hotchocspoons from Netherlands based Chocolate Company super clever. Just stir into a mug of warm milk and voila! you have a nice hot mug full of happiness. The spoons come in flavors such as Praline & Nougat and Brownie but the Strawberry & Pink Pepper white chocolate caught my eye. They'd make fantastic stocking stuffers. via coolhunting.
Spread Love
Your dwindling holiday gift budget will be easier to swallow once you learn that Sucre is donating a percentage of their seasonal sales to the LA/SPCA this year. There's nothing like win/win gift giving to put you in a festive mood...oh and uh smooth eggnog, gingerbread and candy cane truffles help too.
How I See It
Everyone loves chocolate so you really can't go wrong when searching for the perfect inexpensive holiday gift for associates, grab bags and difficult to please loved ones. It's especially great for people like Grandma who rants and raves when she feels like you spent way too much and complains that she "already has everything and doesn't need a new blender because her blender from the 1950s works perfectly well." In her case, I'd go for a tin of decent toffee or a box of grandma approved assorted chocolate. Why go though the trouble to save those gift receipts when no one in their right mind would ever dare have you return a box of perfectly fine chocolate. Happy Shopping!
Free Coco
In time for hot coco season Caribou Coffee is adding Guittard drinking chocolate to their menu. I'm more excited about the take home tins as I prefer to drink my hot chocolate in the comfort of my own home. If chillin' in coffee houses still floats your boat you can catch the launch festivities on November 27th where free samples and buy-one-get-one free mochas and hot chocolates will flow.

Reese's Dark Peanut Butter Cups Giveaway!
Use Twitter to tell us why you should be one of three winners to
receive four two-packs and two bags of miniatures. Link to your tweet in the blog comments. Three best tweets win! Good Luck!
What a Gem!
A fellow Chocolate Nerd just asked what one should eat while avoiding refined sugars. Xan Confections Wholly Cacao Caramel collection is an exciting option. Made with agave nectar, they're completely delicious without compromising decadence. Flavors include espresso almond, coconut pecan and banana foster. Best of all, they're completely fabulous in their gorgeous jewel tones.

Fly Me To The Moon!
It's been 40 years since the Apollo 11 crew landed on the moon in the Lunar Lander. To commemorate, Los Angeles based ChoclatiQue has created a special edition collection of Moon Rocks with flavors like Apollo Almond and Mission Control Fig. I'm completely excited about Nasa's Orion Spacecraft which is set to shuttle a new generation of explorers to the moon. Infact, we may live to see space colonies and moon tourism in our lifetime. Nasa's Constellation Program hopes to establish a human outpost on the moon by 2020! Check this out.
A Girl's Best Friend? Not So Much
I just received this email from Mervis Diamond. Apparently their attempt is to use 2 tbs. of chocolate mousse and 1 organic blackberry to peddle a 2 carat diamond. It can all be yours for just $18,000. Considering that in this economy chocolate is one of our last affordable luxuries I find this strategy completely preposterous. Not to mention that that is the most unappetizing chocolate looking thing I've ever seen.
Brilliant Brittle
I've been all about toffee, chocolate and nuts as of late so I was thrilled when Jer's sent over a few packs of their Chocolate Covered Peanut Brittle Bites.
My favorite was the Coco Nutty hands down. Think buttery peanut brittle covered in dark chocolate then sprinkled with coconut flakes. The brittle center tastes more like a smooth, peanut flavored toffee rather than a classic peanut brittle with whole nuts but it works well. Also, if you're into chocolate in your peanut butter then Jer's Original Peanut Butter IncrediBars--which were devoured within the hour by my dear friends-- are also definitely worth a try. I would even go as far to say that they almost rival the traditional Reeses in terms of satisfaction.
Ties Vs Toffee
If your debating what to get dad for Father's Day, let me give you a little tip--the same old ten dollar necktie is a pretty lame idea while a box of Enstrom's Almond Toffee would kick the tie's behind and look pretty handsome sitting on dad's wooden desk. The toffee is made with only four ingredients-California almonds, sweet cream butter, pure cane sugar and milk chocolate. Then it's finished with a powdery coating of crushed almonds. The result is extremely almondy, not overly chocolatey, definitely awesome. 
Creamy Dreamy Caramels
Amella's Artisan
Cocoa Butter Caramels are nice and buttery, rich with flavor and made from wholesome ingredients. The flavors are awesome. Seen here are Passion Fruit, Black Forest (made with cherries and 70% dark chocolate) and Carrot Cake-which really hits the spot with fresh carrots, toasted pecans and unsalted butter. Each is crowned with a dollop of frosting made of creamy white or milk chocolate. They remind me of quaint little petit fours and the packaging is even more elegant, making Amella the perfect gift for a very lucky caramel enthusiast.












I'm a Barbie Girl!

The original synthetic diva turned 50 this year. In homage to her fabulousness, UK based Hotel Chocolat created this fantastically girly Barbie Chocolate Box.
It features Barbie inspired flavors such as strawberry, vanilla and caramel in hot pink, pink and even more pink! I want it!!!
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