This post goes out to all chocolate lovers surfing the Web. If at this moment, or at some point in the near future, you get a chocolate craving I recommend that instead of purchasing your usual chocolate fix, you buy a block of broken Callebaut dark semi-sweet Belgium chocolate. If you are in a tight spot and in desperate need of a quick fix of chocolate, then I probably wouldn't recommend this recipe. If on the other hand you are willing to try a completely different way of both eating and drinking chocolate then I suggest you try buying your own block of chocolate the next time you shop.
Whether its milk chocolate bars, chocolate syrup in our sundaes or cups of hot cocoa with marshmallows during the winter, most of us indulge in some type of chocolate on a regular basis. What many of us don't realize is that the type of chocolate we buy here is not the same type of chocolate others purchase outside of the United States. The quality of the ingredients in the United States, in my opinion, is not up to par with chocolate from other parts of the world. With the exception of small businesses that really focus on the craft of creating chocolate. Most of what you buy from name brands at most major stores barely passes for chocolate. Whatever happened to milk & cocoa as the main ingredients? We have become so accustomed to such a watered down version of chocolate that most of what we are getting are artificially flavored chocolates jammed packed with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
I admit that I already have a biased opinion towards North American name brand chocolates. Before coming to the United States I was already used to drinking hot cocoa made with blocks of chocolate de mesa or sweet dark baking chocolate and milk. The hot cocoa comes out a little thicker and foamier, with a much darker and richer aroma. In Europe, they tend to use cocoa powder and milk to make hot cocoa but the consistency is usually much ticker, like syrup, and served in smaller portions. According to wiki, and the various sources it quotes, it has a lot to do with the cocoa content of the chocolate used. The United States only requires a 10% concentration of cocoa liquor to be present in milk chocolate and it mentions that most chocolate producers have lobbied to replace cocoa butter with other types of oils which include hydrogenated oils, and with sugars which include artificial sweeteners. Yuck! In other countries, the chocolate content is much higher and therefore you get a richer taste. I don't know why mayor food producers in this country love to screw with their consumers. We always end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to receiving high quality food products, but it's time for the blind fold to come off and for your life to become very chocolaty indeed.
First, visit any large grocery chain specially health food stores like Whole Foods which carry this type of chocolate. You should be able to find broken up blocks of Callebaut chocolate next to where they exhibit their imported cheese selection. Don't buy the unsweetened dark chocolate. It's great for baking but its super bitter. I don't want to you running for the hills just yet. Make sure you buy the broken semi-sweet dark chocolate from Callebaut. You should be able to find the Callebaut name engraved in the mix matched blocks of chocolate. If you can't find Callebaut, look for baking chocolate that is semi-sweet. I wouldn't buy chocolate chips, unless you find some that share similar ingredients with the Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate which contains 53.8% cocoa (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, salt, and pure vanilla extract)
Next, pick up some fruit. I bought blueberries which to me make the best chocolate pairing. It also helps that they are super cheap during the summer months while they are in season. Also, try buying New Jersey blueberries. That's very biased advice because I grew up in NJ, but NJ is one of the largest producers of blueberries in the country and even though it's already the end of the season you should be able to find highly discounted blueberries in stock at supermarkets.
Let's get started!
Block of broken Callebaut dark semi-sweet Belgium chocolate
Pint of blueberries
Your favorite type of nut or granola
TIP - Don't use a cutting board. I find it easier to place a cloth kitchen towel on top of the kitchen counter, and then place a large paper towel on top of the cloth towel. It helps keep the shards of chocolate from spreading all over your kitchen counter, and it also muffles the sound from the cutting board.
- If you kept your chocolate in the fridge after you buy it, make sure you leave it out for at least a half an hour so that it's easier to shave.
- With a large non-serrated knife, start to shave the chocolate off the block. Look at the images I posted. The chocolate can be cut into chunky pieces. It looks like you are cutting shards off chocolate.
- Please be careful with your fingers. You are using force when you cut. This is a block of something hard it's like cutting fruit. I certainly don't recommend kids doing this without parental supervision.
- As you shave the chocolate you will notice that you will have to turn and flip your block of chocolate to get a better angle. The more you cut, the more you run out of cutting real estate, so you just have to keep looking for the best edge to cut off.
- Cut as much as you like, but if it's just for you, cut about enough to yield 3 tablespoons.
- Put the remainder of the block in the fridge in a sealed Ziploc bag. If you live in a house where the kitchen doesn't fluctuate in temperatures then I recommend you seal it away and put it in a dry place instead of the refrigerator.
- Make sure your fruit is cleaned and chopped up into chunks. If you use blueberries you don't have to do anything but wash them and remove any stems.
- In a ceramic coffee cup, place your three tablespoons of shaved chocolate and put in the microwave for 30 seconds. If you have a super strong microwave, make it 20 seconds.
- Take it out and stir with a spoon. You will notice that it hasn't really melted. All you have done is melted the chocolate a little around the edges.
- If you are making 3 tablespoons of chocolate, then add one to one and a half tablespoons of milk to the same cup. Try one tablespoon first. It's preferable to have a thicker consistency than to get something that resembles hot chocolate. You want this to have a syrupy texture.
- Add to the microwave for 20 to 30 more seconds. As with before, it depends on your microwave's heat settings.
- Take it out and then stir with a spoon. It might look watery at first, but keep stirring until you see a chocolate colored texture.
Add your blueberries, mix, and then pour on top of some waffles, pancakes, dessert, but best of all ON TOP OF SOME ICE CREAM! Just imagine how amazing this melted chocolate syrup will taste in a sundae. If you have granola, then add granola. You can pretty much add anything to this chocolate sauce. What's even better is that you can also pour it over anything too.
Instead of buying chocolate at the store, I am now addicted to this type of chocolate. It's just so GOOD! The difference is that I don't add the mixture to anything. I just eat the chocolate and the blueberries straight out of the cup. Sometimes I even put the blueberries in the freezer for a couple of minutes until they start to get really cold and frosty. Then I proceed to add the hot chocolate syrup on top. I also mix the chocolate syrup with the blueberries and freeze the combined mixture together. I use cupcake paper as a mold and then I end up eating a delicious and cool dark chocolate blueberry bar. And to think that all I added to the chocolate shavings was some milk. It certainly has enough cocoa butter so don't go adding more butter. It's also super fresh, without any preservatives or artificial sugars. It's the way chocolate was intended to be enjoyed!
It might be more work than buying a bar of chocolate at the store, but you are trading time for the flexibility of adding any ingredient you might fancy. I promise you that it will be worth the wait.
For more recipes don't forget to check out my blog Tofu con Sazón.
Buen Provecho! =)