maandag 17 december 2012

Patisserie Vercruysse Winter Collection

And let me introduce you to my latest review of Geert Vercruysse's most bodacious ganaches!

The single most awe-inspiring moment of my chocolate reviewing life was two years ago yesterday. Then I received a delivery from someone I had never heard from. That clear plastic case contained the most amazing chocolates I have ever tasted. To this day those Patisserie Vercruysse ganaches have only ever been rivalled by the Demarquette Royal Merina ganaches – seeing as I’ve reviewed about 250 chocolate products in that time, that’s some achievement. Today I’m fortunate enough to have another selection – this time based on an amazing selection of origins and chocolate makers.

Geert shares my absolute fascination with the world of chocolate. We both share a passion for finding new and unique chocolate, and this shines through in the ganaches I have before me. You’ve got a Marou Vietnamese, Åkessons Indonesia, Madre Dominican Republic, Daintree Estates Australian, El Ceibo Bolivian and Original Beans (which I believe is Congolese) ganaches all encased in 68% Marañòn Fortunato N°4 Peru. If that doesn’t make your head spin with excitement I don’t know what will.
The first was the Marou Tiền Giang 70% which was as smooth and velvety as you could possibly wish for. The flavours exhibited rich red fruits and mango. In fact, I’m dumb-struck. The flavours are so pure and strident that it doesn’t actually leave much for me to say.

The Daintree Estates 45% milk ganache was next and I adored it when I tried the original bar previously. It has such a unique flavour that I’ve not seen any other maker come anywhere near in the past. It seems to be a cross between caramel and fudge. It’s certainly sweet, beautiful and a texture that will rival any other ganache ever created.

If you wanted a brutish, dark, acidic and flavoursome ganache the El Ceibo would be exactly what you’re looking for. There seems to be so much flavour coming out of such a small space that it all seemed buffered on my taste buds. They were overloaded with direct sweetness that I found it difficult to brake the individual flavours down, but what they did do is linger – imparting their flavours during the melt and long after too. I found myself moving my tongue around my mouth in search of the remnants of flavour.

The Original Beans Cru Virunga Congo 70% ganache was a completely different affair. At first it seemed to have sharp mustard-like characteristic but this quickly transformed into a honey-like characteristic. There still remained an unusual earthiness after the melt but that gave it even more of an ‘adult’ edge.

The Madagascar dark ganache 64% & Wildcrafted Long Pepper Bali was just as special, but also unique. The defining characteristic of this one was the pepper which was perfectly balanced against the dark Indonesian ganache. It managed to poke its head over the natural chocolate flavours, but not exert such a direct spice flavour that it contradicted the theme of the selection.

And oh!! The Republic Dominican 70% ganache with fresh cacao pulp out of this world. Cacao pulp may be and odd thing to add into the ganache but the beauty of the flavours was just all-consuming. The flavours are long gone now as I masticated it to within an inch of its life in the hunt for more of its heady flavour. But on reflection, I recall pomegranate, or something along those lines but significantly more intense. It’s just awesome.

There were another six in the box, but I physically couldn’t take any more and felt it would be an injustice to force myself to continue. Geert has certainly improved in the variety of the ganaches he creates, but I do feel that he hasn’t improved on the quality – purely because I don’t think purely because I don’t think anybody could.

Many thanks to Lee McCoy.

dinsdag 4 december 2012

Dark chocolates December & January

Chocolate used for enrobing is the Marañòn Fortunato N°4 Peru, a wonderfull flavoured dark 68%.

Ganache 33% Maracaibo and hazelnutpraliné
Ganache 66% Maracaibo and fresh ginger 
Vietnam Origin Tien Giang 70% dark ganache

Madagascar dark ganache 64% & Wildcrafted Long Pepper Bali - Indonesia

Original Beans Cru Virunga Congo 70% ganache
Republic Dominican 70% ganache with fresh cacaopulp
Maracaïbo 33% ganache and Madras curry

Felchlin Cabruca Brasil 70% ganache
Pacari Ecuador ganache of 70% Raw chocolate

Felchlin Elvesia Rep.Dom. 74% ganache vanilla-tonkabean

Danta Guatemala "Los Ujuxtes" 60% ganache

maandag 3 december 2012

Cocoa Powder Vs. Cacao Powder

Cocoa Powder Vs. Cacao Powder

Similarity between the terms "cacao" and "cocoa" often creates confusion. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines cacao as "the bean which is the source..." of chocolate products such as cocoa powder, chocolate liquor or cocoa butter, depending on how the cacao bean is processed. Thus, the cacao bean is the source of both cacao and cocoa powders, and though the terms often are used interchangeably, subtle differences exist between the two.

The Mayan empire began cultivating and harvesting cacao more than 2000 years ago, and the Aztecs used whole raw cacao beans as their main form of currency.

The Mayans used the beans to create a spicy drink enjoyed by royalty and consumed during religious ceremonies. Without access to sweetening spices, cacao was consumed as a strong, bitter beverage. After the Spanish conquistadors invaded Mexico, they sent back shiploads of cacao beans, where it was mixed with sugar and cinnamon to make a drink that was popular among the upper classes.

Charles Linnaeus, creator of the modern scientific naming system, named the cacao bean "theobroma," which translates to "food of the gods." Today, chocolate is one of the most popular flavors in the world.

Cacao Beans
A cacao bean consists of a brown to greenish hard shell filled with tiny pockets called nibs. These edible nibs are the flesh of the cacao beans. One bean contains between 12 percent and 60 percent fat, and zero sugar.

Cocoa Powder vs. Cacao Powder
Pure, unsweetened cocoa powder tastes very bitter and rich, which is why it is most often used in sweets and confections. To get cocoa powder from the cacao bean, the nibs are first ground into a strong paste. The fat is removed, and the remaining solids are ground up again into a fine dust: cocoa powder. Because of its drying properties, using cocoa powder in a cake often requires the use of more shortening or butter in the recipe.

According to FDA guidelines, cocoa powder and cacao powder are simply different terms for the same powder, and are nearly interchangeable; however, "cacao powder" specifically refers to raw, unsweetened powder. "Cocoa powder," on the other hand, may still have a very small amount of cocoa butter present to enhance the flavor subtly.

Chocolate Liquor
Chocolate liquor is formed by grinding the the nibs into a paste; other names for chocolate liquor include baking chocolate, bitter chocolate and cocoa liquor. Chocolate liquor forms the basis of milk and dark chocolate, making it the major component of many common chocolate edibles like chocolate chips and hot cocoa. Chocolate liquor is also sometimes mixed with alcohol to create chocolate drinks.

Cocoa Butter
Cocoa butter is the last component of the cacao bean and is created first by crushing the nibs to obtain chocolate liquor. The remains are pressed to separate the solids from the fat, leaving butter with a subtle cocoa taste and aroma. Cocoa butter is sometimes mixed with milk and sugar to make white chocolate.