We had an amazing showing at the London Academy of Chocolate! From over 300 entrants, Theo placed in five categories:
This is so exciting for the whole team, striving so hard for organic, fair trade perfection! This far surpasses last year's showing of 2 silvers and a bronze, and really shows our growth and commitment to surpassing our own expectations.
WELL DONE, THEONISTAS!
Belle Debauche was a wonderful night of wicked wonderment. Your humble blogger worked tirelessly through the night, aiding photographer John Cornicello with the photo booth. You can see all the photos here on our flickr page. If you didn't make it to this event, I highly reccommend you check out the next Circus Contraption event - "The Show to End All Shows" which begins its run this May.
This technique involves measuring the inhibition of quenching activity of peroxyl radicals on fluorescein dye. Fluorescein is very sensitive to oxidation. We can measure the antioxidants in chocolate by measuring the time it takes for the dye to be destroyed in an oxidizing environment. The longer the fluorescence signal persists the more antioxidants are present. All of this can be measured on a kinetic fluorescent plate reader.
Recent reports have highlighted that certain types of Dark Chocolate have little or no flavanoid antioxidant activity left. This is because certain manufacturers treat their chocolate with alkaline chemicals to darken the chocolate or dilute the chocolate with cheap sweeteners and fillers. Needlesss to say doing bad things to chocolate doesn't end up tasting good, nor is it very healthy.....
We don't believe in torturing chocolate at Theo. It seems like such a waste!
The right way to make chocolate is to use the requisite amount of Cacao with just a touch of sugar and no additives. Nothing else...zip...nada.....just Cacao and sugar......
So below are the results of our first run at an ORAC assay. Not surprisingly there is plenty of activity left in Theo bars. Interestingly we see a little more activity in the Ghanaian chocolate which is consistent with this scientific study.
Check out this very interesting episode of Democracy Now! featuring Joe Whinney - "Chocolate's Bittersweet Economy": Cocoa Industry Accused of Greed, Neglect for Labor Practices in Ivory Coast; Theo Chocolate Founder, CEO Joe Whinney on Fair-Trade Cocoa.
Check out this lovely article which appeared in the Pacific NW section of the Seattle Times this weekend. Isn't it wonderful to live in such a sweet city? Not to mention the Coffee and Microbrews.... I LOVE SEATTLE!
Break up bread into rough chunks by hand. Bring cream to a boil with sugar and salt, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, then stir in the chocolate until melted.
Whisk eggs and yolks in separate bowl, then add milk and vanilla extract. Combine egg mixture with chocolate liquid, black pepper and nibs. Stir in bread chunks and pour mixture into generously buttered, 2-quart baking dish. Refrigerate pudding for 2 hours, gently stirring and pressing the bread down into the liquid every now and then.
Make a water bath: Place the pudding dish inside a larger dish in oven and fill outer pan with an inch of water, taking care not to get any water into the pudding. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until center is firm to the touch. Remove from oven and water bath. Let pudding cool for 30 minutes.
This pudding can be covered and refrigerated for several days, then reheated in the microwave or oven. Serve it with the Naughty Liquor Sauce and freshly whipped cream.
Naughty Liquor Sauce…
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua ( dark rum or amaretto are good alternatives)
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in the sugar, hooch, water, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is cohesive and well blended. Remove from heat and set aside.
Whisk egg until it’s frothy, then whisk it with gusto into the hot sugar and liquor. Cook sauce over medium heat, stirring gently until it’s simmering. Cook until it thickens (approximately 1 minute). If there are any little lumps, just push the sauce through a strainer.
This sauce will keep for several days in the refrigerator and can be reheated on the stovetop or in a microwave.
February is generally considered to be 'Open Season' on all things of a chocolate nature, and Union Square Grill has truly taken to heart with a series of tastings, meals, and special recipes dedicated to our favorite food group! The highlight of this month of cocoa creativity will be a special 5 course dinner on on Thursday, February 28th at 7:30 pm (reservations required: 206.224.4321) Check out their site for more info.
As the phrase goes - Sugar and Spice and all things nice! In reality the chemistry of chocolate is unbelievably complex!! And that's in a simple Dark Chocolate Bar with no inclusions or flavors! It has been a tricky problem to solve.
Luckily new generations of very hi-tech, very expensive mass spectrometers are unraveling the complexity of the mysterious dark substance we know and love as chocolate.
Scientists at the University of Muenster have unraveled the composition of Cacao Nibs and published their findings. Not only did they work out what was in Cacao, they also worked out what made the Cacao taste bitter-sweet. Tasty science!!
The short version of the Science (with the boring bits removed) looks a lot like this:
The different colors correspond to the primary flavors of Cacao. The outer ring shows the names of the molecules you can taste and the distance from the center indicates the concentration in Cacao nibs.
For example: Epicatechin, a potent antioxidant flavanol in Cacao has both astringent taste and is present a high concentration (approx 9000 micromol/kg).
If you want to get into this in excruciating detail you can read more of Dr Stark's original scientific article here.