This past Saturday, twenty-seven people gathered at the Pindar Wine Shop in Port Jefferson to sample the latest collection of fine wines, accompanied by an array of decadent Chocology Chocolates and award winning Fat Ass Fudge. Chocolate and wine! What more could you ask for on a Saturday afternoon?
The event, of course, was a great success. The Pindar Wine Shop is cozy, intimate and comfortable: the perfect venue for wine and chocolate pairing. Our guests had a fondness for both fine wine and fine chocolate, making the event both tasty and educational.
Before the tasting began, we discussed the key points of similarity in wine and chocolate.
- Both are made from fruit (the cocoa nibs from which chocolate is made are the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree).
- The flavor and aroma yielded by both cacao pod and grape are a function of not only their rootstock, but of their soil, climate, and the weather conditions affecting any single harvest.
- Both are made from a blend of beans or grapes, each with distinct flavor profiles; and when the product is made from a blend, it adds to the complexity of tastes.
- As with foods, there are many kinds of chocolate preparations with different flavor profiles; so no one wine is a universal match. While that creates a challenge to find the perfect suitor for a box of assorted chocolates; it also makes it fun to seek your favorite pairings, and test on an ongoing basis which combinations you prefer.
Melissa Martin Director of marketing and hospitality at Pindar organized the event and Jenna and Jenny at Pindar, then presented the wines to be tasted. Linda Johnson, owner of Chocology, served truffles and fudge (on a frozen salt block). (What is a salt block? We’ll tell you more about that next week).
Since no two people’s taste buds are exactly the same, discerning which wine will go with which chocolate can feel like a daunting task. There really is no wrong way to do a tasting though. If the flavor pairings work for you, then we say go for it! There are, however, a few guidelines that can help you get the most out of your pairings.
- When pairing wine with chocolate, you can use wines that have the same flavor notes as the chocolate (nutty, cherry, hazelnuts, mint); or look for contrasts. As with food and wine matches, only you decide what works best!
- Pair chocolate to wines with similar weight - so heavy flavored chocolates with heavy wines; more delicately flavored chocolate with lighter wines.
Most everyone agreed that the favorite pairing on Saturday was the Pythagoras Merlot along with our 88% dark chocolate ganache. We also had great success with these:
2013 Sunflower Chardonnay —Milk Chocolate Ganache or Shangr- La
2014 Moscato (dry white with floral aromas and flavors of orange, peach & apple) —Mimosa Peacock Chardonnay (hints of apple and pear) —5th Avenue
Merlot, Pythagoras, —Dark Chocolate Fudge, Heart of the Agean or 88%
Cabernet Sauvignon —Raspberry or Dark
Spring Splendor (light blush off-dry Rose of Merlot) —CherryTart
The whole experience of pairing fine wines with fine chocolate was exhilarating. We look forward to more pairings at the Pindar Wine Shop! Thank you Pindar for providing a wonderful venue as well as the beautiful wines.
p.s. We are also excited to mention that Melissa Martin is also an author. Her book, Harvest Road, captures the beauty of the Long Island wine country and the intensity of a mysterious love affair. We loved it and can’t wait to read her next novel!
At Chocology, we love to learn as well as teach. That’s why when children’s author, Stephanie Sorkin, agreed to read all three of her books to our Chocology Kids at Yogo Delish in Port Jefferson this past Sunday, we were thrilled. The kids were delighted to meet the author and enjoyed hearing some of their favorite stories read to them.
Stephanie is the award-winning author of 3 children’s books, Frenemy Jane, the Sometimes Friend, Nutley and Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces. She recently won both the Indie award for Chocolate Shoes. She also won the Mom’s Choice award for Nutley and Chocolate Shoes.
Like Chocology, Stephanie shares our love for giving back to the community. A percentage of the profits from Chocolate Shoes goest to Soles 4 Soles and 100% of the proceeds from Nutley goes to F.A.R.E., an organization dedicated to food allergy research and education.
It is always so exciting to meet the author of our favorite books. After the readings, Stephanie shared with us a bit about how she developed her character for Chocolate Shoes. While visiting schools and doing readings for Nutley, Stephanie created a sort of "focus group" with the kids by placing her draft of Chocolate Shoes on an big piece of oak tag. She would carry this along with her to her readings of Nutley and ask the kids questions about who they thought the character should be. A girl? A boy? Five years old? Ten? She explained to the kids that when she tallied up the results, she would have her character. The kids loved the fact that they had some input on her next book. When all the results were in, Stephanie had her eight year old boy with red hair, the main character in Chocolate Shoes. As Stephanie told this story, all of our Chocology Kids eyes lit up with excitement.
Stephanie's love for children was apparent. After the reading, Stephanie autographed books for the kids. We gave out licorice laces to everyone, to go with this with "Chocolate Shoes", of course! We can't wait to read what she writes next.
For more about Stephanie and her books and to learn more about her charity work, please visit www.stephaniesorkin.com.
Owning a chocolate business is such a joy. This summer we have been busy with summer weddings, farmers markets, festivals and private events. Madeline is participating in a camp counselor program that she loves. With all of this activity, though, there hasn’t been time for a much needed spa treatment.
Since I couldn’t find a place in our schedule for a trip to the spa, I decided to create a little TLC treatment of my own. How better to do that than to incorporate chocolate into the mix?
While Madeline was in camp one day, I decided I would surprise her when she got home. I found a delightful chocolate milk bath recipe here that I hoped would relax and rejuvenate her mind, body and soul. The great thing about this recipe is that you can do it ahead. It would make a great gift for that busy person in your life or for yourself after a hard day at work. And to sweeten this recipe even more, cocoa power provides much needed antioxidants to help repair the skin! Not only is chocolate good to eat, it’s good for your skin as well.
Chocolate Milk Bath
- 1 cup of powdered milk
- 2-tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1-tablespoon cornstarch.
***As an optional treat you could add about ⅓ cup of unscented bubble bath to your warm running bath before adding in the other ingredients
- Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl (not including the bubble bath, if using).
- Transfer the contents to a cellophane bag with a tie or a small container with a lid.
- Add ½ cup to warm bath water. Swirl it around the water to mix it in.
- If you’re using the bubble bath, add it first to a warm running bath before adding in the other ingredients.
Before Madeline got home, I mixed up the ingredients and then lit a chocolate candle to get the room smelling extra nice. I placed the chocolate soap bar that I’d purchased from the Southampton Soap Company and a small plate of Fat Ass Fudge on the tubs edge. Voilà! A much needed spa treatment that fit into our busy schedules. This recipe makes enough for two baths, so we were set.
While Madeline was relaxing in the bath, I enjoyed a Chocolate Fat Ass Martini on the porch. When Madeline emerged she was glowing. Her escape to tranquility had restored her inner and outer well-being. What a fantastic way to take a breath and find that inner peace. This inexpensive spa treatment is one that we will incorporate into our busy schedules more often!
Have you ever taken a chocolate milk bath? If so, we’d love to hear about it. If not, try this recipe and give yourself a much-deserved break. What a sweet ending to a long and busy day.
Thanks goes out to helloglow.co for the wonderful recipe and other great DIY ideas.
Want to do something fun, tasty and educational with the kids this summer? Well, grab these simple supplies and get outside for a science project that will have your kids coming back for s’more!
DIY SUN S’MORES
In this Chocology Kids Project you will learn about:
Energy, Solar Power, Sun, Heat/Melting Point, Cooking
Graham crackers, mini-marshmallows and a chocolate bar or (Fat Ass Fudge!).
Scissors, Ruler, Glue Stick, Plastic wrap, Tape, A Sheet of black paper, A wooden skewer or pencil, Utility knife, Aluminum foil, 2 thermometers
A Warm, sunny day—preferably 85 degrees or warmer
Please read ALL of the steps carefully before cutting. Adult assistance is recommended for the use of utility knife. Also, use caution when cooking with the solar oven. It can get quite hot (sometimes up to 200 degrees)
BUILDING THE OVEN
Clean out the pizza box.
Use your ruler to draw a rectangle on the top of the lid, about 1 inch from the sides.
Ask an adult to help using the utility knife (and the ruler as a straight edge) to carefully cut along 3 sides of the square, leaving the side that runs along the hinge of the box uncut. Cut all the way through the cardboard on those three sides. Once your 3 sides are cut, fold the flap (near the hinge of the box) back slightly along the attached side. Prop the flap open with tape. Lastly, cover the inside of the flap with foil,(leaving the shiny side of the foil facing out) securing with glue or tape.
Cover the opening made by the flap (in the lid) with a layer of plastic wrap. Attach the plastic wrap to the opening's edges using shipping tape or duck tape. Make sure there are no holes in the plastic wrap and that all of its edges are completely attached to the lid. No openings please!
Line the inside of the box with aluminum foil (shiny side out) so that when you shut the box the entire interior is coated with foil. It is easiest to do this by covering the bottom of the box with foil first and then covering the inside part of the lid (don’t cover the plastic wrap!) with foil. Glue the foil in place.
Glue or tape a sheet of black paper to the bottom-center of the pizza box, on top of the foil. This will act as your solar oven's heat sink. How do you think it will help cook your food?
Lastly, use a wooden skewer or pencil (and some tape) to prop the solar oven's lid up, at about a 90-degree angle from the rest of the box.
Think about this:
- Why do you think you should coat the inside of the box with foil like this? What is the purpose of the foil?
- Why do you think it's important to make sure the plastic wrap completely seals the lid's opening?
- Why do you think we use the black paper inside of the box? How will this help us cook our food?
Let’s Make S’mores!
Before you begin, go check your weather app to see what the temperature is outside. Is it over 85 degrees? Then let’s get cooking!
Place your chocolate and mini marshmallows between two graham crackers.
Place your S’mores inside of your solar oven
Take your oven outside. Be sure to place your oven in a place in a sunny place, taking care to position it to where the sunshine will refect from the foil on the flap into your box.
Check your box every 15 minutes to see if the chocolate and marshmallows have melted. BE CAREFUL! It might just be a pizza box, but you’ve made this into an oven! IT’S HOT!
Bon Appétit! Enjoy your Sun S’mores!
Think about this:
How long did it take to melt the chocolate? Did the temperature outside have anything to do with the length of time it took to melt the chocolate?
- How did the foil help to melt the chocolate?
- What do you think the black paper did to help the process along?
- Did the size of the pizza box make a difference in the cooking time?
- Do you think preheating the solar oven would make a difference? If so, have you tested your theory?
- Do you think the S’mores would cook on an overcast day? What about on a cold day?
What Is Going On?
Solar Ovens convert sunlight to energy. That energy is retained for cooking food. Although there are all kinds of solar cookers, they all have similarities. For instance, many solar ovens have at least one dark surface to attract sunlight. If you’ve ever worn a black shirt on a hot summer day, you’ve probably noticed that dark colors get very hot in the sunlight. This is because dark colors hold more solar radiation than light colors. The heat absorbed by your dark paper is transferred to the food, which speeds up the process. Most solar cookers also have reflectors, which direct sunlight toward the dark cooking surface and transparent tops that let in sunlight, trapping the heat inside the cooker. Try cooking hot dogs inside of your solar oven and see what happens!
Did you have fun with this activity? We hope so. We encourage you to try it again with different variables. Here’s some to try:
- Experiment with different sized boxes. Does size make a difference in how long it takes to cook your food?
- Try insulating your cooker. Add newspaper or other safe material to trap more sunlight. Does it make your food cook faster?
- Experiment with other foods, such as hot dogs, baked beans or cookies.
- Most of all – HAVE FUN! Cooking with solar saves energy and helps us learn more about how solar power works.
Be sure to check our blog for more fun chocolate activities to do with the kids! Learning should be fun!
Did you know that we don’t taste things solely with our taste buds? We actually taste everything with our brain.
So how does this work? From about the age of 3, people have evolved to use more than their taste buds to know whether something is okay to eat or not. Sight, smell, texture (touch) and even hearing all contribute to why we prefer certain foods over others.
Linda is taking another Ecole Chocolat class and is currently studying the taste buds. This week’s assignment is to consciously taste four different chocolates. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! We love tasting, reading and exploring more about chocolate. Educating ourselves about how taste and flavor work and how we experience the things we eat helps the Chocology team to understand the flavors in our products and make them better.
The class is entitled, Mastering Chocolate Flavor, something we strive to do every day. Our mission is to create flavors that please the senses, not just the taste buds, so that our products are more of an experience rather than just another dessert. Read on to learn more about how all of the senses are engaged when we participate in the act of eating.
Flavor is ALL in your head! Did you know that? All of the senses work together, providing information to your brain. Your brain then determines if something taste good or not. We generally believe that tastes happen on our taste buds. But much more is going on, most of it in the brain.
The eyes have it! If it doesn’t look good, the likelihood of you eating it is very low. Even if an unsightly food IS eaten, the overall taste is affected. Tasting starts with the eyes.
One study by Jeff Shrank was particularly intriguing to us. For instance, when tomato juice was poured into a container marked “blood”, participants were no longer willing to even taste it. Why? Because the eyes saw the word blood and the association of blood and tasting were triggered in the brain. Participants weren’t willing to try it, even though they usually liked tomato juice.
Have you ever heard the term “Follow your Nose?” Well, according to Kids Health, “Olfactory (ahl-FAK-tuh-ree) receptors inside the uppermost part of the nose contain special cells that help you smell. They send messages to the brain.”
When we put a piece of food into our mouths, chemicals are released into the olfactory receptors and tell the brain all about what we are eating. Taste and smell work together to tell a story about the flavor that is happening inside of your mouth! Then your brain decides if you like it or not.
Are peppers really hot? According to Jeff Shrank they are not!
The texture of our foods make a difference in what we taste too! Ever had a limp potato chip? The taste of our potato chips and French fries are definitely affected by their texture. People tend to judge a potato chip as “fresh” if it is light and crispy. That’s a judgment call based on our brain’s past experiences and judgments. The crunch makes all the difference!
Chocolate needs the correct amount of snap for most people to believe it has quality.
Even the packaging on potato chips or crackers suggests a certain amount of crunchiness! In a test by Jeff Shrank, people that wanted crunchy chips chose the noisier bags over the softer paper bags of chips.
Humans have around ten thousand taste buds and even those are replaced every couple of weeks. Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory are the major receptors that allow you to experience taste. Children have more and adults tend to lose some over time. And as we build experience and memories about tastes, our taste preferences are influence by those as well.
We taste our beliefs and expectations and our senses help us along the way. Chocolate covered ants are a delicacy in some places around the world, but for most Americans, just the thought of eating an ant is repulsive, even if it is enrobed in our favorite chocolate. Working together, the senses, along with our perceptions of what is good or not so good, communicate a story to our brain about the foods we are attracted to. Our tastes really are all in our heads! Be sure to check out Jeff Shrank’s slideshow entitled, “Taste: Your Brain on Food”.
This Memorial Day weekend is sure to be one to remember. The Chocology team will again be participating in Taste the East End at the Long Island Aquarium. We were delighted to participate in this event last year and this year is going to be extra special.
And how is it going to be extra special? Well, Chocology has been “paired” with the extraordinary vineyard, Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards. Together Chocology and Baiting Hollow Farm are working to create a spectacular experience for our visitors at Taste the East End and we hope that you’ll join us!
Last week, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Sharon and Steve Levine, the owners of BHFV and their lovely manager Rose Vasta. Like Chocology, BHFV is a family run business with a foundation built on giving back. Their greatest passion is rescuing horses that are marked for destruction either due to their age or to no longer meeting the requirements as a racehorse. The Levine’s are passionate about raising awareness around the fate of most of these animals and rescuing those that they can – providing a sanctuary on the farm where the horses can live out the rest of their lives free and happy. Three of the BHFV wines are dedicated to the rescue horses and all of the profits from these wines go back to helping these animals. We love that philanthropic spirit and knew immediately that we had been paired well.
During our visit we brought along six Fat Ass Fudge flavors and a mix of our artisan chocolate truffles to pair with some of the BHFV wines. We even drizzled some of The Amazing Olives balsamic vinegars on some of the tastings. Wine, balsamic and chocolate! What a delightful experience for the palette!
The six BHFV wines we tried with our chocolate were Savannah Rose, Riesling, Sam’s Legacy, White Satin, Red Velvet and my personal favorite Mirage; named after BHFV’s adored Arabian Princess, who was rescued in 2007. The Mirage is a dry, yet bold “Bordeaux Style” red blend and is a perfect combination of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This particular wine won the 2013 New York State Commercial Gold award and is one of the BHFV horse rescue wines.
As we’ve said time and again, the people we meet on the Chocology journey make our job so fun, adventurous and educational. And meeting the Levine’s and their manager Rose was no exception. In fact, as we were leaving, Linda said to Rose “If I didn’t love my job so much, I might like yours!” Rose chuckled and then replied, “If I didn’t love MY job so much, I might like yours as well!”
We hope that you’ll join us at the Long Island Aquarium for The Taste of The East End on May 29. It’s sure to be a fun experience for all who attend, not to mention a tasty one!
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards and Chocology are preparing a table that you won’t be able to resist. And with over forty other local restaurants, live music and locally craft beverages and wines, a good time will be had by all.
Madeline and I love working together in the Chocology Test Kitchen. A little of this and a little of that (that’s how my mom taught me) and voila! New flavors emerge.
Recently, we decided to add mint to our famous, award winning Fat Ass Fudge. After tinkering with it for a bit, we decided to take it to the people. We packaged and loaded it up and handed out lots of samples at the Port Jefferson Winter Farmers Market.
After 3-weeks of customer input... Whoa, what a success! The response was overwhelming. And since we are all about the customer, we will be adding Fat Ass Fudge Chocolate Mint flavor to our product line. (a hint of chocolate at the end) We just love it when our tinkering in the kitchen delights and pleases our customers. Our mission is to continue working with our customers to bring new flavors that please the palate and delight young and old alike.
In addition, we have developed another fudge flavor that will compliment the summer months that are soon to be upon us. Our cHarissa (23 Moroccan spices) fudge is spicy and chocolaty, the cHarissa blends into our chocolate and is all wrapped into one awesome fudge delight. Chocolate with a kick at the end, just enough kick to keep you going back for more.
cHarissa Spice, is a wildly popular spicy condiment developed by a local Long Islander, in honor of his late wife. We started out last summer by pairing this spice with our patrons at the Farmer’s Market. When we took it to the test kitchen and added it to the fudge, we came up with a most pleasing spicy taste that everyone loved.
We are super excited to unveil these two new flavors on our website. We’d love to hear your feedback. Which do you like best? Chocolate minty fudge or cHarissa spiced fudge? We look forward to having you try these new flavors and are excited to continue our work in the test kitchen to develop new and unusual flavor combinations that suit a variety of tastes and preferences.
Here’s to tinkering, chocolate and inventing new flavors!
~The Chocology Team