Monday, December 27, 2010

Chocolate Stocking Report

Dark chocolate is very popular in this household.  Our siblings know this and treat us to some truly special ones at this time of year. 

This year we received a stockingful of dark chocolate bars to sample and compare.  It’s every chocoholic’s dream holiday.  We try to restrain ourselves and only sample one or two at a time.  It helps us keep the nuances of flavor clear and our heads from spinning.  So far we have broken into three bars and thought we had a clear favorite.  Today there was a split decision.  As we sample we are contemplating what to cook with the briefcase-sized brick of semi-sweet chocolate sent by another sibling.  Grated semi-sweet chocolate in hot milk makes very nice hot chocolate.  I have several fondue recipes floating around that would put the giant bar to good use.  A neighbor told me that the chocolate cake she recently baked for a crowd required a full two pounds of chocolate.  I think I’m set for any eventuality.  And then there are the profiteroles we made the other day that only require freshly made fudge sauce as a topping. 

I won’t divulge the winner of this year’s dark chocolate competition but I do encourage you to set up a sampling too.  It may be too late for stockings, but New Year’s is around the corner and a tray or table stocked with a variety of chocolates is fun for guests.  Many people like to sip red wine with really dark chocolate.  Others like a snifter of rum or brandy.

Chocolate isn’t the only food that lends itself to party sampling.  Now that craft-level caramels and toffees are popular and abundant, you can create a sampling of salted caramels, chocolate-covered  toffee, dulce de leche cheesecake and butterscotch brownies either homemade or from speacialty stores.  On the savory side, a salsa tasting or cheese sampling is very easy.  Pick a theme to create a focus, like goat cheeses or blues and dig in.  It’s a great way to find a new favorite.

Special thanks to Diana, Jim, Julia, Liam, Chester and Bill.  This blog entry would not have been possible without you.