I recently received the book “Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate”. As I was reading it I thought this would make a fabulous gift for the chocolate lover. Written by my friend, award-winning author Doreen Pendgracs, a fellow Canadian, Chocolatour takes you on an adventure around the world in search of the World’s Best Chocolate.
Through the book, Doreen allows the reader to accompany her on the journey. She starts by taking you to where it all begins, the cacao plantations of South America. This is also where the adventure begins – to Peru, with a two-hour cab ride followed by a four-hour river journey, in a small motorized boat, over numerous rapids. This is followed by a trip to Ecuador where a mudslide disrupts the journey and you need to wait eight hours for the roads to be cleared before traveling on. She then takes you on the rest of the South American adventure, which is fortunately not all hazardous as it includes a visit to a luxurious spa where a chocolate body scrub turns into a blissful, rejuvenating experience.
The next chapter is called “Chocogasms and other health benefits of chocolate”. How’s that for an enticing title? Chocolate is called the ‘feel good’ drug and it has numerous health benefits. It contains many health-friendly minerals, vitamins and antioxidants (raw chocolate has ten times more antioxidants than blueberries). One research finding that chocolate lovers are going to love is if you have a chocolate craving, just give in to it. Once you do, you’ll feel better, be more mentally and emotionally balanced and more able to get on with your day.
Back to the book. Doreen then takes you on a tour of chocolate companies throughout Europe and the UK. You will meet world famous chocolatiers from Belgium, France, Holland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. These masters proudly discuss their craft and offer many different ways to use and serve chocolate. They’ve provided some fascinating recipes, including chocolate gazpacho or how about a summer salad dressed with a chocolate vinaigrette?
One of the cities that really intrigued me was Brussels, in Belgium. This tiny European country is home to 2,130 chocolate shops and the Grand Place in Brussels, shown below, has a number of famous chocolate shops. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to spend a day or two there?
There is so much more to enjoy in this book, but you’ll have to discover that for yourself. Right now I want to share one of the recipes in the book for:
Guinness Chocolate Truffles
From Executive Chef, Justin O’Connor, of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland.
- 1 kg. dark chocolate 70% or better
- 400 ml heavy cream
- 100 ml Guinness extra stout beer
- zest of one orange, grated
- cocoa powder or dessicated coconut to coat the truffles.
- Add the cream and the Guinness to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Add the chocolate and grated orange zest.
- Mix together until the chocolate is fully melted.
- Leave the chocolate mixture until it is cool to the touch, but not set.
- Take generous teaspoons of the mixture and roll in your hands to form small round truffles. Dust in cocoa powder or coconut powder. I prefer the coconut as it adds a lovely flavour to the truffles.
- Set in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Makes 25 truffles. Shelf life: One month.
MY NOTES: You can use the 70% (or better) chocolate bars from the grocery store. I bought 3-300g bars and 1-100 gram bar to make up the 1 kg. It took about three hours for the mixture to be cool and firm enough to work with. His truffles must have been larger than mine because I ended up with a bit more than 4 dozen. I found the ones rolled in cocoa powder a bit bitter, so mixed 1 Tbsp. sugar with 1/4 cup cocoa powder which made it much better. The coconut ones were out of this world. This is not a frugal recipe – cost about $20.00 – but if used for gifts, it works. The small Christmas tin I used, shown, held 12 truffles nicely – one is set aside for our mail-lady and another one will go to an elderly neighbour.
This really is an charming book, one which any chocolate lover would appreciate. It’s available from Amazon at:
Talk to you again next week,