Charm the Chocolate Lover in Your Life

Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Bookshare, Frugal For Everyone, Health, Product Information, Recipes | 61 comments

 chocolateI 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.

truffles - coconutLater in this post I have included a scrumptious recipe for Guinness Chocolate Truffles made with 70% chocolate and Guinness extra stout beer. Imagine, a treat that is actually good for you.

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?


The Grand Place, Brussels. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with beautiful historic buildings. There are dozens of chocolate and specialty shops, making the Grand Place a gourmand’s delight. This area is safe, friendly and magical. (From the book- Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate)

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.

Truffles Ingredients

  • 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. truffles in tin 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:

Canadian readers can order direct from:
Happy reading, indulging and giving.

Talk to you again next week,





  1. You made me want to go to Belgium and eat chocolate, both. Actually Belgium has been on my bucket list since I traveled by train through this little country back in ’10.

    • Right on, Amanda! Belgium is the perfect place for chocokate lovers. Enjoy!

  2. Hi Lenie! Thank you so much for posting this. For years, I have been making personalized things to give as Christmas gifts to my cousins who seem to have everything in life. I will start to shop around for pretty containers to put these yummy creations in. Chocolate truffles it is this year!

    • Eileen – I’m so glad to help. I found my containers at the Thrift store and they are just the right size, nothing to big. I’m sure your cousins will be delighted.

  3. My mouth is watering! Wonderful article, such attention to detail.

    Thank you for sharing.

  4. Doreen & Lenie–so glad to read this post and learn about the book. I have the perfect chocolate lover in mind to gift it to.

    I was never a crazy person for chocolate until I went to Brussels and had both Leonidas and Neuhaus chocolates. I am constantly on the search to find them here–it is the most extraordinary chocolate I’ve ever tasted. My husband and I made two boxes of it last a long time–allowing ourselves one piece each evening and going even further by cutting them in half to share them with each other.

    Good blog to read this morning–my taste buds woke up happy with the memories!

    • Isn’t Belgium a fascinating country? Mind you, all the places Doreen visited were interesting and the way she writes really does take you along for the journey. So glad to bring back some good memories. I’m sure the receiver of the book will enjoy it thoroughly.

  5. That looks like a good book. I need to try that recipe out.

  6. Like said Mariska:”Chocolate is the first luxury. It has so many things wrapped up in it: Deliciusness in the moment, childhood memories, and that grin-inducing feeling of getting a reward for being good.”

  7. Lenie — I also read Doreen’s book. What an amazing journey she took to find the best chocolate. I love chocolate and thanks for the truffles recipe. I can just taste them melting in my mouth!

    • Hi Jeannette, Doreen had such a great way to make the book interesting – hard to believe there is so much to chocolate. and those truffles, yum, yum, yum.

  8. I will be making these for Christmas! Lenie I love you! I am also putting that book on my Amazon wish list.

    • Niekka, you’re going to love both -Those truffles are so good and so easy. Glad you’re putting the book on your wish list. It’s A GREAT READ.

  9. Over 2,000 chocolate shops! Europeans culinary tastes are so above US standards. Great chocolate is a delicacy and should be savored; one piece is so satisfying. Unlike the 50 Hersey kisses it takes to quench a chocolate craving.
    This is a great Christmas gift for a chocolate lover. Adding a box of Belgium chocolates would make the gift even better. : )

  10. These days, I eat dark chocolate without any guilt. I’ve also learned to do the same for the rest! The recipe sounds great, especially the coconut.

  11. Thanks so much for a lovely review of Doreen’s book which would indeed make a fabulous gift. Now those Guiness truffles sound absolutely wicked!!! Off to the store….

    • Hi A.K.I think I read the book at the right time because it immediately came to mind that it would make a great gift. And those Guinness Truffles, for something so good they were surprisingly easy to make.

  12. Doreen’s book on chocolate really is quite the accomplishment and I’m looking forward to the coming volumes as well.

    • Jeri, it has been such an honour to profile this book. You, as writer, would certainly know what it takes to get a book published and then to win the 2014 Readers Choice Bronze Medal Award is quite the accomplishment.

  13. Very thoughtful post. Didn’t know that Chocolates could be a Fabulous gift

    • Hi Ikechi = chocolate isn’t just a great gift but a healthy one – check out the book, it tells all.

  14. Not surprisingly I love chocolate, which is why I write a mystery series based around a chocolatier and caterer. Doreen’s book sounds absolutely fascinating and I would love to learn more about the chocolate making process and tour the cocoa producing plantations as well. Her visits to famous chocolate makers in Belgium sound like the next best thing to being there. Both I, and my alter ego, Maxine would love to journey there at some point. Until then, Doreen’s book sounds like the next best thing and the truffles sound marvellous.

    • Pat, you are going to love this book – it has everything that you want to know about chocolate including loads of resources. In addition, Doreen writes in such a way that you feel you are traveling with her so you are absolutely right – it is the next best thing to traveling yourself because you experience all the sights. I’ll have to check out your books too.

  15. Yum, yum and yum! I love dark chocolate and how nice that you featured Doreen’s book. I limit my intake because I am pre-diabetic, but wow, this all looks so delish. Might have to splurge. Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Hi Laurie: in the health benefits chapter of Chocolatour, I mention that the availability of pure, dark chocolate has eliminated the need for diabetics to avoid chocolate. A square of a bar that is at least 70% cocoa only represents a single serving of carbohydrates. So … Enjoy without fear!

  16. These truffles sound TOO good if you ask me!

  17. I’ve never been one of those people who can’t live without chocolate, but if I’m going to eat it, it has to be dark chocolate. Loved your article and the background. Options are pretty limited where I live, in act I can still remember when the opened the one and only Sees Candy here a year ago – it made front page news!

  18. Unlike Ken, I am most definitely a chocolate lover but it is a double edged sword I am trying to defeat. Put chocolate in front of me and I will eat it. Put a book about chocolate in front of me and I will go buy chocolate and eat it. Not one piece at a time but the whole box. It is my vice and I will never live in Belgium because of it 🙂 All the best with the book Doreen and thanks for helping get the word out Lenie…very nice of you.

    • Tim, the key here is that you can and should eat good, pure dark chocolate every day. It is a power food. It is good for you. It’s only when you eat processed chocolate that is loaded with sugar that it becomes problematic. There is an extensive chapter in the book on the health benefits of chocolate. Enjoy!

      • There you go Marquita – you are right to enjoy the dark chocolate.Like everything else, it’s best to eat before it’s processed. Beth, so glad we could help with your Christmas list. Tim, this was a fascinating project,one I thoroughly enjoyed doing (and eating).

  19. Thanks for solving my ‘what to get them for Christmas this year’ question for a few chocolate lovers. Love the Chocogasms title. Also, I’m very pleased with the advice to give in to a craving for chocolate although I don’t crave it until I have the first bite!

  20. Although I wouldn’t consider myself a chocolate lover, I have always been fascinated by how different chocolate tastes in different countries Perhaps if the chocolate commonly available in the U.s. was of the quality that you find in some of the countries mentioned in your post, I would be more into it. Surprisingly, some of the best chocolate I’ve had was in Hong Kong. I used to go there for business trips and come home with chocolate covered doughnuts in my briefcase because they were like nothing you could buy here.

    • Hi Ken: Things are really changing ion the US front. There are now many excellent bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Canada and the US who are making incredible chocolate. You’re one up on me! I’ve not yet been to China, so have not tasted any chocolate from Hong Kong.

  21. I think I gained 10 pounds just looking at the pictures of the chocolate.
    Thank you for sharing this, sometimes we have no idea of the history of something like chocolate.

  22. Travelling and chocolate lovers like me are definitely going to love this book. Thanks for sharing!

  23. You had me at chocolate. 🙂 Chocolate always makes me feel better. I mention it right there on my blog’s About Me page. I like that this book is part travel log as well. Thanks for sharing.

  24. I too have read an really enjoyed Doreen’s book. Who knew there so much to learn and know about chocolate. I found it fascinating.I love that you made the truffles…what a great Christmas gift for anyone. Thanks for the heads up on the coconut:) Sounds like it could be my favorite too:)

    • I know Jacquie – if someone had asked me to write a book about chocolate I would have said it couldn’t be done. A page yes, a book no. But Doreen not only did it, she kept it interesting all the way through. The truffles, for sounding fancy, were really very easy to make and you’re right, they do make a great gift.

  25. Hi Lenie, a friend of mine recently was telling me about Doreen’s trip! It mixes my 2 favorite things- travel and chocolate!! Also, being Irish, the Guinness truffles sound like a dream! thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Noelle, This book does combine travel, chocolate, throw in a little adventure, some fascinating history and gorgeous photographs. What more could you want from one book, right? And those truffles – they actually were very little work for something that good.

  26. Hi Lenie.
    I attended a chocolate making workshop last month and for some reason they decided not to include a recipe for chocolate truffles. After reading this post, I am not sure whom to thank for this great recipe. You or Doreen? Thank you both.

    • Thanks for your comment, Apurva. You have Guinness to thank for the truffle recipe. I hope you enjoy them.

  27. Hi Lenie, this would certainly make a great Christmas present for the chocolate enthusiast!

    • I think it would make a fabulous gift – it combines chocolate info, travel, and recipes – what more could you want?

  28. How nice that you wrote about Doreens book, Lenie. Chocolate lovers will indeed be happy to read it.

    • Catarina, I was happy to read it and above all to eat those fantastic truffles.

  29. All the best for the book Doreen.

    Its amazing to know that belgium house 2,130 chocolate shops. I am happy that I am not there otherwise I must have got Sugar :).

    The recipe seems yummy and I Love the cover of Book with lot of delicious chocolates. Its tempting.

    • Wasn’t that interesting about Belgium? Besides the chocolate trivia, I was really impressed with the buildings. Canada is too new to have many buildings like that.

  30. Lenie- What a treat Guinness Chocolate Truffles. Actually the recipe is cheaper than buyer chocolate truffles, so making it I will look like a big shot. Love it. Doreen took me to a place I had never heard of before and it is so interesting that she is a Chocolatour. Have to love it that chocolate has more antioxidants than blueberries

    • This whole book is so filled with interesting chocolate stuff, besides the fantastic recipes. Doreen said the next volume will have even more – can’t wait.

    • Hi Arleen and everyone: Glad everyone is enjoying this post. Chocolatour has really been an amazing project to research (taste!) and write. Arleen, ‘Chocolatour’ is the name of my book and “brand.” I am a chocolate enthusiast (expert?) and some may call me a ‘chocolateur’ because of my knowledge of artisanal chocolate. People who make chocolate from couverture are known as chocolatiers. So many terms all very similar, but each mean something quite different. Glad to have you all along on the journey!

  31. I must book a ticket to Belgium some time…their chocolates seem almost that they’ve been crafted in heaven…now I’m feeling quite hungry. Thanks for this mouthwatering post, Lenie.


    • Hi Vijay – wasn’t that a wonderful picture of the Grand Place? Just think all those chocolate shops to visit and what I learned from the book are the many different ways to use chocolate. Delicious.

      • It is a wonderful picture, Lenie. Just imagine if the Grand Palace was itself made of chocolate. Half of it would have been in my stomach and Iwould have to jog considerably around the other half just to shrug off those inevitable extra pounds haha!

  32. I have Doreen’s book and agree there is a lot to enjoy in the book. I’ve made the Chocolate Balsamic salad dressing recipe in the book and it was fantastic.

    • Hi Donna, thanks for stopping in. I haven’t tried the Chocolate Balsamic salad dressing – somehow I associate salads with summer – but maybe I will check it out. For a book that’s not a cookbook, it has some pretty great recipes, doesn’t it?

  33. How nice! Two of my favorite bloggers and chocolate all in one post. Doreen’s book would make a terrific Christmas gift, Lenie, as would a big box of Guinness Chocolate truffles. Yummy!

    • Hi Susan, isn’t this fun? I had a great time reading the book, making the Guinness Chocolate Truffles, and profiling Doreen on my blog. Your lovely comment just makes it complete.

    • Thanks for your wonderful comments, gals, and again, to Lenie, for sharing Chocolatour and the truffles recipe with her readers. There will be an expanded “Pairings and Recipes” chapter in Volume II of Chocolatour. But yes, we’ve got a taste of some scrumptious chocolate-based recipes in Volume I, and I’m grateful to the chocolate makers who have offered to share them.

  34. Thx so much for profiling my book on your blog, Lenie. I hope your readers enjoy their chocolate. I truly enjoy the Guinness dark chocolate truffles you have featured here. Who’d have thought that stout beer would make such great truffles?

    • You’re very welcome Doreen. I so much enjoyed the book and the Guinness Truffles that sharing with my readers was the logical next step. Have a great time in Miami as you receive the Reader’s Choice Bronze Medal. Congratulations.

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