Count all the different kinds of chocolate in your pantry. I know that I have chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate bars for baking, unsweetened cocoa for baking, instant cocoa for hot chocolate, a bar of Mexican (sweet) chocolate, chocolate syrup in the refrigerator, and chocolates for eating, including some of the new organic chocolate bars.
I declare that I am not a chocoholic. Yet it would seem that I have a chocolate for every occasion, and you probably have more than you realize, too.
Chocolate is part of the holidays, from eating chocolates to cooking and baking with chocolate. Selecting the right variety for your holiday baking is important to success in preparing the recipe; there are so many types of chocolate to choose from.
The nuances of chocolate include a gamut of flavors, from nutty and cherry to smoky, earthy, and spicy, according to an article in the March/April issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine.
Use the precise ingredient called for in each recipe. For example:
●Unsweetened chocolate does not contain sugar or milk solids; therefore, it is not eaten in its raw form.
●Baking chocolate is sold in bars that are, in general, about 60 percent cacao and 40 percent sugar (there is no cocoa butter), according to The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz (Ten Speed Press, $16.95).
●Baking-resistant chocolate is in the form of semisweet chocolate morsels. They retain their shape during the heat of baking; therefore, they should not be melted and used in place of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate as the lower amount of cocoa butter will result in a thick mass.
●Milk chocolate contains a minimum of 10 percent cacao solids and 12 percent milk solids; sugar is added.
●Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate contain a minimum of 35 percent cacao solids. Sugar is added for sweetness and cocoa butter for fluidity and smooth mouth-feel.
●Sweet chocolate is more of a snacking candy and is rarely used in baking; it is used in Mexican-style hot chocolate.
●Unsweetened cocoa powder is made from warm chocolate liquor in which the cocoa butter is separated and removed, leaving cocoa solids. Dutched cocoa powder has been washed with alkali solution of potassium carbonate to neutralize acidity and darken the powder. Most American recipes call for non-Dutched cocoa powder along with use of baking soda as a leavening agent. Recipes that call for Dutched cocoa use baking powder.
●White chocolate has no cacao solids; it is made from cocoa butter and sugar and sometimes vanilla.
Mr. Lebovitz's cookbook includes an extensive explanation on chocolates, buying chocolate from a chocolatier, and information on the new organic chocolates, such as Green & Black's Organic Chocolate Bars (nine varieties from caramel to mint). The Great Book of Chocolate has recipes such as Mocha Pudding Cake and Double Chocolate Souffles.
The cookbook is not alone in offering wonderful chocolate recipes. In The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough (Morrow, $16.95), you'll find the basics, such as Chocolate Refrigerator Cookies and Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies as well as Chocolate Meringues, and Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies.
From 125 Best Chocolate Recipes by Julie Hasson (Rose, $18.95), there's Chocolate Matzo, Vegan Chocolate Espresso Brownies, Matzo Pizza, and Chocolate Challah.
Lucious Chocolate Desserts by Lori Longbotham includes Chocolate Panna Cotta (the Italian dessert) and Bittersweet Chocolate Gelato, and French Chocolate Macaroons - crisp cookies sandwiched with creamy ganache filling.
A holiday open house at Essential Gourmet will feature food demonstrations and samples today from noon to 4 p.m. Among the demonstrations are Cameron Stove-Top Smokers and a seafood demonstration by Jeff McKahan of Rohr's Fish at the Erie Street Market. The store is located at 5650 Mayberry Square in Sylvania.
Food Fest 2005 will be Jan. 14-16 at Lakeview Golf Resort & Spa in Morgantown, West Va. This is the 20th annual gourmet getaway with cookie classes and seminars. The weekend begins with an Italian Feast by Pittsburgh cooking teachers and chefs Brad Walter and Tom Hambor featuring bolognese lasagna and panna cotta.
Tom Johnson of Western Reserve School of Cooking in Hudson and Sur La Table in Columbus will teach Simple South Asian cooking, including Grilled Thai Pork Chops and Indonesian Stir Fried Green Beans. For a slow cooking demonstration, chef Tom Quick will prepare coq au vin and slow-roasted beef pot roast.
There will also be sessions on Cream Puffs, Profiteroles and More!, Tea: Steeped in History and Tradition, and the Produce Corner.
The event planned by Gail Guggenheim is $349, per couple which includes a double room Friday and Saturday nights, continental breakfasts, banquet dinner on Saturday and all classes and tastings. For reservations and information, call 800-624-8300.