KOL FOODS: A Revolution in Kosher Meat

Thank you, KOL Foods, for providing me with the meat used in this recipe. A special thank you to Hadassah Sabo Milner (Social Media Specialist of KOL foods) for her assistance and guidance. KOL poultry hashgacha is OU and CHK (Crown Heights) certified.  Before using any product that you are unfamiliar with regarding certification, please consult your personal Rabbincal authority. I have been given product by KOL Foods, and have not been compensated financially.

I believe I can safely posit the theory that there has never been a time in modern history where a person needed to be so concerned for what went into their food, especially their meat, poultry or fish. Nor have we ever been so aware of the conditions that the animals are raised in, as well. Considering both of these topics, in my opinion, is something that gives me a great deal to contemplate.

While kosher meat is not as harmful to a person, the animals themselves, or the environment as non-kosher (in terms of how the animal is raised, what it is fed, and how it is slaughtered) there is most certainly room to argue if kosher meat does all in its capabilities to both animal and customer.

I sometimes wonder about that. Compared to the way non-kosher animals are slaughtered, shechita is far and away the kindest way to end an animal’s life. As concerned as we are to ensure our animals die humanely, do kosher meat companies also show the same level of care that they live just as humanely?  I know of one company that subscribes to this theory whole-heartedly.

KOL Foods is starting, in my opinion, a quiet but growing revolution in kosher meat, poultry and fish. In a world where additives, injections, corn enhanced feeds and feedlots are the norm, KOL  Foods is leading the charge in the opposite direction.  Their animals are grass fed throughout their entire lives, kept on pasture, and never injected with a single foreign substance. In other words, the animals are raised the way G-d intended them to. And they are slaughtered the same way. It’s a completed cycle, and one that I would be happy to support.

There are all sorts of food ‘movements’ out there – locavorism, farm to table, nose-to-tail. How about adding ‘completely humane’ as well to that list? I believe we should.  I actually got a chance to see if KOL Foods lived up to the hype. The difference in the taste, quality, and overall treatment of the end product is startling in the very best way. I tested both their boneless/skinless chicken legs and their boneless/skinless chicken breasts. To start, I was stunned at the chicken legs – they were entire chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) completely boned out and they were clean. When I say clean, I mean there was little residual fat from the skin, there were no tendons, and no bones or cartilage. The meat itself  took the marinade fantastically, and the taste at the end gave new meaning to the expression ‘it tastes like chicken.”

The chicken cutlets I shall discuss in my next post on KOL Foods- where there will also be the very first ever giveaway for this blog! One lucky reader will win exactly what I tested – a pack of KOL Foods dark chicken fillets and 2 packs of boneless/skinless chicken cutlets! But let me not get too far ahead of myself here- don’t you want to see what I made with my dark chicken fillets?

 

French Style Braised Dark Chicken Fillets with Crimmi mushrooms, white potatoes, onions and fresh herbs.

French Style Braised Dark Chicken Fillets with Crimini mushrooms, white potatoes, onions and fresh herbs.

 

Recipe for French-style Braised Chicken Legs

Ingredients for Marinade

1 package (1.5 lbs approx) KOL FOODS boneless dark chicken fillets

5 sprigs fresh rosemary

6 stems of fresh sage

4 cloves fresh garlic

Salt and pepper

1/2 C of Extra-virgin olive oil

Marinade:

Take 5 sprigs of rosemary, 6 stems of sage, 4 cloves of garlic , 1/2 C of EVOO, a handful of salt and pepper and the chicken thighs and combine.  Cover and leave sit in fridge for a minimum of an hour.

 

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For the Stew:

1 package KOL FOODS boneless dark chicken fillets, pre-marinated (see above)

1/3 C Extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium Vidalia or Spanish onion, cut medium dice

1 bunch celery, cut medium dice

3 large white potatoes, quartered lengthwise and cut medium dice

2 10 oz packages of crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut in half

4 fresh garlic cloves, finely minced

3 stems fresh sage, finely minced

4 Gefen frozen cubes of basil

5 Gefen frozen cubes of parsley

1 1/2 C good red wine ( I used Kedem Burgundy Royale so that or better)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

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Take a 5Qt or larger Dutch oven or stock pot with a tight fitting lid and heat well. Add your pre-marinated dark chicken fillets, searing them for about 3 mins per side. You do not want to completely cook them, just get a bit of golden brown on outside. Remove from pot and set aside.

Using the drippings from searing, add the oil, keeping your heat medium to high. Add onions, garlic and celery, cooking for a few minutes til onions start to become translucent. Add remainder of vegetables, herbs and spices and cook for approx 10 mins this way, then re-add chicken pieces.

 

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Cook for about 50 mins on a low to medium temperature, stirring occasionally. Meal is done when you can cut the chicken into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon and potatoes are fork-tender.

Please visit http://www.kolfoods.com/ for information on their wide range of completely free-range, organic products.

 

 

 

Manischewitz Gets a Gold Star

Special thanks to Courtney Manders of Bender Hammerling  for the products I sampled! All opinions are my own – I received product to sample, no financial compensation.

Several years ago, the only things I associated Manischewitz with the following: overly sweet kiddish wine, matzo, and jarred gefilte fish.

In the past few years the list came to include TamTams and Passover macaroons.

This past year, the list expanded to canned meat gravies and boxed broth.

Now, it seems that Manischewitz is determined to shatter the glass ceiling it found itself under, especially in the taste category.  And for this, they get a gold star.

 

Some of the newest products in the Manischewitz Gluten-Free/Passover line

Some of the newest products in the Manischewitz Gluten-Free/Passover line

 

I (and my family) recently sampled the following products: Magic Max’s Chocolate Chip Passover cereal, Gluten-Free Crackers, Almond Butter, and Guiltless Gourmet Cashew and Almond bars.

DH liked the cereal dry (” Hey, that’s not bad”- high praise from him indeed. DS7 loved it( “This is my favorite cereal – please don’t give any to the other kids. I want it all for me) DS3 liked the taste and the character on the box. (“I want the star cereal, Mommy)

DH and I both tried the Guiltless Gourmet nut bars. I liked the cashew one: my only thoughts were a) there should be more cranberries and b) something needs to added so it doesn’t break into pieces inside the wrapper, before I even opened it.  DH liked almond one – he thought the cashew one was a bit sweet. I disagreed – I thought the almond one was sweeter, and I felt that it needed something more to break up the nuts – raisins, perhaps.

Where DH and I agreed: the almond butter and Gluten-Free Crackers. Breakfast one morning was DH and I, leaning against the kitchen counter and eating the crackers straight from the box, dipped into the almond butter straight from the jar. We agreed we’d do that again – it was that good. Even plain, the Gluten-Free Crackers were very good. Not too heavy, a little taste of salt, and I could imagine eating them with a variety of toippings.

To conclude: Don’t underestimate Manischewitz. Go to www.manischewitz.com/ to see their full product lines.

 

KFWE2013: The Best Bites

A special thanks to Stephanie Meissner and her associate Ilya for providing me with press passes for both the day and evening events.

Where do I start? I feel like almost everything I tasted should be on this list! But what I listed below really stood out for me head and shoulders above everything else. Let’s get started:

Heavenly Caterers:  Their standout dishes? The vegetable water (which most people seemed to find bitter, but I actually found made a fantastic palate cleanser) their brisket au jus and their rice krispie treats on a stick. These were served during the day.

At night, they had these edible spoons made out of pretzel dough filled with seared tuna and adorable little cones filled with spicy salmon tartar. Delicious!

Flower Water (Heavenly Caterers) : A bitter but refreshing drink of pomegranate, tomato and hothouse cucumber.

Flower Water (Heavenly Caterers) : A bitter but refreshing drink of pomegranate, tomato and hothouse cucumber.

 

 

Brisket Au Jus (Heavenly Caterers. The softest, most tender brisket I've ever eaten.

Brisket Au Jus (Heavenly Caterers. The softest, most tender brisket I’ve ever eaten.

 

 

Rice Krispie Treat (Heavenly Caterers) This was delicious- the peanutbutter with vanilla topping was better

Rice Krispie Treat (Heavenly Caterers) This was delicious- the peanutbutter with vanilla topping was better.

 

Gemstone Caterers: There was fierce debate here: was the polenta really polenta? It had kernels of whole corn in it, and to some was on the thin side and under seasoned. Personally? I took that piece of smoked veal belly, smeared it in the gastrique and polenta and ate one of the best mouthfuls of the day.

 

Herzog Oak Barrel Smoked Veal Belly with corn polenta and blackberry & port gastrique (Gemstone Catering

Herzog Oak Barrel Smoked Veal Belly with corn polenta and blackberry & port gastrique (Gemstone Catering)

I will also mention I got the slightest bit tipsy on the jello shots. I tasted three: the rum-and-coke, the champagne bellini, and the gin and tonic.  For me, it was the champagne bellini that got the gold star – not too sweet, not too strong.

Kedem Champagne Bellini Jello Shot (Gemstone Catering)

Kedem Champagne Bellini Jello Shot (Gemstone Catering)

 

Hakadosh BBQ: Their pulled chicken slider for me was their best bite. The BBQ alone was sweeter than I would prefer (I prefer smoky to sweet) but combined with the bread-n-butter pickle and the soft roll it was nearly perfect.

So delicious - the sweet of the BBQ, the soft roll and the tang of the pickle. (Hakadosh BBQ)

So delicious – the sweet of the BBQ, the soft roll and the tang of the pickle. (Hakadosh BBQ)

Silverleaf Caterers: I went looking for them this year. And just like last year, they didn’t disappoint. This year they rolled out a churrascaria station!  My favorites: chicken thigh wrapped in Jack’s Gourmet Facon, and the flame grilled churrasco beef. The beef, slathered in the best chimichurri I have ever tasted, was a true pleasure to sample.

Churrasacaria Station - the chimchurri beef was delicious! (Silverleaf Caterers)

Churrasacaria Station -L-R flame grilled beef with chimichurri, mojo marinated chicken breast tenderloin and chicken thigh wrapped in Jack’s Gourmet Facon (Silverleaf Caterers)

Wolf and Lamb: Their slow braised veal was wonderful. Another bite where you put a bit of everything (in this case turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce) onto your fork and enjoy.

Slow Braised Veal with turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce (Wolf and Lamb)

Slow Braised Veal with turnip puree, fried shallots and porcini sauce (Wolf and Lamb)

Rolls: I asked the chef for his best, and I was treated to a sashimi plate with the freshest raw white tuna, seared tuna and spicy salmon tartare with a delicious honey wasabi sauce. That’s right – honey wasabi. I intensely dislike wasabi anything, but I loved this sauce.

 

The special sashimi plate the sushi chef from Rolls made for me- it was fantastic!

The special sashimi plate the sushi chef from Rolls made for me- it was fantastic!

Basil: This exhibit provided a bite of food that I couldn’t stop raving about.  Take a homemade kirby pickle. Top with icelandic cod, add a tapenade of grapes and capers. Eat all in one bite.  Try not to jump up and down and act all giddy. I know I wanted to, and could barely restrain myself.

Icelandic Cod Crudo with grape/caper tapenade (Basil)

Icelandic Cod Crudo with grape/caper tapenade (Basil)

 

The dessert that stood out far and away? It was a toss between two, but both from the same exhibit. Susan Sez Say it With Cake. Their lemon squares had me raving for days and their chocolate cake with ganache had me wondering if their cakes were secretly dairy. They’re not- they are just that good. I can say I hadn’t tasted any baked good so delicious since I left culinary school.

Needless to say, it was an experience I will not be forgetting soon, and will be looking forward to next year!

 

 

February Kosher Connection Link Up : Purim Goodies!

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I have a special fondness for Purim. It has nothing to do with hamataschen, or groggers, or even the general color and sounds of the day. I love that I spend the entire day either cooking or giving out mishloach manot. We celebrate by having two seudot, one at about 11am and then another around 4pm. It is a busy, busy day that doesn’t stop – and it’s wonderful.  This month’s Kosher Connection Link Up is Purim Goodies, or treats you might put in a shaloach manot. I recently made (in the spirit of attempting to clean out my kitchen pantry) these recipes for chocolate bark. The white chocolate (use dairy chocolate – it’s totally worth the expense) has dried cranberries that have been rehydrated with Disaronno, with chopped almonds. The dark chocolate had peanutbutter candy filling (peanutbutter, confectioner sugar and light corn syrup) and pretzels with seasme seeds.


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It’s not Chanukah without..Cookies?! Part 4 of the Scharffen Berger Experiments

Thank you goes to Jane Mermel from RF Binder for the Scharffen Berger cocoa powder used in this recipe.

It’s that time of year again. Chanukah is a time of miracles both past and present celebrated. It’s a time for family, for getting together, for laughter and warmth. Best of all, it’s a time for food. Not just any kind, but rich, delicious foods that warm both heart and soul. It’s memory making food. Many people I know celebrate with latkes ( made from potato and root vegetables of every type) or sufganiot (rich donuts filled with jam or custard).

Me and my family? We love cookies, and this year we have a new recipe to try.

For us, it’s not Chanukah without cookies. DH grew up eating Chanukah cookies, and I will take cookies over latkes and sufganiot any day. I recently conducted an experiment with the following recipe ( Callebaut vs. Scharffen Berger) for chocolate peanutbutter cookies, and it was a tie! If it was that good, I decided, it was good enough for my family.  Here’s the recipe, adapted from (as most of my pastry recipes are) Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio (pg 38 the 1-2-3 Cookie Dough)

Chocolate PeanutButter Cookies: these may be a new family favorite.

Combine 2 oz sugar, 4 oz butter or margarine, a pinch of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 6 oz flour. ( I added 4 scant tsp cocoa powder and 3 oz peanutbutter) Mix together, and roll into small balls ( The book calls for 1-1/2inch, but I made balls about half that size and was very happy) Space out on a cookie tray, bake at 350F for 20 mins. I left mine sit in the oven for 5 mins extra to get a bit crispy, but if you don’t like that, remove and let cool a little, then  move to cooling tray to cool completely.

Highlights of Kosherfest 2012

In no way is this blog suggesting its readers eat anything that they normally wouldn’t because it is listed here. In any cases of doubt, please consult your rabbinic authority.

I feel like Kosherfest was a few days ago, but I know it wasn’t. I have been going through my photos and samples, and remembering who I met and spoke to at the event. For me, it was fantastic time. I met (and re-met) so many people, and tried so many different things from so many different places! The world of kosher is really expanding, and there are now products for people who eat all types of diets.

This year seemed to focus on “alternative” products – products for the gluten free, dairy free, wheat free consumer. One of the things that fascinated me the most was a line of products..from coconuts? There was coconut flour, sugar, oil, even vinegar. These products were brought to the show from the Philippines, and I had to ask: how do you use coconut flour? Apparently you can replace up to 25% of a more traditional flour source with the coconut flour. It doesn’t rise, so it is better suited to something like cookies versus cakes.

There was a vendor showcasing a form of a corn crisp/cake that I found interesting because 1) it tasted really good plain and 2) it didn’t crumble! I love rice and corn cakes, but cannot stand that they crumble.

Another product that stood out was a corn tortilla! I have never seen (til Kosherfest) a kosher corn tortilla that was available in the grocery store! When I found out about these I went to the store and bought two packages..they are that delicious! Look for them under the Yossi’s Bakery label.

What would be amazing on a corn tortilla for a gluten-free FLT (facon, lettuce and tomato) wrap? FACON. That’s right, no mis-spelling. Kosher form of bacon, from Jack’s Gourmet. And I have to say, (and I can say this with authority) it is the closest thing the kosher world has to the non-kosher product. It won top awards at Kosherfest, and there is no doubt as to why. This is a must-buy product.

 

For the meat-free consumer, you would be missing out if you did not try to get Seasoned Seitan. A high-protein meatless product, it is thin and has a delicious meaty flavor. I am extremely skeptical of meat replacements, (they usually taste artificial, or they are hard to digest for me) but this one I will be buying. 3 thin slices of this product contain 25 grams (25!) of protein.

Now to my favorites: desserts! This was the year of the gelato. One took top awards, and two others were showcased that were really something else. It is time this dessert came into its own (kosher-wise) and this seemed to be the year.

We all know Gelato Petrini took a top award for their delicious chocolate gelato, and it was impressive. However, I deliberately go away from the trends and the crowds and as always I was not disappointed. KOV Gelato and Gelato Giuliana were two to have not missed.

KOV’s Gelato is completely dairy, soy, gluten AND nut free, so they use coconut milk as their base. I tried the chocolate raspberry, and despite the coconut flavor, it was not overwhelming at all.

 

Gelato Giuliana does all fruit based gelato flavors, and it is literally all fruit. You could tell there was nothing artificial in the product at all. I will proudly say I visited her twice for her cantaloupe gelato.

There were so many products to try, and it was really difficult to pick out my absolute rave-about favorites. G-d willing I will try to put pictures of my other favorites on my Pinterest boards!

 

My week as a Foodie: KFB Conference, Kosherfeast & Kosherfest

This past week was one that kosher foodies dream of. Take the first ever Kosher Food Bloggers (KFB) conference, add the 2nd annual Kosherfeast, and mix in just about the largest food event of the year, and you have several hundred kosher foodies wandering around in a state of food-induced euphoria.

I’d better start at the begining, right? Monday November 12 was the first ever Kosher Food Bloggers Conference. Located at Millesime at the Carlton in Manhattan, hosted by the dream-team of Melinda Strauss (of Kitchen Tested)  and Shelley Serber (of The Kosher Home)  it was an event not to have missed. (See http://kosherfoodbloggers.com/program-details/ for information on the speakers, http://kosherfoodbloggers.com/sponsors/ on the sponsors and stay tuned to their Facebook and Twitter pages for additional details and future events)

All told, there were about 70 bloggers and brands at the event, and from what I could hear, people were already wanting to know when the next event was. Yes, it was that good.

 

1st Ever Kosher Food Bloggers Conference: I was so honored to be there for this amazing event!

The night, if it were possible, got even nicer by the invite-only dinner at Abigael’s. It was hosted by the duo known as the Sweet-Up (Esti Berkowitz of Prime Time Parenting and Abbey Wolin of Not Too Shabbey) and the pair of lovable ladies from Atlanta known as Kosher Eye. Despite the fact that the air conditioning was on the fritz, and I didn’t quite understand the story with the cow-bell, it was a night to remember. Good food, delicious wine, even better friends. The best part? Any profits made went to benefit Masbia! They operate a few soup kitchens in the Brooklyn/ Queens area, and really sprang into action during Hurricane Sandy by feeding 600 seniors at the Brooklyn Armoury for a few days. I got home sometime around 11pm completely exhausted and super happy (with 2 big old swag bags filled to the brim with the most amazing things!)

 

One of the delicious mains on offer at Kosherfeast12.

10.30am Tuesday found me dropped off at the front of Meadowlands Expo Center with an empty tote bag and a press pass – I was ready to explore Kosherfest! This year showcased a lot of new products designed for people with alternatives diets (gluten free, nut free, dairy free, etc) and the best part was the offerings were among some of the better I have ever tasted in their respective genres. I also tasted the closest thing available on the kosher market to bacon! Trust me, I will be writing more about Jack’s Gourmet Facon, as well as my all-time favorite products of Kosherfest in my next blog post. In fact, I will be sharing all the food-highlights from all these events in the next post..I want to give them their due, and they deserve it! I got home about 5pm and literally passed out.

 

My first ever press pass! I felt as if I truly arrived as a blogger and food writer.

Wednesday found me with a free day ( I was too exhausted to go back to Kosherfest) and I spoiled myself: I went on 13th Ave and did some shopping (non-food related, but necessary) The best part: I went out for sushi at Blue Dish Cafe ( first time trying it out) and was able to sit and enjoy a long conversation with my Tante while I ate ( I normally eat lunch at my desk and barely have a full 30 minutes to myself!) I also stopped in Oh Nuts, and treated myself to one of my all-time favorite but hard to find treats: genuine chocolate covered espresso beans.  As in, there is a real espresso bean inside, not espresso flavored caramel.

This week was a huge step in the journey for me. This time last year, I  was starting out on Twitter and blogging ( I started on Tumblr) and I didn’t go to Kosherfest- I didn’t think I was ready. Fast forward almost a year later, and I am in the thick of it. I had a ringside seat at the KFB Conference, an invite to an exclusive dinner after, and a press pass (an honest-to-goodness press pass!) to the biggest kosher food show. Pretty amazing, no?

Someone who I consider my social media mentor told me something really important about this time last year. He said ” You need enough success to keep you coming back for more. You gotta have that sweet taste, even if it’s just a little, just enough to keep you hooked and wanting to keep going forward.” So true, and this week was the proof of that for me.

Please say tuned for next week’s post – it will feature my all time favorites from these amazing events. Trust me, it will be worth the wait. Til next time, dear readers!

 

The Scharffen Berger Experiments Part 3: Candy

Going into this experiment was not as easy as my other experiments. I knew I wanted to make candy, but deciding what kind of candy, what kind of filling, and what style I would use took a great deal of thought.
I needed a style of chocolate that would allow the chocolate to shine, to allow the differences to be easily spotted. After careful consideration, I decided to do a molded chocolate filled with an toasted, sugared almond center. I added cocoa powder and cinnamon to the sugar used to toast the almonds so there would be an additional level of flavor other than the sweet of the chocolate and sugar.

Chopped almonds mixed with cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon to make a crunchy, sweet filling.

I wanted to have a clear basis of comparison, so I knew I needed to do the opposite of what I did in the Mousse Experiment. There were two points I tried to make in this experiment, and I was successful. The first, that I could produce a candy with a filling that would accent both the similarities and the differences between the Scharffen Berger chocolates. The second, that the bad temper from the Scharffen Berger chocolate in the Mousse Experiment was a fluke.
I did the tempering the old-school way: glass bowl, double boiler style over a pot of gently boiling water. The result was beautiful! It was gorgeous to watch how the Scharffen Berger tempered: it was text-book this time. As always, the Callebaut tempered perfectly as well.  Take a look for yourself:

Tempered Scharffen Berger chocolate going into a squeeze bottle to be used in a chocolate mold.

 

Tempered Callebaut chocolate

In a blind taste test completed at my place of employment, I gave out samples to 12 people: one of each type of chocolate. The Scharffen Berger edged out slightly in this test, 7-5. The tasters in favor of the Scharffen Berger like that it was ” sweet, smooth, and reminded them of the texture of milk chocolate.”  The tasters in favor of Callebaut like the “strong, rich flavor and lingering taste.”

Partially filled molds with Scharffen Berger chocolate, filled with toasted almond crunch

The round molds are Callebaut chocolates, the square Scharffen Berger

L-R Scharffen Berger Chocolate, Callebaut Chocolate

Next Experiment: Cookies. Chocolate Cookies.  After that, it’s up in the air. Have I finished all my experiments, dear readers? Are there any more factors I need to consider before deciding who really makes the best chocolate?

The Scharffen Berger Experiments Part 2: Mousse

Thank you to Jane Mermel from RF Binder for the Scharffen Berger chocolate used in the experiment. These experiences are my own: I conducted the experiment from start to finish, and did not allow anyone to assist me.

The first experiment I made was with chocolate mousse. A basic mousse recipe, courtesy of Helen Nash’s Kosher Kitchen. Temper chocolate, separate eggs, whip whites, add rum and a touch of salt, add yolks to the melted chocolate. Fold in whites. Not difficult. I used the same recipe for both batches of mousse, the only variable being the type of chocolate. In this experiment, I used  the semi-sweet chocolate.

The first challenge I had was to temper the chocolate. The Callebaut tempered beautifully: in about 10 minutes I had perfectly tempered chocolate, with a stunning sheen. The Scharffen Berger took twice as long, and didn’t completely melt. It was confusing: I had never seen chocolate act like that before.

 

Both chocolates in tempering stage: the Callebaut to the left. Scharffen Berger to the right. I noted that throughout the entire process the Scharffen Berger had a unique reddish hue.

No matter, there was still mousse to be made. Despite the Scharffen Berger not melting totally, by the time I added the egg yolks and the whipped white, I was able to make two batches of mousse- one Callebaut, one Scharffen Berger. I put them in the fridge and left them to cool overnight.

Callebaut mousse completed before refrigeration

 

 

 

Scharffen Berger mousse completed, before refrigeration

 

The next morning, I went to check on the mousse. I took a spoon to the Callebaut mousse and was able to scoop it nicely. Then I tried to scoop the Scharffen Berger. Next surprise- the mousse was solid. Completely solid. I had put the mousse into disposable aluminum tins to set, and had to take another tin with steaming hot water and place it under the Scharffen Berger mousse (bain-marie style) in order to get it to soften.

I decided to use the Callebaut mousse as a pie, topped with rum-soaked maraschino cherries. The Scharffen Berger mousse I used as a filling and icing for a gluten free vanilla layer cake. I felt this played to the strengths of each of the finished products. The Callebaut chocolate has a hint of cinnamon and a rich, lingering finish on the tongue. The Scharffen Berger chocolate has a strong honey taste and bold flavor, the finish more subtle and very sweet.

Chocolate mousse in graham cracker crust with rum-soaked maraschino cherries. Chocolate used: Callebaut semi-sweet.

 

I noted that after the Scharffen Berger chocolate cooled, the unique coloring disappeared. Vanilla gluten-free layed cake filled and iced with chocolate mousse. Chocolate used: Scharffen Berger semi-sweet.

This experiment was interesting, but I am already looking forward to the next one: candy. Chocolate candy. Molded, definitely, possibly truffles as well. Oh the possibilities…

 

 

The Scharffen Berger Experiments: A Study of Chocolate (Intro)

Thanks to Jane Mermel and RF Binder for the samples of Scharffen Berger chocolate. All opinions are my own.

It was a crazy idea that started a few months ago. Maybe May, or June was it? I can’t quite remember when. I follow Scharffen Berger on Twitter, and noticed how they kept tweeting about how good their chocolate is. Until this point, I had heard of them, but had no real knowledge of their product. When I need chocolate for a recipe, I use Callebaut. Every few months, the kind ladies at the Peppermill in Boro Park will deliver me a custom order: 5 to 10 1lb pre cut blocks of individually wrapped semi-sweet Callebaut. Each block should be as close to the pound as possible. They are so very wonderful about it.

It’s a true pleasure to work with Callebaut-it always has been, since my cooking school days. It was what Chef used, in those 50lb blocks. Not every student was allowed to use it, and heaven help you if you wasted any at all.  I will never forget my first lesson in tempering chocolate, and it is safe to say that is what started my love of making chocolates. It was my second year in cooking school, the year I spent in Baking, and I easily spent six of those months doing nothing but chocolate work. For me, there is always that moment when the chocolate is perfectly tempered, and it is glorious. No matter how many times I temper chocolate, I wait for that moment with the same intensity as I did the very first time.

So back to 2012, and I am seeing Scharffen Berger on Twitter.  I am actually getting a little annoyed. Maybe more than a little.  I don’t see any other chocolate company (Callebaut, Valrhona, the really high-end stuff) going on about their product. Finally, after determing their product was kosher, I threw down my gauntlet. If you, Scharffen Berger, are so good, let me do a test to test comparision between you and Callebaut. I decided to do four tests: mousse, cake, chocolates (molded or truffle) and icecream. This way I could experiment with both their cocoa powder and their bar chocolate. I was put in touch with Jane Mermel at RF Binder ( the PR company for Scharffen Berger) and I was sent the loveliest assortment of chocolates.

So now I am the blogger on a mission: whose chocolate is really better? Is it the Belgian chocolate with a century of making some of the finest product on the market? Or is it the chocolate of 2 Americans with a dream, only on the market for 2 decades? Stay tuned, dear readers, for one of the sweetest journeys I’ve yet to take. The first test: Mousse. Chocolate Mousse. Hungry yet?