Monday, March 30, 2009

What's in White Chocolate?

Over this last weekend I was asked if white chocolate contained any chocolate. I responded that it was made with cocoa butter, which yes, is part of chocolate. I also added that some brands use palm kernal oil. Though it is Vegetarian, it is not Vegan because of it's dairy content. Below is a more descriptive explanation of how it is produced.

Raw white chocolate
White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. Most often, the cocoa butter is deodorized to remove its strong and undesirable taste that would negatively impact the flavour of the finished chocolate[3]. Regulations also govern what may be marketed as "white chocolate": In the United States, since 2004, white chocolate must be at least 20% cocoa butter (by weight), at least 14% total milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, and less than 55% sugar or other sweeteners. Before this date, U.S. firms required temporary marketing permits to sell white chocolate. The European Union has adopted the same standards, except that there is no limit on sugar or sweeteners.[4] Although white chocolate is made the same way as milk chocolate and dark chocolate, the ingredients are different. Because of the ingredients, many people (including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) don't consider "white chocolate" to be chocolate at all [5], but in most cases, it does contain cocoa butter: a product that, like many cocoa solids, is derived from the cacao bean. However, some preparations (known as confectioner's coating or summer coating) are made from inexpensive solid or hydrogenated vegetable and animal fats, and as such, is not at all derived from cocoa. These preparations may actually be white in color (in contrast to white chocolate's ivory shade[3]) and will lack cocoa butter's flavor.
Because it does not contain any cocoa solids, one benefit of white chocolate is that it also does not contain any theobromine, which means it can be consumed by individuals who must avoid theobromine for medical reasons. Theobromine is only found in the cocoa solids and other ingredients of chocolate that give it the characteristic brown color. In contrast to white chocolate, dark chocolate contains the largest amount of theobromine, because it contains the largest amount of cocoa solids. The theobromine content of milk chocolate falls somewhere between white and dark chocolate.[citation needed]
[edit]Use in baking

White chocolate can be difficult to work with. When melted, the cocoa butter can occasionally split and create an oily compound that can be recovered by re-emulsifying. This can be done by melting a small amount of butter or chocolate and whisking in the "oily compound". As with chocolate, as soon as any water is introduced into the melted product it rapidly turns lumpy and grainy, i.e. split. Again, it can be saved by re-emulsifying.
Like chocolate, it may be purchased in large or small bricks, but these can often be difficult to work with as one must cut off chunks with a knife, often resulting in inaccurate portioning. Pastilles/Feves (small chips) are often a more precise way to use white chocolate.
White chocolate can be used for decoration of milk or dark chocolate confections or in any way chocolates might be used. vanillia fudge is also marked as white chocolate fudge.

References: Wikipedia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nothing Beats Boylan's

Originally a caffeine fiene in my former days, drinking six sodas during my work shifts, and joining friends for café lattes afterwards, I knew I needed to kick my habit.

Over one Summer I went from jitterbug to all natural. I think it was a kidney infection that motivated me. Having found a new fondness for the taste of water I swore I would never be addicted to another caffeinated drink.

It wasn’t until years later when I returned to the soda section while grocery shopping. Promising myself to stay healthy, I chose ginger ale; which is a naturally caffeine free soda pop. My first impression of this particular brand, which shall remain nameless, was bitter and hard to swallow.

From that moment onward I vowed to find a ginger ale of my pleasing. At best, I have tried ten brands. Some were sweet, but left a bad aftertaste, and others were just disgusting. Alas, three years ago, I came to the saint of ginger ales. BOYLAN”S!!! I swear a halo sat atop its bottle.

BOYLAN”S Ginger Ale is amazing at best! It is the right sweet, the right tang, and has a refreshing aftertaste.

Around since 1891, BOYLAN”S started as a beer company and grew to become a company with a wide selection of classic soda flavors, seltzers, and authentic all-natural colas. Using pure cane sugar to enhance its flavor, as opposed to its so-called competition, it beats out any brand! Additionally, it maintains it’s vintage appeal with the use of traditional glass bottles, iconic of that era.

Having tried most of their soda selection, nothing beats BOYLAN”S!


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patty's Day Parfait

A conversion of traditional parfait, however sweet as its successor, is compiled from Vegan ingredients. Its light texture lends a perfect blend to its cookie counterpart.

1 pack Mori Nu XF silken tofu 1 pack Mori Nu XF silken tofu
1/8 tsp. Sea salt 1/8 tsp. Sea salt
3/4 tsp. Mint extract 1/2 Tbsp. Vanilla extract
1/4-cup vanilla soymilk 1/4-cup vanilla soymilk
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. Fresh mint 1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1/2-cup +1 Tbsp. Cane sugar 3/4-cup cane sugar
1 Tbsp. Tofutti Cream Cheese 1 Tbsp. Tofutti Cream Cheese
6 Tbsp. Powdered sugar 2 Tbsp. Powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder 2 Tbsp. Arrowroot powder

• Newman O’s- Hint of Mint Cookies
• Tru -Whip

Mint: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for two hours

Chocolate: Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for two hours.

In either a wine glass or parfait glass layer chocolate mousse, then crumbled O’s, then mint mousse. Do so until layers reach top of glass. Garnish with Tru-whip and one whole O. Enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Big Screen

Because of my love for cooking, I am a fan of movies that involve stories about food. Although this is an older film, I highly recommend it. It is called Chocolat. Here is what Netflix describes: "An iconoclastic single mother and her young daughter move to a village in France and open a chocolate shop-that's open Sundays across the street from the church. At first, Binoches rich sensuous desserts scandalize the town. But soon, the villagers welcome the newcomers with open arms. Judi Dench, Lena Olin, and Johnny Depp co-star in this 2000 Best Picture Nominee."

Lucky Irish!

Saint Patrick is a Patron Saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick's Day is observed on March 17th. It is a religious celebration and feast day for the anniversary of St. Patrick's death during the 5th century. Irish have long observed this day for over 1000 years. St. Patrick's Day occurs during the Christian season of Lent. Irish families would traditionally attend church in the a.m. and celebrate in the afternoon. Lent prohibited consumption of meat and was waived. Then people would dance, drink and feast on the traditional meal of Irish Bacon and Cabbage, alongside Soda Bread and Apple Cake.

Saint Patrick's Day is still a celebration today, but has long taken on an appearance of green day... signifying the Clover Leaf and Ireland.

However, some of us just like to observe the day by feasting on green foods and wearing green so we don't get pinched.

Here is a sample menu for a wonderful Vegetarian meal in celebration of Saint Patrick's Day!

- Artichoke and Spinach Quiche with Corn Hollandaise Sauce alongside Wild Rice and Asparagus Spears.
- Dessert: Chocolate and Mint Mousse Parfait, Layered among Newman O's, and garnished with Tru-Whipped Creme.

* Recipe for dessert will be posted tomorrow afternoon*

Enjoy the day! Drink Responsibly! Don't get Pinched!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Little Chocolate History

"Cylindrical clay jars found in the ruins of Chaco Canyon in New Mexico were unlike any other pottery found there, and anthropologists had long puzzled over how they were used. Now the mystery may be solved: The jars apparently were used for drinking chocolate, like the Maya of Central and South America did as far back as 1000 A.D. A chemist for the Hershey chocolate company tested the pottery and found traces of theobromine, a biological marker for cacao, from which chocolate is made. That would make the Chacoans-1,200 miles from the nearest cacao trees- the first consumers of chocolate in North America. Their chocolate arrived via a 3,100-mile trade route that extended to New Mexico from as far south as Ecuador and Colombia, where cacoa is grown."

-News &Trends

It's Tru, I'm Whipped!

A Vegetarian for 16 years, I left whipped creme along the wayside some time ago. It's hydrogenated oil, trans fat, and poor ingredients had little to offer me except its taste. Sadly, I have missed it as an addition to banana splits, as a garnish for cobbler, or as an accompaniment to strawberries.

After trying many alternative whipped toppings, and even trying to create my own, I remained disappointed. However, a month ago, while busy filling my basket with phyllo dough from the frozen food section to make spanikopitas, I caught a glimpse of Tru-Whip.

Tru-Whip is an all-natural, certified organic alternative to whipped creme. It stated no hydrogenated oils, no GMO's or trans- fat. In the mood to test my tastebuds, I tossed it in my basket and found some strawberries in the produce section.

Plump, juicy strawberries; considered to be an aphrodisiac, are quite delicious on their own. Add some Tru-whip and they are down right sultry!

Tru-whip is light, creamy, and sweet. I was amazed by its similar texture to that of my former dessert companion. Satiated, I know It's Tru. I'm whipped!

For more product information on Tru-Whip go to:

No Cavities w/this Chocolate!

I recently went to my dentist for my 6 month check up and cleaning. When my hygenist was finished with the cleaning, she offered me a flavor choice for the polish. I was pleasantly surprised when she listed the flavors: Mint, Orange, and Chocolate. That choice was a no brainer. Some of you may think that polishing with Chocolate is disgusting. Simply put, it's no calories, taste great and creates no cavities. It was like having dessert!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Fruit Tea Cakes

1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) Unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cool water
1/8 tsp. instant yeast

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover, and let rest for 6-8 hour, or overnight. The mixture will become bubbly

all of the starter
3/4 cup (6 ounces) almond milk
1 "egg" replacer egg
3 1/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) Unbleached all purpose flour
4 Tbsp. (2 ounces) earth balance butter substitute
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup (2 ounces) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (2 ounces) dried chopped apricots
1/4 cup (2 ounces) chocolate chips
1/4 cup (2 ounces) of walnuts

1/4 cup (1 3/4) organic cane sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. water

Combine the dough ingredients, mixing and kneading to form a smooth, supple dough. Or prepare dough using a bread machine set on the dough cycle. Knead in the fruit, chocolate chips and nuts. Form the dough into a ball, and place it in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours; it should puff significantly, but may not double.

Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into twelve 3 1/4- ounce balls. Place balls into individual paper pans or into a greased 9" x 13" pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together topping ingredients until liquid, then drizzle over the dough. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes for the individual breads, or 40-45 minutes for the pan, until golden brown. Yield: 12 tea buns.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Avanti Cafe

Tucked away amongst mainstream restaurants sits Avanti Cafe. You'll find many eateries on 17th street in Costa Mesa, but you won't find any quite like this. Avanti's repertoire appeals to many crowds and keeps them returning!

The Owners/Chefs Mark and Tanya opened Avanti in 2004. It's charm comes from the hospitality issued at entry, it's fine cuisine, and it's artsy atmosphere. Coming to Avanti feels like home away from home. Additionally, Avanti supports locally grown farmers who deliver produce that fuel their culinary creativity. The meals are fresh, handcrafted, mostly Vegetarian, and Organic when available. Mark and Tanya provide healthy dishes with an assortment of ethnic flair that marry well with the regional wine selection.

Offering both a calm daytime lunch or a hip nightspot, Avanti is the place to go. It's also a great place to bring a date for a candlelit dinner. They have themed evenings varying from Pizza and Beer night, Wine Tastings, and their ever popular Artist gallery shows with live musical performances.

A favorite dish of mine is their Shiitake Artichoke Pesto Pizzette topped with yams and sauteed greens. Their desserts are always seductive. I like to indulge in their tea cakes. It's a nice finish to a wonderful meal!

For more information on Avanti, visit their website at