Have you ever wondered what’s the difference between unsweetened chocolate and bitter sweet chocolate? Or what makes Dutch-processed coco different from regular powdered chocolate? Or what are chocolate nibs anyway? The folks at America’s Test Kitchen have put together a short chocolate terminology guide they posted on CNN’s Eatocracy that’s worth a look: Dark, light, sweet, creamy: 12 chocolates to know
Some travel around Europe for the art. Others go for the history and culture. But if you love chocolate, Europe is your dream destination. Here chocolate is an art form–beautiful on the outside and delicious to taste. This week we have an article submitted by London-based freelance writers Marta Lopez Garcia and Josie Sampson on their top 5 European destinations for chocolate.
By: Marta Lopez Garcia and Josie Sampson
Who doesn’t like chocolate? Today you can feel the chocolate revolution everywhere. That’s probably the reason why most countries have a national chocolate week. And speaking of the word chocolate, it may have originated from the Spanish language and date back to Mesoamerican history, but the word “chocolate” is the same in most European languages. In deed, all of Europe is in love with this delicious ingredient. Next time your destination is Europe, here are a few cities to visit where you can taste amazing local chocolate traditions.
Vienna (Austria): Sachertorte
Vienna is home to the most delicious and traditional chocolate cake in the world. Be sure to visit the Austrian capital to discover how a real Sachertorte tastes. The Sachertorte was invented by a young apprentice chef named Franz Sacher who made it for the Austrian State Chancellor, Prince Wenzel von Metternich, in 1832. When the head chef fell ill, young Sacher created this simple but delicious cake with the ingredients already available in the kitchen for the prince and his guests.
Sachertorte is a dense chocolate cake with a meringue based and a thin layer of apricot jam on top. The cake is then coated in dark chocolate and traditionally served with whipped cream.
Sachertorte is an Austrian tradition and especially popular during the Christmas season. Locals enjoy sachertorte with Einspanner, a strong black coffee served in a glass cup with whipped cream and chocolate powder sprinkles. become the most popular chocolate cake in the country and probably in the entire world!
Chocolate tip: 5th December is National Sachertorte Day.
Going to Vienna? Try a slice of sachertorte with a coffee at Cafe Sacher Vienna (Philharmonikerstrasse 4, Vienna A-1010, Austria)
Zürich (Switzerland): The Finest Chocolate
Are you a big chocolate fan? If the answer is yes, you can´t miss the chance to travel to Switzerland – home of Lindt and Nestlé.
It is said that the Spaniards discovered chocolate, but the Swiss implemented the art of making it. Swiss Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate in 1875. Then in 1879, Swiss chocolate manufacturer Rudolph Lindt invented conching– the process that makes chocolate smooth instead of gritty. While the ingredients in chocolate such as sugar and cocoa beans can be sourced from outside of Switzerland, for a product to be called “Swiss Chocolate” it must be put together in Switzerland.
The city of Zurich is a labyrinth of chocolate artisans that offer exquisite truffles and pralines. It’s worth taking a trip outside the town to visit the old confectionaries. Here you need only ask for le truffle du jour to find out why Zurich a destination for chocoholics!
Chocolate tip: 80% of chocolate consumed in Switzerland is milk chocolate.
Going to Zurich? Visit the Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate Factory (Street Seestrasse 204, Zürich)
Brussels (Belgium): The Capital of Chocolate
Apart from the wonderful architecture, Brussels is world renown for its chocolate. There are few countries that have been in the chocolate business for more than a century, but Belgium’s relationship with chocolate dates back to 1635. Importing large amounts of cocoa from its African colony, the Belgian Congo, the country was the first to invent both the chocolate bar and pralines. Belgian chocolatier Jean Neuhaus II in 1912 invented a specific type of praline with a hard outer shell and a soft and creamy filling. Today Belgian pralines come in all sorts of creative shapes from circles and squares to cars, animals, and even musical instruments.
Brussels is a chocolate capital with chocolate shops everywhere. No matter what neighborhood you visit, you’re sure to find a small artisan chocolate shop offering some of the best pralines you’ve ever tasted.
Chocolate tip: According to a law from 1884, real Belgian chocolate must contain at least 30% cocoa.
Going to Brussels? The Grand Place (Brussels’central square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has over 40 chocolate shops.
Madrid (Spain): Chocolate con Churros
“Chocolate con Churros” is what Spaniards call the perfect breakfast. This New Years tradition is a combination of a cup of rich, thick hot chocolate and a light and crisp churros (pastry-like fritters). The churros are fried, making them crisp on the outside yet deliciously doughy inside and the chocolate is thick enough in its consistency to dip the churros into. Rumour has it that churros were invented by Spanish shepherds who found the dough easy to cook over open mountain fires. If you ever visit the Spanish capital, don’t hesitate to visit a “chocolatería”, a sort of chocolate coffee shop that serves fresh churros every two seconds.
Chocolate tip: Spaniards hardly ever eat chocolate con churros at home.
Going to Madrid? For a proper breakfast that’s good enough for the locals, visit Chocolatería San Ginés (Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5). If you need accommodations, check out Expedia hotels in Madrid.
Paris (France): Gourmet Chocolate Shops
Any excuse is good enough reason to visit Paris. If we talk about the chocolate, that is reason enough. The French take their chocolate seriously and the city offers a huge list of exclusive chocolate boutiques from decadent and glamorous to cutesy and homemade.
Chocolate tip: Parisians love macaroons and it´s even possible to find them at the McCafés.
Going to Paris? For transport information, visit www.parisbytrain.com.
Marta Lopez Garcia and Josie Sampson are lifestyle writers based in London. Marta is originally from the Galicia region of Spain and Josie from the English countryside. They both love exploring cultures and cuisines around the world and dream of one day living in Paris.
On October 2nd I teamed up with the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation to do a chocolate therapy workshop at the Pediatric Lombardi Clinic of Georgetown University Hospital. Below is the write up of the event that appeared in this week’s Mattie Miracle Newsletter.
To learn about the wonderful work of the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation, visit www.mattiemiracle.com
MATTIE MIRACLE’S FIRST
CHOCOLATE THERAPY WORKSHOP
On October 2, 2013, Mattie Miracle teamed up with Alexandria, VA chocolatier, Robbin Warner, and hosted a fun filled chocolate therapy workshop at the Pediatric Lombardi Clinic of Georgetown University Hospital. Kids of all ages and their parents enjoyed the event and it was wonderful to see smiles everywhere! The smell of chocolate filled the air, it was intoxicating, and set the tone for a tasty distraction for kids and families. Pictured with Robbin is Sonali, a five-year-old, who thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate making process. In fact, by the time she was finished Sonali had chocolate all over herself and was beaming while licking it off! Robbin introduced the kids and teenagers to the art and science of working with Belgium chocolate along with the key to melting and cooling it to form lollipops.
The kids had the opportunity to work with milk or dark chocolate, they got to form their chocolate into lollipops, and then they even decorated their creations with nuts, cranberries, or candies. All the lollipops were wrapped in a bag of their choice, including ribbon and stickers. The chocolate was such a hit that even after the workshop was over, the kids were still in the clinic playing and eating. A true sign of a successful workshop!