Saturday, August 14, 2010

Talking Chocolate with Mary Loomas

Last Friday Mary Loomas of Saratoga Chocolates joined Gourmet Walks on our third Celebrity Chocolate Tour in San Francisco. Our guests have had a great time on these special summer tours. (If you missed them, there are still spots on our last Celebrity Tour with Chuck Siegel of Charles Chocolates on September 4th!) Mary brought some of her own tasty samples and chimed in with feedback as we visited seven different downtown chocolate boutiques. Mary's kitchen and original location is, of course, in Saratoga on Big Basin Way but she also has a quaint shop in the Castro.

I caught up with Mary before the tour to get a feeling for her position on some classic chocolate topics. And I also discovered a wonderful recipe for those who want to enjoy chocolate without loading up on cream and sugar.

1. Chocolate and bacon - where do you stand?
Okay with me. Not my favorite. I make a smoked almond caramel that’ll knock your socks off. Something about the sweet, smokey and dark chocolate.

2. Wine and chocolate - do you mix and what are your favorite combos?
We have a line of chocolates made to pair with reds. We hold classes on wine and chocolate pairing. Many favorites but wine needs to be specifically paired.

3. Madagascar or Venezuala - what are your favorite origins when it comes to dark chocolate?
St. Dominique by Cocoa Barry is my favorite: beans are from Dominican Republic.

4. Guittard or TCHO - who is now the local bean to bar chocolate maker of choice?
E. Guittard is great. TCHO is getting there. I’m working with them on a custom blend but they have some work to do to really be there. Try Amano (Utah’s not that far away) for something amazing.

5. Flavonoids and antioxidants - do you believe the hype about chocolate and health benefits?
I’m living proof. Dropped my cholesterol by leaps with chocolate, wine and exercise. I work with the Cardio department at El Camino Hospital and teach classes with them on heart healthy diets…it’s true…..

Mary's Guilt-free Chocolate Recipe: Le Jardin de Couers

1/2 cup Chopped Dried Apricots
1/4 cup Chopped Candied Ginger
1/2 cup Chopped Candied Orange Peel
1/2 cup Whole Roasted Almonds (no salt)
1/2 cup Whole Shelled Roasted Pistachio Nuts (no salt)
1 pound Dark Chocolate (your favorite to eat, preferably 70% cacao or more)
Using tempered chocolate. Pipe chocolate directly into heart shaped molds or pipe chocolate onto waxed or parchment paper, 2-4 rows at a time. Jiggle to remove bubbles.

Decorate w/ 1 each of the fruits and nuts Let set in cool location. Store in airtight container at room temperature and product can be enjoyed over several weeks.

Note: Tempering or precrystallizing is to get the cocoa butter and chocolate in the most stable form - known in the industry as V form. This produces the characteristic "snap" when you bite into it and a shiny (molded) or satin (enrobed) finish. Well tempered chocolate also does not immediately melt in your fingers. Unstable or untempered chocolate has a melting point of 65F. Tempered chocolate has a melting point of 95F. Generally the process of tempering is melting the chocolate including all of its fatty acid crystals by heating the chocolate to 110-131F. Next we form seed crystals by cooling the chocolate to between 79-84F while continuously stirring (to ensure even temperature). Lastly, we warm the chocolate back up to melt unwanted crystals and hold temper. This is between 89-90F for dark chocolate and 86-87F for white and milk.

Pipe chocolate directly into heart shaped molds or pipe chocolate onto waxed or parchment paper, 2-4 rows at a time. Jiggle to remove bubbles.

Decorate w/ 1 each of the fruits and nuts. Let set in cool location. Store in airtight container at room temperature. Will last several months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good article. Thank you.
http://www.box.net/shared/8guoosaf43