Tag Archives: parties

Fiore: Dark Chocolate Balsamic

24 Jul

I recently received this lovely bottle of Fiore Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar as a gift. During my recipe research I found that balsamic vinegar is often paired with strawberries. I took full advantage of this common pairing for the dessert I chose to make. I wanted to explore the full range of flavors that can be inspired by balsamic vinegar, so I also made a savory dish of penne with beef and arugula.

Dessert First!

Strawberries Over Vanilla Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Strawberry Topping:

2 pints strawberries chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons dark chocolate balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon to a few grinds black pepper

Balsamic reduction:

3/4 cup dark chocolate balsamic vinegar

Introducing our cast of characters!

1. Chop your strawberries.

2. Add your sugar, balsamic, and a few grinds of black pepper.

3. Mix well. Make sure the strawberries are well blended with the other ingredients. Place in the fridge to rest. Stir periodically while cooking your dinner. This also gives you an excellent opportunity to test out your new strawberry mixture.

4. Pour your 3/4 cup of  dark chocolate balsamic vinegar into a small sauce pan and simmer until reduced by half. It took me about 20 minutes. Keep stirring and make sure the vinegar doesn’t burn.

When it is done the reduction should coat the spatula. As it cools the density will increase. When I was done with the reduction process the chocolate content had all floated to the surface so I had to fold it back in. Move the reduction into a serving vessel and set aside.

And now for dinner…

    Penne with Beef and Arugula
 recipe by Giada de Laurentiis
1 (1 pound) New York Strip Steak
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 pound penne pasta
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for steak and pasta water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for steak
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups arugula
1. Season your meat. I used italian seasoning instead of herbs de Provence.
2. While the meat is cooking set a pot to boil for the pasta. When the meat is done to your liking set it aside to rest.
3. As the pasta boils, wash the arugula and set it aside to be tossed with other ingredients.
5. Chop your fresh herbs, 1/4 cup basil and 1/4 cup parsley and add ground pepper and salt.
Combine with 3/4 cup of olive oil plus 3 Tbs, 1/4 cup dark chocolate balsamic vinegar, and 2 Tbs if dijon mustard for the dressing.
6. Thinly slice beef and toss with pasta, arugula, and dressing.
7. Serve and eat. It was delicious. I liked it so much I made it again a week later. The dark chocolate in the vinegar definitely added another dimension to the dish. The second time I made it I had run out of my dark chocolate Fiore and had to make it with regular balsamic vinegar. The chocolate lends a savory balance to the sweetness and tart kick, characteristic of balsamic vinegars.
And don’t forget dessert. After you have savored your dinner and cleared the dishes away at a leisurely pace pull your strawberries out of the fridge. Give them a stir. Scoop some ice cream into bowls, smother it with strawberries, and drizzle with your dark chocolate balsamic reduction. A little goes a long way. Enjoy this little twist on an old classic.
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Chocolate tasting intro

27 Mar

Chocolate tasting ABCs. This is going to be a very basic of outline of how to have a chocolate tasting.

1. Have no more than 6 different chocolates or take 15 to 20 minute breaks in between. Your taste buds will lose the ability to detect subtle flavors and you won’t experience the full flavor of the chocolate which all include a beginning, middle, and end.

2. Make sure your chocolate is room temperature. 65-72 degrees F. Too warm = melty, too cold = the full flavor will not be realized.

3. Break chocolate into 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch pieces. A small amount should be sufficient to experience all of the flavors in a high quality bar of chocolate.

4. Cleanse your palate! Use room temperature water as cold water reduces the effectiveness of your taste buds. Unsalted crackers can also do the trick if you are doing a tasting with particularly strong flavors.

5. Taste from light to dark since the flavors will become more complex and you will be more prepared to appreciate them. Taste buds will be primed and ready for intensity!

6. Having separate little plates is an obvious one, but here it is in the list anyway. Presentation is key. Not really, but it can make it a lot more fun and set the tone of your event. You can have a regional theme: The Americas. And a flavor theme: Fruity. Be creative. Also an excellent excuse to buy dishware, for which I have an affection.

7. Keep a tasting journal. Or just some way of documenting your responses, so you can remember and go back to your favorites and avoid the ones you weren’t so keen on. In my humble opinion, don’t worry about being overly fancy in your descriptions if you don’t want to be. People get weird about this stuff. The whole point is to eat some delicious chocolate and find your favorites, not show off your poetic stylings. However, if you have the skills show them off all you like. I attempt to avoid the pretense of the gourmand. However, some people just know their stuff no matter how insufferable they are.

Response categories

Aroma: sweet, sour, floral…

Texture: smooth, velvety, waxy, grainy (generally working to avoid this one unless it have nibs mixed in), creamy…

Flavor: I like the flavor wheel below from http://www.allchocolate.com. The descriptive possibilities are endless. The flavors listed on the wheel are just the tip of the iceberg. Run with it.

Duration: How long does the flavor linger in your mouth from start to finish? Is there an initial burst of fruity flavor or does it then mellow into a caramel, fading into a nutty finish? Or is it a less complex, but no less tasty, full on, deep, consistent cocoa flavor that leaves as it came?

Have fun!