Sunday Nov 22, 2009

Another potential chocolate casualty...

Ever since we lost Scharffen Berger Chocolates to Hershey, I've been looking for a replacement. It seems one potential replacement (that I haven't tried yet) may soon be gone. In his OpEd for the NY Times the journalist Arthur Lubow writes that the chocolatier he switched to after loosing Scharffen Berger - Green & Black's out of the UK - is now in danger of being swallowed up by Kraft, perhaps to suffer the same sad fate as Scharffen Berger.

So where is a fan of chocolate to go?

Tuesday Jan 01, 2008

The Holiday Season (of Chocolate)

The end of the year (according to the Gregorial calendar) is a time of chocolate for me. Not that I don't enjoy (and make) chocolates at other times of the year. But during this time of many (different) religious celebrations, and the winding down of the work year, and the many parties and other events, I find myself particularly drawn to chocolate...

One of the nice things about chocolate is that it doesn't belong solely to any religion's tradition (though perhaps the Aztecs have a claim...). In my country, there are many who feel that we are taking the Christ out of Christmas. This is particularly evident while shopping - the stores (and cards) welcome shoppers and wish them "Happy Holidays". But while shopping at Trader Joe's earlier this season, I discovered that Christmas isn't the only holiday getting the secularization treatment. Bags of foil-wrapped chocolate Geld for Hanukkah were being sold as "chocolate coins of the world, a holiday tradition". (I didn't manage to find any of the traditional Ramadan foods in any of the stores, so I can't report on the secularization of Iftar, but I probably didn't look hard enough... Winter Solstice is of course very evident, thanks to all of the tree lots in the Bay Area)

But I've gotten off onto a tangent; back to chocolate! This chocolate season finds me in Litchfield Connecticut, enjoying the lovely snow covered trees, and exchanging presents with family and friends. One gift I received is Alice Medrich's book Bittersweet: Recipes and Tales from a Life in Chocolate. Having thoughtfully brought several bars of chocolate from Scharffen Berger, I was able to make what has become something of a signature dish for me - chocolate truffles. This time I followed the recipe for "Cold Creamy Truffles" (pages 142-4) rather than my usual "Classic Ganache Truffles" (pages 151-153). The ganache is creamier, and they are presented powdered (of course with Scharffen Berger Natural Cocoa Powder). If they aren't all consumed at this afternoon's New Year's Day party, I may have a few left to share with friends I'll be visiting later this week in Boston... (you know who you are!).

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

Call to Arms - American Chocolate in danger!

Guittard Chocolates, a family run premium chocolate maker in Burlingame California, has raised the alarm over a request from the "Chocolate Manufacturers Association" to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (couched as a "Citizen's Petition to Modernize Food Standards") to among other things lessen chocolate standards in the U.S. In particular, this petition urges the FDA to allow something to be called chocolate that contains no cocoa butter (with vegetable fat substituted in its place).

You can read more about this U.S. food threat at: What's This About at the Don't Mess with our Chocolate website, along with Guittard's April 10th press release and their follow-on April 11th release. They are tracking media coverage as well.

If you want to get involved, click on the "Submit Comment" button on the FDA comment web site for this proposal. But you had better hurry - the comment period ends April 25th. Had Scharffen Berger chocolates not been bought by Hershey, I'm sure they would be at the front lines of this battle as well.

Tuesday Jul 26, 2005

An Open Letter to Scharffen Berger Chocolates - I'm sorry

Dear Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker Staff,

I'm sorry.

I only meant it as a joke. When I saw it at the Dad's Follies booth at the DC Big Flea Market last week, the story came to me immediately - about how I'd found a very old, well preserved chocolate bar at an auction, and my fellow chocolate friends and I should give it a try. The mold, of course, would be filled with Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet. They would be blown away. The old style lettering, from the 1920s or so, would keep them guessing for hours, wondering if it could actually be true (except the couple of folks who know your stuff so well, they would see through my ruse immediately).

But I fear that I must have disturbed the cosmic balance somehow, because we all know what happened next. My story, my joke, has turned out to be true.

And I'm very, very sorry.


Peter Korn


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