A lil’ chocolate therapy

Okay – so if you’ve read even the tiniest amount of my blog or remotely know me in any capacity…you know chocolate is sort of my thing. That…and cheese. Cheese is my other addiction. But this post has nothing to do with cheese. haha

So, considering my absolute love/borderline addiction to anything and everything chocolate, I jumped at the opportunity to take a chocolate class at Chocolate Therapy in Framingham with Boston Brunchers – an awesome group of food-obsessed individuals like myself.

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What was even more perfect? The timing. It was going on the week after I came back from vacation…and I knew with work I was going to be going at a mile-a-minute pace – so a lil’ chocolate therapy was definitely needed.

So, Chocolate Therapy is located in Framingham, MA (anyone familiar with the area – it’s right by Legal Seafood on Route 9) and they also have another location at Legacy Place in Dedham, MA. In their Framingham location – you walk in the door and chocolate greets you. The chocolate (along with their cranked AC – it was 95+ degrees out that day) was a welcome sight.

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Pam – one of the owners – warmly greeted all of us….and brought us back into their class/party space. We met her husband David and their chocolatier, Rick – and got to try some of their awesome chocolates. Check our Pam and David’s story – they’re awesome!

I’ll let the photos do the talking….

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We sampled their Pom Balm, Buzz mallow, Sea salt caramel, Chocolate Fix truffle and The Cure – spicy – loved!!

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How gorgeous is the Pom Balm … equally delicious!

So after sampling, we all packed into their kitchen to see how it’s done. Rick gave a great demonstration on ganache and importance of tempering chocolate correctly – and then we were able to get our hands dirty!! We made chocolate bark, put truffle’s through their coater – aptly named Lucy!, made raspberry filled chocolates and pistachio and cocoa coated truffles.

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In the immortal words of Rachel Zoe: I.Die.

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At the end of the evening we each walked away with one of everything we made and a lot of chocolate bark! I totally would have made some purchases but my house was like 85 degrees at the time…sooo they all would’ve melted. Immediately.

I will definitely be back though – especially to try those French macarons…my fave!!– and if you’re in the area…check them out. Lovely people. Local business. Chocolate. Homemade marshmallows. Drinks. Ice cream….and by the fall they’re hoping to have their beer & wine license so that they can serve up some adult beverages with the chocolate. Yes. Please!

Check out Chocolate Therapy on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

As an FYI – I received this class at Chocolate Therapy, free-of-charge through Boston Brunchers in exchange for a blog post about it. Opinions are my own.

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Go {Cocoa} nuts!

One of my big “resolutions” for this year is to put myself out there more – meet new people, and blogging has been such an amazing way to do that.

I went to the Healthy Living Summit this summer, met Erin, Erin started the Healthy Living Boston Blogger group – which I then joined, the group introduced me to some great people and events like Wellness by the Water –where I met Jen and found out about her Blog and Tweet Boston group.

Is your head spinning yet? haha

You know, the post-college realization of “Oh my God, I’m in the real world and I’m a peon in a ‘big’ city and my friends are all over the place…and busy… and not necessarily next door…or even in the same state..” can be daunting. Meeting new people is hard. Fact. Being a part of these groups have given me some great opportunities to try new things and meet people…who love food [and like to take pictures of it], love health/wellness [and like to talk about it], love writing, and are introducing me to new things.

Last night, I had the opportunity through Jen’s Blog and Tweet Boston group to attend a private tasting event for bloggers at Cocoanuts Boston. CocoaNuts is a cute, boutique-style chocolate and confection shop nestled in Boston’s North End.

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It was great to see Jen – whom I’d met at Wellness by the Water – and Erin was there as well. Tara and ( a different) Jen, who own Cocoanuts, hosted us and were so kind. They poured us champagne, and it was great to hear their story (they’re besties!) and how the shop came to be.

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Erin and I tasted our way through the shop. I tried some sea salt caramel (multiple times) by Suss. I’m obsessed with salted caramel and this didn’t disappoint. So good! We were also able to try some of the creative shortbreads from Lark. I loved their rosemary sea salt shortbread.

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We had a great time chatting with Rebecca Novak from Yes Chocolates. She makes her chocolates out of her own kitchen – and they’re incredible. They were stunning and delicious. She sampled her chocolate covered brownies, and chocolates: Sticky Bun – cinnamon ganache, caramel & candied pecans…yummm, The Perfect Pour – Guinness stout ganache in dark chocolate, Cloud Nine – marshmallow and dark chocolate, and Berry Smoothie – strawberry puree and raspberry liquor. I tried…everything…duh. No shame.

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Heather and Melissa Forrester, owners, sisters-in-law, and candy makers of Little Bits Toffee, were there as well – and just the sweetest things. I have a huge weakness for toffee – I’ve eaten a lot of it! – and theirs is fantastic. I tried a sample of their new coffee flavor and I *had* to try their coconut. Two of my favorite things, and it was amazing. Also, I just discovered that they have a cookies & cream toffee on their site….need.now!

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On top of some great chocolate – I met and was able to chat with some fantastic ladies. I met Becky from Pop & Circumstance. My first reaction was “LOVE your blog name!” I’ve always had a not-so-secret love for interior design (I was that girl who moved her bedroom around in the middle of the night as a child… what no one else did that??…okay, I *still* do this) so it’s no surprise that her blog is already lined up in my reader.

I also met Sara, who knew Erin from some other events, and we got chatting about (my newest obsession) yoga, and the great teachers and classes in the city.

So I walked out of there toasty from a little bit of bubbly, with some new acquaintances, and on a sugar high (and I also bought some candy for some lucky people this Valentine’s Day!…it’s only a couple of weeks away, people!).

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Not too shabby for a drizzly Tuesday, eh?

Knockoffs

No, no,no – this recipe isn’t about handbags…or sunglasses…watches… or anything purchased from a sketchy vendor.

However, this is alllll about knocking off products that you love.

Lately, I’ve been alllll about Nature Valley’s Dark Chocolate Granola Thins.

Like…seriously obsessed.

Some have had issues with the chocolate melting….and unfortunate staining of clothes and papers…or getting all over keyboards, etc. I definitely experienced that my first go-around with this beauties…but a new home in the fridge keeps them perrrfect. Oh – and they come in peanut butter, too – haven’t tried those yet….

Obsessed.

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My biggest problem? Not enough in a box. 🙂

Sooo – I took to attempting my own variety.

I’ll be very honest – these don’t taste like NV Granola Thins…but they do taste good. That’s all that matters. Plus, they calm my salty, sweet and crunchy cravings allll in one lil’ bite.

I started with a (low cal) granola recipe – I halved the recipe – but kept the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup or honey and omitted the cherries. I think next time around I’ve up the honey – just for the sticky-factor. Oh! almost forgot – I added 4 squares of honey graham crackers – crushed.

Once it is all mixed – I pressed it firmly into a lined pan and baked the granola at 275 for about 40 minutes….just kept an eye on it.

Once toasty – smother in dark chocolate and sprinkle with sea salt. 

Stick that beauty into the fridge to firm up – and then…uhh, attempt to cut.

Okay…this part was messy. I would classify these as…shards…of granola thins.

….like snowflakes…they each took on their own unique shape.

However – each is beautiful…and oh-so-delicious… in its own, special way. haha

Oh, and I walked away with a tupperware container full of these little beauties – as well as a bag of honey-vanilla granola (once I successfully collected the granola shrapnel from my counters).

Two for one – score!

Nature Valley Granola Thins – don’t worry – even with this snack, I’ll still being picking up a box the next time I’m in the store…I’m sure of it.

Repeat Repeat

Hi boos! I’ve missed you guys. Lately – my eats have been fairly repetitive and simple as I really went off the wagon there for a little and was just feeling like crap. I wasn’t exercising nearly enough and there was way too much crapola in  my life.

While my meals have not been exactly exciting, I still have been having fun with food – and new obsessions have quickly crept into my life:

Popsicles. Obsessed. Who says you have to be 10 to enjoy these babies. Plus, the Goji White Grape flavor of the Edy’s Fruit Bars is amaaazing.

Jenna‘s baked beans have been a made at least three times. haha

Various chocolates – necessity. Ghiradelli’s Toffee Interlude is a new fave.

Plus – cold – but spicy – condiments have been on the menu.

I can just eat these pepper rings on they’re own. Crunchy, spicy, cold and salty = winnnn.

  • What foods or condiments have you added to your summer eating??
  • And what’s goin’ on in your world? It’s been forrrever.

Royally Sweet

Ahh – okay, so the royal wedding was a week ago.

Yes, I was obsessed.

Kate looked gorgeouuus.

However, there was one part of the royal wedding that I was seeing everywhere, to0..

Wills’ choice of wedding cake – the chocolate biscuit cake.

Chocolate? Yum.

Tea biscuits (cookies)? Double Yum.

I didn’t set out to make it – but my mom showed up at my apartment with a box of tea biscuits, chocolate, and hazelnuts.

Destiny.

I did really want to make an entire cake…so I decided on making little cups.

First, nuked some semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave until it was mostly melted (5 blocks of Baker’s):

Then added around a tablespoon (maybe a little less…it was just guestimated) of butter and maybe a tablespoon of fat free half and half….nuked for about 10 seconds more, and then stirred it allll together into a beautiful ganache.

I managed to resist spooning this right to my face… amazing.

Then I crumbled the biscuits and added some hazelnuts – honestly, this was all guestimation, too –  maybe half of a package (1/4 of the whole box).

Then mixed in the chocolate and scooped the mixture into lined cupcake tins (this ended up making 6 perfectly).

Then I just let them set up in the fridge…

These were divine…rich and crunchy. Props to Wills for such good taste.

As Mary Poppins would say, “Practically perfect in every way.”

Bread & Chocolate

Ahh – thanks for the support in regards to my less-than-regular posting schedule. This time of year – especially with graduation creeping up – has been all over the place! Plus…the weather has been phenomenal and sometimes…sitting at home in front of my computer just isn’t an option!

I DID, however, find my battery…weee!!

I now present to you the bread pudding that I made…and subsequently stuffed myself with….about a week ago.

Better late than never? 🙂

Adapted from Alton Brown’s Chocolate Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup hot chocolate mix  (I used unsweetened Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa instead – about 3.5 Tbsp)
  • 4 cups half-and-half (We had fat free h&h and it was fine)
  • 2 ounces espresso, slightly cooled (I used about 2 oz of Kahlua instead)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 18 ounces stale challah bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-inch pieces (Used dark chocolate chips)

Directions

Place the eggs and yolks in the carafe of a blender and combine on the lowest speed for 30 seconds. Slowly add the sugar over 30 seconds, and then add the hot chocolate mix (or cocoa powder) and blend until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half, espresso (booze) and vanilla and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch metal pan with 1 tablespoon of the butter and place the cubed bread in the pan. Spread the chocolate on top of the bread and slowly pour in the custard. Press down on the mixture with a spatula or the back of a spoon to thoroughly saturate. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 2 hours, or refrigerate for up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Bake until the internal temperature reaches at least 170 degrees F, about 45 minutes (took about 55 for me). Set the oven to the high broil setting with the oven door ajar. Remove the bread pudding from the oven. Pour the remaining melted butter into a spray bottle and spritz the top of the bread pudding. Return to the middle rack and broil for 4 to 5 minutes (Be careful…mine got a little too…”caramalized”). Remove to a cooling rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Snoopy & Woodstock wanted in on the Easter goodness

The toasty, chewy & gooey results:

Serve with some vanilla bean ice cream….

Divine.

It just kept getting better as it sat…dare I say it was best when it was microwaved and paired with (more) ice cream a few days later… chocolate.heaven.

It’s a Date

Stuffed. Dates.

Glorious finger food.

A glorious, bite-size jewel of chocolate, peanut butter and date. Super simple -albeit slightly messy depending on the viscosity (or generosity) of your dollop of PB!

While, I have been making these – assembling should be the term, I guess – for a while now – I have yet to post on them! Again, I’m not sure of the origins of this little recipe, but I first saw it on Gabriela’s blog, and knew I had run to Trader Joe’s and pick up a big ol’ carton of Medjools and start assembling.

My assembly line goes like this: pit the date, stuff date with a few dark chocolate chips, cover the chocolate with PB (my new favorite is the chunky, salted Trader Joe’s kind!), and then of course…sprinkle with a few more bits of dark chocolate for good measure.

The result is absolute heaven – a sticky sweet treat that sticks to the roof of your mouth. It’s a small bite, but unbelievably satisfying.

I’m all ready to start experimenting with ‘stuffings’ – perhaps a nod to that raw chocolate, coconut cake is in order…simple and on a smaller scale?! 🙂

While it’s not an on-the-go treat, this is one I see having a long life in my kitchen.

  • What are some of your fave lil’ snackies?