Ghirardelli Luxe Chocolates

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received three squares of Ghirardelli Luxe Chocolates to sample — one each of milk, milk with almond, and milk with hazelnut.

Ghirardelli touts that these chocolates blend the finest cocoa beans, whole milk, cocoa butter, and vanilla to “create a rich and creamy chocolate experience like no other”.

I snapped the chocolate in half, rubbed the chocolate between my fingers, and smelled. The aroma was nutty and sweet on the hazelnut and almond flavors, but the milk smelled like regular milk chocolate. All the squares tasted creamy and there were no large sugar granules to be found like in lower-grade chocolates, but this difference may have been noticeable because 1) I was looking for it since it was advertised and 2) I used to work as a choclatier.

These were great, indulgent snacks, but they weren’t much better than regular Hershey’s or Nestle chocolate, especially for the price difference.

 

Recent Creations

Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to lately in the realm of home cooking, baking, and general creation of delicious things.

I made chocolate whoopie pies with vodka caramel cream cheese filling (tinted green) for a co-worker’s going away celebration in March around St. Patricks Day. The cookies in a bag are from my boyfriend’s mom and are molasses spice cookies (I think the recipe is on the side of the Grandma’s Molasses jar). She also made the delicious chocolate cake in the bottom left. My boyfriend and I made the oatmeal raisin cookies in the bottom right (recipe from the Quaker Oat’s container).

For a work potluck, I made a simple blueberry and quince tart by layering blueberries and poached quinces on top of a pie crust and topping it with a simple crumble. Some parts of the quince were a bit tough since I didn’t remove the parts near the seed pods all the way, but it was a great way to use up fading fruit!


Around Christmas last year I made gingerbread houses with my family and spent two days during December making homemade truffles (Oreo, Fleur de Sel, and Hibiscus Tea) and peppermint bark for family, friends, and co-workers with my bestie Stephanie. We packaged them up with twine, artist tape, and stickers for the season. If I get around to it, I’ll post our truffle adventures, including a truffle class and recipes.  I also made gingerbread cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and milk chocolate espresso cookies since exchanging cookies during the winter is a family tradition.

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Goat Cheese Frosting and Quince-Ginger Compote

Last Thanksgiving I was looking for ways to mix new and familiar flavors together in order to get people to try new ingredients. When I saw the recipe for Pumpkin Layer Cake with Goat Cheese Frosting and Quince-Ginger Compote from a local food blog Bitten Word, I knew I had found the perfect fit. These cupcakes were such a hit at my office that I made them once for our group Thanksgiving Potluck and a few weeks later for our organization’s Holiday Bowling party.

The frosting is basically half goat cheese and half cream cheese, which makes the final product thicker and tangier. This way, it doesn’t compete with the spicy cake or become too sweet when paired with the quince topping. Since I used the recipe for a two-layer cake and adapted it into cupcakes, there was a lot of quince topping left over. This just meant that the second time I made the cupcakes I didn’t have to make the topping again! The topping also goes well with yogurt, oatmeal, or could be baked into a dessert of its own. I also drizzled some of the quince syrup on top of the cupcakes to add some more moisture and flavor.

If you aren’t able to find quince in your local grocery store, try substituting with Asian pears. The peak for the quince market often depends on your physical location and by the time you hear whispers of quince, they’re already gone!

This recipe has been deemed a "hit at home" and is one of the tastiest recipes on Hapa-tite!

Apple Picking at Crooked Run Orchard

 

Last year, October 16th 2010 I went to Crooked Run Orchard with my boyfriend to pick apples. Crooked Run is a bit of a trek from the city, but it isn’t the furthest orchard by far. Prices were quite reasonable and there were many variaties to choose from. Pumpkins were advertised, but the gourd lot was barren. Parking was a bit tight, but the day was crisp and sunny. After picking the apples I couldn’t believe that I had never been apple picking before! It’s such a fun activity, especially when you’re able to move at your own pace. We took our spoils home with us and made an apple pie out of the apples we picked. In my experience, picking or growing whatever produce you use makes the end product taste much better, since you know exactly what went into it.

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