By Keri Foy
|Tiramisu and (back) Red Velvet individual cakes from Ghyslain Chocolates. Photos by Melissa Donald|
Want to splurge on some great chocolate but not sure what to do? Working with chocolate is an art form. It takes skill, a little book knowledge, and a lot of practice. Lucky for you, we’ve assembled a panel of experts to give you unbelievable insight into the power of cocoa.
|Bourbon balls from Muth’s candy.|
|Varying flavors of heart chocolates from Ghyslain.|
|Left clockwise: Bananas Foster cake, Macaroon cake, Sacner cake (chocolate raspberry) all from Ghyslain.|
Q: Best chocolate to give to your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day?
Barbara Turner: Buy local! In Louisville, I like Cellar Door Chocolates.
Belita McDonald: A beautifully wrapped chocolate lying on a pillow.
Sabrina Hannah: My husband prefers milk chocolate, so I usually get him something mint- or chocolate-filled. For my three boys, we usually get mixed chocolates. They enjoy discovering the different fillings.
Sarah Vories: Their favorite! If you don’t know what they like, give them bourbon balls and turtles. Those are pretty manly candies. Guys like nuts.
Susan Maurais: Ghyslain coffee chocolate.
|Muth’s chocolate candy box.|
|Pot de Creme made by Barbara Turner.|
|Try a chocolate buffet at a party using items like these truffles from Ghyslain.|
Q: How to make a good chocolate drink?
Barbara: Heat a cup full of milk with a handful of chocolate chips and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Stir and enjoy.
Belita: A classic chocolate martini: 1½ ounces chocolate liquor, 1½ ounces crème de cacao, ½ ounce vanilla vodka, and 2½ ounces half-and-half. Shake well with ice, and strain into a martini glass rimmed with chocolate syrup or sweetened cocoa.
Sabrina: If you are using cocoa powder for drinks, add a small amount of liquid initially and form a paste before adding the remaining liquid. This will help prevent dry powder in your final beverage. For a more intense chocolate flavor, try cocoa dissolved in hot water with your choice of sweetener. Or for a rich and creamy drink, dissolve a finely chopped bar of chocolate in milk. My favorite way to drink chocolate is a chocolate stout or porter.
Sarah: Use a good cocoa powder to make hot chocolate.
Susan: Use Valrhona gourmet chocolate. Make certain the chocolate is melted evenly and not burnt. Add it to your beverage slowly.
|(L-R) Sabrina Hannah, principal engineer – food science at GE Appliances; Sarah Vories, manager at Muth’s Candy (“I’ve been here since I was an infant … after school … my whole life. This is my future and my kids’ future. It’s more than chocolate.”; Barbara Turner, pastry chef at Butchertown Grocery restaurant and previous chef instructor at Sullivan University; Belita McDonald, owner of Derby City Chocolates; Susan Maurais (not pictured), owner of Ghyslain Chocolatier.|
Q: What chocolate is best to use when cooking? Any other tips for cooking with chocolate?
Barbara: For candies, get a high-quality couverture chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter.
Belita: For chili or mole sauce, I use Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. Try it — you’ll thank me. To melt chocolate, use a heavy glass bowl and microwave at half power.
Sabrina: I use unsweetened, solid chocolate and cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-processed). Cocoa powder has good flavor intensity, but pay attention to the type for which the recipe calls. Dutch-processed and natural cocoa aren’t interchangeable because they have different acidities.
Sarah: The best weather to work with chocolate is low humidity, sunny, and 70 degrees.
Susan: Use Valrhona. Melt in a microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring each time.
|Top left: Sabrina Hannah makes a variety of chocolate treats.|