White chocolate’s not chocolate…whatever. This bar of Askinosie white chocolate is everything: single origin, direct trade, small batch, cocoa butter made in-house, four quality ingredients, and farmers with a stake in the outcome. Even farmer Peter Cruz is featured on the package. Yay for socially responsible chocolate.
But more than the bean to bar production the ingredients in this bar make me giddy. Giddy like skipping down the street or tap dancing around the kitchen (which is exactly what I do). There’s the rich and earthy tang from goat’s milk (such a sexy pairing!), the layer of roasted cocoa nibs on the bottom, and the micro grains of sugar bits that you savor as the chocolate melts in your mouth. I’m basically saying that this white chocolate in no way resembles the horribly waxy bunny-shaped bars we’re all used to. It’s the perfect balance of white chocolate sweet, goaty-milky tang, and a satisfying-crystally crunch.
My other favorite version of this bar has pistachios in place of the cocoa nibs! Don’t be shy. Try them both.
INGREDIENTS: Organic cane juice, cocoa butter (made by Askinosie with Trinitario Davao cocoa beans), roasted cocoa nibs, goat’s milk powder.
Filed under: Chocolate
Askinosie is one of my all-time favorite chocolate makers, and their CollaBARation bars have been quite a special treat. Like Askinosie, the collaborators focus on small-batch, artisan, direct sourcing, and all-around goodness. Learn more about each bar here and perhaps pick up a set of all four for the gourmet chocolate lover in your holiday circle.
I’ve declared my love of the Malted Milk + Dark chocolate collab with Jeni’s, but just last week I enjoyed the Vanilla bean and sugar crystals bar from Zingerman’s (one of my favorite stops in Michigan last summer). The bits of vanilla bean on the back of the bar were really interesting.
[For my Seattle friends try stopping by Sugarpill. She is expecting more Askinosie bars very soon. (And also try their White chocolate + pistachio bar while you're there.)]
Filed under: Beauty, Bubbly, Chocolate, Clean, Health, My favorite things
François Pinon Vouvray / François Pralus Barre Infernale / White Coconut Crème tea / Josie Maran cream blush / Aquasana coutertop water filter / BibBon luxury eye mask (here too) / Abbaye de Belloc cheese / Organic cold pressed coconut oil
I’ve really been struggling with the whole Gift Guide thing this year. I started pulling some lists together back in November (as it’s usually one of my favorite projects), but seeing how things have unfolded this season, I can’t help but feel that it’s all gotten to be so painfully contrived. I’m no stranger to extravagant window shopping fantasies and trend alerts (and posts about them) but in this age of blog sponsors and affiliations I feel that so much has become so one note and disingenuous.
At first it made me sad, but then I settled on the best way I could think of to share the most genuine list of goodies that I could…and that was by listing some of my all-time favorite things in one post. Not a gift guide, but a collection of health and happiness in small and meaningful packages. Everything here I own, I use, I love. No wishlists, no trendy gift o’ the season: just my favorites from me to you, and maybe even someone you love.
So in an attempt to not sound too much like a Grinch…
here’s hoping you have a lovely holiday full of gifts and gift-giving that makes you feel happy and healthy.
Filed under: Beauty, Chocolate, Green, Health, My favorite things, Seattle
I’ve gotten a few inquiries about where I find chocolate to satisfy my
weekly daily cravings and somehow I could have sworn I’d posted about my very favorite chocolate, flavored sugars & salts, custom tinctures, natural health products, and vintage goodies store before. And yet somehow I missed it.
Sugarpill Apothecary (or just Sugarpill as we call it) was one of my very first discoveries after moving back from San Francisco, and while I needed time to settle in to my new adventure at home, this was the place that made me feel at home here while recalling happy memories of SF. I take all of my out-of-town guests here after brunch at Sitka for the perfect “Seattle experience”. (And come on, is that not the coolest branding logo ever?)
The proprietor Karyn has an amazing array of the most wonderful goodies and everything is just so me. I love her natural health and beauty section (of course), but then there’s….
…the wall of barware bitters and syrups…
…flavored sugars and salts…
…gourmet pantry items and so much more.
But perhaps the most wonderful resource in Sugarpill is Karyn herself. With extensive knowledge of herbology and homeopathic remedies (right up my alley!) I often come to Karyn for a custom-made tincture for whatever may ail me: fatigue, stress, cold remedies…anything. (And even if you don’t quite know what’s off, she has a wonderful way of helping you identify and articulate how you might be and feel better.)
As I tell all of my visiting customers at the restaurant, for the perfect one-stop-shop that is oh-so-Seattle, be sure to visit Sugarpill.
Sugarpill Apothecary Seattle | 900 E. Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98122 | 206.322.7455
François Pralus Barre Infernale
Like coffee, chocolate is a luxury item that’s become so easily accessible that it’s easy to forget that for about $20 we have access to the best the world has to offer. Seriously, this is mind blowing! In a time where faster, cheaper goods reign supreme we have the ability to reallocate a few dollars here and there to appreciate the finer things and indulge in excellence…like, for example, this epic bar of chocolate.
I use the term chocolate bar only in the most literal sense: it is in the shape of a bar, and it is made of chocolate. In terms of the conventional sense, trust me when I say that there is nothing conventional about this chocolate.
This is the François Pralus Barre Infernale Lait. I’ve been struggling to find the best way to characterize this, but it’s been really tough. In the classic sense (and according to François Pralus) it’s a praline, but I think it might help most people stateside to think of this as a bon bon of sorts, with a truffle-ish center. (Did you catch that?)
The progression of textures and tastes is euphoric. The outer chocolate shell boldly encases and yet blends into the most sumptuous, buttery, and decadent chocolate hazelnut center. In short it’s the perfect fat: as it hits your palate it’s one cohesive bite, but almost immediately it coats your tongue and oozes sexy hazelnut chocolate. The addition of the toasted whole hazelnuts is the perfect bit of tannic crunch.
This is NOT excessive-cocoa-butter-waxy-bland, just pure decadence. I’m not saying this is an exact comparison, but when talking about this with my guy the word foie gras did come up. So yeah…there’s that.
I purchased this from Cacao in Portland for $22. It’s worth every cent not just because of its artisan craftsmanship and quality (and size), but also because it’s so decadent it’s meant to be savored. You’ll just want to slice a few pieces off at a time and store it away from anything too warm or cold. If you’re looking for this in Seattle, check out Chocolopolis in Queen Anne, they also have it online for $19.
UPDATE [December, 12]: This guy is getting hard to find. Try here.
In case you’re curious here’s a cheeky little how-to:
If this wasn’t enough to convince you I’m not sure what else there is! All I can do is beg you to skip the chocolate from Trader Joe’s and indulge in something better every now and then. Trust me, the endorphins you’ll get from this are priceless!
Askinosie’s Malted Milky Dark Chocolate
It seems extra gloomy today, and even with the spring blossoms peeking out it’s one of those graze-on-an-entire-bar-of-chocolate kind of days. It’s actually perfect timing because we came across this awesome bar of Askinosie chocolate yesterday. My friends, this bar (a collaboration with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams) is uh-may-zing! The dark chocolate with malted milk makes this the perfect bar for milk chocolate lovers looking to enjoy dark chocolate without so much of the strong, chalky taste. The texture is also complete perfection, first the chocolate taste with just enough cocoa butter to make it creamy-not waxy.
For me, making enjoying the chocolate that much better is how they work. All of the chocolate is made in small batches using single-origin cacao beans (sourcing directly from the farmers), each of the cacao farmers has a stake in the profits, and interestingly enough, the cocoa butter is made in-house. Who’d have thought that’d an artisan chocolate maker actually making their own cocoa butter was a big deal…but it is! Askinosie is the first small batch chocolate maker in the U.S. to press their own cocoa butter.
Gorgeous chocolate and direct trade with farmer’s makes for a lovely (and meaningful) indulgence. Please, please, please give this a try so we can talk about how awesome this chocolate is!