No Waffling On This Decision.

There will be no waffling on the decision to enjoy this Bahlsen cookie treat today! I told you earlier this week I am on a winter cookie craze, and today I present to you something that I love to grab on the way out the door to my car with my traveling coffee mug. I love that these little waffle cookies are small, have a bit of actual chocolate on them and they have a little bit of waffle action! It’s easy for an adult to pop one of these and head out the door, my children though – like to find any possible way to make a simple cookie super messy! So while I can enjoy grabbing one of these Waffeletten‘s on my way out the door, the kids – mainly my youngest – needs to quickly take several bites before we make it to my car!

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Every time I have one of these little waffle wafer cookies, I also taste a hint of cinnamon or something. So to be sure that I wasn’t going crazy, I did check the back of the packaging and the ingredients do list “spice”. But it does not list which spice is added. But it’s a perfect little blend of flavor – waffle, chocolate, spice… yummy!

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My youngest likes to bite the chocolate end of and then peer through the wafer like a telescope, so not only do they provide a snack, but these Bahlsen wafers can provide some imaginative fun for the kids! I’m not done with the Bahlsen cookies, I do have another one I’ll bring to your attention soon! But this is one of my favorite little cookie treats that I don’t feel bad giving the kiddos – even if it’s the only thing they had in the morning before breakfast or getting on the school bus! Shhh…! Don’t tell anyone! They are the perfect little bite size munchy snack!

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Taking a Walk with Mr. Stanley.

I love mint. I also love dark chocolate. I love these Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks made by Mr. Stanley’s. So you’ll find me walking around with these from time to time. I can’t just eat one either, I must have like 3 or 4, maybe more (yes, more)? I am addicted to anything minty and anything dark chocolate, so when I found these little treat sticks, I knew I was in trouble! These are perfect for me when I am running errands and I’m trying to get out of the house, but I also want something minty – but not gum. I can grab these little sticks and get the kids in the car and away I go! They are not messy, no wrappers to deal with, since I grab them straight from the box. I’d show you the inside of the box, but it’s – uh… empty! (Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!) The box itself states, “Tasty Twists of Pure Chocolate Indulgence”, and I have to agree… they are tasty twists of pure indulgence!

If you are not a fan of mint or you like a different flavor, these little sticks come in orange flavor as well!

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I love Mr. Stanley’s classic packaging with the stripes and fun fonts! When I grabbed this box off the shelf at the store, I sort of felt like I was getting myself ready to have some fun! And I have! Because not only did I find the Magnificent Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks, I also found the fun Chocolate Matches with Popping Candy! Seriously! How fun can we make candy? I found the white chocolate matches – and not only do I think they are fun and funky, my kids love biting into them and feeling the little popping pops in their mouth!

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The Chocolate Matches come in a fun box that, why yes, resembles a box of matches! These are matches the kids CAN play with! I am not endorsing any such thing, but these chocolate matches are sure not to spark any flame or fire! But they will spark curiosity fun with kids and candy lovers alike!

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The chocolate matches are probably double the size, maybe a little more, than the mint sticks. But either way, they both are delicious and tons of fun to eat and share! And not to worry, the popping candy in the matches aren’t obnoxiously poppy, they are just enough pop to make you think of the popping sounds and start of a wood fire!

While I have the white chocolate matches, these also come in different varieties: milk chocolate & salted caramel, and Earl Grey dark chocolate matches! Note that these other flavors do *not* have popping candy, but they do have some unique flavors! So there you have it! Some delicious fun from Mr. Stanley’s! These are fun for any occasion, or no occasion at all! Just get them and have fun! But they do make great gifts for young and old, and their fun and classic packaging makes it so inviting to open up and share! Not all gourmet chocolate is this fun!

 

Take the Bitter with the Sweet.

Yes, go for it! Go ahead and be bitter! Today you can be! Today is National Bittersweet Chocolate Day! Start indulging in your favorite chocolate until the bitter end! Am I getting a little carried away here? I’m sorry! I don’t mean to be obnoxious, but there are just to many perfect ways to express today’s bittersweet day! And just because it’s a day for bittersweet chocolate, it doesn’t mean you have to forget about your milk chocolate. Because we’ve got them all covered today to celebrate Hachez all the way from Germany.

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Let’s first explore what makes chocolate bittersweet:

  • Legally, at least 35 percent pure chocolate with some small amount of sugar added.
  • Also known as: dark chocolate, when it is a European brand.
  • Characteristics: Usually darker and less sweet than semisweet.
  • No legal specifications for the term so not always darker and less sweet.
  • Semisweet and bittersweet can be used in baking interchangeably, depending on personal preferences.
  • Specific sweetness and color intensity varies by manufacturer’s recipes and cacao bean sources.
  • Uses: Baking and eating.

Source: Better Homes & Gardens (Chocolate Types, Selection & Storage)

So, let’s get this (tasty) bitterness out of the way, shall we? Let’s start with these two bittersweet chocolates made by Hachez. The Ecuador green package is a 58% cocoa and the São Tomé blue package is 73% cocoa. How bitter do you like to go?! Missing from our group would be the Madagascar in blue-violet package at 75% cocoa.

Hachez can impress even the best dark chocolate connoisseur. I thought I was a dark chocolate expert until I had some of the darkest Hachez chocolate (I believe 88% is my favorite) and I was blown away! It’s not overly bitter, it’s not “dry” or tastes chalky, it’s just a smooth, chocolatey taste that is very enjoyable! I tried both of these below and they are very good!

 

Back in 1890 Joseph E. Hachez refined superior cocoa from South America according to a simple recipe. The secret to perfect chocolate quality involves roasting the cocoa bean batch, meticulous conching and use of natural ingredients. We still adhere to this recipe today. Enjoy our chocolate compositions handcrafted with love and painstaking care.

Source: Hachez (Product Packaging)

Even though it’s “bittersweet” day, below I thought I would share a photo of some of the Hachez superior milk chocolate, influenced by Venezuela at 43% cocoa and in a yellow package. Silky, smooth milk chocolate, very dreamy and delicious!

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We will be exploring Hachez chocolates some more in the future, so expect to see more delicious chocolate from them coming to the blog! We will also be exploring Hachez’s Taste Navigator in a future post, so look out for that, soon!

To end the post for today, I had to share one of my favorite songs from back in the day, “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. Enjoy!

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Thank You for the Fun #TravelingSanta!

As promised, we wanted to share our love and fun of #TravelingSanta!

The children will miss #TravelingSanta until next year! Thank you #TravelingSanta for the fun we had this past Christmas holiday season! Farewell, until we meet again!

We hope you enjoy our little video of the adventures we all had together!

Hello 2018!

Happy New Year! Happy 2018! Let’s start off the New Year with a new name! As you can see, All Things Gourmet, sounds like a nice little fit! What you’ll find here won’t change at all! There still will be recipes shared, gourmet food items to be showcased and shared, along with the sharing of information and traditions and so forth! But don’t worry, there will be little Gourmet Nibbles to be had and I will make sure you can follow my crumb trail!

The month of January is busy and filled with lots of new things, recipes and adventures ahead! There are some sauces and soups to be made, special national days to celebrate – all of course – featured around FOOD! Then we have to face it and admit it – Valentine’s is right around the corner! Yes! I know! We just finished up the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and YES! We must move on to Valentine’s and do I dare bring up the Easter Bunny?! Well, I sort of have to, because we can’t avoid them! And here they are…!

Just a few to get you started!

Over the course of the next year I also plan to keep up on the latest health and food trends, and so far there are a few similar themes I keep seeing popping up! Tumeric  and other spices seems to be one trend. “Gut-friendly” fermented foods such as sauerkraut has hit the list and then don’t forget about your foods filled with probiotic! And as for gut-friendly foods, we have that and we’ve got you covered!

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There are a few things about coffee I may look into – I keep reading that coffee is good for your liver and there may also be other coffee trends that I am going to try to keep my eye on. Is coffee the key to prevent premature death?I don’t know, but there are reports to claim there may be an association to drinking coffee and longevity by reducing the risk of cancer, stroke, heart and liver disease!

And coffee… that’s in stock as well!

So there’s a lot to look forward to in 2018! And it’s time to get started!

 

 

Melting Away. Literally…

It’s cold and snowy out. Or maybe it’s cold and rainy out where you live. Or maybe it’s just cold. Or maybe you’re just in a blah mood and need a pick-me-up. You don’t really feel like tea, but you don’t really want coffee. The next best option for a happy medium to enjoy would be hot cocoa.

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The next time you want to prepare yourself a nice cup of hot cocoa, reach for the following item: Butlers Chocolates Hot Chocolate Drink.

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Without the obvious risk of myself repeating myself, but in a different way…

How are you going to enjoy National Cocoa Day, which happens to be TODAY? I’ll tell you how: Butlers Chocolates Hot Chocolate Drink.

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I have to admit. I was skeptical. What was this going to taste like? Does this really work? Does it really taste good? It seems a little too good to be true. Yes, I am that crazy lady who stashes the Butlers Chocolates in her cupboard and hides the stuff from the children, and well… now I have something else to hide! Yes! These little pucks of chocolate joy are AH. MAZE. ZZZZING! A cup of smooth, hot, chocolate silky delight is only a matter of minutes away on your stove top. Simply heat some milk or cream on the stove top and add one (or two) of these chocolate discs? Pucks? Awesomeness? Let it melt thoroughly, pour into a mug and ENJOY! Sit back and just MELT AWAY with this hot cocoa! I truly do not use words such as “divine” – very often. Today I shall. This hot chocolate beverage is DIVINE! After you prepare yourself a cup of this divine mixture, you will then realize why this might be hidden away from the children… would they appreciate this deliciousness? Is that even a word? I guess it is, because by the time you read this – I’ve spell checked myself! 😉

 

If you have just come in from the cold – maybe you were sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, building a snowman, shoveling your driveway… and you’re freezing cold… time to make up some of this hot chocolate drink. You’ll melt away as you sip this and defrost yourself inside!

 

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If you’re looking for some facts and information, and actual sources cited where it is explained that cocoa is nutritious for you, look no further than this link from the Michigan State University Extension. Cocoa is known for having antioxidants and being good for heart health. Cocoa can also help aid with memory and of course… MAKES YOU HAPPY! So check out that link from MSU Extension and get the lowdown on cocoa today!

This morning we’ve got a winter storm warning in our area, hoping that people drive safely today and when I am all set and done with being out and about today, I will come home and enjoy some peace and solitude in the form of hot cocoa!

 

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Run, Run… As Fast As You Can…

Run, run… as fast as you can, but no one can stop the demise of Mr. Ginger, the DSC_0013Gingerbread Man! As I was shopping in one of the local stores in town, I passed by Mr. Ginger, the cute and friendly gingerbread man who brings holiday cheer all the way from Belgium’s Belfine chocolate factory. I couldn’t pick up just one, I had to pick up several. We have friends and family visiting later this month and he makes the perfect little addition to any gifts or treats we will be passing out or having on hand when company arrives. He’s super cute, made of chocolate and he appears to be a friendly little fellow. Unfortunately I could not save him from the demise of my youngest son. And what can I say, I suppose it was entertaining to watch Mr. Ginger see a cruel and horrific fate!

But before I share the downfall of Mr. Ginger, I’d like to also share this little gift package I bought the other day that was sitting right next to Mr. Ginger! It’s the cutest Santa with his sleigh and some reindeer! It’s the perfect gift for any child, young OR old, boy OR girl! It’s currently sitting on my kitchen counter, and there have been several eyes lurking at the prize inside! Sadly, this little gift package is NOT for my children, it will be given away to company visiting later this month! It’s actually torturing my youngest child who cannot wait for his friend to visit! He keeps asking me if it’s Christmas yet, I sadly let him know that it is not. He keeps asking me if his friend is arriving soon and if he’s in town already, I sadly once again let him know that it’s just not time yet. SOON! Very soon!

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I have to admit, I have come close to opening this package of Santa and his reindeer myself… I keep thinking to myself that it would be fun to nibble off the antlers on those four-legged sleigh transporters. But seriously? How cute is this? Anyone would love receiving this little box as a gift for the holidays!

I am seriously impressed with these gorgeous Belfine chocolates – I just love the designs they come up with and I love how they package their products. Belfine seems to be a really creative and fun company to work for! I did write about their process of chocolate character making earlier this year in this blog post. It’s really neat how the chocolates are all made unique and have their own name. What I also espeically like about these chocoloates are the bright colors these treats have! They are made well and you can tell just by looking at them that these are a quality product! Let’s also not forget – they are GMO free!

I told my mom about the cute Santa and his reindeer for gift giving ideas, when she actually saw the package on my counter she was pleasantly surprised even noted how cute the set was! I kind of think that she would have rather been the first one to see it and buy it herself for gift giving purposes! I beat her to it!

And now… I bring your attention back to poor Mr. Ginger. Someone had waaaay too much fun chomping off his head… the poor little gingerbread dude never stood a chance! At least it was quick?!?! 😉

Nibble, nibble!

 

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Enjoy National Chocolates Day!

Happy Wednesday! According to Foodimentary.com, today is National Chocolates Day! What chocolate are you nibbling on today? I am going to share my chocolate(s) that I am celebrating today, and that would be Butlers Chocolates. They are a favorite of mine! I even want to say this blog has some early roots in sharing the love of Butlers Chocolates in one of the first posts made here!

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It’s true! I have bars hidden in my cupboards and I always forget that I stash them from the children. When I find a bar hidden amongst the items in my cupboards it’s like I have hit jackpot! And then… I hope… that a child is not near by when I make my discovery… because yes… I really don’t want to share! I’m so bad!

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And do we all know that Butlers Chocolates originates from Ireland? So, really, I suppose I am celebrating “International” Chocolates Day!  Butlers Chocolates isn’t all chocolates, they make a variety of products:

In addition to luxurious milk, dark and white speciality chocolate assortments, Butlers Chocolates produce creamy toffee, soft fudge, deliciously moreish chocolate filled and solid chocolate bars, enticing milk chocolate truffles delicately flavoured with famous liquors, hot chocolate and enchanting seasonal collections at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter!

Source: Butlers Chocolates (Our Heritage)

Speaking of CHRISTMAS, these chocolates make awesome stocking stuffers, host and/or hostess gifts, or a perfect gift to pass around the office during the holiday season.

Have you tried Bulters Chocolates before? If so, tell me what your favorite! My inquiring mind wants to know!

The History of the Advent Calendar.

Christmas is right around the corner, and many are preparing to get their Advent calendars for all the anxious youngsters. There are plenty of Advent calendars to go around and various different kinds! From chocolate to Lego for the children, to wine and beauty products for adults, Advent has come a long way!

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I recall growing up and being given an Advent calendar as a kiddo. I used to enjoy opening up each day and getting my little special piece of chocolate from behind the cardboard door! It was like a special little treat that I was able to open up in the morning – CANDY in the morning! Now that I have children of my own, they seem to be excited about the prospect of getting little chocolate treats everyday with their own Advent calendar.

Keep an eye out for Wawi Advent calendars. They come in a variety of different holiday scenes sure to please anyone!

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Here’s some history of Advent and how the calendars began, this information was from WhyChristmas?com.

Advent is the period of four Sundays and weeks before Christmas (or sometimes from the 1st December to Christmas Day!). Advent means ‘Coming’ in Latin. This is the coming of Jesus into the world. Christians use the four Sundays and weeks of Advent to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christmas.

There are many types of calendars used in different countries. The most common ones in the UK and USA are made of paper or card with 24 or 25 little windows on. A window is opened on every day in December and a Christmas picture is displayed underneath.

In the 19th Century, German protestant Christians counted down to Christmas by marking 24 chalk lines on a door and rubbing one off every day in December.

Paper calendars were first popular in Germany in the early 1900s, although people made their own ones from the 1850s. There’s a debate about exactly where and when the first mass-produced calendar was printed – but it was certainly in Germany in the early 1900s! During World War II, the production of Advent calendars stopped due to a shortage of cardboard.

When they were first made, scenes from the Christmas Story and other Christmas images were used, such as snowmen and robins, but now many calendars are made in the themes of toys, television programmes and sports clubs. Some of these types of calendar even have chocolate under each window, to make every day in December that little bit better! I used to like those when I was a little boy (and still do now!!!)! The first calendar with chocolate in it was made in 1958, although they only became really popular in the 1980s.

Source: WhyChristmas?com

If you haven’t gotten your Advent calendar yet, you still have time to do so! Check out your local stores and pick them up – either for yourself, a loved one or those kiddos! Share with us your traditions or things you remember from your childhood! We’d love to read comments and/or see some pictures of how you prepare for the upcoming holiday season!

 

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Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow for us in the United States, stick around and read up on some Thanksgiving holiday traditions. Stay close! More food and gourmet nibbles to be had!

 

Homemade Triple Chocolate Ice Cream.

You read that title correctly. Homemade *triple* chocolate ice cream! And I made it! I tried this recipe several years ago when I first received my Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker. I made this recipe the other evening with Ghirardelli Baking Chocolate. DSC_0122Do you think making your own homemade ice cream is difficult? It depends on how you make it and what tools you have on hand. For me, my stand mixer is handy with its ice cream bowl attachment. There is some preparation ahead of time, such as preparing the ice cream base at least 24 hours in advance so that the ice cream base is nice and cold. You also have to make sure your ice cream bowl for the stand mixer is frozen cold, once again, at least 24 hours or more. Once those two things are square, and you’ve prepped the stand mixer to GO, you just turn it on, pour in the mixture and watch ice cream happen!

According to Foodimentary, tomorrow is National Sundae Day, so this recipe comes in some good time to prep some ice cream for Saturday!

Please note that this recipe does require a stand mixer with ice cream bowl attachment. Also take note that below is the actual recipe from Kitchen Aid, the only change from my recipe is that the store was out of unsweetened baking chocolate, but I used bittersweet baking chocolate instead.

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A word of note from someone who has made the base of the ice cream before: If you can plan ahead and try to use large glass measuring cups when heating up the items over the stove, the easier it will be to transfer from bowl to stove, and so on. For example, I used a small sauce pan for heating water and my glass measuring cup – in essence, a double boiler. At the very end of all the preparation, I saved the remaining 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream, vanilla and salt in a large mason jar. When I was done mixing all the components in the middle part of the recipe, I just placed all the remaining liquid in the mason jar and mixed from there. It’s also easy storage in the refrigerator and it will be easier to pour the cold mixture into the frozen ice cream bowl mixer. There is a lot of action going on: heating, reheating, and mixing of heated portions. If you can make your life more simple by preparing in advance to avoid spillage and for ease of transferring portions from bowl(s) to pan(s), it would be worth your while, but not necessary to do. I thought I would share this handy hint as I have found myself spilling liquid portions because of carelessness along the way!

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And I have a little added bonus today for you as well! I took some video of the ice cream bowl attachment in action for you all to see! I will admit, it’s just under two minutes, and it does get a tad boring, but you can see the gradual thickening of the ice cream as it churns away in the ice cream bowl attachment.

As this wonderful gourmet journey continues, I hope to continue on with more videos and fun stuff!

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But back to the ice cream… we had the ice cream bowl attachment going for about 15-20 minutes and then scooped the ice cream in a glass container and put it in the freezer overnight. My boys were able to have a small scoop from the ice cream maker itself, but it seems to need an extra blast of freeze in the actual freezer. The flavor and smooth texture of the ice cream is so yummy!

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whipping cream, divided
  • 2 squares (1 oz. [30 g] each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 2 squares (1 oz. [30 g] each) unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 bars  milk chocolate chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions:

  1. In small saucepan, place 1/2 cup whipping cream, semi-sweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate. Heat over medium-low heat until chocolate melts, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; set aside. In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat half-and-half until very hot but not boiling, stirring often. Remove from heat; set aside.
  2. In small bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder. Set aside. Place egg yolks in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and wire whip to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and gradually add sugar mixture; mix about 30 seconds, or until well blended and slightly thickened. Continuing on Speed 2, very gradually add chocolate mixture and half-and-half; mix until well blended.
  3. Return half-and-half mixture to medium saucepan; stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until small bubbles form around edge and mixture is steamy. Do not boil. Transfer half-and-half mixture into large bowl; stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, vanilla, and salt. Cover and chill thoroughly, at least 8 hours.
  4. Assemble and engage freeze bowl, dasher, and drive assembly as directed in attachment instructions. Turn to STIR (Speed 1). Using a container with a spout, pour mixture into freeze bowl. Continue on STIR (Speed 1) for 10 to 15 minutes or until desired consistency, adding milk chocolate during last 1 to 2 minutes of freeze time. Immediately transfer ice cream into serving dishes, or freeze in an airtight container.

This recipe makes approximately 16 servings.

Check out some of the photos of the process of preparation!

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