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It’s BOOM BAM time!

Posted on May 21, 2012 3:39 PM by Lauren

Boom! Bam! That’s the sound of the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival coming our way June 1-10 this year with performances happening all over Burlington, VT. For years, Lake Champlain Chocolates has been a proud sponsor of the event, and this year we wanted to kick it up a notch and do something really special to celebrate the festival, its musicians, and the music. So, for this year’s festival, we are happy to announce we’ll be releasing a limited edition chocolate bar called the Boom! Bam! Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Experience.

The bar is made up of our signature 34% milk chocolate filled with bourbon-soaked roasted pecans and a warming hint of cayenne pepper. The flavor combination was really inspired by the place that gave birth to jazz – New Orleans and what jazz could look like interpreted into chocolate. Smooth, creamy milk chocolate, toasty, crunchy southern pecans, the subtle complexity of the bourbon with its vanilla and oak notes, and the spicy cayenne pepper give a nod to the diversity and layers that make up jazz music.

Bars are available for purchase in all three of our retail locations – Pine St., Church St. and Waterbury Center, online, and we will also be selling the bars at many of the Discover Jazz Festival shows. Just look for our tent or table! We’ll be there amid all the action with chocolate bars available for you!

All profits of each Boom! Bam! Bourbon Pecan Chocolate Experience go entirely to the FlynnArts "LCC Youth in Jazz Scholarship," providing year-round classes and workshops for students, regardless of financial means. We care deeply about the importance of the arts in everyone’s lives and wanted to provide a way for future generations to learn, grow, and participate in the jazz movement for years to come.

From idea to finished piece, we’ve been so excited to finally get the opportunity to release this bar— we hope you enjoy every bite!


Salty-Sweet Super Bowl Snack!

Posted on February 2, 2012 10:16 AM by Lauren

Are you ready for some football?
Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner. Whether you watch it because you’re a true hardcore fan, enjoy the laughs from the commercials, or love grazing on the nachos and salsa, there seems to be some part of it that we all can appreciate. For the Super Bowl snackers out there, we’ve got a recipe for chocolate covered caramelized peanuts that could throw your Super Bowl party over the top.

Think salty, sweet, crunchy little snacks you can pop all afternoon if you want. The best part is they’re so simple, and you don’t even have to coat them in chocolate if you want, although trust me, you’ll want to.

Peanuts & chocolate, it doesn't get much better.

 

 

 

 

 


Chocolate Covered Caramelized Peanuts

¾ Cup Sugar
3 tbsp Water
3 ¼ Cup Peanuts – Raw (they’ll roast as you cook them)
½ tbsp Butter
½ tsp. Kosher Salt
11.5 oz. wt. Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% Dark chocolate (optional)
¼ Cup Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Unsweetened Cocoa (optional)

1.    Combine the water and sugar in a wide saucepan. Cook without stirring to 230F.
2.    Remove from the heat and add the peanuts. Stir the mixture off the heat until the sugar fully crystallizes and the peanuts separate from themselves.
3.    Turn the heat to moderate and return pan to it. Continue cooking the peanut/sugar mixture until the sugar caramelizes (you’ll see it turns a lighter brown color).
4.    Once you’ve reached a caramel state, add the butter and salt. Stir to incorporate.
5.    Immediately pour out the peanuts onto the back of a sheet pan coated with oil. Let cool slightly. Then, separate the peanuts piece by piece. (Don’t wait too long. They might set up in clumps on you.) Then, allow the nuts to fully cool.

(Optional Addition of Chocolate)
6.    Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until all solid chunks are melted.
7.    When the nuts are fully cooled, put in the refrigerator for 5 minutes.
8.    Pull nuts out of the refrigerator and pour a third of the chocolate over them. Stir until coated. Pour out and separate into individual pieces when chocolate sets.
9.    Repeat the process two more times to fully coat the nuts.
10.  After the last addition of chocolate, sift cocoa powder over the nuts. Stir to evenly coat each nut. Dust off any excess.

Or, if you're feeling lazy, you can pick up some of these.

 


Beets? In a chocolate cake?

Posted on October 27, 2011 1:27 PM by Lauren

In my spare time away from work, I love to bake. Since I do work with chocolate five days a week, though, I am constantly looking to slip a little bit of healthfulness into my day whenever I can. So, this weekend as I was trolling through a cookbook I picked up at the library I came across a recipe entitled,“An extremely moist chocolate-beet cake with crème fraiche and poppy seeds.” Yes, I thought, I like beets, and I certainly like chocolate! I’ve never had vegetables in my chocolate cake, but you never know, right? That would be a great way to add some functional food to my dessert.

Honestly, I must say this was one of the most delightful cakes I’ve made in quite a while. The smell of roasting beets and melting chocolate permeating my apartment at the same time was magical.  I know some may be skeptical of beets, especially if they’re in a cake, but I encourage you to give it a try. The beets turn into more of an accent than a major flavor adding a slight but well-welcomed earthiness to the cake. I thought the pairing of our Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate and the roasted beets was deliciously complex and overall tasty.

So, without further ado, here’s the recipe. I made some tweaks to the original, which I’ll note here and there, but otherwise everything is as the author stated. Enjoy!

Chocolate-Beet Cake

8 oz   Beets (I used Chioggia, but I’m sure all would work just great)
7 oz   Lake Champlain Chocolates 54% dark chocolate
4 tbsp   Hot Espresso
¾ C. +2 tbsp   Butter
1 C + 2 tbsp   All Purpose Flour
1 tsp.   BakingPowder
3 tbsp.   Cocoa Ppowder (I used Lake Champlain Chocolates Organic Unsweetened Cocoa)
5 ea.   Eggs
1 C   Sugar
½ tsp.   Salt (not in the original recipe, but I find that baked goods lacking salt taste flat)

Butter and flour an 8 in. springform pan. (I didn’t have one, so I used two 9 in. round pans which worked fine.) Preheat oven to 350F.

Cook the beets whole and unpeeled in boiling water until tender inside about 30-40 minutes later. (I chose to roast the beets at 400F instead to give an extra complex roasty note to the beets. Depending on size I would say they took 35-45 min.) Let cool. Slice off the stem and root and peel the beets. Pulse them in a food processor until a coarse puree.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. When the chocolate is almost melted, add the hot espresso and stir to incorporate. Next, cut the butter into small pieces and add to the chocolate mixture. Allow all butter to melt in.

Sift flour, baking powder, and cocoa powder together. Set aside. Separate the eggs putting the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks in a separate bowl. Whisk yolks together.

Next, mix the yolks with the chocolate mixture by adding some of the chocolate mixture to the yolks and stirring and then adding all back into the chocolate. (This helps keep the yolks from getting shocked by the temperature of the chocolate.) Then, fold in the beet puree.

Next, start whipping the egg whites on high until it begins to look frothy. Add the sugar a little bit at a time to the whites while the mixer is on low. When all has been added, turn up on high again until stiff peaks form.

Then, fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture gently. Lastly fold in the sifted flour mixture in additions – not all at once.

Pour the batter into the cake pan (or pans) and put in the oven. Decrease oven temperature to 325F. Bake for 40 minutes or until done. (If using two 9 in. pans it should only take 25-30 minutes.) Let cool completely. Serve with crème fraiche and poppy seeds, if desired.


Do you want some more?

Posted on August 17, 2011 10:47 AM by Lauren



Do you want some more? Apparently the answer is always a resounding yes when it comes to graham crackers, marshmallows, and all sorts of chocolates, especially during summertime. Originally, s'mores were invented as a "gather 'round the campfire" sort of snack, and the very first s'mores recipe was published in the 1927 Girl Scouts manual "Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts."

Flash forward to today in Burlington, VT at Lake Champlain Chocolates. We've got handmade s'mores just in time to savor what's left of the glorious summertime! Come down to any of our locations at Pine St., Church St, or Waterbury and pick up some house made graham crackers and marshmallows for your next shindig! Plus, the best part is that you get to select from any of our chocolates. If you are a milk chocolate person, we’ve got it! If you're into the new Grace Potter bar with tons of heat and spice, we've got it! I've also found the hazelnut praline bar tastes particularly good on a s'more. Just sayin'. Either way, create a s'more your way, and enjoy the warmth of friends and summer.



Last Friday we decided in honor of the launch and National S'Mores Day we couldn't resist testing them out. We hauled in the firepit, invited our friends here, and went s'more crazy. With marshmallows caramelizing, chocolate melting, and conversation going, it was simply sublime. I hope these photos inspire you to gather 'round the fire, create your own perfect s'more, and keep eating until you want n'more.


The weekend of July 10-11, I had the privilege of attending the 57th Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington DC. In our line of work, the Fancy Food Show is the trade show of all trade shows. This year it was a three day extravaganza of 6,173 exhibitors booths set up at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and several thousand buyers, wholesalers, distributors, or whomever roaming the grounds to buy, discover, meet, and greet. Imagine walking the length of a football field over and over again scanning the aisles line with yards and yards of foodstuffs – everything from cheese, crackers, cookies, chocolate, tea, sodas, spices, meats, etc. to packaging, merchandising displays, book publishing companies, and more. Needless to say it is overwhelming and exhausting, but in the end it is such an amazing experience – one in which Lake Champlain Chocolates is a part of every year.

R& D Team- Eric & Lauren

For me on the other hand, this was my very first year ever attending, and you’re probably thinking, “What is someone in R&D doing at a trade show where the primary purpose is sales?”Well, I spent two days walking the aisles opening my eyes to what new products other companies were introducing, meeting potential suppliers, getting some inspiration and ideas, and soaking all of it in. It’s always important in my eyes to be in touch with what’s current, what customers are really looking for, and being mindful of all of that when I create any product.  Long story short – I want to make things that you all can and will enjoy!

While I saw and tasted so many things over the past few days, I wanted to share just how eye-opening the show can be when you’re looking hard enough. Here are some of the things I had never seen or in some cases even heard of before ranging from the bizarre and not necessarily tasty to deliciously awesome and spot on.

Dark Chocolate Covered Mustard Seeds

Fish-shaped ravioli for children

Dark Chocolate sweetened with Stevia

         Water with fulvic acid added to make it turn black

The first domestically produced soy sauce

Popcorn made from sorghum rather than corn

Polish mead made from four different kinds of honeys, chestnut &

chocolate puree

Dried durian fruit.

While these things may not necessarily sound appealing or even taste good, it makes for a unique educational experience and gets you thinking outside the box. The fact that all these things were under one roof was amazing to me, and the fact that I was there to experience it was even more so. Here’s to another great year at the Fancy Food Show.

 

 


What do you learn at a Chocolate Academy?

Posted on June 21, 2011 3:51 PM by Lauren

Recently, I had an amazing opportunity to travel to Chicago to take a Chocolate Technology course at the Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. Now, you may be thinking chocolate technology, gosh that’s intense and sounds like super science. It is and it isn’t, so I wanted to hop on the blog to try to share just a brief snippet of what I learned and how it can be applied to your day to day food life.

It's serious business.

First, we focused on sweeteners and how they differ in terms of flavor. Some are significantly more pronounced in sweetness than others. As a reference, I wanted to share this list in order of sweetness of some common sugars you may use along your cooking journey.

Starting with the lowest sweetness level:
•    Lactose - found in milk products
•    Corn Syrup
•    Maple Syrup - less sweet than white sugar since it is roughly around 33% water
•    White Sugar - brown sugar and sugar in the raw fall pretty much at the same level
•    Honey
•    Agave Syrup

   
If you’re thinking about sweetening your iced tea with one of the above options, you would use less agave syrup to get the same sweetness level than you would regular old sugar. Also, I find it intriguing to note that when people add milk or cream to their coffee, they’re actually sweetening it a tad too. Next time you add milk to your coffee, try to notice what the lactose does to the taste. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

The class also emphasized the importance of knowing your ingredients and knowing them well. For instance, when making a ganache (the centers of our truffles), it helps to know the fat content of the cream you’re using, whether it’s pasteurized or not, what type of pasteurization it undergoes, etc. The next time you are thinking about substituting one ingredient for another in a recipe, think about the characteristics of that particular component. A higher fat content may separate a ganache recipe that doesn’t have enough water or make the texture creamier and more mouth-coating. An ultra pasteurized heavy cream will have a more cooked milk flavor than a slow pasteurized cream since an ultra pasteurized cream is heated to a much higher temperature. Sometimes it’s the little things that really make a difference in a recipe, what its flavor will be like, and ultimately how it eats.

I’ve always believed your food can only be as good as the sum of its parts. Next time you’re food shopping I encourage you to think a bit about what you’re picking up. Do some investigating. How will what you have in your hand affect your end meal?

I strive to make sure I’m thinking far in advance about the raw ingredients even before testing a recipe. It’s the quality of the raw ingredients that speaks volumes about a final product. I know that’s always on the forefront of our minds here at Lake Champlain Chocolates, and I hope you notice the little things that make the difference in everything we do.


Bunnies and Eggs and Carrots, Oh My!

Posted on March 23, 2011 11:43 AM by Lauren

Bunnies, bunnies, and more bunnies! Now that spring is upon us, the production of our chocolatey friends is in full swing. The more I walk by our fancy chocolate bunnies, from Mr. Goodtime all the way down to the little placesetting guys and gals, the more I realize I know almost nothing of their origin. Why do we make gourmet chocolate bunnies and eggs to fill baskets? How did that ever become such a widespread tradition? As a kid, I took it for granted that a bunny was just what you received at Easter. I knew on Easter morning I would wake up to a colorfully boxed milk chocolate bunny, an array of gold foil-wrapped chocolate Easter eggs nestled with a few packs of new baseball cards in a pretty chocolate Easter basket. I carefully unwrapped the chocolates, savored every morsel (well, not the baseball cards), and moved on with the year.   Maybe I was so preoccupied with the chocolate that I didn’t care about the bunny. Quite honestly, it could’ve been a cat, fish, or kangaroo, and I wouldn’t have cared in the very least! It was chocolate – a rare treat in my family.

So really then, what is the story behind the chocolate bunny and what does it have to do with the Easter holiday? Since ancient times the rabbit has been known as a symbol of fertility and growth. Ever heard of things “spreading like rabbits”? Over time this became associated with spring and the growth of a new season. As Christianity spread, Easter started to become more of a widespread holiday. Soon, the springtime symbols and the holiday itself became synonymous with one another. The first written record of a bunny associated with Easter was in 1500’s Germany, and the first chocolate bunny was made in the 1800’s. German settlers have since brought the tradition to America where we still practice it today.

 

Eggs became associated with Easter for a similar reason since they have always indicated an abundance of life and rebirth. Since Easter is celebrating Christ’s resurrection, the life in eggs makes a lot of sense. Plus, during the Catholic season of Lent, eggs are not to be consumed, therefore leaving tons of eggs for use other than eating. Traditionally, they were colored and decorated in creative ways and placed in a nest handmade by children. Today, the chocolate or flavored eggs are a loose take on those hand-decorated eggs.

 

So, as we delve head-first into Easter and you’re choosing from Lake Champlain Chocolates wide array of bunnies and eggs and chocolate carrots (oh my), think about how far the tradition has come. Since it’s my first spring at Lake Champlain Chocolates, it has been an absolute joy to watch our tempered chocolate transform into Easter’s famous symbols. Each of our bunnies authentically honors the Easter tradition. Every single one is handmade the old-fashioned way with dark, milk, or white chocolate by the love and care of our chocolatiers’ hands. After learning the story behind them and witnessing firsthand the time and effort put into all of our Easter chocolates, I certainly have a deeper appreciation for that little guy I used to bite into every Easter morning.

 


A Salty-Sweet Valentine

Posted on January 19, 2011 10:28 AM by Lauren

Christmas and New Year’s are behind us now, so what is next on the docket for LCC? Valentine’s Day, of course. So, this month we wanted to highlight one of our newest holiday products, the Salty Sweet Heart Throb.

Now, before we get into the new, let’s rewind. The heart throb we’ve all come to know was a shell-molded heart with our classic raspberry filling piped inside. This ultra classic has stuck with Lake Champlain Chocolates since the very beginning of the company and has probably won over many a Valentine since its debut. Weighing in at 5.25 oz. and measuring about 4 inches in diameter at its widest point, the heart throb was our biggest way of saying “I love you” all wrapped in one piece.

Taking its place will be the Salty Sweet Heart Throb with milk chocolate, sea salt, and almonds. At the same size, it looks the same as its parent product, but on the inside it’s a whole new personality. It is a solid product with inclusions, much like the flat signature chocolate bars. It has a youthful, almost trendy feel, tapping into the salt craze and comfort food movement.

Now, how does it all come together?  First, a heap of dry roasted almonds and greek sea salt is mixed with our signature milk chocolate. Next, each heart mold is carefully filled and expertly leveled off to create the piece. All the while the chocolate mixture is churning on a wheel to keep everything evenly mixed and tempered. After they’re allowed to set up fully in our chilly cooling room, each one is carefully removed from its nesting place and lined up on sheet trays to wait for packaging. Once there, the hearts are hand-packaged with love. Everything from the foil wrapping to the final tie of the bow is done by one of our friends. Each piece connects with the people who had a hand in making it all happen.

I think the heart throb would be a piece best shared amongst you and a loved one. You can eat it however you like, split it however you like, and enjoy it wherever you like on that very special day.


As a newbie here at LCC, I’ve been delving into our products – tasting, learning, and understanding the logistics of it all. Along my LCC journey per se, I had the privilege of trying all of our gourmet hot chocolates. In the past I’ve had one too many lame prepackaged hot cocoas, so naturally, I didn’t have very high expectations.  Boy, was I wrong to think that. I hit the jackpot – a verifiable diamond in the rough. All I can say is run, don’t walk toward our Old World Hot Chocolate! And seriously, I’m not just saying this because I work here. It’s really something special.

First of all, let me start by letting you in on a secret. This hot cocoa comes in small chocolate curls. It is not like its little brother, the sweetened cocoa powder. This is grown up hot chocolate that acts its age. It is legit. Not only does it taste amazing, but I’ve found that it has way more uses than just simply a liquid sweet. If you’ve got a canister of Old World and an imagination, the possibilities are endless.

This past weekend , for example, I was making my usual old steel cut oats when I glanced over to the Old World on my countertop. It started calling my name. I won’t lie – I took a giant handful to dump on the top of my oatmeal. Genius! Instant chocolate gratification. It was a great way to spice up the boring breakfast, and honestly, it would be a great way to get children to eat a healthy breakfast.  This little moment inspired me to jot down other ideas for the Old World. Beware. Some may be crazy. What are you willing to try with our Old World? Think outside the box a bit. Have fun with it!

1.    Cakes – use it as a tasty garnish along the bottom edge of a cake. If you’re not the cake boss, it’ll clean up that raggedy edge left behind when frosting.
2.    Gingerbread House – Possible roof or sidewalk? Trees? Maybe you want a giant chocolate moat in front of your gingerbread castle. I’m just saying.
3.    Romance – remember all those movie scenes with a trail of rose petals? Self-explanatory.
4.    Candy Bowl – you grew up with your grandmother’s candy bowl always full. Why not do a modern take on the old tradition for your visitors? Pour some of the Old World into a festive bowl and nestle other candy amongst it. I’ve found that candy canes, rock candy, or chocolate pops stand up well in the chocolate. Think stick candy.
5.    Toppings – think pancakes, ice cream, brownies. Savory applications? Add some to your favorite chili recipe. Even a PB/chocolate sandwich could be good – a little added crunch from the chocolate pieces would be nice. The sky is the limit.

 


Marshmallows Have Arrived!

Posted on December 9, 2010 3:03 PM by Lauren

What initially comes to mind when the wintery season hits? Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s Christmas, or maybe it’s simply trying to stay warm? I don’t know about you, but because I’m an absolute food nerd  I think of hot chocolate and lots of it. I really look forward to stepping out of the wind and snow and into warmth and coziness. Hot cocoa does that for me.

At Lake Champlain Chocolates, we wanted to make that hot chocolate experience even sweeter – seriously, no pun intended. So, after careful trial runs, we just launched our best recipe of old-fashioned house made marshmallows in our retail stores. Think back to around the 1850s when the French made marshmallows with the sap of the marsh mallow plant, egg whites, and sugar. Even though marshmallows are no longer made like that, ours embody those old school qualities of yore. They are all made in super small batches, and they are all tediously hand-cut – not every one looks the same.

If you have never had an artisan marshmallow, you’re in for a treat. They are distinctly different than anything you can ever find at the grocery store. The vanilla is subtle but noticeable, and the texture is a great balance between chewy and soft. They almost just melt in your mouth. They’re just so fun!

So, if you’re in the area, stop down to one of our retail stores and check them out. Tell us what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback. I wish you a happy winter with unending marshmallows to float atop warm cups of hot cocoa!