Sugar-Free Chocolate from Valrhona

Xocoline - Valrhona Sugar-free Chocolate I’ve just received 3kg of Xocoline, Valrhona’s new sugar-free chocolate. We’ve been struggling to find a way to make sugar-free ice cream that is natural and meets our standards in terms of taste and consistency. Hopefully this will be a big step forward, and I’ll start playing immediately with it.

As far as sugar-free chocolates go – it is by far the best I have ever tasted. It’s fruity and sharp (65% cocoa content), and is very much a Valrhona product in terms of quality. I think there will be many interested chefs and many happy people who are on sugar-restricted diets!

Xocoline is available in Ireland through Odaios Food (trade only). Valrhona is planning to sell these as bars as well for retail customers, but as far as I know they are not available yet…

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Game for Chocoholics

Chocolatier Game If you have a Mac, love chocolate, and want to try your skills at becoming a chocolatier, I came across this computer game: Chocolatier by Play First.

The blurb reads:

Become a master chocolatier one ingredient at a time as you travel the world to find the best prices and maximize production but dont forget about those conniving competitors who wish you poorly! Do you have what it takes to conquer the world through chocolate?

Just beware of price fixing!

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Chocolate Fondue for Valentine’s

Chocolate and strawberry Happy Valentine’s Day!

I think there is nothing more romantic than chocolate, so what better thing to make for your loved on than chocolate fondue? There is something so sensual and luxurious about melted chocolate over fruit and other tasty items, and the very act of dipping and sharing fondue makes it special.

Raspberry in Chocolate FondueAs with all things chocolate, start with quality. Find a good, dark chocolate and there is little chance that the end product won’t be delicious.

I like a bit of Port in my chocolate fondue, especially when you’re dipping fruit. If you want even more of a kick, add an extra teaspoon!

Here’s my recipe…

Chocolate Fondue with Port


    200 g 70% Chocolate
    200 ml Cream
    2 teaspoons Port

What to do:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Warm the cream in a saucepan to a low simmer.
  3. Amaretti dipped in chocolateRemove from the heat and stir the cream into the chocolate in small parts, stirring all the time.
  4. Chocolate and RaspberryChocolate and RaspberryThe chocolate will clump at first, then it should become smooth and glossy.
  5. Stir in the Port.
  6. Transfer to a fondue pot and enjoy!

My five favourite things to dip into chocolate fondue:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Bananas
  3. Raspberries
  4. Biscotti
  5. Amaretti biscuits

I’m sure you can think of many other delicious things to dip!

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The Cure for a Cough?

Chocolate Squares I have written about the health benefits of chocolate before, and there was an article on the topic in yesterday’s Tribune, which you can read here. What surprised me was the mention of a 2004 study from Imperial College London that chocolate is 30% more effective than codeine in suppressing coughs. I had never heard that one before, but the study shows that theobromine, a chemical found in cocoa and known for its health benefits, works better for easing coughs – without any of codeine’s side effects.

So, if you’ve given up chocolate as part of a New Year’s resolution and are coughing away, you might think again! A chocolate bar with high cocoa content might just save you a trip to the chemist. Mind you, if you’re like me and such a resolution would be unthinkable – it’s simply yet another good excuse to keep munching.

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Winter Hot Chocolate

Hot Cocoa My brother and I sometimes argue about hot chocolate. He likes his made with cocoa, and I like mine with melted chocolate. Cocoa is chocolate with most of the cocoa butter squeezed out, so it’s a powder. Hot chocolates made with unsweetened cocoa are light with a lot of kick (I’ve already given a recipe for Sean’s favourite – our Extreme Cocoa). Hot chocolates made with melted chocolate, are rich and silky (think hot chocolates in Paris and see this recipe).

I started wondering what happened if you joined “light with a lot of kick” (cocoa) with “rich and silky” (melted chocolate). So I made it, and both of us are happy. The recipe is below, and I’ve added a bit of cinnamon for Christmas cheer.

Murphys Hot Melted Chocolate with Cocoa Kick


  • 100 g dark (70%) chocolate
  • 40 g pure, unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 140 g sugar
  • 800 ml milk
  • 1/2 teasp cinnamon
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)
  • Orange zest for garnish (optional)

What to do:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
  2. Mix together the cocoa, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
  3. Add the milk in small parts, stirring all the time, until it is smooth.
  4. Heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the warmed cocoa milk to the melted chocolate in small parts, mixing all the time.
  6. It will clump at first, but keep adding in small parts until you have a smooth emulsion.
  7. Warm to drinking temperature (55C).
  8. Garnish with grated chocolate, whipped cream, and orange zest and enjoy!

Six servings.

Note: If you don’t like cinnamon, leave it away!

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Can’t Help Thinking About Chocolate?

Chocolates My father, always helpful, passed me on this story from the Daily Mail based on a study at the University of Hertfordshire:

It appears that the more you resist chocolate, the more you are likely to eat. In fact, those who try to stop thinking about chocolate, eat 50% more on average, with women more likely to gobble than men.

Of course, in my chocolate-addled thinking, why in the world would you resist thinking about that delicious creation?

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Sixteen Shades of Chocolate, Part 2

16 Shades of Chocolate I forgot, in writing my previous post, to say how things went with us and our Sixteen shades of chocolate! Both my brother and I were slightly concerned at taking away vanilla, honeycomb, raspberry sorbet, and all of our other popular flavours for the food festival to make way for a scooping cabinet filled only with chocolate ice creams.

How foolish! Customers were transported. It made my chocoholic heart melt to see the ecstasy and beaming faces. We offered a scoop with Valrhona special reserve melted chocolate on top as a festival special. I don’t think we’ve ever witnessed such abundant happiness!

Many thanks to our staff, who staunchly coped with the onslaught and allowed me to run around on festival business…

By the way, Laura, who showed true pioneering spirit in coming down for the first annual festival (along with her “lesser-spotted specius ice-cream fiendius”), has posted a photo of my brother and I doing our cooking demonstration here. I think Laura and Fiendius definitely get the award for customers of the year!

On a final note, I think it would be pretty cool to somehow include food bloggers in the next year’s festival. Maybe we could set up a blogging wifi kitchen. Any ideas?

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