I’m Alive!

I don’t think I need to say that this post has been a long time coming. For any of you who visit this site on a semi-regular basis, you have probably noticed my obvious absence from it. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for it, nor will I promise to get my butt back in gear and start posting 5 times a week. I’m going to be a realist and tell it to you like it is.

I love my blog, don’t get me wrong – I’m unlikely to get rid of it anytime in the near future. However, when it’s not your full-time job and you don’t really make any money off if it, you start to prioritize other things. Finishing my last year of my undergrad is one of those priorities, as well as working on my thesis and applying to grad school. Career-wise, that’s where I am headed at this point so looking long-term, it’s probably a good idea to concentrate my efforts there. No kidding right?

Culinaire Magazine September Cover

Photo courtesy of Culinaire Magazine

Perhaps even more exciting are the new opportunities that have started to open up for me in the world of food writing. I recently started a new chapter as the digital media editor for Culinaire magazine in Calgary, a publication I have been contributing to for awhile now. I’ve said it before but when it comes to this whole world of food blogging, it’s the writing that I enjoy the most, and on my personal site, it’s hard to make that a priority and still attract people that only want to get recipes and look at pretty pictures. Sitting down to read a 800-1000 word essay? Not so much. Writing is also cool in the sense that you develop more tangible connections with actual, real-life people. As much as I have developed tons of internet relations via blogging, it’s nice to go to events where you meet people face to face instead.

Looking at the whole scenario, I really have to thank this blog for all that it has done for me. Without it, I likely never would have met the people I needed to in order to branch out into the writing side of things (something I never would have envisioned when I started this thing in my culinary school dorm 3 years ago now). And I guess to address the biggest question; what does the future hold for Because I Like Chocolate? Frankly, I don’t really know. I aim to update it on a weekly basis, whether that be with a recipe or simply providing a link to something I have written or done elsewhere, but I’m not promising anything. I’ll probably get busy and forget about it for awhile and then come back to it and go gung-ho before dropping off the face of the planet again. I would like to be more consistent than that but you know how it goes.

Most importantly, I want to thank everyone who reads this site and has supported me along the way over the past 3 years. I’m no Joy the Baker but things have sure grown from the 3 people who started reading this things all of those months ago. You can’t blog in isolation and it’s nice to get affirmation from people that actually benefit from what you are doing. I guess my one hope is that I can keep contributing to your life in a somewhat meaningful way, whether it be providing a cooking tip or merely adding a laugh to your day. Yup that definitely sounded way too “kumbaya.”

Roasted Cauliflower

Today I thought I would end things with a link to one of my recent Culinaire articles. Every month I write a column called “Chefs’ Tips and Tricks” and September’s theme was vegetables! Given that it’s almost fall, it’s the perfect time to make the most of the harvest and these tips will help you do just that!

Jacques Genin

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When in Paris, only a fool fails to gluttonously splurge on the cuisine. And by cuisine, I mainly mean all things sweet; pastries, confections and of course, chocolates. Especially if those confections and chocolates are made by one Jacques Genin, in which case the first thing you should do after getting off the plane, train or whatever mode of transport brought you to the city of lights is head straight to his boutique in the Marais district.

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Once there, you have several options for consumption, both on the spot and to take away for later, although it will take all of one’s will power not to devour everything immediately. Start your tasting off on the lighter side, with pate de fruits, the salad shall we say of Genin’s confection wonderland. Flavours range from traditional to exotic, complete with a red pepper variety reminiscent of red pepper jelly. Personally my favourite was rhubarb, as it’s tartness contrasted beautifully with the inevitable sweetness of pate de fruits. However, you cannot go wrong with cherry, blackberry or raspberry either.

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Moving on to the caramels next makes for a natural transition through the sweet degustation. The creamy bites can be ordered in an array of fruity flavours, including one of their top sellers, mango passion fruit, or studded with nuts like almonds or peanuts. Save the best for last with the original salted butter caramel. Anyone who has ever tried their hand at making caramels knows that despite the flavour being relatively simple to achieve, the perfect texture is virtually unattainable without years of mastery and expertise. Let the caramel slowly dissolve on your palate, allowing you to truly appreciate its impeccable smoothness. Heaven.

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If the pates au fruits and caramels fail to prove the brilliance of Jacques Genin, the chocolates will surely win over even the most bitter, cynical soul. Despite the most valiant of efforts, trying them all in one go would be next to impossible so choose wisely. Luckily for you, any choice is a wise one. Chocolate and vanilla have been a winning combination for centuries and Genin’s version is a classic that does not fail. Yet his more creative inventions like Szechuan peppercorn or Jamaican spices with lime are equally acceptable.

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So I’ve heard the hot chocolate, lemon tart and Paris-brest at Jacques Genin are not to be missed either, but when eating your way through Paris, you do have to pace yourself somewhat. Although when I think about that molten mug of melted chocolat chaud that I failed to order, I wish I would have tried it all.

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Soft Peanut Butter Cookies – A Guest Post from gotta get baked

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Howdy y’all. It’s Nancy again from gotta get baked with my second guest post for my fabulous friend, Mallory. I’m pretty flattered that Mal asked me for not one but two posts while she’s enjoying my dream vacation in Europe…errrrr, I mean, her dream vacation in Europe. I’m not jealous at all! Ok, maybe with every fiber of my being just a little.

I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, I just haven’t gotten around to it. I subjected myself to 9 years of post-secondary education, working every spare moment I wasn’t in school and then saving all my money for pesky things like getting married and buying property. I hear the teeny tiny violin you’re playing for me. I know that I have an extremely wonderful and charmed life. It’d just be more wonderful and charmed if I could stroll down the streets of Paris with a baguette tucked under my arm, hang out in pubs in London, eat copious amounts of meat in Germany and drink beer and eat chocolate in Belgium. I’ll just have to live vicariously through Mal!

Now, I had lofty intentions for today’s recipe. Sometimes I get an idea that seems brilliant and delicious but unfortunately, my ideas fail like, 90% of the time due to my own incompetence. But that doesn’t stop me from trying!

I originally wanted to make a peanut butter cookie sandwich inspired by the Snickers chocolate bar. I imagined two soft peanut butter cookies with homemade nougat sandwiched in between, half dipped in chocolate and then sprinkled with chopped peanuts. The end result was…not that. The cookies were delightful but the nougat was a bit of a hot mess. See?

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It was far too liquid at room temperature. What I should’ve done (and what I did after taking these photos and giving the cookies away) was to place the nougat in the fridge. Cooling it for a few hours gave it the perfect thick consistency. Since I hate wasting food, I ate the nougat by itself with a spoon. Waste not want not waistline be damned.

The recipe I used for the nougat came from the Brown Eyed Baker and her amazing Snickers cake recipe. Make my dreams come true by creating a successful Snickers inspired cookie sandwich and let me know how it goes!

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies - A Guest Post from gotta get baked
 
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg, room temp
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup peanuts, chopped
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Roll about 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes. When you pull the sheet out of the oven, the cookies will be soft and may appear undone. Don’t worry about it. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. They’ll continue to bake while they’re on the sheet. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. The cookies will firm up further as they cool.
  2. Note: make sure you leave the remainder of the dough inside the fridge while the cookies bake. You don’t want the dough to warm up because they’ll spread too much while baking.
  3. Store the cookies at room temperature inside an airtight container for up to one week. I doubt they’ll last that long. These cookies are truly soft, packed full of peanut butter flavour since I used PB, PB chips and chopped peanuts, the latter providing a nice textural contrast. I really love the flavour that the cinnamon adds as well.

Mal, thanks so much for having me here in your wonderful space this month! I hope you’re having an incredible vacation because you deserve it, lady.

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Hey Mal here again – I also want to take the time to thank Nancy and the rest of my amazing guest blogging ladies, Medha and Kare for providing such beautiful recipes for me while I was (well, technically still am) gone. If there is one thing I have learned about food blogging it’s that you have to immerse yourself in it and embrace the community and all three of you embody that! You rock!

Chocolate Iced Coffee – A Guest Post from Kitchen Treaty

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August 26 and I am currently in Zurich, Switzerland living the dream – and eating way more chocolate than is healthy for a single individual to consume. Today’s guest blogger is Kare from one of my favourite blogs, Kitchen Treaty. The whole concept of the site is pretty cool, she’s a vegetarian but still cooks meat for the rest of her family and thus has to find ways to make meat an add-in to otherwise vegetarian recipes. Sounds like my life. Except that I generally get lazy and just eat salad after making stuff for everyone else. However, none of that is an issue with this chocolate iced coffee. Forget the coffee, let’s just drink the homemade chocolate syrup. Thanks for sharing Kare, I will let you take it from here.

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Hello hello, readers of Mallory’s wonderful blog! I am thrilled to meet you.

My name is Kare, and I blog at Kitchen Treaty, where I aim to show that vegetarians and meat-eaters can live together by way of vegetarian recipes that everyone will love, along with “One Dish Two Ways” recipes that start out vegetarian, but then can go two directions – one carnivorous and one meatless. I also like to create and share plenty of dessert and drink recipes, both of which are naturally vegetarian, which I, as the vegetarian in the house, find to be quite convenient. ;)

When Mallory asked me to write a guest post for her blog while she was on vacation, I was all over it. I’ll be honest, though – I had no idea what kind of recipe to share! Until it hit me – duh – it had to have chocolate. Of course!

With it being the peak of summer, I’ve been on iced coffee overload. I love the stuff! I cold-brew jugs of iced coffee all summer long, and one of the ways I love to treat myself on particularly harried mornings is by adding a good glug of chocolate syrup to the mix. Live a little, right?!

Because cold-brewing iced coffee helps keep bitter-tasting acids at bay, it usually tastes remarkably mild and, depending on the beans you use, it often already tastes kind of chocolaty. So giving that flavor note an added oomph with chocolate syrup is a natural segue. Add in some cream – a must for iced coffee in my book – and you’ve got a rich, decadent caffeine buzz to kick off your morning.

So should I have called this a mocha? I don’t know! Iced Mochas are a popular coffee drink but they’re made a little differently – with espresso instead of cold-brewed iced coffee. Mocha Iced Coffee sounded weird, so I went with Chocolate Iced Coffee. No matter what you call it, it’s worth making. And drinking. Often.

And so, here’s the recipe! Thank you, Mallory, for having me over here on Because I Like Chocolate! I hope you are having a fabulous vacation. :)

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Chocolate Iced Coffee
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Cold-Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate
  • 1 cup coffee beans, medium grind
  • 4 cups water
  • Chocolate Iced Coffee
  • 1 cup cold-brewed iced coffee concentrate
  • 2-3 tablespoons chocolate syrup (homemade version on my blog is my favourite - see link in text)
  • Half-and-half or almond milk for a vegan version
  • Ice cubes
Instructions
  1. To make the cold-brewed iced coffee concentrate, add the ground coffee beans to a large jar or pitcher with an air-tight lid. Pour in the water. Stir. Seal and let sit at room temperature for 6-12 hours.
  2. Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth and strain coffee. Discard grounds. Iced coffee concentrate keeps in the refrigerator for up to one week. (For more detailed information, see my tutorial in the link in text!)
  3. To make the Chocolate Iced Coffee, add coffee concentrate and chocolate syrup to a large glass and stir. Add a splash of cream or milk if desired. Taste and add additional chocolate syrup or cream if you’d like. Fill glass with ice and serve with a straw.

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Dark Chocolate Tart – A Guest Post from Farm on Plate

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Today’s guest blogger is Medha from Farm on Plate. I first discovered her blog back in October of last year and as she will share shortly, I was smitten from the get-go. With the plethora of food blogs out there, she still manages to offer something different. First of all, her photography is outright fantastic. Look at these pics, they are brilliant, right? More importantly though, she shares some incredible stories about her life and all that she has learned and discovered along the way. In other words, Farm on Plate is more than just a pretty, it actually has some substance to it which I really appreciate. I’m just going to shut up now and let Medha take the stage because I’m not sure I could ever do her work justice, and surely not in a single intro paragraph.

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When I started my blog farmonplate.com last fall, I felt like it was my first day at a new school. No one knew who I was and I had no friends. I was very nervous how I was going to fit in. All I needed was a smile or a hello letting me know that I was okay, that I belonged here. That first friend, someone who smiles and says hello to you, leaves a mark on your soul. In that moment, that person seems like your own guardian angel.

Mallory was the first one to walk up to me and say hello on my first day at school! Well, I actually got an email from her, but the emotions I felt were exactly the same. The fact that she took the time to tell me I was doing okay, that I shouldn’t self doubt, tells a lot about who Mallory is as a person.
Here is a short version of that email Mallory had sent to me last fall:

“I came across your blog this morning and I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was (and still am) with the content of your site. Nowadays, food blogs are nothing new. I tell people that I have one and it hardly evokes a reaction anymore. But finding a blogger that actually cares about food, now that is another story. Coming across Farm on Plate this morning was really refreshing. You mentioned in your tweet about being full of self doubt and I will be the first to say that you don’t fit the “food blog” stereotype. But don’t let that cause you to question whether or not you are doing the right thing. I think what you are doing is truly passionate and inspired.

You clearly care about food; good food and that comes across in your writing, recipes and pictures. And hey, if you are ever in Calgary, feel free to look me up and I can show you around our food scene. – Mallory” 

Mallory, I want you to know that your friendship means a lot to me! May be its because you like chocolate, but you definitely add to the sweetness in the world! When Mallory asked me to a guest post for her blog, I knew I had to use chocolate. I wanted to make something that was decadent but healthy and simple to make. This vegan and gluten free dark chocolate tart takes less than 30 minutes to make, leaving you plenty of time socialize and chat with your friends! 

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Dark Chocolate Tart - A Guest Post from Farm on Plate
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Makes 1 7 inch tart
Recipe type: vegan, gluten free, dessert
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 15 dates – pitted
  • ¼ cup coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup hemp seeds
  • 1½ tbsp coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz good quality dark chocolate, I have used 70% dark
  • 1 cup coconut milk unsweetened - cold refrigerated
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean pastee
Instructions
  1. To make the crust:
  2. Place almonds, dates, coconut flakes, hemp seeds, sea salt and coconut oil in food processor. Pulse until chopped, to chunky/sticky mixture. Add couple of tbsp of cold water if needed. Place mixture in a springform pan, you can also use regular cake pan covered with saran wrap. Flatten out with your fingers or back of a spoon.
  3. To make the filling:
  4. Melt chopped chocolate in a double boiler (heatproof bowl set over saucepan of simmering water). Stir occasionally until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
  5. In another bowl, mix vanilla bean paste and coconut milk. Now add melted chocolate and mix well with spatula. Use a hand mixer on lower speed and beat the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the mixture over the crust and tap the pan gently on the counter to release any air bubbles. Put the pan in the freezer for at least an hour to set. Before serving, take the pan out of the freezer and thaw for 15 minutes. Top the tart with your choice of fresh fruit or berries before serving.

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