Touring the Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut Factory

Touring the Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut Factory

I will never, EVER turn down an activity related to chocolate. If I do, you will know I’ve gone senile so please commit me. Naturally, when I received an invite to tour the Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut and Cococo chocolate factory, I was on it faster than over-whipped cream turns to butter (good one, hey?).

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Greeted by the sweet smell of chocolate I knew it was going to be an amazing tour from the get-go. If they ever figure out a way to bottle that aroma without it smelling artificial, they will make millions from it, guaranteed. Anyways, I met up with Kristen, their wonderful marketing manager and once we got our coats and hairnets on, it was go-time.

First she showed me the aftermath of the 2012 floods and how it completely demolished their old production facility in the basement of the building. How they managed to get it from this, back up and running, cranking out chocolate like no one’s business, I cannot fathom. All I know is that the chocolate world is all the better for it.

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Then we moseyed up to the current production area and the real fun began. Given that it is just over 2 weeks until Christmas, they were busy creating their signature hand-dipped cherries. They start with organic BC cherries (and you know they are real because they still have the pits in them), which are soaked in Kirsch and then dipped in alternating layers of chocolate, fondant and more chocolate. When you bite into them, you get an immediate liquid burst of boozy, cherry syrup. Needless to say it wouldn’t take too many before you were over the legal limit, but considering they are only available during the holidays, one must splurge. Just make sure you find a DD if you intend to eat more than 5 or 6 of them in one sitting 😉

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From there we continued through the factory, walking by staff doing everything from filling and unmolding truffles, to mixing giant vats of their acclaimed sea salt caramel (used in milk chocolate covered caramels that recently won gold at the Canadian National Chocolate Awards). What really struck me was their commitment to using as many local, Canadian ingredients as possible. Obviously you cannot source Canadian cocoa beans, but they do use an assortment of native products including dairy, fruit, sugar, liqueur and even hazelnuts. In fact more than 50 of their ingredients are sourced locally and 11 other key ingredients are from other places in Canada.

I was also fortunate enough to get to chat with the master chocolatier, Chef Derrick Tu Tan Pho, that oversees the whole operation. I have never met anyone who knows as much about chocolate as he does, or is as innovative with it either! At Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut, new products are constantly in the works but before they go to market, it takes anywhere between 6-12 months of testing to make sure they are absolutely perfect. I’m not sure how to describe how much dedication it takes to test something for up to a year, over and over again until you get it right. It involves a heck of a lot of commitment, that’s for sure.

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As the tour came to a close, I had mixed feelings. Sad that it was over, I was also thrilled to get my goodie bag to take home and taste a variety of finished products, having just seen how they came to be. I’m hard-pressed to pick favourites when it comes to chocolate, but I am of the mindset “the darker the better.” Their dark chocolate caraques are simple but delicious, although you can turn things up a notch with mint or orange flavoured leaves (all naturally flavoured as well, which is great because no one likes the combination of chocolate and toothpaste). Of course their speciality Calgary bar with habanero and sea salt is a long-time favourite of mine so you cannot go wrong with that either. Most interesting though was definitely the dark chocolate oregano fusion bar. Similar to their rosemary fusion except made with dark instead of milk chocolate, it is studded with habanero and sea salt for that sweet, salty, spicy, herbaceous kick.

So don’t just sit there, get out and try some of Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut and Cococo’s delicious chocolate for yourself! For a list of locations across Canada and in the US, and to find one in your area, click here. You can also follow them on twitter @ChocBernCal.

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake

 

Sweet and salty chocolate cake

I don’t have the best track record making cakes, specifically this sweet and salty chocolate cake. For the most part I would say it has to do with my lack of patience. Plus when you don’t do something very often, you tend not to be all that great at it. I would say most people are not huge fans of things that they struggle with. Or at least I can say that for myself. When it comes to this sweet and salty cake, both of those principles apply.

However, it was my sister’s birthday yesterday so I had to pull out all of the stops. I really like the taste of this cake too, despite some of my disastrous attempts at putting it together. How can you go wrong with 3 layers of chocolate cake and salted caramel cream cheese frosting? More about the cake itself; I was introduced to it when I worked at the Brickhouse in Charlottetown. It was one of the most popular items on our dessert menu and for good reason. Who doesn’t like sweet and salty paired together?

Anyways, the first time I ever assembled one of them, it was laughable at best. The whole idea is to bake 1 cake and slice it into 3 layers. If you make the first one even the slightest bit too thick, it makes for an interesting top 2 layers to say the least. Sometimes it was more like 1 layer plus some random cake crumbles. Thankfully there is icing to patch everything back up right?

I am probably even more notorious for the egg shell incident. Frankly, I am not sure why I would share this with anyone as you will realize that I am an idiot, but for the sake of humour, what the heck. So I was making the batter for this sweet and salty chocolate cake one day at work, one of the many things on my to-do list for the day. I was in a rush so I cracked the eggs right into the mixing bowl, as the KitchenAid was whirling away full speed. Not surprisingly, half of a shell whipped out of my hands and was instantaneously shattered into millions of little pieces. Apparently I had zero judgment that day and decided that if I whipped the batter furiously for a bit, the egg shells would surely dissolve right into it. No fault in that logic at all. Instead of chucking the creamed butter, sugar and eggs (and egg shells) into the garbage, I kept on going as if nothing had ever happened. I thought I had gotten away with it too. When I pulled the cakes out of the oven they looked perfectly fine to me. I set them aside to cool and be iced another day.

A couple days later I came in for my shift and the sous chef told me that he had something to show me. I actually had no idea what it could be. Then he and the pastry chef pulled out the cake. They opened it up, revealing a plethora of little white speckles. It wasn’t something where I could be like, “oh I accidentally got a little piece of shell in there” when it was actually half an egg. So I told them what happened, apologized and from that day on was known as the girl who thought she could get away putting egg shells in a cake. When I moved back to Calgary they even sent me egg shells in the mail. Moral of the story, egg shells do not dissolve into cake and this is especially apparent when you make a dark, chocolate cake. Live and learn right? Thankfully this time my sweet and salty chocolate cake turned out about as perfect as I possibly could have hoped for. Good thing too because I don’t think I would have had it in me to make another one.

Sweet and salty chocolate cake Sweet and salty chocolate cake Sweet and salty chocolate cake Sweet and salty chocolate cake Sweet and salty chocolate cake Sweet and salty chocolate cake

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake                                                                                                         
Makes 1 8″ or 9″ round cake 

Ingredients

Cake

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. hot water
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 medium eggs
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

Caramel Sauce

2 cups white sugar
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. fine salt

Icing

2 packages (16 ounces or 1 pound) light cream cheese, softened
1 to 1 1/2 cups prepared caramel sauce

Instructions

To make the cake, heat your oven to 325F and line a springform pan with parchment paper. Mix together the cocoa, sour cream and hot water. Whisk until smooth and set aside to cool slightly. Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl and set it aside as well. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy (use an electric or stand mixer to do this). Add the vanilla and then the eggs, beating until smooth. Then alternately add the cocoa/sour cream mixture and dry ingredients into the creamed butter and eggs. Basically you want to add a little bit of the wet and beat. Then you add a little bit of the dry and beat again until it is all incorporated. Do this in 2 or 3 additions, ending with the dry ingredients. Once the batter is made, pour it into your prepared springform pan. Drop it on the counter a couple of times to knock out any potential air bubbles. Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted in the centre comes out clean. The cake should also spring back when touched lightly. Using a cooling rack, bring the cake to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before icing.

To make the caramel, combine the sugar with a splash of water in a large saucepan. Cook over high heat, swirling occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and eventually turns a rich, golden brown colour. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the cream and salt. Whisk until smooth, returning the caramel to medium heat to fully dissolve the sugar into the cream. Pour the caramel into a heat proof bowl and set it aside to cool slightly.

To make the icing, use a mixer to blend the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Mix in about a cup of your prepared caramel sauce. It’s ok if it is a bit warm still but you don’t want it to be scalding hot. Taste the icing. If it is not sweet enough for your liking, add more caramel as needed, up to 1 1/2 cups of it total. Use immediately or refrigerate until needed.

To assemble the cake, use a serrated knife to cut it into layers. Depending on how confident you are in your ability to do this, you can go for either 3 layers or 2. Just keep in mind that it will be 3 relatively thin layers. If you don’t trust yourself at all, leave the cake as is and just ice the top and sides of it. Depending on which option you go for, the end goal is to ice each layer, as well as the entire exterior (top and sides). In terms of design, you can leave it rustic, make it completely smooth, or create lines, which is what I opted to do (simply by lightly running the tip of my spatula across the cake and up the sides). Refrigerate this sweet and salty chocolate cake for a couple of hours before slicing and serving for any special occasion!

Ice Cream Cake

 

Ice cream cake

Ice cream cake

Is it ironic that I am writing about ice cream cake when there is a full-on blizzard outside? What better time is there to eat ice cream than in the middle of winter? You just have to make sure you have a mug of tea or hot chocolate ready to go for afterwards.

This ice cream cake combines 3 of my favourite flavours, vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel. All of the ice cream is made from scratch but feel free to use good quality store-bought ice cream if you are in a time crunch (or don’t have an ice cream maker). The brownie base is derived from my go-to brownie recipe, also used in these pomegranate brownies. When you think about it, it’s not a very complex dessert. 3 layers, no sauce, no nothing. But that makes it crucial that you use quality ingredients in each and every layer. I think that is a common theme in all of my recipes; never use crappy ingredients. But especially when dealing with ice cream cake. Ice cream demands respect people. And I cannot think of a better way of showing that than by putting it in an ice cream cake.

Ice cream cake

Ice cream cake

Ice Cream Cake

Ingredients

60g dark chocolate (70% or more)
2.5 tbsp. butter
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
2.5 tbsp flour
salted caramel ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream

Instructions

To make the brownies, heat your oven to 325F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Melt together the butter and chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, egg and salt. Then whisk this into the melted butter/chocolate example. Finally whisk in the flour. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake at 325F for 15 to 20 minutes or until set around the edges and still slightly tacky looking in the middle. Cool completely.

When the brownie base has cooled, layer on either the salted caramel or vanilla bean ice cream. Freeze it for 20-30 minutes before layering on the next portion of ice cream.

Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours. Slice and serve immediately.

Ice cream cake

Ice cream cake

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

salted caramel ice cream
It’s already time for the first Canadian Food Experience Project challenge of 2014. How did that happen? This month the topic is “A Canadian Resolution.” Frankly I am having a bit of a problem with this one. I don’t make resolutions. I think there are plenty of stats to show that they don’t exactly work and I don’t see the point of deciding to overhaul your life once a year. I’m all about making changes as you go, rather than waiting until it all reaches a breaking point.
Not to mention it would be virtually impossible to make a food related resolution come January in my family. My dad, mom and sister all have birthdays. Three birthdays means that I have to get creative with celebratory desserts – cake gets pretty monotonous – but it’s not the time for cutting out sugar, that’s for sure.
Today is my dad’s birthday, the first in the que. I made an ice cream cake, because, well, he likes ice cream. Because it has a few different components, I decided to split up the two ice cream recipes, plus the cake as a whole, into 3 separate posts. To begin we are going with the salted caramel ice cream. Not vanilla ice cream swirled with caramel, straight up caramel flavoured ice cream. That’s right, salted caramel ice cream. It’s a pretty good birthday dessert all on its own. The sweet and salty complexity comes from almost, but not quite, burning the caramel. It is a fine line between that rich, creme brûlée taste and burnt bitterness. But by making a super dark caramel and adding salt it really cuts the sweetness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s sweet just like ice cream should be, but it won’t make your teeth full out.
Happy birthday Dad, my favourite ice cream eating companion! What’s even better is that you are also one of my gym-going companions, so we don’t even need to make resolutions! I think that’s a balance we can all live with.
salted caramel ice cream
salted caramel ice cream
salted caramel ice cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 tsp. fine salt
1 cup whipping cream
2 cups milk, divided
5 egg yolks

Instructions

1. In a large saucepan combine the sugar with a splash of water. Cook over high heat until it becomes a rich, caramel colour, swirling occasionally to help it along.

2. Once golden, remove the caramelized sugar from the heat and whisk in the butter and the salt. After they are both incorporated, whisk in the whipping cream. The sugar will probably seize up – don’t worry about it. Return the pan to the heat, stirring to dissolve the hardened sugar.

3. When the caramel is smooth, whisk in 1 cup of milk. Set it aside on low heat while you prepare the ingredients for the final steps of making the custard.

4. Fill your sink up with ice and water. Put the remaining 1 cup of milk in a bowl and set it in your ice bath, fit with a fine mesh sieve on top.

5. In another bowl, whisk up your egg yolks. Take your hot caramel mixture and gradually pour it into the eggs, whisking constantly to temper them. Pour everything back into the pot. Cook over medium low heat stirring constantly until it thickens to the point where it will coat the back of a spoon.

6. Immediately remove the caramel custard from the heat and pour it through the sieve into the chilled milk. Stir it around in the ice bath to cool it as quickly as possible. Once it reaches about room temperature, cover it with plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.

7. Once chilled, churn in an ice cream machine for about 20-25 minutes or until the consistency of soft serve. Freeze and enjoy.

salted caramel ice cream
salted caramel ice cream
salted caramel ice cream

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

Ok I have waited long enough. Time to break out the big guns. And by “big” guns, I really mean “mini” chocolate caramel tartlets. Big, mini, there’s no difference really.
I made these babies for an office warming a few weeks ago and they were definitely a hit. Who doesn’t like caramel, chocolate and salt singing in harmony in a convenient 2-bite portion? That’s what I thought.
We are well on our way through October now and I don’t know about you but I am ready for a break from pumpkin. These are a more than adequate substitute. Sorry pumpkin, but you are no match for chocolate in my mind. Even when you are paired together, chocolate is still the star of the show. That being said, I will be back on the bandwagon with another recipe for pumpkin something-or-other (did someone say sticky buns?) on Friday.
But in the meantime, let’s indulge in some chocolate caramel heaven, shall we?
Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Chocolate Caramel Tartlets

Chocolate Caramel Tartlets
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes 24

Ingredients

Chocolate Dough

4 ounces (115g) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100g) white sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla (paste or extract)
1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
6 tbsp. (50g) cocoa powder


Caramel Filling

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Ganache

4 1/2 ounces (130g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (90ml) heavy cream
coarse sea salt

Instructions 

To make the dough, cream together the butter and sugar (with a mixer or by hand). Add in the egg, salt and vanilla, beating until smooth. Add both the flour and cocoa all at once. Mix until the dough forms a ball, but don’t over-work it.


Grease 24 mini muffin tins. Roll the dough into 24 2cm balls. Place each ball in its own mini muffin tin. Take your thumb and press down in the middle of each. Then work around the edges, pressing the dough into the sides to form a little cup. If you find that your fingers are sticking to the dough, grease them lightly with butter. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until the dough loses it’s sheen. Cool slightly and remove the tarts from the mini muffin tins onto a cooling rack to come to room temperature.


To make the filling put the sugar in a pot with a splash of water. Cook on high heat until it reaches a deep, caramel colour, swirling occasionally. Remove the caramelized sugar from the heat and stir in the cream. Careful, it will bubble. Return the pot to the heat and cook over medium until the sugar and cream come together to form a cohesive sauce (this should not take more than 2-3 minutes). Allow the caramel to cool a bit before spooning about a teaspoon of it into each cooled tart shell.


Now for the ganache, the easiest part. Heat up the cream in a pot or you can be lazy efficient and pop it in the microwave like I did. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Just let it sit for a second to allow the chocolate to melt. Stir it together and dollop about a teaspoon of it onto each caramel filled tart. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Who’s ready for some chocolate caramel tartlets??


Chocolate Caramel Tartlets