5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers

5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers

As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking about what to get all of the special people in your life. Here are 5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers (or anyone really), because what’s a better gift than chocolate? Nothing? That’s what I thought.

Pana

1. Pana Chocolate

If you are looking for raw, organic, handmade chocolate, Pana has got you covered. They offer creative flavours from hemp and cacao nibs, to rose, to fig and wild orange. Or for the chocolate purists out there, they also make both 60% and 80% unflavoured raw chocolate. Also, all of their bars are made with coconut oil so they melt on the tip of your like no other.

Chaleur 2

2. Chaleur B Chocolat

This artisanal chocolate producer operates out of Quebec, Canada, producing single origin bars from Uganda and Madagascar to name a few. Their Ugandan milk chocolate is creamy and caramely beyond belief. If you can stop without eating the entire bar, power to you.

Sirene 2

3. Sirene Chocolate

Sirene’s bright yellow packaging alone is enough to perk up anyways day as we enter the wintery months. Sourcing beans primarily from Madagascar and Ecuador, this Canadian company produces a variety of single origin, bean-to-bar, award-winning chocolate. You could buy it for someone else, but I won’t judge if you save it for yourself.

Spencer 3

4. Spencer Cocoa 

Spencer offers only 2 bars; 42% milk chocolate and 72% dark chocolate, but it is a classic example of producing a limited amount of product and producing it really, really well. All of their beans are sourced from Vanuatu, a collection of islands in the South Pacific, so if you’ve got someone in your life that appreciates the unique, this is the chocolate for them.

Montezuma

5. Montezuma’s

This UK company is making flavoured chocolates that are well worth crossing the pond for (or if you can’t do that, order them online). From British flavours like eton mess, and treacle tart, to citrusy offerings like sea salt and lime, and white chocolate with lemon and sour cherry, Montezuma’s makes eating chocolate even more fun than it already is.

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

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

vanilla bean ice cream
Oh hi guys. I guess I kind of dropped off the face of the planet there for a bit. Well 3 days, but it sure feels like longer. In that time I honestly did not touch anything related to blogging. No new posts, no Facebook updates, no scouring the interweb or communicating with other food bloggers. I could attribute this to the busy start of a new semester but that is not the truth. In the past I have always found time for this site, no matter what other things are going on at school or otherwise. The break had more to do with the feelings I have been having towards blogging lately. As you may or may not know, I don’t make any money from this site. It is purely a hobby, but over the past little while it has started to feel more like a chore. I set up these expectations for myself that I had to blog regularly, at least 3 times a week, to ensure I was creating new and relevant content to expand my readership. Progress did not really occur as quickly as I would have liked and putting 20 hours a week into this thing for fun was not so fun anymore. Burned out isn’t the right word to describe it, more like a combination of frustration and anger sums it up better. Maybe my expectations were too high and I should have lowered the bar. Then I got thinking about what I really want to get out of this whole shebang. Yes, I would like to increase traffic. Yes, I would eventually like to make some money from it if I am doing it anyways. But do I actually want a career food blogging? Not really. If some sort of unforeseen opportunity came up I would definitely consider it, but otherwise I have a career plan in process and it is one that I really enjoy. So why am I getting so stressed out about this blog?
It’s probably the competitiveness in me that says I can’t do anything without diving headfirst into it and not looking back. I don’t want to write a blog that no one reads. I don’t need to be the next Joy the Baker but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I want some recognition. Despite my efforts, right now I feel as though I have not really accomplished much. And those feelings make it really difficult to commit myself to this when I know that it isn’t going to effect my livelihood in the long run.
Where do we go from here, or more specifically, where do I go from here? I have put far too much work and effort into this to throw in the towel, I know that much for sure. At the same time, I know the focus has to be on creating something that I enjoy and obsessing less about readers and followers. Which is hard because it is a blog, not a diary. I am giving serious thought to switching over to WordPress though. I have used it at work and I definitely think it is the next step in bettering this site. Who knows? I could get to it this afternoon or continue to put it off for the time being. Decisions, decisions.
That’s where I am at right now. As for a recipe, today I have more ice cream coming your way. We are well on our way to assembling all of the components into a homemade ice cream cake. Have a great weekend everyone!
vanilla bean ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz

Ingredients

1 cup milk
1 vanilla bean, split in half and seeds scraped out
3/4 cup white sugar
pinch salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whipping cream

Instructions

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, vanilla, sugar and salt. Allow it to steep for at least 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile pour the whipping cream into a bowl and place this bowl in a sink filled with ice water. Put a fine mesh sieve on top of the bowl so you are all ready to strain your custard when the time comes.
3. Place the egg yolks in another bowl. Reheat the milk and gradually whisk it into the eggs to temper them. Pour everything back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
4. Pour to custard through the sieve, into the whipping cream. Stir to help it chill off (you want to do this as quickly as possible so that the eggs do not overcook).
5. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
6. Once chilled through, churn the custard in an ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes, or until it reaches the consistency of soft serve. Freeze and enjoy!

vanilla bean ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream
vanilla bean ice cream