Tuesday, May 22, 2018

House Of Chocolate: An All-In-One History Museum, Cafe, & Boutique

Just beside the Grenada History Museum, House of Chocolate Grenada  offers an even sweeter history lesson.
It was a fascinating touch of blissful wonder strolling through the bumbling doors of House of Chocolate-- a mini-museum space exploring history of chocolate in the heart of the Caribbean country. In addition to an informative layout on chocolate history, House of Chocolate features an indie spirited store housing chocolates, chocolate inspired books, clothing, purses/wallets, jewelry, spices, and more among a small café and homey gathering space. An on site chocolatier preps all of the yummy chocolate confections and delights. Although most desserts and drinks are nonvegan, there are exceptional treats for us including unique truffles and a sensational mug of hot cocoa tea-- a premiere specialty.

Viewers are instructed to enter and make a left towards the museum side, learning first about cacao and its three main varieties: Criollo, Forastero,and Trinitario. Criollo (means "native" in Spanish), originated in Mexico and primarily cultivated in Central America, has notes of caramel, nuts, vanilla, and tobacco, is the rarest and most expensive cocoa, and accounts for 5% of the cocoa beans grown in the world. Forastero (means "foreigner" in Spanish), originated in the Amazon and primarily cultivated in West Africa, Ivory Coast, and Ghana, has a classic mild chocolate flavor, is the most commonly grown cocoa bean, and is a fast growing, high yielding tree, very resistant to disease unlike Criollo. Trinitario is a natural hybrid of Criollo and Forastero-- results of an accidental cross-fertilization that transpired in Trinidad around 1730. It is primarily cultivated in Grenada, Venezuela, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Papua New Guinea, and other Latin and Caribbean countries. It has a high bean flavor, fragile tree, and produces a rich cocoa grade flavor.

What is cacao? Quite frankly, the heart of all chocolate dreams and desires.

The museum then centers on local history. Some of it isn't pretty.
A waxing poetic story that glaringly sugarcoats cacao bean slavery and excess colonialism complete with lithography illustrations.

Archive photo of cacao farmers.

Cacao beans were formerly used as wealth and status. In this historic pricing chart, cacao beans could get someone animals like rabbits and turtles (insert sobs), clothes, jewelry, and slaves (crying).

Old fashioned devices of the cocoa tea.

Visitors can peel cacao shells and grind them into paste.

Keep calm & eat Grenada Chocolate. Okay.

Chocolate scented candles galore.

From Curious George to chocolate recipes and chocolate history, there is a sweet topic for all ages to browse through in the small book collection. 

The top shelf chocolate books.

I ordered the cocoa tea, a huge treat for the locals. It is made with a cocoa ball (cacao nibs rolled up with spices and bayleaf) melting into hot water and served with organic sugar.

The hot beverage is a fine line between tea and hot chocolate, rich and delightful, sophisticated and refined.

On my birthday, almost seven years ago, the world's largest chocolate bar was made in Alfreton, Derbyshire, UK!

The only vegan treats were a top of row of truffles excluding peanut butter and salted vanilla-- strawberry, passion fruit, ginger, and guava were dairy free.

Also featured in the gift shop/boutique, expect Grenada's top chocolate companies-- Grenada Chocolate Company, Crayfish Bay, and Jouvey Chocolate.

In addition to chocolate bars, cocoa powders, cacao nibs, cocoa tea balls, and cocoa butter are some specialty treats on sale.

I tried enticing free samples of ginger, nutmeg, nibs, salted pieces-- all amazing tidbits of pure dark chocolate sweetened with sugar and spice. It was hard to pick a favorite.

I hold a cacao pod with great joy having earlier suckled a taste of an opened plant. Slick and slimy seeds are covered in white flesh. You suck off the flesh, which tastes sweet and fruity like the juice of bananas. 

Gorgeous artisan truffles in Strawberry and Passion fruit.

I came back two days later, on my last day, for another helping of cocoa tea.

Making forth a home on a comforting bench with a cacao pod pillow.

A 2lb chocolate bar would have been nice to take home-- except it was extremely hot in Grenada, too hot to lug around a bar that would melt in rapid seconds. Still, what a beautiful sight!

Well deserved trip advisor Certificate of Excellence honor for House of Grenada, an exceptional, creative environment with warm, welcoming atmosphere featuring courteous staff, delicious island made chocolate, and plentiful good reading. I hope to return again someday.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Curried Sweet Potato Chunk Coconut Soup

Bowl licking good soup that combines sweet potato, coconut milk, and curry together.
A creamy, delectable soup will make anyone feel instant gratification, especially when coconut and curry are involved. On a market excursion, finding a purple sweet potato packed and cheaply priced, a good fulfilling meal was on the dinner menu. Quick, simple soup with hearty sweet potato as the star element offers a sweet versus savory and smooth, rich complexity. Your dearest friends wouldn't believe that a dish so wickedly velvety and full of flavorful textures could be this dairy free and delicious.  

Curried Sweet Potato Chunk Coconut Soup Ingredients and Preparation

1 sweet potato
2 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
2 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of ginger

Prepare sweet potato with salted boiling water. Cook for 30-40 minutes.
Pour out water. Mash the sweet potato until reaching desired amount of chunks.
Turn heat to medium, gradually adding coconut milk, curry powder, turmeric, coconut oil, salt, black pepper, and ginger and stirring it all evenly well for 8-10 minutes.
Turn off heat and serve.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Vegan Apple Chocolate Cake

Make tea parties more delightful with Apple Chocolate Cake.
So Mother's Day was yesterday. Last week, I made this beautiful little cake that my mom would probably love (well, if there had been a lemon version). Still, she loves chocolate.
This special, very creative Apple Chocolate Cake by Adrianna's Living Healthy With Chocolate Blog combines the love of sweet, divine chocolate bliss and scrumptious apples together as a cake. Although her recipe has eggs, the white vinegar substitute plays well in my remixed veganized version, bringing forth a modest sized dessert that would entice any guest for a generous helping.

Organic Lady Alice Apples for cake.
Moist, spiced cake packed with chocolaty goodness and apple bites and a rich, decadent frosting that is finger licking delicious.

Chocolate Apple Cake Ingredients and Preparation

3 cup flour
1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 cup apples, chopped


1/2 chocolate chips (used Pascha's 100% Unsweetened Cacao Chips)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

apples slices for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan (8" or 9") with coconut oil along the sides and parchment paper on the bottom.

Sift flour, cacao, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda together.
Combine coconut oil, vanilla, and almond milk.
Blend wet with dry ingredients. Add white vinegar.

Stir apples last. 
Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes.

To make topping: combine cacao (or chocolate) chips, brown sugar, coconut oil, and vanilla together in a steel bowl over boiling hot water.

Once cake is ready and cooled, spread with chocolate icing over top. Add apple slices and layer with remaining icing.

Sample a slice.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream With Sea Salt & Almond Dark Chocolate Candy Bar Swirl

Ice cream season is underway!
I must have stated this a thousand times on here: for many birthdays, my mom baked/and or bought chocolate frosted chocolate cake and pair them with chocolate flavored ice cream. Chocolate overload city much, but why complain? I loved, loved chocolate anything and she knew it. However, inwardly I preferred chocolate chip or chocolate swirl.

Yesterday, I created my first ice cream of the growing hot spring versus summer season. A few ingredients combined together brings a reminder of my old favorites. Fair trade certified, Food Empowerment Project recommended chocolate by Taza Chocolate is the star of the show, little irresistible bites of scrumptious chocolate bar nestled in the framework of coconut milk vanilla ice cream-- a real splendid treat.

Vanilla Coconut Milk Ice Cream With Sea Salt & Almond Chocolate Candy Bar Swirl Ingredients and Preparation

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated
1/2 cup cane sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Taza Chocolate Sea Salt & Almond

In a blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, cane sugar, and vanilla.
Bring pot of hot water to boil.
In a steel bowl, place broken chocolate bar pieces and stir as it gradually melts.

Melted chocolate action. Some of bars remain intact. 
Pour vanilla and coconut mixture over the warm chocolate, stirring to create swirls, scraping from the bottle before the chocolate cools. Be quick. Once to desired concoction, place cellophane over the bowl and freeze for six to eight hours (or overnight).

I stored my ice cream in the freezer overnight. Perfect after dinner dessert all scooped out.

The perfect yum.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Miniature Garlic, Herb, and Nooch Soft Pretzels

Hot soft pretzels and "cheese."
I have missed baking pretzels-- a favorite baking snack. I have seen them all over the place, at art openings, shopping complexes, and movie theaters. Those are often made with butter and a hint of whey.
Last night, the craving struck like lightning. I answered the call. After all, it doesn't take much to make pretzels. Every ingredient is readily available in the pantry. Pretzel making is similar to pizza dough. There is art in kneading, in working hands in the flour and oil, pinching and pulling, enjoying the fragrant garlic and the look of the golden oil coating pliant brown dough.
Once the shapes are made and the baking sheet is in the oven, heaven is moments away. The smell fills the whole kitchen. Torturous minutes tick away as the mouth waters and eyes stare longingly at the lit oven door.
Alas, the chewy, crisp pretzels are warm and tasty. Easily the best batch that I've ever made so far.

Miniature Garlic, Herb, and Nooch Pretzels Ingredients and Preparation

3/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 black pepper
3 cup flour
3 tablespoon olive oil

3 cup water
2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Mix water, sugar, and yeast together. Let sit for five minutes.
Add salt, garlic, and black pepper. Stir in one cup of flour at a time.
Massage and knead dough with olive oil.
Place dough in a bowl and cover.
Let sit for a hour or two.

Formed pretzel shapes. Some better than others. Managed to make ten.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring water and baking soda to boil. Add one pretzel at a time.
Once pretzels float up, they're ready to be taken out. Let drip before placing on baking sheet.

Sprinkle Italian seasoning, garlic, and nooch on the pretzels. Bake for 15 minutes.

Hot and fresh from the oven.

A bowl of pretzels makes anyone happy.

Pretzels with smoky cashew cheese sauce for dipping.