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Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Candy update

Easter was pretty much a non-event around here– we went out to dinner the night before and spent Sunday mostly packing and doing other practical things. However, it was a special day because I was able to eat candy again. And these things?

Sooo good. I wouldn’t say they taste like cake so much as they taste like the ganache you’d put on a cake. They’re rich with well-balanced sweetness, and even though they taste like chocolate ganache they’re more firm– like a chocolate truffle without the slick, melty texture. I picked up another bag today to share with my family in the States :).

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I don’t have time for a vacation recap post today, so I thought I’d share a bit of what’s actually going on right now. I donated blood today! I actually really enjoy donating blood. I’ve been donating ever since I was 17 (in the USA you can donate at 17 with your parents’ permission) and I try to go about twice a year. Even though the experience isn’t always perfect— my vein can be tricky to find and I have occasionally developed a huge bruise afterward– it’s such an easy and quick way to make a huge difference in somebody’s life. I’m thankful that I’m healthy enough to donate and that I’m not horribly afraid of needles. If you’re physically able, I encourage you to donate blood too!

Now onto the chocolate! When we were in the States we were given two Salazon Chocolate Co. bars. All of their chocolate is organic and sprinkled with sea salt, which is of course a natural match for chocolate! We opened this bar first– Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Crushed Coffee.

The back of the bar was liberally sprinkled with tiny bits of crushed coffee and grains of sea salt. It’s too bad I didn’t flip the whole bar over, because I later realized there’s some kind of pretty image (maybe the same as the label?) molded onto the bar. We still have another one, so when I open than one I’ll be sure to photograph both sides!

The dark chocolate is smooth and sweeter than I expected– no bitter chocolate here. The coffee does lend some bitter notes but it comes across as toasty and subtle, and the salt hit is substantial, especially if the bite hits your tongue salted side down. The overall effect flavor-wise actually reminded me a lot of a cookie, with the toasted flavor, creamy and deep chocolate, and salt. I liked that, but I guess there’s no surprise there!

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Happy Easter!

This stuff is SO GOOD.

I have a feeling Green & Black’s would taste good any day, not just after a chocolate fast. But this 85% dark chocolate bar, which is surprisingly mellow and smooth with a perfect snap, was a really excellent way to end Lent and celebrate Easter.

Have a lovely Sunday!

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One week until Easter. One week until I can once again eat candy and all things chocolate. I’m not gonna lie, the cravings are severe. I thought after a few weeks of not eating something you sort of “get it out of your system”, but no, the further I get into Lent, the more intense my cravings for chocolate are. Maybe it’s because I’m still eating things that contain sugar so I’m still getting sugar cravings that are all focused on the kind of sweets I’m not allowed to have. It’s driving me crazy because the cravings are so specific that trying to substitute some other sweet treat — a few dates or a plain vanilla-flavored biscuit — does nothing for them. Often the sweet things I have available to me don’t seem appealing at all. This frustration just reinforces my belief that the best way to eat is “everything in moderation”. Giving up candy and chocolate for Lent was an exercise in discipline, not an experiment to better my health, so I’m going to hang in there for this last week, then go back to my normal, moderate way of eating. Which will, at least next Sunday, probably include milk chocolate butterscotch Easter eggs…

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Lent

This year I decided that for Lent — which began a week ago — I would give up candy. I’d been eating just a little too much of it since the holidays and decided to use this time to remind myself that candy is not food (not in the nourishment sense, anyway).

A week into Lent I can see that avoiding candy isn’t that hard. Once it’s out of our apartment and my desk drawers I can’t reach for it anyway. Out of sight, out of mind. So I’ve decided to increase the challenge a bit for this year and give up chocolate as well (chocolate in all its forms, not just candy). While I may be able to forget about other candy when it’s not staring me in the face, I never forget about chocolate. It’s always in my mind :-).

I observed Lent for the first time when I was a teenager. My family wasn’t religious and we aren’t Catholic, so I didn’t have a religious reason for doing it — I just thought it seemed like a cool idea (is it weird that as a teen I thought the idea of depriving myself of a favorite thing for a month seemed like a fun thing to do?). Anyway, for the first few years I observed Lent I always gave up chocolate, and for a few of those years I actually managed to go the entire period with no slip-ups. Forty solid days (46, actually) with no chocolate at all. Definitely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done!

So from now until Easter, no chocolate. At all. Lately I’ve been stirring unsweetened cocoa powder into my oatmeal — no more. No dipping into that jar of Nutella for a sweet fix. No chocolate chip cookies either :-(. I will now commence dreaming about an Easter basket full of candy…

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Strawberry Deli

My fiance’s mother is well aware of my strawberry obsession and bought me these awesome chocolate-covered freeze-dried strawberries on the boat from Helsinki to Tallinn when they came for Christmas. Both bags have of course been consumed, so here comes a review!

There were two different kinds, milk chocolate and yogurt. The product is made in the Netherlands and in the top right-hand corner of the front of the package it says “Green-All-Natural”, which sort of looks more like a brand name than a claim (but a glance at the ingredients reveals that they are indeed all natural).

I was surprised by how big they were! Each one is a whole freeze-dried strawberry with a healthy coating of chocolate or yogurt. The milk chocolate was very, very sweet. It was tempered somewhat by the natural tartness of the crispy, light-as-air strawberry in the center, but overall the sugar was still too much. They actually made my teeth hurt. In a few of them I came across strawberries that weren’t completely dried and retained some chewiness (they still tasted fine).

The yogurt coating was also quite sweet, but ultimately I found it less overwhelming than the milk chocolate. The berry and coating were somehow in better harmony (of course– berries and cream are a natural combination!). Their size, sweetness and the resealable bag mean that even the small 100 g bag could last a while, as it only takes one or two of these unique “candies” to satisfy a sweets craving.

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Today brought the worst weather I have ever experienced in Estonia. I mean worst as in “extreme”, not worst as in “crappy”, because the nonstop rain in the fall is definitely the crappiest. But today there was wind and snow, and lots of it.

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Looking out the window around noon, J commented about how windy it was. The trees in front of the apartment building were bending, their branches waving crazily. The wind was blowing around the snow that had fallen during the past two days. As the afternoon went on, it only got worse. New snow began to fall, and the wind whipped it around, creating ice and snow drifts against the windows. We just kept staring out the window in awe. But what fun is it if you only experience this kind of weather from indoors? Naturally, we went for a walk.

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Our destination was a hotel about a mile away, where the International Women’s Club of Tallinn was holding its annual Christmas Bazaar. At first when we got outside, we thought it wasn’t so bad, but then came a gust of wind that caused us both to turn our faces away from the stinging ice and snow. When that wind smacked me right in the face, it was seriously hard to breathe. And when we reached a certain intersection where the wind always seems to be stronger (I think the tall buildings in that area have something to do with it), I had to grab onto J’s arm because I thought I would be knocked over. It was quite the adrenaline rush.

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We made it to our cozy destination perfectly safely, and began to enjoy the international Christmas treats on offer. J started with a Turkish coffee (along with a free bit of Turkish delight), and then we shared a slice of wiener schnitzel. Hungry for more lunch, we had three miniature spring rolls at the Chinese table. There are no pictures of this food because it was so crowded and bustling, it was impossible to stop in the middle of it to take pictures. I’m happy it was so crowded, though, since all the proceeds are going to a good cause.

J and I were naturally excited to see that the Belgian table was selling some Belgian beers that aren’t otherwise available in Estonia. Sweet! I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much “research” J did in terms of trying new beers in Brussels, but he definitely sampled a very wide assortment while we were there and grew to appreciate the high quality and deep flavors. J bought one bottle to give to his dad and I bought one bottle for us. They gave us the Christmas cookies as a free bonus.

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At the next table, Germany, I treated J to a cup of glögg , or mulled wine, which is hands-down my favorite cold-weather drink ( I must dedicate a post to it soon). The woman at the table assured us that it was made with good wine that had been donated to them. It was really delicious and well-spiced. From the Italian table, I bought two sets of tasting squares from Amadei. I’m really looking forward to doing a tasting with these amazingly high-quality chocolates.

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We also got a plate of assorted Christmas cookies– I’m not really sure exactly what they are.

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And of course I had to have these. J said he would buy them for me, and we got an incredible deal– we thought they were 5 kroons each, but then the woman only charged us 5 kroons for all five of them (which currently equals about 40 American cents!). Won’t they be adorable on the Christmas tree?

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