Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day: November 7

As I've said many times before, every day is Chocolate Day for me, but today is National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day. In this age of high end organic, fair trade chocolate, single origin chocolate, bittersweet seems to cover a broad range of chocolate. So bittersweet as defined below leaves one open to enjoying all kinds of chocolate today--along with almonds.

According to Wikipedia, bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor (unsweetened chocolate) to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolates are sometimes referred to as 'couverture' (chocolate that contains at least 32 percent cocoa butter); many brands now print on the package the percentage of cocoa (as chocolate liquor and added cocoa butter) contained. The rule is that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate will be. The American FDA classifies chocolate as either "bittersweet" or "semisweet" that contain at least 35% cacao (either cacao solids or butter from the cacao beans).

In honor of Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, I'm going to have a bittersweet chocolate bar with almonds. So many great bars out there including Sjaks, Green & Black, Valor, Ghirardelli, Alter Eco --and even Hershey's.

Want to make your own treat to celebrate the holiday? One of my favorite recipes is Chocolate Almond Nut Jobs from David Lebovitz's Room for Dessert. This is a simple delicious recipe! Thank you, David!

3/4 cup almonds
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Toast the almonds in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Allow them to cool completely, and then chop them coarsely.
2. Break up the chocolate and melt it in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl you melt the chocolate in is completely dry; if there’s even a drop of water, the chocolate will “seize”—become stiff and granular—and it will be unusable.
3. Once the chocolate has melted, take the bowl off the heat and stir in the chopped nuts, completely coating them with chocolate.
4. Cover a baking sheet with parchment or plastic wrap. Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the chocolate-nut mixture onto the sheet pan. When done, refrigerate until ready to eat.

Note: By refrigerating the candies and serving them cold, you avoid having to temper the chocolate. Candies made with untempered chocolate and left at room temperature eventually develop white streaks from the gradual separation of cocoa butter out of the chocolate.

Today is also National Bookstore Day. Visit your favorite Cookbook Bookstore. I love Ominvore in San Francisco.


mary kennedy said...

This looks fantastic. Can it be spread in the pan to make a thin candy, like chocolate bark?

Janet Rudolph said...

Yes, it can, and you can use other nuts or even rice crispies.

Anonymous said...

Oh Dear! I can Do this. Really I can. Ahhhhh.