This weekend was amazing. We traveled to Minnesota to watch two high school friends tie the knot. Including the bride and groom, we were one of three high school sweetheart turned married couples in attendance. There must have been something in the water at Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
But more on that in my next post. Today’s post is about chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.
I think this may go down in history as one of the most delicious experiences I’ve had with the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. When I found out I was chosen for the Ghirardelli Intense Dark chocolate program, my wheels immediately started turning as I pictured all the food and beverage possibilities. I also received some helpful hints from the Ghirardelli website.
What I didn’t expect, however, was what ultimately arrived on my doorstep:
Let’s take a look from another angle, shall we?
Pure chocolate bliss. In fact, the Ghirardelli team sent me two of each flavor shown above. In other words, my chocolate supply is stocked for the next year. Or at least until next week. After sampling all of these chocolates – what I like to call “research” – I can safely say that in my
professional opinion, they are all as smooth as velvet and simply melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
Once I had examined the testing materials, I set out to find a group of willing subjects to participate in a tasting experiment. Wouldn’t you know there were five eager volunteers (myself included)?
Baby Bender did not partake in the beverage tastings, but thought all chocolate was “good.”
I was asked to write about my favorite pairing, but since the five of us all had different opinions, I thought I’d share a couple more. Bobby and Mama Bender were big fans of our first experiment which, appropriately enough, involved Cabernet wine and chocolate.
I’m not typically as big of a fan of the berry chocolate combination as I am of, say, sea salt, but this was amazing. The Kokomo Cabernet Sauvignon really brought out the blackberry and blueberry notes in the chocolate and enhanced the pairing. Papa Bender called it a flavor combination that really “makes you think” as you try to discern all the different ingredients.
We also happened to have our dinner with this portion of the tasting. The pizza that paired best with the Cabernet combination is on the left, a concoction of mushrooms, bacon and gruyère cheese brushed with truffle oil and garlic. The other pizza was a bit heartier with tomato sauce, red pepper, olives, mushrooms, spinach and mozzarella.
After dinner, we watched the Northwestern football game and decided to break out what would become my favorite pairing: Sea Salt Soiree and pumpkin beer!
I have to admit that I was biased toward the Sea Salt Soiree from the start, having tried it before and being the salt fiend that I am. But the pumpkin beer brought it to another level. There’s no better way to describe this pairing than “quintessential fall.” The sweet and salty elements in each complemented each other and Papa Bender, who has never loved pumpkin beer, became an official fan. Officially the Sea Salt Soiree is a blend of sweet dark chocolate, slow-roasted almonds and coarse crystals of sea salt.
Speaking of Papa Bender, his favorite chocolate was by far the Hazelnut Heaven.
We went all out with this one and it did not disappoint. Mama Bender has an amazing chocolate martini recipe, and we all agreed that it paired perfectly with this chocolate variety. Who says you can’t pair chocolate with more chocolate? The nuttiness balanced everything out.
Mama Bender’s Chocolate Martini
Ingredients (makes one martini):
- 1 1/2 ounce chocolate liqueur
- 1/2 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce Irish cream liqueur
- 1 1/2 ounce heavy whipping cream
- 2 ounces half and half
- 1 teaspoon chocolate syrup (or, in this case, 1 melted Ghirardelli square)
Drizzle a martini glass with the chocolate syrup or melted chocolate bar. Combine all other ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and mix until chilled. Pour into martini glass and garnish with piece of chocolate, if desired.
The other chocolate varieties – Twilight Delight, Midnight Reverie, Evening Dream and Toffee Interlude – had their own amazing attributes. Twilight Delight and Midnight Reverie were the most “intense” dark chocolates at 72% and 86% cacao respectively. Toffee Interlude had a caramelized quality that paired well with a cup of coffee. And Evening Dream was the perfect accompaniment to a celebratory glass of champagne when Bobby and I purchased our dream home. Today marks the last day of the inspection period and I’m happy to report that all went wonderfully. We are inching ever closer to our closing date!
Big thanks to Ghirardelli and Foodbuzz for the opportunity. It was a chocolatey dream come true.
This post is brought to you by Ghirardelli Intense Dark™ Chocolate.