Monthly Archives: November 2012

A little taste of our Christmas traditions

CA Navidad

I’m not alone in my love of Christmas. We all know “it’s the mooooost wonderful tiiiiime of the yeeear”! At Cacao art we plan to celebrate in style. We have tons of ideas: from our own chocolate-filled crackers to our new gingerbread ganache bonbon. These and other ideas come from our shared  traditions and memories from our childhood Christmases.

It would all start with the advent calendar. Each year my mother would get us gorgeous calendars, from the very traditional German ones with Nativity scenes or the more outgoing ones with a little chocolate on each day. One year, even my dolls got a tiny advent calendar all for themselves.

Then there was decorating our huge tree, saying hello to all the little toys and ornaments that we hadn’t seen all year. We would also set a very elaborate Nativity scene. Each year, my mother had to devise a whole new way of having a real water river flowing from one end of the set to the other. It grew more and more elaborate, to the point where she now has a working knowledge of mini-water pumps. She would also use fairy lights that were programed to turn on and off, for a day-and-night effect. The main figures, Baby Jesus, the Virgin Mary, St Joseph and others, are hand-made wooden figures bought ages ago in Europe. They are elegant and highly detailed.  There was also a tiny Santa’s village and a farmer’s village near the manger with little scenes playing out: a wedding at the tiny church, some figurines going to market. The result was a beautiful, whimsical set that would charm everyone.

It’s also a very Venezuelan tradition to get the whole family together to make hallacas, a kind of corn tamale filled with a stew which has pork, beef and chicken and also sofrito, olives, raisins, almonds and more. It may sound strange (raisins, really?) and maybe they are an acquired taste, but nothing says Christmas to a Venezuelan like unwrapping the bananas leaves around an hallaca. Susana remembers going to my aunt’s house to help make thousands of the little packaged goods with my brother and dozens of cousins. She has recreated this tradition here in Miami, by hosting the hallaca-making at her home.

Another of our lovely Caracas Christmas traditions was going around to the different shopping malls and gazing up at the Christmas trees and decorations. We would also go and gawp at the details in the huge Nativity scene at the San Juan de Dios Children’s Hospital, where we would also leave a donation for the children.

Then I got married and now I need to have my mother-in-law’s velvety ponche crema, which is a type of egg-less eggnog with a good dose of rum, Angostura bitters, vanilla and nutmeg. Susana has to have both our traditional baked ham and her husband’s preferred turkey for Christmas dinner. Just a few of the ways traditions evolve and become richer, right?

I could go on and on… and maybe I will, in a next blogpost.

Share

Wanna ride a chocolate train?

People are always sending me news and articles on chocolate, a thing that I greatly appreciate. This one bit of news was sent by my brother-in-law and it gave me a chuckle, so here I am forwarding it to you.

Next stop: a new world record!

Next stop: a new world record!

Malta-based chocolatier Andrew Farrugia  has made a 34-metre long train entirely out of chocolate for the Brusssels Chocolate Week, which began today. The highly detailed model train took a serious 784 hours to create and now holds the Guinness Book of Records for longest structure made out of chocolate. Now, as we work with chocolate every day, I have to say we were pretty amazed at the level of artistry in this piece. The train was sponsored by Belgian chocolate-makers Belcolade.

For more information and pictures:

http://www.sipa.com/en/feature/2473464/brussels-the-longest-chocolate-train-in-the-world/page/1/SN/ENTERTAINMENT

Share

News from the NY Chocolate Show

This weekend Susana and I went to the Chocolate Show in NYC. We thought it would be like the Salon du Chocolat in Paris, as they are both organized by the same people. Alas, there is one big difference: while the Salon is considered a trade show, the Show is more of an exhibition… At the Salon you find wholesalers, machinery salesmen, conferences on marketing and on design and packaging, well-known chocolatiers, big demonstrations, etc. Anyone who is anyone in the French chocolate industry stops by. Like any trade show. The Chocolate Show is a more modest affair, with some demonstrations and book signing, but mainly serves as a showcase for lesser-known chocolatiers and some established ones.

This does not mean we did not enjoy our time at the Show. We found a few gems among the stands, including French chocolate artiste Fleur de Xocoalt. She makes the most beautiful hand-painted bonbons, truly a sight to behold. For the ocassion, she had prepared a series of giftboxes representing different aspects of NYC. The movies box featured King Kong, Woody Allen and Audrey Hepburn, while the music box had jazz and cabaret drawings on the bonbons. We chose the arts box. Here is a picture:

That’s Rothko, Lichtenstein, Haring, Warhol and Tim Burton in miniature bonbons

That’s Rothko, Lichtenstein, Haring, Warhol and Tim Burton in miniature bonbons

We also enjoyed meeting the people behind The Grenada Chocolate Co., a small co-op in the island of Grenada that make organic chocolate bars in a brightly-colored factory set amidst the wild rainforest. Their Saltylicious 71% bar was very good and had great texture (a rarity in most organic bars), while their 100% cacao bar was just too stringent for our taste. We loved the design of their packaging.

The colorful and friendly packaging of the Grenada Chocolate Co

The colorful and friendly packaging of the Grenada Chocolate Co

Last, but not least, we enjoyed the awesome cookies and brownies presented by Salt of the Earth Bakery. This NY-based company uses different types of sea-salt to make their items really pop. We particularly liked the OMG Brownie, with salted caramel. Visit www.saltoftheearthbakery.com for more info.

Share

Let’s celebrate with Chocolates El Rey!

We are very happy to be able to congratulate our friends at Chocolates El Rey for winning Gold at the International Chocolate Awards 2012 for their rich and creamy Icoa white chocolate made with Carenero Superior beans.

Here’s the link to the award winners:

http://www.internationalchocolateawards.com/2012/10/world-final-2012-winners/

We at Cacao Art proudly use Chocolates El Rey in most of our confections. We even wrote a post about it a few weeks back on this very blog: The once and future kings of cacao. Read it at

http://www.cacaoart.com/blog/?p=63

For more information on Icoa white chocolate, visit:

http://www.chocolates-elrey.com/icoa.html

Share

What’s new in chocolate trends!

As with fashion, food is a seasonal affair: for winter there are warming, satisfying soups, spring ushers in gorgeous vegetables and produce, summer is all about refreshing and light meals and, come fall, there is a lot of pumpkin and apples going ’round. Each year the combinations vary and new or old ingredients find their way to our plates. This also happens with chocolate. The biggest chocolate trend, the one you surely have heard if not tasted already, is chocolate and bacon. This savoury/sweet combo works well most of the time, although we at Cacao Art haven’t embraced it as one of our own. A trend we have embraced whole-heartedly is salt and chocolate, with our sea-salt ganache bonbon fast becoming one of our bestsellers.

It is important for Cacao Art to stay in the loop. While poking around the web, we found this article about chocolate trends and wanted to share it with all of you:

http://www.foodchannel.com/articles/article/chocolate-trends-2012/

Watch out for Cacao Art’s own cinnamon-y gingerspice chocolate, coming soon!

Share

Revving up for the Holidays!

With Halloween over, the Holiday season has officially begun. At Cacao Art we are getting ready with some new and exciting flavors (think spicy gingerbread and refreshing peppermint)  and lots of elegant gift ideas to make YOU stand out. We can also customize packaging and even the bonbons themselves with your name, monogram or company logo. Check our website often for updates and special offers! Remember: www.cacaoart.com

Share