Good chocolate usually doesn’t sit around long…but when it does, protect your stash from chocolate’s three main enemies: heat, humidity, and odors.
Store your chocolate bars between about 60 and 65°F (about 16 – 18°C). Heat and/or direct sunlight can slowly deteriorate chocolate’s aroma, flavor and texture. Consider a cool closet, dry basement or wine cooler to shelf your stash.
Store chocolate in a dry place. Ideally, the relative humidity should be below 50%. Excess moisture can condense on the bar and draw out the sugar onto the surface, causing unsightly bloom (harmless but disturbs the silky texture of fine chocolate).
Avoid strong odors. Chocolate absorbs strong odors like a sponge. Store your chocolate away from aromatics like coffee or garlic. Also keep flavored bars such as our Rainforest Mint or Espresso Bean bars separate from your plain chocolate and everything will taste as it should.
It would be a lie to tell you that I am ready to be sharing this month’s blog post with you all. Not because it’s not a great recipe (it’s a delicious recipe, in fact), no, I cringe at sitting down to write this because it is filed under the month of August.
Whoa. Hold the phone! When did that happen?
While basking in oblivion under the summer sun and getting through the weeks that got in the way of our weekends, the months of June and July have passed us: now I am simply left gripping tightly onto the last bit of elusive summer that is slipping from my clenched fists more quickly with each day that passes.
With that said, it is fitting that this month’s post features a recipe that quite perfectly embodies my current state of mind. Today I am sharing with you a recipe that features summer’s fresh bounty packaged into a back to school friendly treat. These Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins are the perfect snack for mornings when you’re running late, little ones’ lunchboxes that need a touch of homemade goodness, or an after-school snack that prevents pre-dinner melt downs.
Whole Grain Chocolate Zucchini Bread Muffins
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 eggs (or vegan substitute)
1 cup olive oil or baking oil of choice
1 ¾ cup sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 cups King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground clove
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp sea salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup chopped Endangered Species Chocolate 72% cocoa dark chocolate (2 full bars)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 24 well muffin pan with paper liners.
Beat eggs or prepare vegan substitute (vegan will be a more dense end product).
Add oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. Stir well.
In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Get crazy with your own way to personalize these muffins. Nut allergies? Swap dried cherries or cranberries. Ultimate chocolate lover? Replace nuts with chocolate OR get crazy and add in white chocolate for a more dessert like experience. Stir your combination into the egg mix.
Using an ice cream scoop (or a spoon) drop the batter into the lined tins. Bake for 20 minutes, test (use a toothpick or similar and insert in the center of a muffin, it should come out clean), and bake at 1 minute intervals if necessary until done. These muffins lose a bit of their luster if they become too dry.
I’m still not quite ready to let go of summer, but when it is time to surrender to the change in seasons, a bite into one of these may help carry away my late summer blues.
A few weeks ago I hosted a housewarming party for one of my good friends. As a special favor for all of the guests, I gave out strawberry pints filled with the goodies that it takes to make s’mores (thank you, Pinterest) along with a small pack of sparklers. The gift tag read, “Take home S’more summer fun”.
As in go home and eat some dessert…
…but despite my plans, very few of the baskets were left unopened, the grill quickly became our makeshift fire pit, and the party kept going well into the evening. It wasn’t until someone said “this basket is like my 8 year old dream” that it dawned on me…..I had created a moment of nostalgia for the guests; and as they enjoyed their gooey, chocolatey treats in one hand, sizzling sparklers in the other, I couldn’t help but relish in the moment of watching these grown men and women sit back, relax and enjoy their summer night. There’s just something special, nostalgic you might say, about summertime s’mores shared with family and friends. That is why if you google search “s’mores recipes”, you won’t just find your typical graham-chocolate-marshmallow combo. No, cooks everywhere are coming up with creative ways they too can re-create the “8 year old dream” in the form of bars, cookies, cakes, trifles and more.
So this month I thought I would share a homemade marshmallow recipe that is my “go to” whenever I get the urge to kick up the average s’more, or give my own special spin to the recipe. Not only are they versatile, they go perfectly with your favorite Endangered Species Chocolate bar and Annie’s Organic Honey Grahams. There are also great natural marshmallows out there for when you don’t have the time to make their own, but I promise after you try these you won’t want to go back to the store bought kind!
(Adapted from thekitchn.com)
- 3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin OR vegan substitute
- ½ cup cold water
- 1 ½ Fair Trade vanilla
- 1 full recipe of gelatin (above)
- ¾ cup water
- 1 ½ organic cane sugar
- 1 cup Agave
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup organic cornstarch
1. Coat a 9X13 baking sheet with coconut oil baking spray. Set aside.
2. Place gelatin ingredients in the bowl of a mixer (or large bowl if using a hand mixer) and whisk together vigorously until the mixture begins to thicken. Set aside.
3. In a 3-4 quart saucepan, combine water, sugar, agave and salt in that order. Do not stir. Over medium high heat bring the mixture to a boil, brushing down the sides of the pot with water using a pastry brush if sugar crystals begin to collect. Insert a candy thermometer into the pan and continue to boil until the mix reads 247-250 F (do not over boil! This will result in too hard of a sugar and the marshmallows will be chewy instead of fluffy).
4. Remove from heat immediately. With the whisk attachment in medium low speed, pour the syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin. Going slowly, add the entire mix.
5. Once all of the syrup is added, increase the speed and cover the top of the bowl with a towel to prevent splashing. Once the mixture begins turning white you can remove the towel.
6. From addition of the syrup to the bowl to the end of the mixing stage, you will mix for about 8-10 minutes. The marshmallows are ready when the mixture is pure white and shiny, and the whisk is creating a pulling motion of the mix away from the bowl (see below)
7. Put the whisk in low speed and drop the bowl, pulling the marshmallow mix down from the whisk. Using an oil-coated spatula, scrape the mix into your prepared pan. Move quickly! This stuff gets sticky.
8. Pan down the marshmallow to fill the pan, coating your hands with the coconut oil spray and smoothing it out if need be.
9. Now we wait! These are best if they sit out uncovered overnight, but they can be ready in about 4 hours if you need them that soon.
10. When the marshmallows have set, coat the front and back with the powdered sugar mix. They are ready to be cut into squares sized to your liking!
Have some fun with these! You can add in a variety of extracts, maybe almond or mint, or you can event add in fruit puree in place of the water to create a popable treat. After making this particular batch, half of the marshmallows made it to become s’mores while the other half…
They became part of a decadent, delightful, evil, rich concoction I’m naming the 5 layer s’more bar. Just the aroma of this beauty was enough to make the whole office flock to the Endangered Species kitchen.
Happy (Indulgent) Summer!
A Summer Indulgence!
If you are anything like me, you understand the anticipation and joy that summer Saturday mornings can bring. I awake each Saturday for a quick run on the Monon Trail and hurriedly shower so that I can be parked and ready, bag in hand, for the Carmel Farmer’s Market. The fresh, local produce, buzz of energy, and delicious breakfast goodies put a song in my step that lasts all day long. There’s something almost therapeutic about running my hands over the vegetables as I make my selections, knowing that the man or woman standing behind the table has put a labor of love into growing the produce before me. This month, I know that soon enough cartons of fresh, red, ripe strawberries will be waiting for me. That’s why when I was thinking about what I wanted to share with you this month, a fresh strawberry chocolate cheesecake just sounded sooooooo right.
Since strawberries haven’t quite emerged at the market, I went to Whole Foods to gather all my supplies. It must have been my lucky day, because Organic Strawberries were on sale! Woot!
Here is what you will need (recipe can be found at the bottom of this post):
To start, make the crust by pulverized one full sleeve of graham crackers either in a plastic baggy or a food processer. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Toss with a spatula or fork. Next, prepare your round pan by first coating with a thin layer of butter, lining with parchment, and lastly coating the parchment with butter as well.This is done for ease of removal from the pan!
Now you can press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, cautious to keep this layer even so that you don’t have any really thick spots of crust.
Place the crust in the oven at 300 F for 6-8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool while you prepare the batter. Increase oven temperature to 500 F.
Begin by creaming all of the cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer. Trust me when I say the Hulk couldn’t mix this entire batter by hand. (medium speed, 1 minute)
Scrape down the sides and add ¾ cup of sugar and a dash of salt. Mix again (medium speed, 1 minute). Add another ¾ cup of sugar and mix (low speed, 1 minute). Scrape down the sides. Your mixture should gradually be looking fluffier than when we began.
Now let’s add 1/3 cup of plain Greek yogurt, the squeeze of ½ a lemon and 2 teaspoons of quality vanilla. Beat on low until just combined. Once there, add 2 egg yolks, mix, 2 eggs, mix, 2 more eggs, mix and the last 2 eggs, mix, all on low speed and just until combined. Over mixing once the eggs are being added will actually whip the eggs, causing the cheesecake to be more meringue like.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven.
After 10 minutes, drop the temperature setting to 200 F. The initial high temperature “sets” the cake so that we do not have to use a water bath (which drives me nuts because I inevitably always get water in or on my cheesecake…..am I the only one with this problem?).
After 1 hour 15 min – 1 ½ hours, the cake should be ready to cool. An easy check if your cake is ready to be pulled from the oven is to use a thermometer placed in the center of the cake. Target center temperature is anywhere from 145 F – 155 F.
Let the cheesecake cool at room temperature until it can be easily carried in the pan. Move the cake to the refrigerator to completely cool and set. Meanwhile, make your topping.
Wash and slice one pint of strawberries. I like to cut them in halves, but you can slice them however you like. Add ¼ cup to ½ cup of sugar to the strawberries and set aside (I let them sit for about an hour). Boil down 1 cup of strawberry jam (this Crofters brand that I purchased is Biodynamic – how cool is that!) on a cooktop set to medium heat. Stir the jam with a wire whisk for 3 minutes while heating just to help thicken the sauce and develop a more cooked flavor. Remove from the heat, squeeze in ½ lemon’s juice and add a dash of salt. Add this mixture to the strawberries and toss.
Once the cheese cake has completely cooled and is firm to touch, remove from the pan, using the paper liner to slide the cake off onto a platter. Top with the strawberry mixture. And, because things aren’t decadent until there’s chocolate involved, melt 1-2 Endangered Species Chocolate smooth dark chocolate bars in the microwave and drizzle generously over the entire cake.
The office really enjoyed this very special afternoon treat. Made with organic and GMO free ingredients, this is one cheesecake that you can feel good about (in moderation of course)!
Happy Summer my friends!
1 sleeve of Organic graham crackers (9 sheets)
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter
5, 8 oz packages of Organic cream cheese (40 oz)
1/3 cup Organic plain Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups sugar
Dash of salt
2 egg yolks and 6 whole eggs
Juice of ½ lemon squeezed
2 tsp vanilla
1 pint of strawberries
Sugar to taste
1 cup of organic or biodynamic strawberry jam
Juice of ½ lemon squeezed
1-2 Endangered Species Chocolate 72% cacao Smooth Dark Chocolate bars (3-6 oz)
Guest post submitted by Catherine Olteanu, Lemur Conservation Foundation.
Sobe and Sassy, meet Molson!
Two ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) breeding pairs are among the eight approved breeding pairs for Lemur Conservation Foundation‘s colony this year.
One of our male ring-tailed lemurs, Molson, has a recommendation to breed with both Sobe and her twin sister Sarsaparilla (aka Sassy), two new additions at Lemur Conservation Foundation (LCF). Sobe and Sassy arrived in the fall of 2013 from Duke Lemur Center as part of the Ring-tailed Lemur Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP makes recommendations that maintain optimal populations in captive breeding programs.
Sobe, Sassy and Molson spent some time in our enclosures before being released into the forests together. You can watch them enter the forest for the first time in this video.
A Model Mother
Another pair of ring-tailed lemurs at LCF, Yuengling and Ansell, have been a recommended breeding pair for a few years. Ansell has already given birth to multiple, healthy offspring including a pair of female twins born in April 2013.
All of Ansell’s infants were born in LCF’s forests. She is an experienced mother that raised her offspring in the forests while also leading her troop, much like she would do in Madagascar – the only place in the world where lemurs live in the wild.
This chart shows the North American peak breeding and birth times for lemur pairs at Lemur Conservation Foundation.
|SPECIES||PEAK BREEDING SEASON||PEAK BIRTH SEASON|
|Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta)||Oct-Dec||Mar-May|
|Red ruffed lemur (Varecia rubra)||Jan-Feb||Apr-May|
|Collared lemur (Eulemur collaris)||Nov-Jan||Mar-May|
|Mongoose lemur (Eulemur mongoz)||Nov-Feb||Mar-June|
The Lemur Conservation Foundation
The Lemur Conservation Foundation, a 200 acre private reserve located in Myakka City, Florida, holds six species of lemurs, including ring-tails. Our free ranging colony lives in native forests in multi species groups much like they do in Madagascar. We are dedicated to the conservation and preservation of lemurs through captive breeding, education, art, observation based research, and partnerships. LCF is a managing member of The Madagascar Fauna Group and two species survival plans, including the SSP for lemur catta.
Last week I had the privilege of attending my very first Tribal Bazaar. This event is held by Whole Foods for employees to learn more about the wonderful brands that are sold in their stores. As a vendor, we had the opportunity to share our newest collection, The Filled Bars, with attendees and educate them on what makes the product and our company so unique. It was humbling to see such an overwhelmingly positive response to both our chocolate and our mission. It was also really cool to listen to employee’s stories about what they do and why they love working at Whole Foods. I can tell you that when you go into a Whole Foods store the people that work there love the products they sell, and just as important can help you make educated choices on the goods you purchase because of events like the Tribal Bazaar.
In between shifts of attendees I had the chance to walk the vendor floor and do a little exploring of my own. These cute little chicks were getting a lot of attention and I couldn’t resist the chance to hold one. Their soft feathers and sweet chirps will instantly put a smile on anyone’s face!
Back to the goods – It amazes me how many awesome vegan products are out there! Since it wouldn’t be fair for me to keep all these cool products to myself (although the samples I brought back may or may not have already been taste tested), I thought I would share a few of the ones that I enjoyed. This is not paid advertising or anything like that – just a girl sharing some cool stuff!
This line of performance drinks and shakes is impressive. The people at Vega are passionate about their product – as they should be! I’m going to try and incorporate some of this in next month’s recipe post…..mmmm chocolate shakes?
I didn’t have much time for lunch, so these Sea Salt Tortilla chips from Late July and fruit gummies from Tasty kept me going! It’s a good thing those chips were portion controlled – I would have gone crazy on a full bag!
I happened to be stationed right across from all the lovely bath products – a personal weakness of mine. The Seaweed Bath Company was gracious enough to share lots of samples with me and I can’t wait to see how their lotion tackles my dry hands. They have a full line of goodies which I also stocked up on. (Psst….the body cream contains cocoa butter…..proof that chocolate can cure anything!)
All in all, it was a successful and rewarding week spent in San Francisco. The flood of compliments given to our chocolate and our cause served as reminder of how blessed I am to work for a company like Endangered Species. I will leave you with a shot of the bay, both enchanting and invigorating. Enjoy!
Friday, May 16th is Endangered Species Day – a day to recognize conservation efforts to save at-risk species and habitats. Let’s celebrate the fact that over the past three years, you’ve helped us raise over $855,000 for conservation groups! Take a closer look at specific programs your Endangered Species Chocolate purchases and our 10% Promise are funding.
Partner: African Wildlife Foundation | Program: African Apes Initiative
“Endangered Species Chocolate’s 10% GiveBack program is making a demonstrable difference in helping AWF to conserve the natural resources and heritage that are vital to Africa’s environmental and economic prosperity.” – Kurt Redenbo, Director, Foundation & Corporate Relations, African Wildlife Foundation
Africa is home to 4 of the world’s 5 great ape species. Unfortunately, all 4 are endangered or critically endangered. Through the newly launched African Apes Initiative, AWF works throughout West and Central Africa to protect great apes and their habitats.
- AWF prioritizes those great ape habitats most in need of conservation intervention;
- They work with park authorities and other on-the-ground partners to identify gaps in local conservation support;
- This program provides seed grants and technical support for critical interventions;
- AWF implements long term conservation strategies. Learn much more here.
Partner: The Xerces Society | Program: Bumble Bee Watch
“[Endangered Species Chocolate's 10% donation] allows us to expand our work to protect pollinators in all landscapes across the U.S.” – Scott Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society
Bumble Bee Watch is a collaborative effort to track and conserve North America’s bumble bees. This citizen science project allows for individuals to:
- Upload photos of bumble bees to start a virtual bumble bee collection;
- Identify the bumble bees in your photos and have your identifications verified by experts;
- Help researchers determine the status and conservation needs of bumble bees;
- Learn about bumble bees, their ecology, and ongoing conservation efforts; and
- Connect with other citizen scientists.
Partner: SEE Turtles | Program: Billion Baby Turtles
“Over the past 3 years, Endangered Species Chocolate grew to be the single largest supporter of SEE Turtles and SEEtheWILD, support that has been critical to the success of our programs.” – SEE Turtles 10% Promise Report
6 out of 7 species of sea turtles around the world are endangered or threatened. SEE Turtle program, Billion Baby Turtles, is helping reverse this decline by saving one billion baby turtles over the next decade. For every $1 raised, SEE Turtles saves at least 1 hatchling. Funds support vital nesting beach patrols across Latin America:
- Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative
- Las Tortugas Research Station
- Paso Pacifico
- WILDCAST Costa Rica
- Cuba Marine Research & Conservation
- Flora, Fauna y Cultura
Be sure to join us on Facebook, May 12-16 2014, for a chocolate giveaway to celebrate Endangered Species Day! “Like” our 10% GiveBack Partners, XXX, XXX, XXX for additional opportunities to win.
Do any of you LOVE brunch as much as I do? I enjoy it especially at this time of year when the tulips are blooming and fruits and veggies are bright. Inspired by the thought of sitting down with friends and family to share the mid-morning sun and some great grub, I whipped up this dairy and gluten-free Tiger Trifle. If you like tiramisu – you are going to love this recipe! Here’s the run down…
You will need:
2 boxes of gluten free lady fingers
1 cup brewed coffee, cold
1 11oz carton of So Delicious coconut milk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon or 2 tablespoons of red wine
Start by layering half of your lady fingers in the bottom of the bowl (or pan, it doesn’t have to look pretty!). If you aren’t into eggs, which are in lady fingers, you can substitute with any vegan and gluten free shortbread cookie or pound cake of your liking!
Next, chop up one chocolate bar and add half of what you chop to the bowl (this is getting good….really good).
Pour about 1/4 cup of the cold coffee over your ladyfingers layer. You can add more or less – it’s all up to you!
Now we make the cream – my favorite step! Have you used this cooking coconut milk from So Delicious? It’s a vegan cook’s dream!
You are going to put this, along with the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a high speed mixer. After combining, add about 2 tablespoons of the cold coffee. After mixing again, add your choice of the lemon juice or red wine. This is for the acidic punch our cream needs to balance all the sweetness going on elsewhere. The lemon juice will contribute a bit of brightness while the wine will bring out more bold, deep chocolate and coffee flavors.
Your cream should be fairly stiff. If not, add a touch more sugar until the consistency is to your liking. Spread 1/2 of the cream on top of the existing layers in your bowl.
And because one layer isn’t enough, we repeat the exact same steps building up the layers of our trifle.
And because this is the tiger trifle, grab a grater and shave the other chocolate bar all over the top of your delicious creation!
I know it’s a lot to ask, but put the trifle in the refrigerator and step away…..this is best served chilled, the next day.
Enjoy with friends, family, or just a really big spoon.
THE TWEET FEED
- This @SEEturtles fundraiser contest offers teachers a way to ignite students' passion for species preservation http://t.co/44Fxuxh0HG
- RT @LaurenBrajer: Saving my day & endangered species one #chocolate bar at a time @ESC_Chocolate @AWF_Official http://t.co/U7rdwKwbM6
- You otter know that next week is Sea Otter Awareness Week. Find events via @friendsseaotter http://t.co/Jb6kyW8keV http://t.co/NbPzIHjVUA