Kitchen Questions with the Chipper Chef (Feb/Mar 2015)

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Chocolate cake, pie, cookies, pudding, dipped strawberries, fondue…there are a plethora of delicious delicacies due to incredible, edible chocolate. Enjoy this chocolate packed Valentine’s edition of Kitchen Questions.

Where does cocoa come from?

Cocoa comes from the cacao tree. The tree has giant pods that each contain anywhere from 20 to 60 seeds. The seeds, often called beans are used to make the cocoa. Once the beans are dried, they get cleaned and roasted. Next the beans are shelled, leaving what’s called cocoa nibs. The nibs get processed into what’s called cacao liquor. The liquor gets refined, extracting the cocoa butter, leaving the cocoa powder.

Is white chocolate “real” chocolate?

White chocolate is not technically chocolate, but it still holds a place in my heart. The main ingredient in white chocolate is cocoa butter, which is extracted from the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter lacks flavor though, so other tasty ingredients are added to it, like vanilla, sugar, and milk solids. A good white chocolate will melt in your mouth, be more ivory in color (not actually white) and won’t be overly sweet.

Is there a trick to melting chocolate?

Melting chocolate isn’t hard when a few tips are followed. Make sure the chocolate is cut into pieces that are about the same shape and size. Heat the chocolate over very low heat, or in short quantities of time if using a microwave. Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate. And avoid getting any water in chocolate. Water will cause the chocolate to seize, making it lumpy, grainy, and virtually impossible to work with.

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About Author

Lindsey Joy Smith, aka The Chipper Chef, is an author, teacher, a crazy-good professional cook, and deliciousness advocate. She graduated with merit from Edinburgh New Town Cookery School in Scotland, and holds a BA in Education from the University of Arizona. Lindsey Joy teaches hands on cooking classes, is a regular chef contributor on the TV show Studio 5. She is the mother of 5 silly children, wife to one handsome man, and believes in the healing power of the chocolate, peanut butter shake. www.thechipperchef.com

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