Saturday, January 29, 2011

What To Do With Excess Chocolate?

My newly purchased bars go into the pantry in a paper bag whose contents are the only food in the house that no one but me is allowed to touch. Once reviewed, all chocolate ends up in a big open-access bowl along with the other broken half-bars and regular chocolate purchases. So what to do with all that chocolate? Ah, first-world problems. Since I'm not a serious chocoholic, I don't actually eat straight chocolate all day, especially if I didn't really like a bar in the first place. But most of it gets used in the end, and here's how:
  • Cocoa
    • Aside from its obvious charms, in hot chocolate the milk mellows harsh flavors and overwhelms weird textures. Cocoa is endlessly customizable with sugar or other sweeteners, extracts, spices, coffee, a pinch of salt, whatever you like. Even inclusions are okay, since the pieces of nut or fruit just sink to the bottom.
    • My quick-and-dirty way to make cocoa is to break up a few pieces of chocolate into a mug, add in anything else I want, and top with milk. I microwave until just hot, stir, and microwave and stir a bit at a time until chocolate is melted and thoroughly incorporated.
    • Watery cocoa is the pits, but it can be avoided! You can use higher-fat milk for richness or whip the milk with a frother, which turns even nonfat milk into soft, pillowy goodness. I happen to use soy milk, which when shaken froths well on its own, but I also have a frother that I quite like.
  • Baking
    • Baking chocolate is still just chocolate, though it sometimes includes extra cocoa butter for creamy meltiness, and serious bakers probably have favorite brands for top-quality cakes and pastries. Personally I'm usually just experimenting with a basic brownie or cookie recipe, and I have enough random chocolate around that I can't justify buying E. Guittard wafers, so I chop up what I have and voilà.
    • I don't recommend using chocolate with harsh or “off” flavors for baking, especially in items like chocolate chip cookies. There might be cookie around those chocolate pieces, but the chocolate will still be harsh or “off,” and now you have a whole batch of weird tasting cookies.
  • Hoping someone else will eat it
    • Some chocolate is appealing enough to others that it disappears before I get around to using it elsewhere. On the other hand, if I didn't like it much or it's directed at a very particular sort of audience, no one else is anxious to finish it either. Thus the absinthe bar is still hanging around. Oh well.

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