THE NIBBLE BLOG: Products, Recipes & Trends In Specialty Foods
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TODAY IN FOOD: It’s National Chocolate Fondue Day

The best way to celebrate National Chocolate Fondue Day is not with a traditional chocolate fondue. Nope. It’s by thinking outside the box and making this Spicy Truffle Melt. Check out the concept plus a party plan. If you want the traditional chocolate fondue recipe, of course we’ll oblige.
– Don’t dip rubbery supermarket marshmallows into a fine fondue. Gourmet marshmallows are the way to go.
  Hot Chocolate and Spices
You can add the same spices to chocolate fondue and hot chocolate. Try allspice, cardamom, chili, cinnamon-nutmeg, coconut-curry, ginger, and paprika. Photo courtesy of Recchiuti Chocolate.
 

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NEWS: Carbonated Soda Sales Fizzle

Soda CanFewer tops are flipping as consumers switch from carbonated soda to water, juice and tea drinks.   Consumers in both the U.S. and the U.K. are turning away from carbonated soft drinks and opting for healthier beverages, according to a new report by independent market analyst Datamonitor. Are you one of them? Our own personal drinking patterns have changed significantly over the last five years. Whereas we used to keep a supply of sugar-free sodas for “diet days,” now we’re only into water and tea—fresh brewed or bottled (thank goodness Teas’ Tea came up with the more affordable jumbo sizes of their bottled teas). When we want something special, we’ll have a Fizzy Lizzy sparkling juice—and this is what we offer guests instead of Coca Cola. It looks like were not the only ones. In the U.S. and Europe overall, carbonated beverages are expected to decline from 50% of overall soft drink consumption in 2006, to 45% in 2011, and from 61% to 50% by 2011 in the U.K. In contrast, Datamonitor forecasts juices to grow from 16% to 22%, while bottled water is forecast to increase from 19% to 24% over the same period.
Greater consumer knowledge on the importance of hydration, maintaining a healthy diet and an awareness of nutritional needs, along with a growth in skepticism toward sugared carbonates are all contributing to a dynamic soft drink market. If you’re a giant soft drink manufacturer, you don’t like to see billions of dollars of sales float away. Mega-mass-marketers are responding by purchasing popular “specialty” juice, water and bottled tea companies. In the last year alone, among other deals, Pepsico acquired Izze sparkling juice and Naked Juice, Cocoa-Cola’s purchased Odwalla juice, Glaceau (makers of Vitaminwater) and took a 40% stake in Honest Tea. Read more about these products in the Beverages Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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TIP OF THE DAY: Cocoa vs. Hot Chocolate

We have addressed this topic before, but it has surfaced as the Tip Of The Day on TheNibble.com (so we hope you enjoy it again). Yes, Virginia, there is a difference between cocoa and hot chocolate. Cocoa is made from cocoa powder and hot chocolate is made from shaved chocolate bars or other bits of whole chocolate. Hot chocolate is much richer because of the higher cocoa butter content of the solid chocolate. Both cocoa and hot chocolate can be made with either milk or water; milk, of course, makes it richer. You can’t make cocoa powder at home (unless you have a hydraulic press). However, you can make shaved chocolate. It is often marketed as “drinking chocolate,” but you can save money by shaving your own from your favorite chocolate bars—dark, milk, white or flavored. Shaving is a relative term; you can use anything from knife to a chocolate curler or grater to a pulsing food processor.   Burdick Hot Chocolate
Our favorite, from Burdick Chocolate, shows that glamour can live inside plain packaging. (Alternatively, glamorous packaging does not guarantee a great-tasting product.)
The better quality of the bar, the better quality of the hot chocolate. That’s why some of the finest brands are $25 a box (our favorite from Burdick Chocolate, shown at the left, is $14.00 for 12 ounces and $35.00 for two pounds). Read our review of more than 65 hot chocolate and cocoa brands in THE NIBBLE online magazine.

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PRODUCT REVIEW: Valentine’s Day Gifts

Recchiuti Chocolate Valentine

Our Valentine’s Day gift lists have something
for everyone—including wonderful calorie-free
gifts. (But the Recchiuti chocolates, above, aren’t
on that particular list.)
  If you’re not all set for Valentine’s Day, take a look at our lovingly-selected picks (in alphabetical order, by category):- Chocolate For ConnoisseursDiet Valentine Gifts (no carb, no cal, no sugar)- Heart Cookies, Cakes & Brownies

Gifts For Cooks

Gifts For Kids

Kosher Valentine Gifts

Savory Valentine Gifts, for people who don’t like sweets

Find more gift ideas in the Gift Finder section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.

 

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NEWS: Obama & Oprah As Chocolate Truffles

Obama ChocolateOprah and Obama: united in chocolate.   First it was Oprah, then the Kennedys (Ted, Caroline and Maria Shriver). Then, author and public radio host Garrison Keillor. And now, a boutique chocolatier in Oakland, California is throwing its weight behind the charismatic candidate by making him even more appealing—in espresso—Cognac ganache. There are handmade chocolate truffles bearing the countenance of the candidate and his biggest supporter. You can buy all Obama in espresso-Cognac (Obama) ganache or all Oprah in raspberry ganache or (mix and match). Four pieces are $12.00. And as long as we’re getting cosmic with it, for your consideration there are:
– Al Roker (peanut butter/honey caramel)
– Bono (limoncello ginger)
– Madonna (red hot cinnamon caramel)
– Snoop Dog (mint grapefruit)
We’ve got to say, it’s an interesting assortment of cosmic icon choices. But Cosmic Chocolate Shop makes excellent chocolate. So if you don’t mind biting into Madonna, we’re sure that the red hot cinnamon caramel rocks. At Cosmic Chocolate Shop.

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