Monday, January 18, 2010

Death by Chocolate V

Bakers' applications for Death by Chocolate V are available now! This blog will no longer be updated, so check out our homepage at where feeds are streaming from both Facebook and Twitter! See you there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And the winners are . . .

Overall Judges Choice awarded to Brian Koster for Apple, Honey and Black Pepper Truffle (CY2)

Overall People's Choice awarded to Faith May for Triple Layer Brownie Cake (CA5)

Candy Category Winners:
Judges Choice: Brian Koster Apple, Honey and Black Pepper Truffle (CY2)
People's Choice: Brian Koster Apple, Honey and Black Pepper Truffle (CY2)

Cake Category Winners:
Judges' Choice: Molly Lawry White Chocolate Bread Pudding (CA4)
People's Choice: Faith May Triple Layer Brownie Cake (CA5)

Cheesecake Category Winners:
Judges' Choice: Joni Greiber Turtle Cheesecake(CH3)
People's Choice: Brian Koster Mulberry Chocolate Cheesecake (CH2)

Cookie Category Winners:
Judges' Choice: Pamela Lunder After Midnight (CK2)
People's Choice: Meli May Chocolate Truffle Cookies (CK4)

Brownie Category Winners:
Judges' Choice: Lori Rogich Beer Brownies (BR3)
People's Choice: Delores Kahl Chocolate Crunch Brownies (BR4)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Meet the Judges: David Bacco

David Bacco will be back again this year to judge the Death by Chocolate Bake Off! David is the owner and mastermind behind David Bacco Chocolats (which just so happens to share an acronym with Death by Chocolate--DBC!)

David began his chocolate career in 1994. He describes himself as self-taught, but he's studied with several world-class chefs in both the French Pastry School in Chicago, and the World Pastry Forum in Las Vegas. David has received received first place awards at the Capitol Confectioners Competition from 2001-2006 in each of the following categories: chocolates, small candies, candies, miniature pastries, fantasy dessert, showpiece and cheesecake. David was head pastry chef at Cocoliquot when they were named Best Restaurant for Dessert by Isthmus Magazine in 2007.

The chocolate creations in David's shop are a feast for the eye as well as the palate. In Business Magazine says, "Dark wooded walls showcase a simple display case along the back, where candies are displayed like jewels in a dizzying array of colors and geometric shapes."

David Bacco Chocolats website showcases the chocolates in a simple and elegant layout, which shines the spotlight on every creation and illuminates the concept behind it, as well as the rare and unusual ingredients used. David's Chakra bars include such exquisite ingredients as roiboos tea, honey powder, Madagascar vanilla beans, and violet petals.

Join us this Saturday night, where you'll have a chance to meet all the judges of Death by Chocolate! And have a peek at David Bacco Chocolats luscious website, where you can scope out which treasures you'd like to plunder from his shop in Hilldale Shopping Center!

Contact info:
David Bacco Chocolats | In the Hilldale Shopping Center | 550 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison, WI 53705 | p. 608.233.1600
Store Hours: Monday thru Thursday 10-9, Friday & Saturday 10-10 and Sunday 11-6

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Fifth Taste

For thousands of years, taste has been classified into four basic categories: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Greek philosophers said that foods had various microscopic "shapes" (round for sweet, pointed for salty, etc.) that would allow the tastes to click into the properly-shaped receptors on our tongues, sort of like the games toddlers play when they fit variously shaped pegs into holes.

That theory wasn't so far off. Turns out there are various microscopic receptors on the tongue that react to chemical compounds in food, which we then classify as sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

In the late 1800's a chef named Auguste Escoffier in France, and a Chemist named Kikunae Ikeda in Japan, both came to the conclusion that there was another taste that was really, really good--but couldn't be classified as any of the accepted four tastes. Ikeda named it umami, which can be translated as many different things, among them, meaty, savory, brothy...or yummy!

It wasn't until 2002 that scientists verified a receptor from the chemical L-glutimate on the tongue, which conveys the taste of umami to the brain. The current view on tastebuds is that they sense five distinct flavors, rather than four.

I expect the main taste Saturday night to be that of sweetness. But you never know. Last year an intriguing sea-salt crusted cookie was among the offerings. And Mary's Coffee from Mount Horeb will be catering our favorite bitter beverage: coffee!

Source: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter...and Umami from NPR

Monday, February 16, 2009

Are You a Supertaster?

Are you a supertaster -- faster than a speeding cookie, more powerful than peanut butter fudge, able to leap tall confections in a single bound? A friend of mine asserts that some people "taste more," when they eat, and those of us so blessed (or cursed) tend to put on weight because we simply enjoy food more. I've always thought it was wishful thinking on his part, but then I ran across an article on supertasters today, and I have to wonder if maybe he was on to something.

In 1931, a chemist at DuPont discovered a compound called PTC that some people found bitter, and others found tasteless. This led to studies that determined that some of us are tasting things that others are not, or perhaps just tasting certain things more intensely. There appears to be a genetic link. Most estimates suggest 25% of the population are nontasters, 50% are medium tasters, and 25% are supertasters. Women, Africans and Asians are more likely to be supertasters than the rest of the population.

There is a hole in my friend's theory. Supertasters tend to be finicky, and would be more likely to be fussy eaters than overeaters.

The BBC has a five-minute quiz that will help you determine if you're a supertaster.

Me? I haven't taken it yet. I may not want to know.

Tasters of every stripe should start gearing up for Saturday night, where deserts aplenty await your tasting. Super or otherwise.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Swiss Miss

The United States produces more chocolate than any other country but the Swiss consume the most, followed closely by the English. The average American eats 10 to 12 pounds of chocolate a year. The average Swiss eats 21 pounds a year. (from "Chocolate facts")

Good news! You can get a jump-start on the Swiss this year just by attending the bake off next Saturday, February 21st at 6:30 p.m!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Pleasure of Measures

I'm one of those cooks who uses a pinch of this and a dash of that, and I tend to measure by eye. In cooking, that's not a bad thing. But cooking is more forgiving than baking, which depends on a precise combination of elements in a certain proportion to produce a pastry.

Remember those "For Dummies" books? They've got a website!
"Baking is a science, and when you mix together ingredients, you're creating chemistry, albeit edible chemistry, so being precise is important. There is balance between flour, leaveners, fats, and liquids."

Click here for a crash course in measuring various ingredients, from flour to shortening.

At our Chocolate-y Party this week, I helped kids create their own hot cocoa mix from scratch. They each filled out a recipe card, then followed the recipe themselves by measuring ingredients into a heart-shaped bag. Then they took home the bag and the card, so they could enjoy their hot chocolate with their families! This activity was loads of fun, and whether the kids were old hats at cooking or they'd never followed a recipe before, they really got into it!

Kyle, pictured above, is leveling out his tablespoon of cocoa powder by shaking off the excess! These kids were precise!