For the feast we attended last Saturday I intended to take a chocolate cake in addition to the croquembouche. I used this Chocolate Cream Cake recipe from Laura Calder and it didn't turn out. I think I over mixed the batter, so it didn't rise properly and turned into this fudgy thing that I decided not to take to the party (I'm not sure why I keep using Laura Calder recipes - they are seemingly easy but never turn out for me. This was failed recipe number three, so I think I've learned my lesson).
Before the cake fell though, I needed to find two pounds of baking chocolate without soy lecithin in it so that the host, who has a soy allergy, could partake. The only place I could think of that would keep this type of chocolate in stock was Kerstin's Chocolates, so we headed over last Thursday evening.
We hadn't been into the store since the re-opening and dropping of the Cocoa Room name in September, but except for the new addition of a "Kerstin's Chocolates" awning over the front door, the interior remains unchanged.
Although she didn't have any soy free baking chocolate on the shelf, Kerstin went in the back and found a bag of soy lecithin free Valrhona baking coins that were about 74% (I think), and measured out the amount I needed.
We also picked up some Valrhona Pearls - chocolate covered pieces of rice cereal that are made here in Edmonton at Kerstin's. We were looking for something other than chocolate chips to put in some "chocolate chip" cookies, and these fit well. They gave a pleasant, although unusal, light crunch that was nice with the chewy cookie dough.
And of course, we couldn't leave without picking up some eating chocolate while there. They have some really great stock in right now, so definitely stop by if you are looking for a yummy treat (check out their blog for their Christmas line-up and a "Name that Origin" contest).
We picked up a 70% Madécasse bar which is really nice and fruity... everything I love about Madagascar beans. What's great about this bar though, is that while most companies' processing facilities are located outside of Africa, this company keeps the manufacturing process near the beans. Along with Claudio Corallo (also available at Kerstin's), Madécasse is one of the few bean to bar companies operating in Africa.
I also picked up a small version of the Michel Cluizel Grand Lait 45%. This is a really rich, nutty milk chocolate that I almost always keep around... this small 30 g bar is perfect to keep me from munching too much.
And finally, the shop had a nice, tidy stack of 50 g Amedei Porcelana bars that we could not resist. Porcelana chocolate is made from the Criollo bean, which is thought to be the origin of all cocoa beans and therefore the purist form.
This bar is amazing with lots of complex flavours like vanilla, dried fruit and caramel cycling through each bite. Best of all it has a really aromatic and long lasting finish, so there is no need to pop another piece in your mouth straight away (good, because at $18.95 per bar, eating this stuff too quickly could get pretty pricy).
In their recent newsletter, the Shop also reported that they will be getting in a new supply of Domori soon. Apparently their version of the Porcelana bar is the most coveted in the world, so we're waiting anxiously for them to come in... I think we can justify the purchase of one of these bars as a holiday gift to ourselves.
So although the cake didn't work out, the trip to Kerstin's was well worth it and definitely decadent. Plus, I purchased some extra baking chocolate so that I can forge ahead to chocolate meringues (not a Laura Calder recipe, btw).