For Chocolate Lovers only

Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the March, 2003 edition of "For Chocolate Lovers Only". Every month, you'll find recipes, tips, and recommendations on great chocolate specialties. Let's get into the kitchen!

Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: It's March, and spring is here once more. We all rejoice…but with spring comes warmer weather, and the shipping of chocolate becomes much more challenging. Time to stock up on baking chocolate for the summer months, and what better way to do so than by finding your baking chocolate at a good price? Enter, a veritable smorgasbord of chocolates and chocolate products. Organic unsweetened cocoa powder from Green & Black? Of course they have it! Valrhona chocolate pellets? Absolutely! Bars of Callebaut? No problem! There really is an amazing variety in the "Baking" section, and I have noticed that some of the large bars, at least, are very inexpensive compared to other sources I've seen.

But is not merely a chocolate baking supply company. Click on "Bars" to see selections for nibbling or gifts, in flavors ranging from white coconut to dark chocolate with fresh mint leaves to milk chocolate with hot masala. Speaking of gifts, remember that Easter is coming up next month, and whether your fancy turns toward chocolate bunnies or chocolate truffles, you're covered here. Sugar free chocolates, wedding and favor pieces, and business gifts, too. This is a sister-site for Nirvana Chocolates, previously written up in this column. can make any chocolate lover's life a little sweeter. Look 'em up online at, call (800) 214-4926, or e-mail And here's a little something extra for you: through May 31 of this year, spend $65.00 or more with and receive 10% off your order. Just use coupon code 515 at checkout.

Chocolate Detour of the Month:
Undoubtedly, gentle reader, you are aware of the saying that one can never be too rich or too thin. By way of proof, I submit to you Chocolate Garden in SoHo in New York City (not to be confused with the businesses of very similar names in Michigan or California). Kee Ling Tong, the proprietor of this enterprise still in its infancy, offers truffles in many varieties-truffles with chocolate shells of a delicacy and thinness I have rarely encountered anywhere. If you favor chocolate combinations on the cutting edge, try her sesame or green tea truffles. If such flavor blends cause you to hesitate, rest assured that there are many more traditional taste mixtures in other offerings to be found here. You might enjoy her cappuccino truffles, or perhaps the pistachio (a favorite of mine). She even makes crème brulee truffles, which have real crème brulee piped into them! Everything I have tried has been of a most satisfying richness, but how on earth does Ms. Tong keep the shells of her truffles so very thin? I don't have an answer to that, but I do know that the chocolate used here is of excellent quality, and the truffles taste fresh. If you want truffles of a particular variety, it's best to call ahead. Otherwise, I'd suggest an excursion to 80 Thompson Street (between Spring and Broome), where, under a green awning, you'll find Chocolate Garden. Step inside and inhale deeply. Before you can say, "Oh, I really shouldn't!", you'll have purchased some of these truffles, but your tastebuds will thank you for doing so. You can call Chocolate Garden at (212) 334-3284 or fax them at (212) 334-3096. Note that there is no website, and this company does not ship or deliver their products.

The Great Cocoa Powder Debate! To Dutch or not to Dutch, that is the question. As a kid growing up in this country, my family used regular old unsweetened cocoa powder for cooking and baking. There was only one kind unless you wanted to pay far more for the imported stuff…and we weren't sure exactly what "Dutch processed cocoa powder" was anyway. It turns out that Dutch processed cocoa powder has been treated with an alkali; it generally has a darker color, stronger chocolate aroma, and, I think, deeper chocolate flavor; it also dissolves more readily in batters and liquids. Naturally, I was thrilled when the price of this type of cocoa dropped and it became far more available here. But, like just about everything else you can name, the tide is beginning to turn once again in the US, and increasingly, Dutch process cocoa powder is being frowned upon; "natural", nonalkalized cocoa powder is becoming the darling of food writers and pastry chefs. I have even seen pieces claiming that Dutch processing is merely a way to disguise poor-quality cocoa beans. Which should you use, alkalized or nonalkalized? As usual, I think it depends on what you like. I happen to like Dutch process cocoa powder, so I'll continue to use it for most of my recipes (occasionally, there are recipes in which nonalkalized cocoa powder is just a better choice). Why not try a simple test for yourself? Make two cups of hot cocoa from the same recipe-just use nonalkalized cocoa powder in one and Dutch process cocoa powder in the other. See which you prefer. This test can also be performed with brownie recipes-if the brownies don't contain any leavening (nonalkalized and Dutch process cocoa powders have different acidity levels and may react differently in leavened recipes). As in all matters food-related, I ask only that you make up your own mind here.

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? You can reach me at Please specify in the subject line of your e-mail that you're writing about chocolate. Thank you!