For Chocolate Lovers only  


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    My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the March, 2005 edition of For Chocolate Lovers Only! Each month, you’ll find a recipe or two, tips, and recommendations on great chocolate specialties. This month, a couple of treats suitable for celebrating spring. Let’s get into the kitchen!

    Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: I like an out-of-the-ordinary mindset when it comes to chocolate, whether that involves using ingredients of surpassing quality or just non-standard ways of thinking about those ingredients. And there’s a small company out San Francisco way that understands these concepts, difficult though they may be for large manufacturers to grasp. Cocoa Designs, a fledgling enterprise, specializes in Cocoa Nuts, their chocolate-covered praline almonds. If you don’t know what that means, imagine almonds “roasted” in sugar syrup until toasted and golden, with the syrup caramelized on their outsides. These are then dipped in chocolate and dusted with cocoa powder. You get crunchy, toasted almonds; the sweet crackle of caramel; a chocolate exterior; and the punch of unsweetened cocoa powder. When well-made, these are a joy to eat and highly addictive; I sampled them all over Belgium and Luxembourg a few years ago.

    Cocoa Designs takes these delights to a new dimension. Unlike other praline almonds, Cocoa Nuts come in varieties, where chocolate coverings of varying types (most often, milk, dark, or bittersweet) are paired with different cocoa powders. For example, in the Lait, praline almonds are dipped in milk chocolate, then coated with a mild cocoa powder. Prefer something with more oomph? Try the Café variety (praline almonds dipped in bittersweet chocolate, then rolled in espresso powder and raw cocoa powder) or the Aztec (a dark chocolate dip; cinnamon and chili are added to the exterior cocoa powder). All of the Cocoa Nuts are available in bags or tins; the tins are more decorative and “gifty”, but the bags give the most bang for your buck if you’re just after product here. Not into almonds? Try one of the newer products, perhaps the Cocoa Riso, which resembles nothing so much as an adult, milk chocolate cluster of Rice Krispies™. There are a few gift packs available, and you can customize tin labels for special occasions, or order Cocoa Nuts as party favors. You can order online, of course, at, or call to order at (415) 407-8268. Whether you wish to save your Easter from mediocre chocolate, start a new Mother’s Day tradition, or just get the cute new guy in Accounting to notice you, check out Cocoa Designs. When it comes to chocolate, sometimes it’s OK to go a little nuts!

    Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? I’d like to hear it. E-mail me at: Please specify that you’re writing about chocolate, or I might think it’s spam.




    ...Published: March 2005