For Chocolate Lovers only

Chocolate cake


Special Section: Made in America—Cheeses!

Hot Fudge Sauce with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Chocolate Butter

Fudge Ribbon Bars

Milk Punch

Sweet Spot


Hi! My name is Stephanie Zonis, and welcome to the December, 2002 edition of "For Chocolate Lovers Only". Each month, you'll find recipes, tips, and recommendations on great chocolate specialties. As 2002 draws to a close, I'd like to thank StarChefs, my readers, and especially my family and friends for their never-failing support. A Happy New Year to you all!

Chocolate Recommendation of the Month: Boxes and baskets and ballotins, oh, my! Even if you think you have finished your holiday shopping, you'll want to take a look at zChocolat, this month's Chocolate Recommendation. The husband-and-wife owners are chocolate brokers in France—that means they act as intermediaries between French chocolatiers and far-flung customers, who otherwise wouldn't even know about these products. And that would be a shame, as these are products worth a try, or perhaps two or three tries (hey, it's important to conduct your chocolate evaluations thoroughly!). You'll find an impressive selection of containers for these delicacies, ranging from ballotins to luxurious mahogany "bureaus" containing "drawers" filled with chocolates. There are options for wrapping papers and, in some cases, you can even customize your gift.

But of the greatest importance, of course, are the chocolates themselves. zChocolat gathers its products from four master chocolatiers, and if you think these are mass-market chocolates you need only click on the Chocolate Page to set you straight. I am a great fancier of the Minerai Lorrain, as I'm a sucker for the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts. But you'll find other intriguing combinations, too, like the Lavande, a dark-chocolate-covered blend of soft nougatine, lavender honey, and herbal tea. Or click on Riviera Treasures and try the Portofino, Sicilian almonds dipped in caramel, then dark chocolate, and finished with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar. I invariably order ballotins from this company, because by doing so you can select the chocolates to fill your box. Site navigation and checkout are both hassle-free, and your satisfaction is guaranteed. DHL is a reliable shipper, and my chocolates have always arrived on time. Cocoa and chocolate bars, too. And since you've been astute enough to finish your holiday shopping so early, how about a little something for yourself? Joking aside, any of these choices would make a lovely holiday gift for someone who is special to you. You can find zChocolat at, or call them toll-free from North America at (800) 529-9512.

Chocolate Detour of the Month: The long-time reader of this column will recall that I have had the good fortune to journey to Europe, where sweets of all kinds are treated with a reverence often lacking in this country. Even if you have never been there, you can get some idea of that same attitude in, of all places, Cherry Hill, NJ. Robert Bennett, former executive pastry chef at Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia, has ventured out on his own to open Miel Patisserie, and his creations draw the eye toward them as though they were polished jewels. Gorgeous desserts of all types shine with glazes, glisten with fruits, or glow subtly with chocolate, proving the old adage that it's possible to speak volumes without saying a single word. There are good chocolates (try the one with the pistachio center), preserves, ice creams and sorbets, breads, cookies-and everything is made in-house! Large and individual sizes are available for many of the pastries, and Mr. Bennett is also a specialist at wedding and "occasion" cakes. One word of caution: this establishment does not ship anything (that's the only reason this isn't a Chocolate Recommendation). Shipping is often the bane of a chocolatier's life, and shipping fresh pastry is close to impossible, so I respect this decision. Miel Patisserie is located in The Village Walk Shopping Center, 1990 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003. For more information, call them at (856) 424-6435. There is a minimalist website at, but the list of pastries, at least, is not complete.

Two Last-Minute Gift Ideas for Foodies: Have you ever thought of giving a gift of membership into a food organization? Two such groups of which I am a member are Slow Food USA and The American Cheese Society. The latter group, The American Cheese Society, "encourages the understanding, appreciation, and promotion of America's farmstead and natural specialty cheese". I just attended my first ACS conference this summer, and it was an eye-opening experience into the incredible cheeses now being produced into the US and Canada. You can find their website at: Slow Food USA "supports and celebrates the food traditions of North America"; their website can be found at: Both organizations are educational and not-for-profit; Slow Food USA has many chapters (each called a "convivium") throughout the US, and there are a good number of local and regional events held throughout the year. It's time to put the pleasure back into meals in this country, and both of these organizations are helping to do just that.

Do you have a comment, question, or suggestion? You can reach me at: Because I receive too much junk e-mail, please specify that you’re writing about something chocolate. Thank you!