Monday, September 17, 2007

Chocolate and Coffee

Lately one of my favorite things is chocolate and coffee - not as in a caffe mocha, not as in a coffee flavored chocolate, but as in a cup of coffee with a piece of chocolate. Now I am reluctant to even wade in here, because emotions run so high on this topic, but I love milk chocolate, and no that does not make me common or a bad person or one with no appreciation of fine food - though the looks I get suggest all of those things and worse. Nevertheless, a good espresso or americano with a piece of milk chocolate on the side is heaven - the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. My current and long time favorite is Ritter Sport - the butter biscuit is divine and the milk chocolate with whole hazelnuts is sublime. Both are good for breakfast. The rum raisin, a treat for later in the day, is often just what the doctor ordered. And there's the cappuccino, and the marzipan, and . . . . well, pretty much all of them. On a memorable day last summer we bought one of each, broke them into squares, arranged them attractively on a plate and served them as dessert after a lovely dinner on the deck!

I will also happily eat dark chocolate, especially with a coffee like the one in the picture - an espresso macchiato, in Florence. But not dirt chocolate, which is my term for pretty much anything with a higher than 85% cocoa solids. Come on people - that is just awful. There isn't enough sugar or cocoa butter to have a decent mouthfeel or to really bring out the flavor of the chocolate. There - I could go on and on, but I won't. Well, maybe a little - it's like eating deliberately underripe strawberries with no sugar - why? They are more succulent and delicious with sugar - not to mention a bit of heavy cream, so why not enjoy life a little?
Like with this chocolate confection at Mamma Gina's on the Borgo San Jacopo in Florence. Go there. Drink a Brunello, eat a bistecca, and find room for this dessert!

Of course dessert in Florence naturally leads me to chocolate (or hazelnut, or gianduia) gelato - with coffee it is beyond fabulous. More to come on that topic - research is still underway.

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