Surrendering to chocolate

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My love affair with chocolate has undergone many twists and upgrades. When I was nine, I got a 25-cent allowance every week. I could spend this at the five-and-dime store (that’s how old I am), selecting from a dizzying array of sweets for 3 cents apiece. When they went up to a nickel, I was appalled. When they hit 8 cents, I decided I couldn’t afford chocolate anymore. (I’m over that one.) Mind you, these were name-brand candy bars, and they were bigger than the ones you get now for 60 to 80 cents: $100,000 Bar, Snickers, Milky Way, Almond Joy.

Because I was inept in the kitchen and also because my mother didn’t keep the cocoa powder where I could get at it, I was forced to sneak-manufacture plain buttercream frosting. This diverted me from chocolate through my most zit-enriched years. (It also left long-abandoned bowls containing spoons set in hardened frosting concrete in all my dresser drawers. For some reason, I could never eat all the frosting I’d made.)

In high school, I started buying those giant Hershey bars—I forget how big they are now, but they used to be 8 oz for a dollar. I bought milk chocolate because that was all you could get in those days. For the record, I never had trouble finishing one.

When I married, my husband’s aunt started a tradition of trading us Sees truffles for Fannie Mae Trinidads. This was definitely a bargain for us, and introduced me to truffles…ook ook!

Later, there was a Fannie Mae store on my route to the health club. In those days, you could buy factory seconds for a fraction of full price. Back then, Fannie Mae made chocolates with real butter and sugar. I swam every day. So, yes, I stopped in there a lot. Then Fannie Mae apparently suffered the usual ineptitude-and-greed meltdown, closed for a couple of years, then reopened with all new recipes—using vegetable oil and corn syrup. Feh. At least that cured me of eating their stuff.

It wasn’t until the mid-Oughts that classy, high-quality, uberdark chocolate became a Thing. I ran quickly through Ghirardelli, Scharffen Berger, Godiva, and other popular upmarket brands. I stopped eating chocolate with anything extra in it (fruit, nuts, chili pepper, bacon, cardamom, old truck tires, whatever). Somewhere in there I discovered that I was mildly allergic to corn syrup and soy lecithin. This means I can’t eat quite a few of the chocolate brands out there, including any chocolate at all from Trader Joe’s <snf>.

Fortunately there’s Lindt & Sprüngli, which omits the offending ingredients in several of its 3.5 oz. bars. And also, there’s Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, whose truffles are matched only by their peanut butter bucket, a 4oz “serious piece of candy.” My weekly wanderings used to take me past the Libertyville Rocky Mountain store, 28 miles away. Alas, I don’t go to Libertyville anymore. This makes it hard to “accidentally” drive there and buy my drug of choice.

I’m not rich enough to patronize those fancy indie chocolatiers, but I’m always open to hearing about them and enjoying vicariously. Got any recommendations? Over to you.

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Surrendering to chocolate — 12 Comments

  1. Oh honey. Chocolate! I have on my desk at this very instant a tub of Dark Chocolate Almond Bark from Wegman’s. Nuts move it from candy to food, right? Have you got a Trader Joe’s in your area? I draw your attention to the 5 pound bars of chocolate, big enough to kill a person with. They have dark chocolate with almonds! And when life is not worth living the solution is Toblerone Dark. There is nothing like chocolate with added fondant, just to ensure that there is enough sugar in your system.

  2. The first time I went out to Seattle to research the “Gin & Tonic” mysteries, I was introduced to Theo’s (organic, fair-trade). I’m not going to say my life’s never been the same, but my chocolate eating habits certainly haven’t been….
    https://www.theochocolate.com/

    And if you’re looking for truffles, Seattle’s Chocolates are what I brought my dad when he was in the hospital, to compensate for the hospital food and indignities. http://www.seattlechocolates.com/shop/truffles/assorted-chocolate-truffle-bag

    Yeah – the idea of putting a mass-produced candy bar in my mouth these days fills me with horror. These’re a little more expensive, but I eat half as much and feel twice as satisfied.

  3. Dark chocolate with almonds and a touch of sea salt, yummy!

    But it has to be real chocolate, with NO horrible corn syrup.

  4. I wonder if it is not the combination of sugar and caffeine that does it. Writers need sugar, for the brain food. And caffeine is clearly a foundation of the arts, the unknown Muse.

  5. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory creams have corn syrup in them. 🙁 We used to have a local chocolatier who retired, and I am torn between joy I found her before she retired, and sadness it was less than a year before! I miss her chocolates–those were fabulous.

    On the more cheerful side, Lindt truffles are one of my favorites, and I also really like Dagobah Lavendar Chocolate. Which this reminds me, I should order some, since my local source quit carrying it!

  6. Green & Black’s 85% cocoa. Endangered Species 70% with espresso beans (for those nights you have to stay up and finish the *!**!*! ms.) Lamme’s Candy in Austin, though they now buy their truffles from someone else. Valrhona had at one time a dark chocolate with ginger that was a lovely occasional, but it’s hard to find. Different tastes suit different folks. I’m not that fond of Ghirardelli’s or Lindt’s; Green & Black’s is right on target for me and smells faintly of violets. Dark chocolate with chilis is also good.

    I keep a stash of the good stuff for the last month of a book, when consumption typically rises along with the tension. A bar that lasts a week or two early on will be gone in a day.

  7. Barlovento Chocolates, made in downtown Oakland, are my favorite. I want the darkest possible chocolate, with very little sugar (of course no corn syrup), and generally without anything else in it.

    And I’m with Vonda: Theobromine, not the caffeine or the sugar. Caffeine has its place (definitely) and a tad of sugar is good (though 99 percent cacao chocolate can be magnificent), but those things are available in other ways. Chocolate is more than that.

  8. Sweet Shop Fudge Love seconds. I used to drive down and buy a pound of milk and dark for my holiday party. I don’t miss Dallas/Ft. Worth, but boy, do I miss that seconds shop.