My favorite sister’s name is Gwen.  Before you go and get all huffy about me picking favorites, please note she’s also my only sister.  (It’s a joke we have.) We’re twins.  We certainly don’t look identical and we were born in different years, but we’re twins.  We say the exact same things at the exact same time, we know exactly what the other is thinking (most of the time), and our own parents can’t tell our voices apart when they’re speaking to one of us on the phone.

Gwen hates coffee. (This is a phenomenon that does occur in a very small percentage of the world’s population. It is also a revelation that rather bewilders coffee lovers.  “How could anyone not like coffee?”)  I, on the other hand, can take or leave coffee.  After reading the laughter-inducing “It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity,” (quote by Dave Barry) it has come to my attention that my coffee drinking habits are, well…recreational.  I’m not quite sure I would go so far as to say they’re inhumane.

No Coffee Allowed - Kakao Coffee Chocolate Still Life Photo(See what she’s missing out on?)

This aversion to coffee does not just apply to the liquid form.  There are also issues with the smell (which further astounds the coffee lovers) and extends to coffee being added to absolutely anything.  This, of course, brings me to chocolate with coffee in it.  I can remember at least two occasions when I very innocently ended up feeding her coffee by way of chocolate.


I’m not shy about the fact that one of my favorite chocolate quotes is “Nuts take up space where chocolate ought to be”.  As a general rule, I say “nay” to nuts in chocolate.  When a brownie recipe calls for walnuts, my policy is to omit them. When I have the opportunity to have a chocolate containing peanuts that haven’t been ground to paste (otherwise known as peanut butter), I pass. (Notable exception: Coco-nuts. Coconut and chocolate were made for each other.  Examples range from Mounds bars to Dick Taylor Maple Coconut to Lake Champlain Creamy Coconut.)

Many people say “anything is good when covered in chocolate”.  I dispute this.  (After having tasted chocolate containing cilantro, chocolate studded with ants, and chocolate festooned with mushrooms…to name a few…I am definitely of the opinion that not everything is good with chocolate.)  Covering nuts (or covering anything, for that matter) with chocolate doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re instantly turned into a tasty treat.

Then, just a week or so ago, a gift arrived in the form of milk chocolate covered almonds.
Nuts in Chocolate - La Marcona Chocolate Covered Almonds


It’s one of those days.  I can’t seem to get interested in a specific chocolate to tell you about (although I’m sure I’ll snap out of it…there were some milk chocolate covered almonds recently that were so good they made me forget I don’t like nuts in my chocolate).  Nor is there any great chocolate baking or making or purchasing to recount.  So, the blank screen keeps starting at me, and it’s all I can do to resist the temptation to publish something ridiculously short and leave it at that.  “Something Witty Goes Here” – The End

On a normal week, I would be writing about pictures like these (or at least taking pictures like these).

Something Witty Goes Here Photo - Taza Chocolate with Crocheted Doily & Candle

Why is this not a normal week?


Saturday, it occurred to me that the Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies recipe still doesn’t include a photo for the lemon frosting version.   Something really had to be done to remedy that.

Additionally, Mother’s Day was less than twenty-four hours away, and baking something (especially something so melt-in-your-melt-delicious) might score some brownie points.  (Pun intended.)

Excuses excuses.  In reality, I was craving brownies.  It’s hard not to crave these brownies.  These brownies are amazing.  And since I did have a few excuses reasons to make them, make them I did:

Excuses, Excuses - Brownies with Lemon Frosting


If you want to open a can of worms, start asking around: “Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate?”

Inevitably, the white chocolate lovers will be quick to assure anyone who asks that of course white chocolate is chocolate (“what else would it be?!”), while the non-white chocolate lovers will be just as quick to denounce it as “not being the real thing”.

Is White Chocolate Actually Chocolate - Combination PhotoPictured:  Sinfonia White Chocolate Mandarin, Divine White Chocolate with Strawberries, & El Rey Icoa.

I’ve taken some informal polls (as in, straight out asking multiple sources what they think) and reactions are mixed. Nobody said it in exactly these words, but if you will allow me to liberally paraphrase:


Last December, while doing chocolate-related research, I stumbled across a whole new world of chocolate.

Craft chocolate.  Bean to bar chocolate.  Artisanal chocolate.  Small batch chocolate.  There are a lot of names for it, but, suffice it to say, it’s not the mass-produced chocolate commonly found on the shelves of grocery stores and convenience stores.  Instead, it is chocolate meticulously made by companies that are so small they sometimes consist of only one to two people, whose mission is not just to provide high-quality chocolate, but also an incredible chocolate experience.  (I could definitely make a hobby out of trying different flavors and collecting packaging…)

A Whole New World of Chocolate - Dick Taylor Maple Coconut

One of the first craft chocolates I happened to run across (online) was Dick Taylor.   The geographical distance between us didn’t stop me from admiring the high-quality packaging and the stunning design on the chocolate bars themselves.   The glowing reviews cemented my decision that someday, if the opportunity arose, I was going to make one of those bars mine.

Fast forward to April: There was a little extra room in a package headed my way.  I picked Dick Taylor Maple Coconut.


What did I do last Saturday?  It seems to me something unusual happened.  It’s coming back to me…  Ah.  Yes.  Saturday involved chocolate royalty and making my very first chocolates.  🙂

(Disclaimer: If melting down existing chocolate to make other chocolates is cheating, then I cheated.  Because it’s simply not possible to grow my own cacao, roast it, grind it, conch it, AND mold it within the space of a few hours, which is all the time I had.)

I’d be happy to recount my day with El Rey, which totally involved cool photo ops like this one:
My Day with El Rey Partially Chopped Chocolate


I repeat, nothing in my house is safe.

Do we have monsters under the bed? Nope. (I’ve checked.) Termites? No. (At least not that I know of.)

Absolutely nothing is safe from the very real possibility of showing up alongside a bar of chocolate in my next batch of photos. If scented candles, half the spices in the cupboard, or my wallet could talk, you could ask them.  They’d tell you.  So would the colored pencils, paired here with Sweet Riot 85% Dark Chocolate:

Nothing In My House is Safe - Sweet Riot Chocolate with Colored Pencils

You’ll notice I didn’t even spare the bougainvilleas. They live outside the house.


If chocolates grew on trees, which trees would you make a point of planting first?

(After planting my Ritter Sport Cocoa Mousse tree, I’d branch out (pun intended) and grow other brands and flavors.   There would be craft, bean-to-bar chocolate trees.  There would be chocolate-with-inclusion trees.  And of course there would be individual bonbon trees.)

If Chocolate Grew on Trees Photo

Only, in reality, these delicious morsels don’t grow on trees.  (At least directly. Presumably you know where chocolate comes from!)  This should be good news for those of us who don’t have much of a green thumb.

Chocolates like these are formed in moulds, and I decided it was high time to take the plunge, acquire a mould, and make my own chocolates.  (Some people might think it is cheating to melt down existing chocolate and re-mould it instead of starting with raw beans, but I’m taking baby steps. With no easy access to Valrona, which keeps popping up on the internet as THE chocolate to use for such things, I am thinking about using El Rey chocolate for my first chocolate making experiment.  It will be a splurge, but I want my first chocolates to be extra-special.  It has occurred to me that I have no idea what I am doing and they might look a sight, but at least they should taste good!)

My first mould almost turned out to be a selection of leaves, but my final choice was a 30-Cavity silicon mold by Freshware.  (Partially because the leaf mold only made eight chocolates at once.  With a family of five, deciding how to portion off the chocolate would have been problematic.)

If Chocolates Grew on Trees Chocolate Mold PhotoPictured: Four designs (out of six) of my new mold

The mould comes with its own user manual, which was promptly read from front to back because I often find user manuals quite entertaining.   This one did not disappoint.   “DO NOT use over direct flame.”  Uh – naturally.  “DO NOT use metal utensils like knives, forks, or other sharp objects.”  Somebody would use a sharp object in a silicon mold??

My mind isn’t completely made up as to whether my first attempt at using the mold will involve plain chocolate, or if I will be brave and try to include a filling of some sort.    I’ll be sure to follow-up with how much of a success (or a disaster!) my chocolate-making experience turned out to be.

In the meantime, please keep me off of sites that make moulds.  There are far too many options.   (If you’re looking for a mind-blowing selection, visit Tomric.  See the cute violet mould?  There are a slew of amazing moulds; your chocolates could come out in the shape of shoes and ships and ceiling wax and cabbages and kings.  Well, at least I saw shoes and ships and alligators and acorns and tractors, which is basically the same concept.

Until next time…

Put on your thinking caps, because I need a little help with a crazy or cool chocolate idea.   (It’s a crazy idea if you think chocolate should always be eaten in bar form.  It’s rather cool if you have adventurous taste buds and like playing with your food.)

There are a few items that I have always wondered what they would taste like coated or dipped in melted chocolate or chocolate sauce.  While I don’t intend to make a habit of always enrobing certain foods (or any food at all!) with chocolate, trying a few out-of-the-ordinary chocolate and food pairings might make for a interesting story.  As an example, allow me to present Exhibit A:

A Crazy or Cool Chocolate Idea - Pineapple with Chocolate Photo


Dear Chocolate Lover*:

Today is Thursday.

Ordinarily, on a Thursday, Alaina would have already made your mouth water by telling you about a specific must-try chocolate, or at least told you a chocolate-related tale.

This Thursday, Alaina has the day off.    She contemplated spending her day talking about chocolate or taking pictures of chocolate.**  Speaking of a picture of chocolate:


(Random photo of chocolate.  Because Alaina enjoys still life chocolate photography and she thought you might too.)

Instead, she decided to go out.   Hence the sign: “Out to Chocolate – Be Back Soon”

“Getting groceries” was the cover story.  The real mission: Acquiring more chocolate.  (Ok.  Ok.  Fine.  Getting groceries WAS the real reason for going out, but she usually manages to wander over to the candy aisle to, you know, look around.)

She is rumored to have been seen with Ritter Sport Yogurt.  There are also reports that chocolate covered coffee beans came home with her.

No other chocolate sightings have reached our ears as of press time.


(who sometimes talks about herself in the third person because she’s silly that way)

*Presumably you love chocolate.  Because if you don’t, you’re on the wrong site!

**Alaina doesn’t actually take the pictures herself (at least 95% of the time).   If you ask her, she “directs” the photography shoots (places the chocolates and switches them out).  If you ask the photographer, she’s the bossy one that doesn’t allow enough time for optimal shots because “it’s melting!!!”