Sunday, January 21, 2007

When Brand Matters (Sugar High Friday #27)

David’s choice for the month’s Sugar High Friday seemed simple to me. I love chocolate and in fact have a stack of Valrhona in my cupboard in the event that I need to do any emergency baking. I choose Valrhona for two reasons: 1. It’s good enough to pass the taste test (please note that while I am generally a reasonable chocolate snob, other chocolates also pass this hurdle – I used Scharffen Berger quite happily for a while), 2. It’s regularly stocked by my local grocery (Scharffen Berger was stocked by my last one). And so, I started thinking about what new recipe I could try that would help to showcase the flavor of the chocolate.

And then somehow I got sidetracked. I went back to David’s post. And I started thinking more about his point, why you chose the brand you chose. It seems relatively un-interesting to have to write that I chose Valrhona because it’s good and stocked by my grocery – that’s not a story, that’s merely a reason. I started really thinking about those sweets that I make with a particular kind of chocolate (that's not premium) and why.

The most obvious first choice is my famous Chocolate Chip cookies, which I talked about in my very first post ever, but I’ve already posted on them. And despite the fact that I use Nestlé’s semi-sweet morsels for those because: 1. My mom has always used Nestlé’s (I’m always fascinated by those things we do rather unquestioningly because our parents do), 2. The recipe that I use is theirs (plus 2 cups of oatmeal and about 12 ounces of raisins), it seemed to be cheating a bit to repost (even though they are really, really good).

And so I went with my other dish where I have a serious chocolate brand preference (and the dish that worried me the most to do indoors - it's not difficult cooking, in fact it's barely cooking, but it's chocolate).

I use Hershey’s chocolate when making S'mores, just like I learned in Girl Scouts. I’ve tried s’mores with other, more expensive kinds of chocolates and it just doesn’t work (you also need to use the 'normal' thin bars (about 1.5 ounces), don’t get those big thick ones, it won’t melt properly) .

S’more
1 serving

1 rectangle of graham crackers (broken into 2 squares - each of which has 2 rectangles in it)
2 marshmallows (proportions are off if you just use 1)
4 rectangles of Hershey’s chocolate (again, you need the 1.5 oz thin bar, not one of the big thick ones)
  1. Place the chocolate rectangles on top of one graham cracker square
  2. Gently brown (much more difficult with a gas flame than with a campfire) all sides of the marshmallows over an open flame (marshmallows should be on a stick)
  3. Place the toasted marshmallows on top of the chocolate and use the second graham cracker to pull them off of the stick, closing the two craham crackers like a sandwich
  4. Enjoy!

Now, it is true that s’mores taste best when eating them outside around a campfire. But the thing that they don’t tell you in Girl Scouts, is that they also taste best when washed down with a nice champagne – the nicer the better. For tonight’s version, I’ve chosen a Taittenger Brut as the Brut contrasts nicely with the overt sweetness of the s’more itself.

The lesson here, as with all food choices – it’s not always necessary to spend the most money to get the ingredients. You first need to make sure you’re buying the right ingredients (and while, in general, I am most emphatically not an advocate of mediocre chocolate, there are times (not many, but still...) when something else matters more than the pure chocolate).

For s’mores, spend your money on the champagne – save your cash on the chocolate and go for the one that actually makes a s’more a s’more: Hershey’s. (Technically, you don't actually save enough on the chocolate to offset the champagne, but the good champagne is still worth it – I figure that it's the thought that counts).


3 Comments:

Blogger rachel said...

Yummy S'mores! There is a small town in Wisconsin named New Glarus. It is know as America's "Little Switzerland" and each year they have a Wilhelm Tell Festival. I went one year and participated in all the events including their Swiss camping. Part of camping activities were to gather around the fire an roast Swiss Sausages and make s'mores wtih Swiss Chocolate. It as the best s'more I ever had. The high quality chocolate made all the difference.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

We make s'mores every summer, outside over the fire pit. Only Hershey's will do. In fact, I think there may be a law about it! We had friends visiting from Japan this summer, and wanted to introduce them to American foods. S'mores with Hershey's were at the top of the list.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

Lydia, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who has childhood food loyalties like that.

That said, Rachel's enthusiasm may convince me to try making the 'upscale' s'mores that I once found at a long forgotten restaurant (chocolate pot d'creme (with very good chocolate), homemade marshmallow, homemade graham cracker) and which I'm very curious to try again.

Bee

8:27 PM  

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