Request For Blog Topics

Hello all,

I already have a list of topics that I will be covering on this blog over the next year or so, but I certainly want to make sure that I am not overlooking other issues that are of particular interest to my readers. If you are interested in hearing my take on a chocolate-related topic about which I have not yet written, then please leave a comment below mentioning the topic.

For those of you that don’t have any particular topics in mind, if you see one in the comments below that does interest you, then please note your interest in the comments as well.

The topic ideas need not be technical or science-related, though they certainly can be. If you simply would like to know more about something, or if something just doesn’t seem completely clear to you, then that is fair game for a topic.

I look forward to seeing all of your ideas!

Very best,

Alan McClure

11 replies
  1. kristina
    kristina says:

    I am not sure if you’ve mentioned it before as I’ve just come across your blog for the first time, but I’m always really interested to hear about the design of the packaging for chocolate. I am a graphic designer with a severe sweet tooth. 🙂

    Very interesting and informative blog!

  2. Patric Chocolate
    Patric Chocolate says:

    Hi Kristina,

    So far I haven’t dealt with the issue of packaging as a topic in and of itself. I will certainly add it to the list, however.

    Thank you for your feedback!

    Alan

  3. chronicler
    chronicler says:

    I have suddenly run into an interesting phenomenon. I am a baker, and food professional. I have a request for a wedding cake that does not use dairy, soy or gluten. Yeah fun eh? I was wondering about the aspects of cocoa butter being used as a fat replacement in frostings or as a fat in cake itself. Is it a possibility? Or am I just on the wrong path all together? I have seen it for sale in a couple of locations and it is a brick, so does it harden like a regular butter? Is its flavor just really harsh? Or could it be compensated for in other ways?

    Oh probably more than you were anticipating. But any info would be appreciated.

  4. Patric Chocolate
    Patric Chocolate says:

    Chronicler:

    Cocoa butter sets much harder than regular butter–think dark chocolate, which is about as hard.

    For this reason, I don’t think that cocoa butter would lend itself well to being used in frostings as it would likely be too stiff and have a negative impact on mouthfeel.

    As for using cocoa butter in the cake itself, I’d think that vegetable oil or shortening would be a better option. The flavor of cocoa butter is not harsh at all, but it is a fairly expensive fat, and unless there is another reason you’d like to use it, then I’d say go for something that is less expensive.

    Best,

    Alan

  5. The Tag Sale
    The Tag Sale says:

    Alan, thank you for your response. I was so muddled by the dairy free, soy free, gluten free, I forgot about the obvious cocoa butter challenges. It does get very hard doesn’t it! Thank you for the reminder. I ended up using a soy free shortening made from palm oil. It turned out okay.

    I’ve got you bookmarked and will stop by often.

  6. Patric Chocolate
    Patric Chocolate says:

    Stef,

    Well, yes, but I’m as slow as a turtle about posting. My ideas generally require a lot of research, and then other things get in the way, like making chocolate 😉

    I was hoping that this summer would allow me to post with more frequency, but it hasn’t quite turned out that way yet.

    I may start interspersing less detailed topics with the larger ones, or perhaps just splitting up the larger ones into smaller parts as we discussed when we last talked.

    Best,

    Alan

  7. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    I was wondering about a couple of things, wanted to get them out of my brain and in a post before I forgot them–I’m catching up with your older posts, having just found you this evening.

    What is the berry (the fruit itself) like? Is it edible? If so, how would you describe the flavor/texture/aroma (assuming you’ve tried it)?

    How long would you say chocolate stays optimally fresh after it is made?

    When sampling chocolate, is there a proper procedure, like with wine tasting?

    You can tell I’m new to this =)

  8. Patric Chocolate
    Patric Chocolate says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Great questions. I’ll deal with the cacao fruit issue as its own post soon.

    As for chocolate freshness a lot depends upon the storage conditions–best would be a stable 65-70F and out of direct sunlight– and wrapping–best is air tight. Dark chocolate will be good to eat virtually indefinitely if stored properly, but it will still be best within a short time after manufacture, especially if temper was not 100% optimal, and it rarely is. A good rule of thumb is to buy what you need and then buy more when that is gone, just like buying fresh fruits and vegetables.

    As for tasting chocolate, that is also a great question, and fortunately, I have already covered it in two separate posts. Here are links to both–the first is the most comprehensive, and the second is a summary:
    http://www.patric-chocolate.com/store/2007/12/chocolate-tasting-and-appreciation.html
    http://patric-chocolate.blogspot.com/2007/12/10-steps-to-chocolate-bliss.html

    Thank you for your interest,

    Alan McClure
    Patric Chocolate

  9. Dave
    Dave says:

    Hi Alan,
    Maybe a blog post (beyond the allusions in Myth-buster #4) discussing all the potential long-term environmental consequences of our chocolate purchasing choices? (And the unfortunate but necessary certification systems, and complexities with other countries/governments….) Related: any plans for sourcing Rainforest Alliance certified beans? Unrelated: I’m always inspired to learn about people (like you) who are really into what they do!
    Dave

    • Alan
      Alan says:

      Hi Dave,

      That sounds like a subject complex enough for multiple books. I am always interested in Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance beans. Of course they have to taste delicious! The unfortunate fact is that the vast majority of most beans, whether certified or not, aren’t delicious. Currently, the cacao we work with is from small family owned farms, or in one case, a Fair Trade certified cooperative. Some is organic, and some isn’t. Our cocoa butter is a mix of organic and non-organic, and our cane sugar is organic. My overarching decision has always been to try and make ethical sourcing choices, but ones that lead to flavor quality. As the market continues to develop, this has become easier. Even 7 years ago, for example, I couldn’t find a good quality, clean tasting, organic cane sugar. Thanks for your comment!

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