Cacao is the next big thing for genome sequencing.

The news is in, people. Chocolate, our friend and our frenemy, has become under close watch for something near and dear to its biologically-nonexistent heart. We have harvested, over-processed, and diluted the cacao plant. Now, we move on to greater and more technologically advanced things. We genome it.

For the record, I felt slightly disturbed after watching the multiple press videos about the team of Mars (hot-shot candy company), WSU (huh?), and IMB (really?). I even thought Why would these three come together?

For now, the only information we do have is that in response to our crop losses in cacao harvesting, this team “Cacao Genome Project” aims to create a cacao plant that will withstand harsh weather, “annoying little pests” (that I personally think are not annoying; or pests), and our growing global climate change. Hallelujah. It looks like we’ve finally figured it out. Cacao will be sustainable and great and lively.

^ SARCASM. ^

I feel extremely misled and (quite frankly) a little peeved that this is being toted as a solution to our problem. Whatever happened to replenishing the trees that nourish the plants so that they grow on their own time? Whatever happened to treating the world as a stable environment, and not a constantly growing one? I truly feel that scientifically modifying our world to continually feed our expanding appetites is never going to be sustainable or intelligent.

How do you feel about GMO crops, or genome sequencing?

Cacao is the next big thing for genome sequencing.

My First Time: Chocolate Tasting

Today, my friends, is a day for chocolate.
Here, in Seattle, Chocolate Box is a cafe that specializes in selling the world’s most delectable, delicious chocolates and anything that compliments it. You name it, Chocolate Box will likely have it (or order it). There is a small area for wine tasting and chocolate pairing, as well as a selection of pastries, cakes, and brownies (even gluten free). Their mochas and espresso are heavenly. To top it all off, Seattle’s own Molly Moon’s ice cream is sold there!

The month of February is Chocolate Box’s hot chocolate celebration period, where each day a different flavor of hot chocolate is offered. Here’s the full calendar with each flavor— I’m excited for Elvis Day. Friday was “Lemon Pucker Up,” so my boyfriend and I decided to give it a go. We were pleasantly surprised at how the acid in lemon cuts through chocolate to raise the flavor up and make it more playful on the tongue. Chocolate Box topped the hot chocolate with a tangy, zingy lemon marshmallow that I can’t find. (Help!)
Follow Chocolate Box on Twitter to get updates on which hot chocolate flavor is featured each day!

I also was able to try three beautiful truffles, pictured above, from their shop. The truffle on the left is from a company called Moonstruck Chocolates. The one on the right is a currently unnamed mango chile truffle, and the bottom piece is a pure dark chocolate truffle (also unnamed).

Today, I will take my hand at describing these chocolates to you all, and why you need to try them!

the moon truffle

I ate this truffle way too quickly and it is my favorite of the bunch, so forgetting to take a photograph of it was inevitable.
There is a thick and dark chocolate outside shell that takes a gentle bite to break through. The ganache center, with a bright and citrus flavor alongside a peppery aroma, broke up the deepness of the outer shell. Once I started tasting the  ganache center, a kick of heat (maybe cayenne?) spread out and made the peppery aroma stronger. Overall, the balance of bright and spicy with richness and darkness left a creamy and nutty after taste.
5/5 – A great balanced piece of chocolate that utilizes one of my favorite chocolate combinations: chocolate and heat.

the mango-chile truffle

It left an impression on me right away. The dusted cacao powder is drying and thick, which made for an unexpected bite. I was greeted with a very slick and dense filling. The texture is hard to describe, but it reminds me of a very soft gumdrop. There was also grainy textures inside with a mid-level heat that is more of a background note than a flavor. The flavor of the center hits you before the outer shell does, which is dark but creamy. It also melts easily so the attention is entirely on this truffle’s unique center. Overall, a very sweet truffle; I would like to have felt the spice exaggerated a bit more, but it’s balanced.

2.5/5 – This truffle was large, which is a bonus. However, the unique textures in this truffle do not positively impact the experience. I feel as though this kind of light chile heat with a cheery fruit flavor is best done in a chutney. When paired with chocolate, one flavor needs to be exaggerated in order to prevent a lack of flavor.

the wrinkly truffle

It boasts a small, wrinkled appearance dusted in cacao powder. I bit into a very thin outer shell of smooth dark chocolate. Afterwards, it broke away to a slightly tart, sweet and fudgey ganache-like center. The tartness reminded me of a smooth greek yogurt, which gave this truffle a milky aftertaste. The tiny little nugget was the epitome of melt away flavors. Even swallowing the chocolate happened as I chewed on it, much like butter. This chocolate looks like dark chocolate but tastes as milky as a 45% cacao bar.

3/5 – The chocolate itself ended up being too milky for my taste, removing the flavor of rich chocolate. However, the experience of tasting a balanced and slightly tart dark chocolate was unique.

So, how was it for you? 😉
I know I had a good time.

My First Time: Chocolate Tasting

The Only Grain-free, Vegan and Sugar-free Nutella Cookie on the Planet

Oh yeah. We hate to love Nutella’s creamy, fudgey, nutty flavors all combined in a spreadable form.

I hate Nutella. I hate that I can’t have it because it contains skim milk, which contributes to my gastrointestinal complaints.
TMI? I’m sorry.

But while you get to enjoy your jar of chocolatey lactose-ignorant bliss, I’m stuck pacing in the kitchen, trying to find a suitable match for my kitchen’s (and LIFE’S) lack of Nutella on World Nutella Day. Then, it hit me.
You can make something better. Oh yeah. Let’s love to hate Nutella, and fight back.

So for all you who cannot have Nutella, who refuse to eat Nutella, or who just want a different option.. here you go:

the only grain-free, vegan and sugar-free nutella cookie on the planet

makes 13 cookies (Hey, we’re being quirky here.)

  • About 30 hazelnuts
  • 4 medjool dates, pitted
  • capful vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  •  1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 8 drops of stevia (10 if you like very sweet cookies)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Roast your hazelnuts if they are raw. I had them in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes and it was perfect. Roll them around in your hands to remove the skins, and drop in a food processor.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pit and cut your dates in halves or thirds. Add them to the hazelnuts and process until crumbly. Add in your vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons cocoa powder. Process until combined. Next, drop in the coconut oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and scant 1/2 teaspoon salt. Process until well combined, you may have a dough ball swirling around in the food processor and you may not. It’s ok either way.

Drop by the tablespoon full onto a cookie sheet or silicon baking mat and bake for about 10 minutes. Let these cookies cool!

I repeat do not eat these while warm out of the oven. They will crumble and be a pain to eat; you will end up losing your cookie if you’re not careful! I know, it sucks. But the trade off is one of the healthiest Nutella cookies ever that practically any picky eater can eat! Plus, all the healthy oils in your cookie need time to harden up a bit and stabilize your cookie eating experience.

Did I mention they come out to about 55 calories a cookie?

Oh yeah.

Do you like Nutella? When was the first time you tried it?

The Only Grain-free, Vegan and Sugar-free Nutella Cookie on the Planet