Tag Archives: peanut butter

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company

I’m always looking for chocolate, and I’m continually surprised and delighted by teeny tiny chocolatiers in the most unlikeliest of places. For example, my recent trip to Salt Spring Island find of Chocolate Beach. Or, more recently, on my fabulous weekend in the mountains of Rossland, B.C., visiting the Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company.

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company

I think the universe conspired to put this little shop on my radar. I found them through Twitter, and then my friends G & M, who live in Rossland, mentioned this great little chocolate shop that had just opened in their town. With G & M’s recent nuptials in Rossland, it seemed that it was time for us to meet face-to-face.

Trish Dyer, the chocolatier, is delightful with just a hint of sass. If I had had more time in Rossland I would have taken her out for a beer so we could revel in our mutual sassiness.

As fate would have it, I had to settle for a mere box of chocolates. There’s a nice selection of traditional flavours, updated by using local or regional ingredients, and some decided wackiness.

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company: Wasabi!

The wasabi confection is adventurous and ambitious. I popped it in my mouth and experienced a tongue-whooping blast of wasabi. My nasal cavities braced themselves for the pain that usually accompanies that kind of wasabi power, but it never came. Instead, the wasabi mellowed into chocolate ganache with serious brownie notes. I can’t say that I love it, but the play on senses is definitely intriguing.

There’s the requisite sea salt caramel: perhaps a bit heavy-handed with the salt but the caramel is thoughtfully chewy without being sticky. Standouts include Noir, a classic French truffle, delightfully dark, perfectly smooth and rolled in cocoa powder. The filling in the truffle is a bit softer than the other Mountain Nugget confections, and I like it.

The peanut butter barrel is essentially two peanut butter cups stacked on top of each other to look like a barrel. I preferred to eat it as two peanut butter cups—one treat spread over two tasting sessions. Peanut butter and chocolate are a natural combination, but the peanut butter here really sings. It’s a rich, deep nut butter that tastes like the peanuts roasted in the oven for a minute more than they were supposed to—not because anyone forgot about them, but because they wanted to hang out a bit longer, dammit. This peanut butter is badass.

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company - assortment of chocolates

The star of the show has to be the coconut log. A grown-up version of Bounty bar, this is a white chocolate ganache with toasted coconut, maybe a hint of honey, and just a touch of saltiness to cut through the richness. Choose from dark or milk chocolate on the outside, and get two because you won’t want to share with anyone.

There’s also a nice selection of bars with inclusions (that is, chocolate bars with stuff in them) like almonds, dried fruit and nuts.

Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company
2076 Columbia Avenue
Rossland, BC
250.362.3338

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Peanut butter and chocolate

I apologize to everyone who is allergic to peanuts. Partly because this post is all about peanut butter, but mostly because it’s just so damn delicious.

Every year for the past three years, I have made a peanut butter banana chocolate pie on March 14. For you folks who aren’t math geeks, that’s pi(e) day. As in, 3/14 and 3.14. And really, an excuse to make and eat lots of pie.

Really, it’s an exercise in taking something that’s pretty cool, and making it extravagantly over-the-top. I looked at a recipe for peanut butter mousse pie in a chocolate crumb crust and thought, “you know, what that needs is some sliced bananas in the bottom of it, and maybe a layer of chocolate ganache on top for good measure.” And thus, the peanut butter banana chocolate pie was born. Next time around, I think I’ll take it further and caramelize the bananas in rum.

~~Science interlude~~

Peanuts are not a nut, they’re a legume. Ergo, people who are allergic to peanuts can still eat nuts – unless, of course, they’re allergic to nuts.

Peanuts are rich in an amino acid called arginine (arr-jin-een). Foods that are rich in arginine have been associated with higher likelihood of outbreaks of cold sores and, erm, outbreaks that are like cold sores. To be precise, it’s thought that an imbalance in the levels of two amino acids, arginine and lysine, is responsible for cold sores. (Outbreaks, that is. There’s a cute little virus that causes cold sores and the like in the first place.)

Incidentally, chocolate is also quite rich in arginine. Hrm. Arginine sure is tasty.

~~End interlude~~

There’s just something about peanut butter. It’s rich and luxurious, and that stick-your-tongue-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth feeling is comforting. It reminds me of being an awkward kid with pigtails. I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid, my parents gave me a spoonful of peanut butter just so I’d stop talking.

And peanut butter and chocolate? Divine. Baskin-robbins ice cream, all melty chocolatey with a ribbon of peanut butter stickiness? Yes, please.

I picked up some peanut buttery chocolatey things while in Seattle last week. It’s all research, you see. In my head, I’m creating the world’s best peanut butter and jelly bonbon. It’ll be one part peanut butter praline, one part grape jelly, and all kinds of grown-up, nostalgic tastiness.

Burnt caramel and peanut butter

Let’s play a game. I’m going to think of a word and then say the first word that comes to mind when I think of that word.

Okay, so that last one isn’t usual fodder for that game, but I think the word association is valid.

Recchuiti is famous for his burnt caramel. It’s in a confection, it’s in his fleur de sel caramels, it’s in his almond caramels, and it’s probably in a bunch of other products, too.

I was incredibly excited to try his burnt caramel confection. According to the lovely little menu card, it’s his signature piece. An entire chocolate empire, built on the back of this one chocolate.

Well.

Erm.

…It’s a much more subtle thing than I could have imagined. I had lofty visions of smoke and depth, sweet and burnt, chocolate and sugar. In comparison, the real thing is – I’m just going to say it – rather underwhelming.

I got hints of burnt caramel (emphasis on the word burnt) while tasting the ganache, but didn’t really get the full burnt caramel flavour until the ganache had melted. And then, the smokiness just kept going and going. I’ve never experienced that before: having a flavour be dormant and muted while on your tongue, and then tasting its full flavour for a full minute afterwards.

On the whole, I think it’s a little too burnt for my liking. But I have to give a nod to the extraordinary experience of tasting something after it’s gone.

And, to leave you with a happy thought for the weekend: Recchuiti’s peanut butter pearls are to die for. Think Reese’s Pieces, but grown up. Think real peanut butter, think real chocolate, and think about a tiny, crunchy surprise in the middle of the whole she-bang.

I dare you to eat just one.

Donut, doughnut: however you spell it, it’s delicious

It seems like all roads lead to New York, because several people have asked me for NYC food recommendations. I’m more than happy to oblige.

Doughnut Plant
(Lower East Side)

This place opens early, and that’s when you need to get there to beat the crowds. There are cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts.  While I usually prefer cake doughnuts, the yeast doughnuts here kick some serious cake doughnut ass. They’re fluffy, warm pillows of yeasty goodness. And then they’re drenched in sugar glaze.

With his shop’s proximity to Chinatown, Chef Mark Israel goes for a walk each morning to buy the freshest produce to come up with his daily offerings. The tres leche cake doughnut is legendary (if a little bit sweet) but I was more impressed by two unusually flavoured yeast doughnuts: mango and lavender.

The mango doughnut was actually juicy, if you can believe it. Take the best qualities of a perfectly summer-ripe mango, transpose those qualities into a warm, yeasty doughnut, and you might begin to understand how delicious it was. The lavender doughnut was subtle, delicate and refined. A refined doughnut, how about that?

I tried my very best to try all the flavours while I was there, but I didn’t make it. There’s a peanut butter and jelly doughnut that sounds amazing. Someone needs to try it and let me know.

Doughnut Plant
379 Grand St
New York, NY
212-505-3700

Happy pi(e) day!

Happy pi(e) day, everyone! The anticipation almost killed me, but it’s finally here.

Last year’s pie was so delicious that I’m repeating it. It’s a chocolate cookie crust, sprinkled with toasted peanuts and caramelized bananas, covered with cream cheese peanut butter mousse, and topped with dark chocolate ganache.

Also in the works is a deep-dish, double-crust apple pie. Just because. It’s classic, it’s delicious, and who doesn’t love apple pie?

Happy eating!

Cupcakes and crack dip, oh my!

I made a whack of cupcakes and hors d’oeuvres for a friend’s birthday this weekend.

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Best pi(e) evarrrrr.

I ended up making banana peanut butter pie and it was DELICIOUS. I started with a chocolate cookie crust, layered it with crushed toasted peanuts, then sliced banana, then peanut butter mousse, and then a sour cream chocolate icing.

Usually when I make something, I’m pretty critical. I taste it, judge the flavour & texture, and pronounce it acceptable/good/pretty good. Well, this pie was AMAZING. Definitely a keeper.