Monday, January 21, 2013

Dipping Into Chocolate!

This week we are happy to host Julie Lynn Hayes and her delicious new book, The Belgian Chocolate Remedy, published by MuseItUp Publishing.

Here's what Julie has to say about a most tantalizing topic........

What's one word that;s sure to grab people's attention, make them perk up, and put a smile on their faces?

No, I don't mean sex.   


Who doesn't like… no, I mean LOVE chocolate? I can count on the fingers of one hand the people I know that don't like this delicious treat, and have fingers left over! So, it's pretty universal, this love of chocolate. And it isn’t a recent phenomenon. No indeed, it's been around for a long long time!

Chocolate has been around the Americas for a good three thousand years. It was fermented and used in beverages to take away the bitterness of the cocoa bean. The Aztecs called it xocolātl, from a Nahuatl word that meant 'bitter water.'  They also ate chocolate and used it in religious ceremonies. Wow, what a great incentive to go to those, right?

It's only appropriate to discuss chocolate during any holiday season because it makes such a great gift—not just for the people on your gift lists, but for yourself as a treat for running yourself ragged with holiday rituals—cleaning and cooking and shopping and wrapping and decorating, the whole nine yards! [And, yes, we do the same for any holiday, including Valentine's Day coming up---though we all want to be pampered---jf]

There are different types of chocolate, and each is determined by the amounts of cocoa powder, chocolate liquor and sugar involved.  

·         Cocoa powder is for baking, and doesn't taste good on its own. Unsweetened chocolate is also called baking chocolate or bitter chocolate.  It is pure chocolate liquor, made up solely of ground cocoa beans. It;s not meant to be eaten solo, but forms the base of the other chocolates, except for white chocolate. 

·         Dark chocolate has  chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and lecithin, with a cocoa content ranging from 30% to 70-80%. This category also includes bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. 

·         Bittersweet chocolate has at least 35% cocoa solids; most contain at least 50% chocolate liquors, some as high as 70-80%. Since there is no regulation on the amount of sugar, the taste can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. 

·         Semi-sweet chocolate contains at least 35% cocoa solids and is primarily an American term, popularized by Nestle and their Toll House morsels. Usually, it's darker than sweet dark chocolate, but sweeter than bittersweet.

·         Sweet dark chocolate has a high percentage of sugar and is sweeter than other dark chocolates, and might have only 20-40% cocoa solids.

·         Milk chocolate, besides containing cocoa butter and chocolate liquor, must contain condensed milk or dry milk solids. While it's easier to overheat, it's a very popular type of chocolate and has a rich creamy taste and texture.

·         White chocolate has cocoa butter but no chocolate liquor or other cocoa products.  Not surprisingly, it has no actual chocolate taste, and may taste like vanilla. It must contain at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% milk solids, and no more than 55% sugar. If you see white chocolate that contains vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter, this isn't really white chocolate and won't taste the same.

[   [All of this talk about chocolate, as tempting as it may be, isn't all that Julie Lynn Hayes connects with this delicious confection. She has another delicious chocolate offering....jf]

I have a new release with MuseItUp Publishing, my first with them. It's just out today, actually, and I'm excited to tell you about it. It's called The Belgian Chocolate Remedy. There's that chocolate theme again!   Milan is my Belgian chocolatier. He and his brother Ludolf came to America after Milan had studied hard in Europe to become a chocolatier, and they ended up settling in the Midwest, in a small town in Indiana. The plan was that Ludolf would help fix up the shop where Milan would make the chocolates, and they would make a good life for themselves. But life doesn't always work out the way you want it to. On the other hand, there's Jesse, who has no interest in his life since his boyfriend dumped him. He lives in St. Louis, but comes to Lafayette, Indiana, at his best friend Reggie’s request (read: demand!). They're going to help her friend Milan get his booth ready for Outfest. Has Reggie got something else in mind?

I hope you like the story, and it wouldn't hurt to eat some chocolate while you read it, maybe drink some too!

Thanks for having me, Janie! 

Here’s the link for The Belgian Chocolate Remedy – enjoy!

Julie has a special surprise--a give away--she'll tell you about tomorrow so please stop by again.



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