Berry Valentine

A cake from the heart… for chocolate day in Japan.

Mmm… the best of chocolate and some early strawberries.

It’s an okara cake, nearly a classic of this blog :

1 cup of wet okara (tofu fibers, DIY here)
1 egg
40 g of melted dark chocolate
1 ts of sugar
1 tbs of coconut cream
1 ts of potato starch (optional if the batter is very liquid)

Mix well and bake (I trust my oven).

Then I sprinkled a little bitter almond extract on the cooling cake, and later cut strawberries.

I used silicon molds to make the little fans.

Petits chocolats in 2 minutes

They are already selling the Valentine Day chocolates and chocolate-making equipment. I got those fancy individual silicone molds and played a little.

I’ve had a little fun, melting ordinary chocolate in the micro-wave, mixing in stuff. As you can see it’s a bit messy but that doesn’t matter when you take out the molds.

spicy orange stars : bitter chocolate, cocoa mass, mandarin orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg.

hot ginger squares : bitter chocolate, cocoa mass, raw ginger cubes, habanero powder.

Both were delicious.

more chocolates

Nama choco. When Valentine hell is paved with weird ideas…

Nama choco. That’s a ganache, a melty creamed chocolate.
Yes, I’m covering you with chocolate. It’s the season. We have no Christmas nor Easter chocolates in Japan, that’s all for Valentine. Read here about the local tradition and the shopping party

Nama means “raw”, but nama choco is not raw chocolate. That’s because these ganaches are made with cream (nama cream > raw cream) and also because in Japan, like anywhere, you can buy 2 types of cakes/sweets, some are dry and can be kept a while in a cupboard, some are fresh and should be eaten in a few days or hours. They are called higashi (dry sweets) second type are called namagashi (fresh sweets). So we have this fresh chocolate.

These square ones are called ishidatami choco and sometimes we can see the French name “pavés au chocolat”. Both mean chocolate sett/cobblestones. But, but… when I speak in French, a “pavé au chocolat” is a small cake like a brownie.

Normal recipe : Heat one cup of full cream at about 80 degrees. Then mix in 1.5 cup of grated dark chocolate, stir till it becomes a velvet sauce. Add in flavoring syrup, sugar (or for a pro finish glucose gel). Pour on baking sheet. Let 30 minutes. Then 30 minutes in the fridge. Cut squares and roll them in cocoa. Store up to 5 days in the fridge.

Bwa ha ha… Fugly ! That’s why people buy them, to get them so perfectly shaped. Well, no with the normal recipe, they can easily be perfect.

What happened :
I made them vegan. I didn’t have to, just an idea like that.
I had no cream in stock, no chocolate (I keep only chocolate mass… because of mice, you know). And I had some coconut cream to use or lose. Also, I have trouble digesting raw cream so I thought coconut cream would make the easier on the stomach… well it didn’t.

So I took 1 cup coconut cream with a little almond oil + 1.5 cup of cocoa mass. Both ingredients react differently from dairy cream and chocolate. Cocoa mass is less fat than chocolate, it contains more solids, less fat. They didn’t mix in, the fat was floating over… So I have made a sort of mousse with the hand-mixer and I had to spread it while it was already hardened. They are irregular and they had some stains of white on the top (imperfectly blended fat) that I could scrap away.
Bottom line : don’t do that. Use either normal cream or normal chocolate and your life will be easier.

But they are great in taste !

Really delicious like those from the best chocolatiers ? No, much better !
Flavoring is a subtle mix of apricot liquor, bitter almond and coffee. That adds to the coconut and sweet almond oil used as cream. They are very light in sugar.
Let’s decorate them :

With snow. Well, icing sugar.

Girly. With sweet potato powder.

Sparkling. With sweet cinnamon and shiny sugar.

Mosaic.

Saint-Shoppentine, say cheeeeese !

What I didn’t buy… but that’s not because they didn’t try hard.
Even outside shops, they display the boxes of choko. As I explained there (click) Valentine=Buy-Chocolate. That’s not the romantic date day. There is one, on Xmas. So all the effort is on chocolates and sweets.

Let’s start the party with a bubbly drink : Chocolate Sparkling. A seasonal junk. I tried it another year. The first one taste delicious, the next one… disgustingly sweet and artificial. Hey, it’s soda.
I like this year’s Alice bottle. kucha kucha ! Photo only !)

All supermarkets, shopping streets, shopping centers and department stores have big “Valentine” corners this month. What you see is “tiny”, only one small local supermarket. In city center, it’s quite similar… but 100 times bigger. I’m sure the excess of choice makes them lose so many sales to people that can’t decide which they want.

All styles. All qualities. All prices. BUT even the cheaper offers are more expensive than usual in the fancy package.

For kids too.

Want a kit ? If you don’t see, the kits for 1 use cost more than packaged ready chocolates.

Buy books to learn, buy supply to make, buy kistch decoration, buy packaging…
I have everything at home already :
my choko-friends

If you don’t like chocolates have waffles, marrons glaces, baumkuchen…

The fresh dessert zone is valentinized too.

This I had not seen before. It’s a set chocolates + handkerchief (that they use as personal hand towels). Not sure it’s a good idea.

In department store, I wouldn’t be able to take photos due to the crowds. They have many corners with windows like that, for each brand, with staff in uniform. Each display a series of boxes. You buy the box, wrapped in paper, inside assorted bag, and they wrap that again for you to carry it.

14 chocolate gourmandises for tomo-choko day


Berry Valentine cake

2013-03-27

Coffee sunglassesGâteau truffe aux kumquatsWhite chocolate cinnamon apple cake Raspeberry choco-carob cake

nutty truffles (vegan)

choco-chip cookie with coconut cream

tarte orangette

silky chocolate mousse (vegan)

chocolate smeared green tea waffles

simple silky chocolate tarte (vegan, gluten free)

matcha chocolate cake

Azteca gold takoyaki

guilt-free chocolate cake

minimalist pear and chocolate

pinapple chocolate cupcakes

bûche forêt noire

macashew brownies (vegan)

A little compilation, but click on the text links not on the photos (sorry I’m lazy, but linking the thumbnails to the posts would be very time-consuming).

CHOCOLATE AND AZUKI BEANS

Chocolate and azuki

Choco-azuki, le retour

Azu-choco with blueberry 

Mousse au chocolat vegetale

After-Eight Daifuku Mochi

Choco-coco hari-nezumi

choco-chip matcha-an daifuku

Sorbet de cacao grand frisson

Tartelettes citron-chocolat

Gomacarons (sesame cocoa macarons)

Truffes a la pomme nouvelle

choco-banana fondant

choco-chip far breton

chocolat chaud 16 janvier

************More *****

Pure mousse au chocolat

choko-friends (paleo diet)

3 petites marquises noires


Marquise blanche

Valentine Day in Japan.

V-day nama choco (vegan)

It differs from other country’s V-day.
Of course, there are few Christians and the celebration is not of religious origine. It was created as a marketing event. In 1936, an expat chocolate artisan called Morozoff started promoting the “Valentine Day chocolates”. It became popular from the 1950’s.

Japanese tradition became this in the 80’s and 90’s :
On February 14th, Valentine Day : Ladies offer small boxes of chocolates to gentlemen they find attractive. And they also offer some to gentlemen they don’t care about, to avoid making them upset. Those are “giri choko” (obligation chocolates).
On March 14 th, White Day : Gentlemen that received chocolates give a thank-you present to all ladies that made them a gift. The value varies a lot, depending on their feelings for the ladies.

There were legends, in the glorious days of VD-WD, about guys receiving a tiny box of 1 piece of al’cheapo chocolate and thanking with a luxury brand hand-bag or a jewel. And also horrid stories, about naive young women living their first workplace VD, giving “giri choco” to all coworkers, but then they received the most vulgar pieces of lingerie from creepy middled aged guys, that were their managers. From dreams to nightmares.

Now, it became a old. Not fun anymore. So in the last 10 years or so, the number of people playing the game has decreased. In the 1990’s, I could see handsome young guys receiving several times their weight in chocolates, from all women aged 5 to 95, in a circle of 5 km around them, coworkers, customers, neighbors… Now, they get only a few. Maybe of better quality, and with more sincere feelings.
But the taste for chocolate is still here. So Valentine Day is still the big promotional campaign. They sell some everywhere now. The thing is most people probably buy more for themselves, or to share with family or real friends, than to give around to boring coworkers. It seems these days, the industry wants us to by tomo-choko (friendship chocolates). Anything is good to sell…

Saint-Shoppentine, say cheeeeese !