Friday, May 25, 2012

Coffee- Chocolate Profile and Pairing

I love coffee. And I love chocolate. And according to the Van Houtte coffee company and local chocolatier, Wendy Boys of Cocolico, the two go together and make a perfect pair (like wine and cheese).

Van Houtte Coffee has launched a new feature on their website for you to find the perfect coffee match for your tastebuds. Once you've got your "coffee profile", they say they can also find you your perfect chocolate match.

A Coffee Profile is the combination of a coffee's intensity and flavour characteristics. Intensity is determined by the beans' roast, and flavours are built upon the natural characteristics of the bean through factors such as the cultivation methods, orgin, and terroir (soil and weather). Why is knowing your coffee profile handy?? According to the folks at Van Houtte, becoming familiar with your palate and taste preferences helps you choose coffees and pairing best suited to you to create the best coffee and food savouring experiences.

So I took an online test to determine my coffee profile. The first question asked me to pick my favourite type of chocolate- I chose milk chocolate (which means I have appreciation for smoothness). 
The next question asked my to pick from three types of wine- I chose "a full-bodied cabernet" (which means I appreciate an intense, fuller bodied flavour). 
The third question asked me how I liked my steak cooked- I chose Medium rare (which gives an insight as to how intense I like my flavours). 
The next question asked what I prefer on my toast, jam or nut spread- I chose nut spread. 
The next question is what I would pair with cheese- crackers or grapes- I chose crackers. And the last question asked me to choose a dessert- either lemon meringue pie or chocolate mousse- I chose chocolate mousse. 
According to their test- my coffee profile is "Velvety and Woodsy." 
What does Velvety and Woodsy mean:
"These coffees feature both body and a soft, satin mouthfeel. They offer a savoury experience that puts together the comforting flavours of cocoa, spices, and lightly toasted bread. This harmonious amalgam pleases classic taste." 
Apparently, with my flavour profile, their Amazonia Fair Trade Organic- Medium Roast is the coffee for me.

And once you know what kind of coffee you prefer —  then master chocolatier and Van Houtte ambassador can suggest the perfect dessert to go with that coffee. For a velvety and woodsy, Wendy recommends a classic chocolate eclair (which Boys says is making a comeback) filled with vanilla pastry cream or a Cocolico Salted Toffee and Hazelnut Bar (drool...I'm a sucker for any kind of salted toffee or salted caramel). 

Much like wine tasting (except you'll stay sober and instead get a sweet caffeine and sugar high) this is a fun way to explore your palette and taste preferences. You can take their coffee profile test here.

Here is a recipe for Wendy's chocolate eclairs:

SERVINGS: makes 36 – 3 inch éclairs
Choux Paste:
¾ cup water
¾ cup milk
½ cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1¼ cup flour
6 eggs
Heat the water, milk, butter, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil and dump in the flour all at once. Stir the mixture until it comes away from the sides of the pan. Transfer into mixer bowl and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down often. Pipe the batter into
rows onto parchment lined sheets.
Bake at 375°F for 12-16 minutes, rotating the pan at 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and test one éclair for doneness. Break one open and if it looks hollow and dry, remove from oven.
Transfer pastries to a cooling rack to bring to room temperature.
Caramel Cream – Makes about 2½ cups
1¼ cups milk
½ vanilla bean
3 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 sheets gelatin, bloomed in ice cold water
1 cup whipping cream
In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. Stir the flour and cornstarch into the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin. Pour into a plastic wrap-lined sheet tray and immediately cover the surface with another sheet of plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days.
Whip the cream to medium peaks. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream. Fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Chocolate Glaze
1 cup 65% dark chocolate
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup glucose or corn syrup
Bring the cream and glucose to a boil. Pour over the chocolate in a small bowl.Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Stir until shiny and smooth. Set aside until needed.
To serve:
Poke two small holes into the bottom of each éclair with the tip of a knife. Fill the éclairs with a generous amount of pastry cream through the small holes. Dip the tops of the filled éclairs into the chocolate glaze. Place on a tray to allow the glaze to set.
Sprinkle with a light dusting of cocoa powder.
The éclairs can be enjoyed immediately or refrigerated in a sealed container overnight. They make a great dessert for a dinner party or a delicious afternoon treat.

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