Monthly Archives: June 2013

Day 1 of the Summer Fancy Food Show

Summer Fancy Food Show LogoThe Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show is North America’s largest specialty food event. In addition to desserts — my reason for attending — it also covers cheese, sauces, coffee & tea, snacks, spices, and a variety of other specialty foods.

This is what caught my eye (and taste buds!) on the first day of the show:
Desserts and other products with bananas – I noticed a few:
● Phin & Phebes’ Banana Whama Ice Cream
● Chocolate Banana Jam from Stonewall Kitchen
● Rodgers’ Banana Pudding Sauce
● Banana Slims Dessert Crackers from Trump Foods
● And combining bananas with another ingredient that was well represented at the Show — peanuts — PB Crave’s CoCo Bananas Peanut Butter

The pairing of white chocolate with novel ingredients:
Chamomile & Honey Organic White Chocolate Bar (from The Tea Room) and Stonewall Kitchen’s White Chocolate Fig Sauce

To be expected, there are many gluten-free offerings

Of the (many!) products I sampled, these three are real standouts:

Macadamia & Milk Chocolate Laceys

Macadamia & Milk Chocolate Laceys

● Macadamia & Milk Chocolate Laceys from Desserts on Us – thin macadamia wafers sandwiched with milk chocolate

Three Twins Ice Cream

Three Twins Ice Cream

● Three Twins’ Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream

● Bourbon Barrel Cake from Kentucky Woods – this is a brown sugar and chocolate bourbon cake with maple, caramel, and walnuts

Bourbon Barrel Cake

Bourbon Barrel Cake

I look forward to Day 2 of the Fancy Food Show!

Wonderful White Chocolate

As you can from the title of this posting, I really, really like white chocolate — its sweetness, delicate flavor, luxurious texture, and ability to pair so nicely with a wide variety of ingredients — raspberry, strawberry, lemon, lime, and chocolate.  In a restaurant or bakery, if there’s a white chocolate dessert, that’s almost always the one I’ll pick.

But not everyone is such a fan of white chocolate.  According to a recent study by market research firm, Mintel, only 8% of people surveyed indicated that white chocolate is their preferred type of chocolate.  (The majority of respondents like milk chocolate.)

I wonder if some people are confusing real white chocolate with inferior tasting “summer coating” (also known as “compound coating,” “white confection” or “vegetable fat coating”).  True white chocolate consists of cocoa fat, milk solids, milk fat, sugar (or another sweetener) and small amounts of emulsifier and whey.  The only fats allowed in white chocolate are cocoa and milk fats.  Also, real white chocolate cannot contain artificial color; that’s why it’s ivory, and not white, like summer coatings.  To add insult to injury, the vegetable fats in imitation white chocolate tends to be hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated – particularly unhealthy fats.

Li-Lac Chocolates' White Chocolate Almond Bark (surrounded by regular Chocolate Almond Bark)

Li-Lac Chocolates’ White Chocolate Almond Bark (surrounded by regular Chocolate Almond Bark)

I think white chocolate has been stigmatized – for not being cool or sophisticated enough.  Some dessert and food connoisseurs may not want to admit, even to themselves, that they like white chocolate.  But Anthony CIrone, a co-owner of Li-Lic Chocolates ( often finds that people who don’t think they like white chocolate taste it and become fans.  While white chocolate products represent a small percentage of Li-Lac’s business, its White Chocolate Almond Bark, with roasted almonds, is especially popular.Will white chocolate become more popular?

Steve Kravets, Director of Procurement for 2 beans (, a retailer and coffee bar stocking an amazing assortment of chocolates, thinks white chocolate is becoming more popular as more high-end chocolatiers are crafting white chocolate products.  Steve also notes that these high-end chocolatiers are starting to pair novel ingredients with white chocolate.

The big news in the white chocolate world is Valrhona’s Dulcey Bar.  Dulcey got its start when a Valrhona chocolatier forgot about some white chocolate simmering in a water bath.  Hours later the white chocolate had caramelized and was blond in color.  Valrhona recommends pairing Dulcey with these ingredients: caramel, coffee, hazelnut, and low-acidic fruit. 

Valrhona's Dulcey Bar

Valrhona’s Dulcey Bar

I look forward to other white chocolate products and innovations!

Broadway Baker: Keeping Family Memories Alive and Helping Others

Broadway Baker's Lemon Raspberry Shortbread Cookies

Broadway Baker’s Lemon Raspberry Shortbread Cookies

I discovered Broadway Baker ( at a Williams-Sonoma Artisan Market in Manhattan.  These Artisan Markets showcase local artisan food producers.

Jim Osorno, owner of Broadway Baker, was a singer and dancer on Broadway before devoting himself to another passion — baking.  His company bakes a variety of cookies, brownies, and cupcakes to order.  A Carrot Raisin Oat Mini-Loaf and granola round out Broadway Baker’s product line.  At the Artisan Market, I purchased the Lemon Raspberry Shortbread Cookies and they were great.

Grandma's Mix-Up Bars from Broadway Baker

Grandma’s Mix-Up Bars from Broadway Baker

Growing up, Jim was always in the kitchen, baking and cooking with his parents and grandmother.  A lot of the recipes he uses today were his mother’s and grandmother’s that he added his own twist to.  For example, the Lemon Raspberry Shortbread Cookies are based on his grandmother’s Shortbread Cookie recipe — to which he added lemon zest and raspberry preserves.  One of his favorite treats as a child was his grandmother’s “Mix-Up Bars.” And “Grandma’s Mix-Up Bars” are one of his brownie offerings now.  A homemade graham cracker crust is topped with semi-sweet chocolate, unsweetened coconut, and crushed pecans, then the bars are drizzled with a sweet cream glaze.  His “Mom’s Granola” is based on the granola that his mother prepared for him for breakfast.

Jim decided to experiment with gluten-free baking when he learned that his friend Michele was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  She’s one of his “go-to” taste testers when he tries out new recipes and he wanted her to continue enjoying Broadway Baker’s treats.  Today Broadway Baker offers a number of gluten-free products, including: Belgian Brownies, Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies, Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.  (Gluten-free items are baked in a kitchen in which wheat is present.)

He takes very seriously his desire to help others.  A portion of Broadway Baker’s sales are donated to these charities: Alzheimer’s Association – NYC Chapter, ASPCA, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids.  After Super Storm Sandy, he donated 10% of the sales of special cookie and cupcake packages to the New York Cares charity for Super Storm Sandy relief.

We’ll check back with Jim to see if there’s any Broadway Baker news.