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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

No! Not pistachios, too!

Really Salmonella? First peanut butter and now pistachios? This is just beyond the pale. Go back to raw chicken and leave my nuts alone!

But seriously everybody - no pistachio candy till I figure out what's been affected. In the spring collection, I'll replace the pistachio creams with sea salt caramels (unless you want something else - if you do, just tell me in the comments). In the Bunny Bark, the milk chocolate bunny will be rolling out with figs only (again, if you'd like another fruit or nut, tell me and I'll make it happen).

I'm sorry for the inconvenience, this is beginning to get tedious!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Springtime is here!

I often get requests for chocolate bunnies, but aside from the cuteness and the thrill of biting off ears, I didn't know how to make them cool enough for LUCA. But, the creativity must be flowing because this year, I give you...Bunny Bark!

Studded with dried fruit, nuts, and toffee, these bun-buns give you something to nibble on besides chocolate. Try dark chocolate with apricots and almonds or milk chocolate with figs and pistachios. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, get a mixed bar - half milk, half dark with pumpkin seed toffee.

Also new for spring, Rhubarb Honey Caramels, Lemon Buttercreams, Pistachio Creams and Agave-Pecan Nougat. The Agave-Pecan Nougat blends toasted, ground pecans with an extra kick of agave nectar, 1800 Reposado tequila (just a touch), and the barest mention of smoked sea salt. The Pistachio Cream has the rich, buttery flavor of freshly roasted pistachios with sweet, homemade fondant. The Rhubarb Honey Caramel is springtime in a caramel - tart pink rhubarb is slowly cooked with honey and finished with butter and cream. And the Lemon Buttercream is pure, lemon meringue pie heaven. I took just-squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and decadent creamery butter and put it all in a dark chocolate shell.

You know what to do! Order early and often for the answer to your springtime cravings!

Friday, March 6, 2009

What happened to February?

It was a whirlwind, and to all of you who bought LUCA for your Valentine, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! It was a great season for local chocolate and small producers, and I hope you liked what you tried and I'll be seeing more of all of you.

This post will be quite a mishmash, I'm still trying to get my thoughts in order. First off, did you see my chocolate covered bacon in the News and Observer? Here's the bit about me...

Leslie Cooper, 26, is a graduate of the French Culinary Institute who decided to return to Franklinville, a small town east of Asheboro, to start Luca Chocolate. She makes the chocolate-covered bacon, as well as truffles and a chocolate-dipped sea salt caramel.

Her handyman father built her commercial kitchen on the second floor of his workshop on the family's 18-acre farm. They scrounged restaurant auctions and Craigslist for a freezer, a double sink and a microwave. An aunt donated a double oven from a house she is renovating. Cooper's mother is the company's unofficial "chief marketing officer" because she is constantly chatting up her daughter's business.

"This is my baby," Cooper says, "but my whole family supports me."

Nice, yeah?

Second, I hope that you'll stop by Courtyard Coffee when you're in Siler City. It's a darling little shop in downtown Siler City (which is experiencing it's own artistic renaissance), and they've got a great courtyard that's going to be awesome for taking in the cool spring and early summer evenings.

Spring flavors are coming soon, as are a few special Easter themed offerings. I've got visions of spring flowers and buzzing bees and it's just a matter of turning that vision into a buttercream or a caramel or a truffle or something covered in chocolate. Sometimes I feel like all the good ideas are going to dissolve right back into my brain, because they all want out at the same time. Let's cross our fingers and hope that they'll all come out in an orderly fashion.

Finally, I couldn't make a post without mentioning this lovely new product that's come to my attention -McNulty's 7 Fruit Chutney. The owner of this cottage industry contacted me because we share space on Foodzie, and she sent me a sample. Oh man. If I could find a way to make this work with chocolate, I would. It's got this sweet, savory, spicy flavor that takes your chicken sandwich to this whole new level. If you like Indian food, you'll love it, and if you're unsure about Indian flavors, you'll probably still love it. It's like the chutney your grandmother would have made if she emigrated to a small NC town from Delhi. I love it (did you get that yet?) and I'm guarding the rest of my jar jealously.