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Top 10: World’s Best Chocolate Shops

Master Chocolatier

Several European countries are known for their fabulous chocolate making. The world hosts thousands of exceptional chocolatiers, in some unexpected places. Top chocolatiers generally work with the couverture, first-rate chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa butter to create their creations, versus fresh cocoa beans, although an increasing number now experiment with being to bar. Some makers even grow their own cocoa beans. Direct contact between growers and makers is the best-case scenario for sustainable, or at least fair trade, chocolate. Virtually every country on the planet produces terrific chocolate, so look for the local flavor when traveling. Just be sure to read the labels, if sugar is listed as the main ingredient, quickly put it down and find a bar in which Cocoa shines.

Paul A. Young, London, England
Award winning author and master chocolatier Paul A Young deserves the accolades he receives for his creativity and master with all things chocolate. Walk into his tiny Camden Passage original chocolate shop and inhale the intoxicating aroma of fresh chocolate being made on site. Young is one of those British chocolatiers who launch the chocolate revolution in London 15 years ago, casting aside the overly sweet British chocolate of old for the fresh and innovative chocolate offerings that you will now find in the top notch chocolatier's in the capital city. Try the dark chocolate sea salt caramel pecan brownies, guaranteed to seduce every unsuspecting chocolate lover.

Cocoa Butter

Que Bo! Mexico City, Mexico
Traditional Mexican flavors come alive for popular chef and TV personality José Ramon Castillo, a leader in the evolution of Mexican chocolate. This company only uses organic ingredients sourced from local producers, vibrant color truffles matching their star ingredients such as orange, mango, chili or bright pink with guava. The massive, dipped confit fig soaked in molasses, cinnamon, and sugar can be enjoyed in this hacienda style courtyard and central Mexico City.

Soma chocolate maker, Canada
Masters at everything they do, these Toronto chocolate experts present pure chocolate bars made with beans from around the world, taste tempting chocolate confections and truffles like works of art. The Douglas fir truffles are symbolic of the Canadian coniferous icon, blending free cocoa from the Dominican Republic and natural oils from the for trees to give the experience of eating chocolate in the middle of a pine forest. They also highlight their expertise in frozen confections like whiskey and chocolate gelato.

Kakao Tree

Sprungli, Zurich, Switzerland
With colorful eye-popping displays of sumptuous chocolate truffles and confections, this company offers the traditional high-end Swiss chocolate experience. This lecture coffee shop has opened its doors first in 1836, only later to build a reputation on it significant macaroni the Luxemburgerli. Chocolate covered nuts and hot chocolate mixes are offered to take home, in addition to the ultimate grand cru truffles that would send anyone’s eyes rolling back in delight. Rub shoulders with the city's well to do while enjoying a coffee and chocolate cake in the flagship shop of its second floor café in Zürich.

Cicada, New South Wales, Australia
This Australian being to bar chocolate maker uses only the best single origin cacao beans. Their expertise marries the notes of red fruit with undertones of sweet caramel that are both natural to the cacao. A little added cocoa butter to increase the smooth factor, a touch of raw sugar, and the enticing magic of the Madagascan Bourbon vanilla bean make the best chocolate bar you could possibly find. Their 73% bar, sourced from a plantation in northern Madagascar, is ultimate bliss in the form of a chocolate bar. They plan to open a bigger and better factory shop soon.

Spagnvola, United States
The husband and wife owners Eric and Crisoire Reid oversee the entire chocolate process from farm to store, delivering unadulterated chocolate perfection. First they grow cacao at their farm perched on the mountain slopes in their homeland of the Dominican Republic. The cacao pods are handpicked, then roasted and refined at their Gaithersburg, Maryland, factory. Take the free tour to learn about the origins of their chocolate and watch the kitchens magic. The award-winning 70% of 80% pure chocolate bars paint the clearest picture quality. Don't miss the box sets of all of oil truffles or caramel bonbons.

Chocolate Hazelnut Bars

Roselen Chocolatier, Lima, Peru
Owner and chocolatier Giorgio Demarini took the skills he learned as a graphic designer and applied his artistic talent to something sweeter. Now he makes chocolates with his mother, hand painting playful designs to turn into delectable, unique masterpieces. His jungle style flavor blends, like passion fruit lemongrass or lychee with geranium petals, can be found nowhere else. Try to catch a tasting class or try a handcrafted Peruvian chocolate with various local libations. If timing isn't right, pick up the perfect gift box with 16 carefully selected bonbons, a wineglass and a small bottle of Pisco Porton.

Jouvay, Grenada, West Indies
Chocolate doesn't get any fresher then when perfected by the Granada Cocoa Farmers Cooperative based at the rule Diamond Chocolate Factory. The idea was to partner with local farmers working right in the ecosystem to grow the best quality beans. While visiting the 18th-century factory inside a converted rum distillery built by French monks, you can see the cocoa beans drying under the Caribbean sun. Growers employ century-old French tradition of walking the beans, turning them gently by walking over the shells, which are later roasted and removed. Inside the small tasting room, sample each chocolate bar flavor, such as ginger and cocoa nibs.

De bonds, Pisa Italy
If you like chocolate bark covered with fresh nuts and fruits, you will go nuts for the chocolate of Paul de bonds. He was born in Holland and married an Italian Cecilia. The couple makes international chocolate with flair. Try their lemon lime 64% barmaid from Madagascar's finest cacao. Although one can find several outstanding chocolate makers in Tuscany he proves himself noteworthy for a scientific approach to chocolate, offering various percentages of the same cocoa in a series of bars that lets you find just the right nuances for your chocolate preferences.

Ki’Xocolatl, Merida, Mexico
Ki’Xocolatl, means rich delicious chocolate in the Mayan Aztec languages, and lives up to its name. Belgian owners collaborated with locals to cultivate beans from the heart of the Yucatán Peninsula using ancient techniques. Then artisanal chocolate meets Maya ingredients like baked corn chips, peppers, and almonds, flavored with homegrown spices. This company presents a unique lineup of cocoa-based spa products, including chocolate shampoo, lotions and soap, all highlighting the natural moisturizing and detoxifying qualities of cacao beans. Save time to sip traditional Mexican hot chocolate made from organic cocoa paste, natural cinnamon, and cane sugar in the art filled Merida Café.

Baking Soda

Baking SodaAsk the Test Kitchen ; Baking Soda or Baking PowderQ:What are the differences between baking soda and baking powder? Why does one use one in some recipes and the other in others?A : Both are used as leaveners. But the difference is how they are activated. A small amount of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate acts as a levener and it goes a long way because it is stronger than baking powder. Baking soda needs an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk yogurt or sour cream to make it work so that things will rise. The acidic ingredient neutralizes the baking soda so you don't taste a metallic aftertaste in the baked good. But more baking soda doesn't mean more rise. If you use too much it will also leave an aftertaste. The difference between the two is baking powder already contains the acidic component usually cream of Tartar. It also includes baking soda and cornstarch to prevent clumping. Baking powder is typically used in recipes that don't have an acidic ingredient.When baking soda comes in contact with the acidic ingredient it forms carbon dioxide gas. Baking soda unlike baking powder, doesn't require heat to make it react. This is why many recipes call for mixing dry ingredients such as flour, baking powder and salt together before adding the liquids. All those gases form immediately and the product must be baked right away or the gases dissipate and lose the leavening power. Remember honey, molasses, brown sugar, fruit juices and cocoa have an acidic component. Baking soda not only makes cakes and breads rise, it helps tenderize baked goods and has a Browning effect. Because baking soda has that Browning affect is why it is used in cookie and cake batters. You can also use a small amount of baking soda in cookies so they will have a crisp texture. The two are also used together when the batter may have enough to neutralize the acidic component of the recipe but not enough to give it some lift.Today most baking powders are labeled double acting. This means that some of the gases released when cold but needs heat to complete the reaction process. Because it reacts when it's cold you can mix your cake batter and let it sit for a bitand the remaining gases will form when baked. Keep in mind that white powders have a shelf life. There are expiration dates on the package and if one is expired your baked good can fail. The two white powders are also completely interchangeable. The basic formula is use baking soda in place of baking powders long as there is an acidic ingredient in the recipe. Use 1 teaspoon baking powder per cup of flour or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda per cup of flour. If the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon baking powder use 1/4 teaspoon baking soda provided there is an acidic ingredient.

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