Bonjour de Paris. I find myself in a bit of a chocolate conundrum. Perhaps it's because I bought a 7 POUND bag of Valrhona chocolate?!?! What was I thinking?! I wasn't obviously… which is usually the case when I walk in to food specialty or culinary supply stores such as G Detou or Dehillerin. G Detou (pronounced: zhay duh too)is a play on words for "j'ai de tout" which means "I have everything (or all)". Clever, non? The French can be very whimsical…

Upon entering, my head starts spinning trying to take it all in. In G Detou, one shelf is literally floor to ceiling dragées (dra-zhay), those things they give away at weddings that we all throw out the window as soon as we drive away, er I mean, place in the proper receptacle. I guess they are très (pronounced: tray; means: very) popular here… There is chocolate everywhere you look, rows of purées, bins of beans, and the most expensive prunes in the world, Pruneaux d'Agen.

Dehillerin is the ultimate cooking supply store with the downstairs simply floor to ceiling copper pots. It's a cooks' version of Nirvana. I start shaking as I approach, anticipating the cubby holes of various sized whisks, stacks of frying pans, enough rings to start a circus strung from the ceiling, and gadgets that would give even the most sophisticated of restaurateurs heart palpitations

I of course had to buy a few of these rings…just in case I felt the urge to bake a few little tarts…pigs will fly before that happens but I digress… so back to the 7 pound bag of chocolate. Completely irrational purchase but the damage is done and now I must use this behemouth bag o’love. My friend Katherine from Kentucky is having a Halloween party tonight and is insisting that we dress up. Halloween is celebrated in France only since the invasion of EuroDisney. Their Halloween Night at EuroDisney posters are plastered over half of Paris, the other half being the opening of the new Nike store on the Champs-Elysées, but that's another story…

So her French friends think it is très strange but she is insisting so if the French are dressing up, then the Americans have no excuse. I am not a fan of Halloween, more specifically creating a costume, thanks to latent childhood trauma from my mother dressing me like Pippi Longstocking one too many times. It didn’t help that I had long and very red hair that when braided around a bent hangar stuck straight out. Hello, Oprah…? I think I will don my chef's jacket and my paper toque that I saved from my internship at the George V and call it a day. Not original but about as much effort as I can muster at this point.

I also need to bring something to nibble which adds to the stress as people expect fabulous things from a "culinary professional" which means I burn water less frequently. So this brings me back to my 7 pound bag of chocolate. I spied my container of dried apricots and candied orange peels procured along with the above mentioned 7 pound bag of chocolate and thought pourquoi pas (why not)? So in honor of the orange and black, Halloween not the San Francisco Giants, I decided to melt some chocolate and dip the apricots and orange peels. And why not add some grated ginger to one batch and maybe some chili powder to another for a bit of a kick? And soak some raisins in Sauterne? And those candied ginger chunks…?! Hmmm…

A Chocolate Conundrum

• 300 grams chocolate (buy the best quality possible, mine is 70% Guanaja made by Valrhona, but not necessarily 7 pounds of it! )
• 1 package dried apricots
• 1 package candied orange peels (much easier to buy than make :-) )
• 1 tablespoon ginger root, grated
• ¼ cup candied ginger
• 1 cup raisins — soaked in Sauterne or other spirit
• 2 teaspoons chili powder

1. melt the chocolate in a double boiler (a non reactive bowl set over a simmering pot of water)

note: I used 200 grams for plain chocolate and 50 grams each for the ginger-chocolate and the chili-chocolate

2. add ginger or chili to chocolate and combine thoroughly(optional)

3. dip the fruit and set on parchment paper on a tray

4. chill to set et voila!

It's très easy and fun, great for a hostess gift especially with the upcoming holidays, and also an easy way to get kids excited to be in the kitchen. Though if you're like me, you want them out of the kitchen. Anyways… bon appetit and Happy Halloween!


G Detou
58 rue Tiquetonne
75002 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 42 36 54 67

E. Dehillerin
18 rue Coquillière
75001 Paris, France
+33 (0)1 42 36 53 13

Valrhona Chocolate

Une Énigme De Chocolat ~ A Chocolate Conundrum 29 October,2005Cucina Testa Rossa

  • wendygee

    Kim is in the process of making a wedding cake (as I type) using Valrhona chocolate! I am a chocolate cake lover and Valrhona has brought the taste to a new high–definitely different.
    Also, we have been to Dehillerin –very cool culinary shop–had to get a crepe pan while we were in Paris–so much eye candy–love the way they display their products– great for pix.
    Happy Parisian Halloween!

  • Sam

    I had a bag of those last year. Well, the 66%. I found that if you eat a little handful every day, the bag doesn’t actually last for ever as I imagined it would.

  • Cindy

    G. Detou is really a great shop !
    What you made with that chocolate is nice, I like that.
    By the way, I also like dragées 😉 perhaps coz I’m french 😀

  • cucina testa rossa

    hi wendy – isn’t it great chocolate?!?! after tasting these babies, it’s hard to go back to nestles toll house chocolate chips! i also love dehillerin because it is so old fashioned. prices are on huge print outs, they wrap everything in paper for you, the layout is cramped-unchanged since 1820-and always crowded but an experience in and of itself. i escape downstairs to the copper pots and dream of the things i could cook in them if i could afford, much less carry, those big pots home.

  • cucina testa rossa

    hi sam – if i had a handful a day, my clothes wouldn’t last long either! :-O i do have 2 or 3 pieces at night with a glass of red wine when i’m doing email…a lovely way to end the evening.

    thanks cindy! isn’t it fun? I could spend hours in there looking at all the items and it isn’t very big!

  • Olivia

    I’m practically shaking myself at the thought of a store like G Detou. Clever naming indeed!

    Your dipped fruits look fantastic! Did you get any blooming on the chocolate as they rested (if they made it that long)? I have always tempered coatings but have wondered whether it’s actually worth the effort.

    If you’re looking for uses for the rest of the bag (I bought three such bags last weekend!), it goes quite quickly when making truffles and is of course perfect for a good chocolate fix, as you and Sam noted.

  • cucina testa rossa

    hi olivia. no blooming though as you hinted they were gone that night. i did save a few for the next day and they were fine. i put them in the fridge as soon as i dipped and took them out just as i was leaving. truffles! what a great idea and a fun project. i’m teaching a class on thursday… maybe i’ll change it from fish to truffles. much more fun and aromatic!

  • briancav

    At a chocolatier I used to work at near the ocean in Los Angeles (Venice), we put our chocolates into a cool fridge right away ‘coz it was less humid. We had less bloom that way than when we left them out with dehumidifiers running in a 65 degree room.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading this “Bay Area Bites” blog, having become inspired to make cucina testa rossa’s passion fruit souffle tonight; it came out awesomely!

    I’m looking forward to dipping some fruits as well. Thanks for the inspiration and ideas!


Cucina Testa Rossa

After a decade in Silicon Valley, Laura traded her keyboard for a cutting board and moved to New York City to immerse herself in food and wine studies and restaurant operations. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute where she studied under Master Chefs Jacques Pépin, André Soltner, Alain Sailhac, and Master Sommelier Andrea Immer. While in New York, Laura cooked with some of the world’s most highly acclaimed chefs including Mario Lohninger (Danube), Morimoto, Mark Franz & Emily Luchetti (Farallon), Michael Romano (Union Square Café), Mario Batali, Marcella Hazan, Jonathan Cartwright (White Barn Inn), Martin Heierling (Bellagio), Dave Pasternack (Esca), Richard Reddington (Redd, Auberge du Soleil), and the legendary Alice Waters (Chez Panisse).

After working as the Back Kitchen Chef of Jacques Pépin’s PBS cooking show, “Fast Food, My Way”, Laura moved to France to cook her way around the country. She cooked at the Cannes Film Festival, then to the northwest corner of France, to Britanny, to cook on a lobster boat, then east to Paris to the world famous Pierre Hermé Patisserie where she made thousands of his macarons every day! Laura cooked for the fabulous Olivia de Havilland and interned at 3 Michelin Star Le Cinq under Chef Philippe Legendre and Pastry Chef Fabrice Lecleir. Laura was the executive chef and cooking instructor at the DaVinci Code chateau outside of Paris where she was on set during the filming of the movie.

In Fall 2007, Laura worked on Jacques Pepin’s most recent PBS television series as prop and food stylist. “More Fast Food, My Way” should air in the Spring of 2008. “My Keyboard for a Cutting Board ~ Adventures in a French kitchen v1.0”, Laura’s first book highlights her first three months cooking in France, was published in Summer 2006. Convivialité is her second book and will hopefully be published in the fall.

Laura now splits her time between Paris and the San Francisco Bay Area doing private chefing, teaching cooking classes and leading market tours when in Paris. Bon Appetit!

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