Monday, August 19, 2013

South American Deliciousness: Homemade Alfajores dipped in Kallari Chocolate

I get contacted on a semi-regular basis by companies or individuals who want me to share their products with you on this blog. As a rule, I tell most almost all of them, "Thanks, but no thanks." Really, I'm pretty stingy. Unless I have discovered a product first, it generally feels fake to me to share a product on my blog. I want my reviews to be authentic, and I think we all get advertised to enough. There need to be some safe spaces with authentic product recommendations on the internet. You know what I'm sayin'?

So about that. . . I was contacted several weeks ago by a representative of Kallari chocolate. My initial reaction was to just write a quick reply - "No, thanks!" but as I read more about the product as well as this New York Times article, I thought this was one product that - if for no other reason than the ethical processing of it - deserved a blog post from me. I (happily) accepted a free sample of chocolate so that I could reasonably review its taste for you all here.
Image credit: Kallari
Here's a quick summary of why I think you readers might like this chocolate, from Kallari:
"Fresh and Ethical Sourcing – We are cacao growers that make gourmet chocolate. Other chocolatiers pay a living wage – we own our chocolate and pay ourselves an income higher than the minimum wage in Ecuador for our work in bio-diverse cacao groves.

Rich Flavor with no Bitterness – The fresh taste of the cacao beans remains in the chocolate, unlike chocolate processed thousands of miles from the source. Kallari uses organic heirloom cacao, gourmet recipes (no emulsifiers, artificial flavors and half the sugar), and minimal processing to provide a chocolate experience unique from other chocolate chips for baking.

Rainforest Conservation and Cultural Preservation – We retain most of our farms in primary and secondary rainforest, with an average of 1.5 acres of cacao planted per family, less than 2% of our total territory. This allows us to earn a living and provide for our families without sacrificing natural resources or forgetting our cultural traditions."

After my sample arrived in the mail, I started to look through the recipes on Kallari's website and elsewhere. I considered making a Sachertorte (a Viennese culinary delight served in the Sacher Hotel across from the Opera house.) But, I settled on using my chocolate samples to make a South American treat to match the chocolate from Ecuador: Alfajores.

Homemade Alfajores
I used this recipe on Kallari's website as a base. I don't know if there is a mistake on their site, but my dough definitely needed flour to look like the dough in the pictures! So after looking at a couple more Alfajor recipes online, I added same parts cornstarch and all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) to the dough until it held together in a lightly sticky ball. Lincoln enjoyed the process, and the dough:

We rolled out the dough , and cut them into cookie rounds:

And baked them at 300*F on a greased cookie sheet for about 20 minutes (they got lightly golden brown on the bottoms of the cookies.)

Once the cookies were cool, I spread Dulce de Leche in between them and rolled them in coconut. While I worked on this, I used my steamer insert in my pot, and a glass bowl as a double boiler to melt my 70% and 75% Kallari chocolate bars together:

Melting the Kallari chocolate in my makeshift double boiler.
 The chocolate melted very evenly and beautifully.

Then - dippin' time!!

I dipped my delicious, silky shortbread/sugar cookie-like creations in the rich chocolate, and added a touch more coconut around the chocolate dipped edges. Then I let the chocolate harden on the cookies by putting them in the fridge. (Note: Learn from my mistake - use wax paper while the cookies dry! :))

The Kallari chocolate was perfect for dipping. The color and taste was rich and even - no dry white streaks you see in cheap chocolate as it hardens. Even though the chocolate was quite dark, it really wasn't bitter, and it certainly wasn't waxy like the Nestle chocolate chips we usually use. It reminded me of some of the fine chocolate I had tasted on my study abroad in Austria. This chocolate is high quality, delicious stuff. I still have one more bar. I'm saving it for our 5th anniversary that is coming up on Thursday for chocolate and crushed-almond dipped strawberries! I'm drooling just thinking about them.

The tagline on the chocolate bars is "Sustainable Pleasure for Palate and Planet." Now that I have read about AND tried this chocolate for myself, I couldn't agree more.

And the Alfajores? Fabulous. Even better the second and third days because the Dulce de Leche soaked into the cookies, so they became more caramely and chewy. Soo yummy! I'll definitely make these again. Maybe for an all out Ecuador-themed family culture night?

If you want to learn more about Kallari, you can check out their website or their facebook page. They are running a kickstarter campaign to be able to produce chipped chocolate for baking. You can read more about that here.

Please Note, in case you didn't catch it: I was provided 70%, 75% and 85% chocolate bars to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are honest and my own.

What's your favorite treat to make with high quality chocolate? 
(Future recipes to try with Kallari chocolate!!) :)

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