Do you love chocolate? Then you’ll love the new book by Susie Norris called Chocolate Bliss.
Chocolate Around the World
Chocolate has been a foodie fascination for thousands of years and still is today. Here’s some great places for your next chocolate-inspired destination:
- Bruges, Belgium: It is no surprise that Belgium comes tops in my list for tasty chocolate destinations – in the tiny town of Bruges, there isn’t much else beyond chocolate and beer, a pretty fantastic combination. Look past the overly-touristic façade and experience the flavours that Belgian Chocolate has to offer. The Old Chocolate house is a favourite, for good reason. Just check it out.
- Switzerland: Everyone knows the Swiss know how to do chocolate; just look at the success of brands like Lindt and Nestle for proof. If you’re in the country, check out one of the most popular chocolate factory tours in all of Europe at Maison Callier in Broc, one of the first chocolate factories in the country.
- Mexico: Mexico has deep roots in the history of chocolate, so it’s no surprise that you’ll find many tourism options in this region, especially around Oxaca. Be sure to check with our travel concierge for the best options.
- Paris, France: Paris is the world’s culinary capital, and the French have not discounted chocolate out of the equation. In most cafes you’ll find steaming mugs of hot chocolate on offer, but I’d suggest you hit a chocolatier instead. La Maison du Chocolat (225, rue du Faubourg St. Honoré) and Fauchon (24-26 Place de la Madeleine) are two gastronomic icons that are guaranteed to please.
- America: The US isn’t going to let Europe and Central America rest on their historic laurels. The big trend here is the proliferation of high quality bean to bar chocolatiers popping up throughout the country.
- Grenada: What’s just the thing go with sunny Caribbean skies and gorgeous beaches? Chocolate! The Grenada Chocolate Company makes chocolate from start-to-finish and it’s a huge hit with locals and visitors; I suspect you have to eat it fast or it’ll melt!
- Melbourne, Australia: My love and lust for Melbourne does not affect this chocolatey recommendation! Melbourne has a very strong food and drink scene and cafe culture, so it’s no surprise that you can find chocolate tourism here.
- London, England: As a shopper’s paradise, London didn’t forget the chocoholics. The best shops are Demarquette in Chelsea or the renowned Harrod’s in Knightsbridge.
If all that weren’t enough, Regent even offers a chocolate cruise! Talk about straight out of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.
A Word from the Author
I wanted to get Susie’s perspective on finding your chocolate bliss; here’s what she had to say when we had a chance to catch up:
Have you been on any chocolate-related travel tours that you’ve done that are absolutely bliss?
My favorite tour was of a factory in the chocolate growing region of Tabasco, mexico where we not only got to see chocolate made from local beans, but we also got to buy a block of solid chocolate in the shape of an olmec god.
What countries have your favourite chocolates? Is it Switzerland or Belgium ?
Belgium for me, but it’s a close race!!
What part of the book brings back the most poignant chocolate memories or is your favourite?
Here’s a recipe for new world pumpkin spice cake with chocolate glaze that takes its inspiration from the fruits of chocolates homeland: mexico. While cacao trees, from which chocolate is made, are native to the amazon basin, they were first cultivated as a crop, a beverage and a food in mesoamerica, particularily southern mexico. Pumpkin, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla are all from this amazing region.
New World Pumpkin Spice Cake
By Susie Norris
This moist cake combines the fruits, nuts, and spices from the New World that the
Spanish conquistadores discovered in 1508. Chocolate was part of this Mesoamerican
tableau. Brown sugar and ginger arrived much later, but this cake pays homage to the
riches of the original jungles and river valleys. Add more spices like chile and ground pumpkin seeds to make the cake extra spicy. Makes 1 (9-inch) bundt cake
For the Cake:
- 2 cups cake flour
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 scant teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups cooked pumpkin puree or 1 (15-ounce) can
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 1/2 cup cocoa nibs
- 1 cup pecans, broken into small pieces
For the Glaze:
- 8 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350F. Generously grease a standard Bundt cake pan with oil or butter, then dust flour on the greased inside of the pan. Fluted Bundt pans, especially,
need a lot of grease for the cake to release.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and brown sugar with a whisk until light and fluffy. Add the vegetable oil and pumpkin puree and stir until smooth. Add half of the flour mixture and mix until it is absorbed. Then add the rest of the flour mixture followed by the vanilla, rum, cocoa nibs, and pecans. Switch to a rubber spatula to stir the mixture until smooth. Use the rubber spatula to scoop the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs, not batter. Allow the cake to cool in the pan to room temperature before inverting in onto a wire rack.
To make the glaze, combine the chocolate, butter, milk, corn syrup, and salt in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of simmering water over medium heat and stir as the ingredients melt together. Pour the glaze over the cake after the cake has cooled to room temperature. You’ll have extra glaze left over, which you can pour into the center of the cake or save to serve with plated slices.
Chocolate bar photo by Everjean, Cake by Susie Norris.