Central American Chocolate Tour – Part 1: ChocoTalk

ChocoTalkBanner4Central America Chocolate Tour – Part 1
By Bernhard Mueller, Master Chocolatier at Christy’s Gourmet Gifts

Do you follow us on Facebook? If so, you probably would have noticed the posts about my chocolate adventure to Central America; Costa Rica to be specific.

Well, I’m back, and I’m ready to share my new-found chocolate knowledge with you wonderful ChocoTalk blog readers!

I arrived in San Jose, Costa Rica on a Thursday.  It was 25 degrees C and breezy.  I had a lovely visit with my brother Gerhard who travels to Costa Rica often.  He showed me the sights of San Jose including the markets and local chocolate shops.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

I must say I was most impressed with all the food and not just the chocolate.  Fresh fruit, veggies and eggs the colour of sunshine…Wow! I could get used to that.  I loved walking the farmers market. I wanted to buy everything! I was most interested in a fruit called soursop.  The locals claim this fruit has cancer curing properties. I am not sure if this is true, but I really did enjoy its sour yet subtly sweet flavour…a must try for anyone planning on visiting this region.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's Gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

After my brief visit with my brother I headed out on a long venture to the other side of Costa Rica on the Carribean Coast just north of the Panama border.  I was told I must rent a 4×4 in order to successfully arrive where I was headed and wow were they right!  I arrived at approximately 2:30 in Puerto Viejo at my beautiful destination the Mango Walk cacao farm.

The beautiful sounds of exotic birds greeted me as I walked the path to start my chocolate tour with the chocolate maker from Caribeans, Paul Johnson.  This is Paul on the right. He is originally from Minnesota and moved to Costa Rica 12 years ago where he learned the art of chocolate making from bean to bar.  I can’t wait to tell you more about this guy…. But that will come soon.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1

As part of my introduction to the Caribeans chocolate farm we enjoyed a chocolate tasting experience  perched on top of a hill overlooking the jungle canopy with the Caribbean coast off in the distance.  This view was by far one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen in my life!  The sounds of jungle birds, howler monkeys and crashing waves contributed the overall experience.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

It was here in the tasting lounge I felt my chocolate  journey truly began.  I paired delicious single plantation chocolate with spices like cayenne pepper, rosemary, mint, garlic, anise, sea salt and more.   The chocolate was dark, bold and had fruit undertones.  My personal favourite was the cayenne pepper with sea salt combination.

Tasting Pairing Evening

After my tasting experience, I checked into my cabin.  I felt like I was entering the movie Jurassic Park!  My cabin was nestled in the jungle forest….It was beautiful.  All that beauty did come at a cost though…… because when you stay in the jungle, you get the jungle!  I am not going to lie, I was glad there was a cage around my cabin most nights.  Enjoy these pictures of my cabin and the critters that lived with me for 7 days.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's Gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

Some photos courtesy of www.themangowalk.com

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's Gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

Some photos courtesy of www.themangowalk.com

Well that’s all for now.  My cup of Costa Rica coffee and delicious dark chocolate awaits.

In my next blog I will tell you all about the bean to bar experience.  Please stay tuned for more chocolate adventures.

ChocoTalk | South America Chocolate Tour | Part 1 | Christy's gourmet Gifts in Burlington Ontario

You can meet the Chocolatier face-to-face at our Tasting Day on Saturday April 9thth from 2pm to 4pm. Bernhard will be offering free samples of Costa Rican bean-to-bar chocolate. Come by 3530 Mainway in Burlington to try it! Taste the difference quality makes!

Fall Product Launch

Happy First Day of Autumn!

Leaves are falling, the kids are back to school and the smell of Pumpkin Spice lingers in the air. We don’t know about you, but our favourite thing about Autumn arriving is that it means another season of new product launches!

In addition to our ever popular Christy’s Crunch, we have added a plethora of new seasonal products like:

Pumpkin Spice Belgian Hot Chocolate

Just stir one of our Belgian Milk Chocolate spoons into a cup of steamed milk and you’re ready to enjoy the flavours of Fall!

Pumpkin Spice Belgian Hot Chocolate - Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Burlington, Ontario

Pumpkin Spice Brittle with Pepitas

This thin brittle with a salty sweet taste has pepitas throughout and is already a favourite among customers!

Pumpkin Spice Brittle - Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Burlington, Ontario

Apple and Caramel Dip

Warm the caramel dip, or keep it at room temperature – no matter how you serve this delicious dip, it makes an awesome snack with a fresh seasonal apple!

Caramel Apple Dip - Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Burlington, Ontario

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Dip with an Apple

Caramel Dip with a Pumpkin Spice twist! This delicious seasonal snack is ready to enjoy, no difficult prep work required.

Pumpkin Spice Caramel Dip with Apple - Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Burlington, Ontario

Oak Leaf Sugar Cookie (By special order only)

Our Chocolate-dipped Vanilla Sugar Cookies make great favours for your Fall events!

Oak Leaf Cookie - Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Burlington, Ontario

Stop by the shop at 3530 Mainway or give us a call at 905-336-9080 to try some of our new products!

What Fall-themed products would you like to see at Christy’s Gourmet Gifts? Let us know in the comments below! 

Our Story

As a small, family-run business, Christy’s Gourmet Gifts prides itself on creating delectable sweets that remind you of home. All of their products are lovingly created from old family recipes using the finest Belgian chocolate and pure butter. The company was first started in 2002 by Christy who turned her life-long passion for baking into a business. Not only did she love baking, Christy loved how “giving” a sweet treat to others would bring them joy and happiness.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Chocolate in Burlington, Ontario | Family Picture

This combination of baking and giving is what makes Christy’s Gourmet Gifts unique from other local bake shops.

In 2010, joined by her husband Bernie and Mother Diane, Christy opened Burlington Ontario’s first bakery specializing in gourmet gifts.

Their mission is simple; create gourmet gifts that will bring joy and happiness to all.

There is always something exciting going on at Christy’s Gourmet Gifts. Whether it is trade shows (such as the One of a Kind Show), dance recitals, charity events or just the buzz around the holidays, the bake shop is constantly a flurry of activity. New recipes are always being developed, the aroma of fresh baked Christy’s Crunch fills the air and Bernie is constantly in the kitchen baking sweet treats. Despite all the chaos, there is no place the family would rather be!

What sweet times await you at Christy’s Gourmet Gifts! The retail shop is elegantly decorated by Christy for each season – a feast for the eyes (as well as the nose and mouth). A wide range of chocolate gifts can be found including: Their famous chocolate toffee butter crunch, chocolate-dipped cookies, retro Sponge Toffee candy, beer brittles, wine toffees, marshmallows and more. Samples are always available.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Chocolate in Burlington, Ontario | Chocolate Toffee Butter Crunch

Christy’s Crunch: Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate Cranberry, Dark Chocolate

From the renowned Christy’s Crunch to gourmet cookie bouquets, Christy’s sweets make perfect gifts for any corporate or personal needs.

Christy’s Gourmet Gifts is a real family affair! Each family member plays their part, however small. Christy’s skill set lies in the creation of anything new. She and Bernie work together to invent new products, while she comes up with new and exciting ways to beautify and market the business. Bernie, a trained chocolatier, does all the baking in the shop. (It’s a good thing, too! The copper kettle used to handcraft the toffees and brittles weights about 30 pounds and holds up to 60 pounds of candy. They need Bernie’s muscles!) Christy’s mom, Diane, is the organizer and shares her keen style sense to perfect Christy’s Gourmet Gifts’ packaging; No one can tie a bow better than Diane! Christy’s father, Brian, helps build all of Christy’s trade show booths (What a feat! Christy comes up with some wild design ideas). Christy’s daughters, Jordy and Aydann, are all to happy to be put to work as taste testers. Christy attributes much of her success to her 98 year old Grandmother who she fondly calls Nanny. Nanny was also the creator of the family’s now famous Christy’s Crunch. Today the Crunch is the most popular product at Christy’s.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Toffee Pouring | Sweets in Burlington, Ontario

Bernie pouring toffee from the Copper Kettle

A lot of work has gone into making Christy’s Gourmet Gifts what it is today. They are proud of their accomplishments and more importantly of each other.

Check out Christy’s great gift ideas at www.christysgourmetgifts.com

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“A family that bakes together, stays together.”

Recipe: Chocolate Toffee Butterscotch Parfait

Christys Gourmet Gifts | Burlington, Ontario | Chocolate Toffee Butterscotch ParfaitWe’re not sure where Summer went this year…but it’s clear that Fall is here! When Fall arrives, it brings with it: Pumpkin Spice themed everything, harvest festivals and big, cozy sweaters. Our personal favourite is the big, cozy sweaters…because it means we get to eat more dessert! ;)

At Christy’s Gourmet Gifts, we always have oodles of Chocolate Crunch on-hand….so it was super easy to whip these up for a quick dessert.

Ingredients

  • 1 package Dark Chocolate Christy’s Crunch (or preferred Christy’s Crunch of choice)
  • 1 package ‘Jello’ Butterscotch (or Pumpkin Spice if you prefer a more Fall flair) Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup Cool Whip

Directions

  1. Get small glass jars (or mason jars for to-go parfaits).
  2. Put 1 cup of Cool Whip into a medium size bowl.
  3. Gradually add package of Butterscotch Instant Pudding and stir well.
  4. Put the Cool Whip mixture in the fridge to cool slightly.
  5. Break up Dark Chocolate Toffee Biscuit (Christy’s Crunch) into small pieces. You can use a food processor if you like.
  6. Take your glass jars. Fill each jar with one layer of Butterscotch/Cool Whip Mixture (as thin or as thick as you’d like).
  7. Top the Cool Whip mix with Christy’s Crunch crumbs.
  8. Top Christy’s Crunch crumbs with Cool Whip and so on until you have filled to the top.
  9. Place finished parfaits in the fridge until it’s time to consume!
  10. Enjoy!

Christys Gourmet Gifts | Burlington, Ontario | Chocolate Toffee Butterscotch Parfait

REPOST from Small Batch Magazine – Profile: Bernhard Mueller, Chocolatier

Repost from Karina Sinclair at Small Batch Magazine

August 11, 2014

Life By Chocolate

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Chocolate in Burlington, Ontario | Profile on our Chocolatier, Bernhard MuellerIf your job involved working with chocolate all day, can it really be considered work? What if a whole day goes by and you realize at 9 pm you haven’t stopped since breakfast? Bernhard Mueller often finds himself in this very situation, but to him, it’s just good old fashioned work ethic fueled by passion for chocolate.

Raise your hand if you wished YOUR job was fueled by chocolate. Ok, put your hands back down now…you’re all blocking out the sun.

Bernie is the chocolatier behind Christy’s Gourmet Gifts…..cont’d.

Read more at Small Batch Magazine‘s website, here: http://www.smallbatchmagazine.com/2014/08/profile-christys-gourmet-gifts-chocolatier/

Chocolate Tempering | Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Burlington, Ontario | Hiring

 

Let Us Make Your Day Extra Sweet!

Valentine’s Day is coming up quickly and Christy’s Gourmet has you covered in the gifts department.  Let us help you make the event extra sweet for your special someone with some of the following gifts:

Valentine’s Themed Belgian Chocolate Puddle:

Solid Belgian milk chocolate and decorated with a marshmallow heart candy, cinnamon heart candies and Belgian dark chocolate drizzle.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Valentines Product Feature Pic 1 | Burlington, OntarioValentine’s Themed Milk Chocolate Christy’s Crunch:

Belgian Milk Chocolate combined with almonds, pure butter toffee and a light cookie crunch. Packaged beautifully and ready to give to your Valentine!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Valentines Product Feature Pic 2 | Burlington, OntarioBelgian Chocolate Hearts:

Heart-shaped Solid Belgian Chocolate and Vanilla Sugar Cookies dipped in Belgian chocolate are available at our shop and decorated in various ways. There’s a product to suit everyone’s taste!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Valentines Product Feature Pic 3 | Burlington, OntarioValentine’s Day Gift Packages:

This beautiful gift comes with 600 grams of our decadent Christy’s Crunch in 3 flavours, including milk chocolate, white chocolate with cranberries and dark chocolate plus a Valentine’s themed Belgian chocolate puddle.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Valentines Product Feature Pic 4 | Burlington, OntarioThese products and more are available online or at our shop at 3530 Mainway in Burlington! Please come visit us and make an impression with your sweetheart.

TERRA @ Home Farmer’s Market Feature

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Tropical Plants Market 2TERRA is becoming a well-known name in the GTA, and for good reason! With four locations spanning across Burlington, Waterdown, Vaughan and Milton – they have expanded to include not only their greenhouses, but also a TV Show and a Farmer’s Market.

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Christy's BoothWe are so pleased to be a part of the Terra @ Home Market, here’s a walk-through of what you can expect if you choose to visit:

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | SpringTimeRomancing the Spoon: Romancing the Spoon features gorgeous jewellery (bracelets, rings and earrings) made from silver-plated flatware…many of them vintage. What a perfect gift for the upcoming Valentine’s Day!

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Romancing the SpoonTerra Teas: Terra Teas (no relation to TERRA greenhouses) offers high-quality loose leaf teas, all certified organic. They proudly serve teas with no pesticides or chemicals, no GMOs and no artificial ingredients. Not to mention they are all delicious! If you’re a fan of tea, bagged or loose, this is one vendor you will want to check out.

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Terra TeasKettle Corn Boss: Kettle Corn Boss is not only serving their ‘Milton Famous’ Kettle Corn, they have many more exciting products available at the market as well such as: apple pie caramel corn, maple caramel corn and gingerbread caramel corn, handmade asparagus corn chips, asparagus salsa, and sunflower kettle potato chips. Wow!

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Kettle Corn BossCake + Loaf Bakery: Cake + Loaf is a ‘from scratch’ neighborhood bakery with an emphasis on organic, fair trade and local ingredients. Cake & Loaf is a great choice for picking up your bread for the week! (And most likely a much more healthy choice than your local grocery store!)

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Cake and LoafRotating food trucks each week! This weekend you can expect to see: The Dirty South, The Salted Pig Ltd., and Mikes Dog House.

And lots more!

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Tropical PlantsThe Market is also themed in a Tropical decor, so if you need a break from Old Man Winter – it’s a great place to be. Not to mention Christy’s Gourmet will have lots of samples available for the tasting. Yum!

Terra at Home Market | Milton | Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Terra ShowPlease, stop by and say hi!

Visit the TERRA @ Home Market at:

Milton TERRA 

12800 Britannia Road    

Milton, ON

S. W. corner of Britannia at Trafalgar

Easiest Ice Cream Cake

Entertaining is fun but sometimes the party preparation can be exhausting!

No worries – we are here to help with your party dessert preparations. We came up with this quick and super easy ice cream cake which is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It’s literally the easiest cake you will ever make! Now you can spend more time socializing and less time slaving in the kitchen!Ice Cream Cake – Picture 1 Edit – Christy’s Gourmet Gifts

Check out the how-to below:

What you will need:

  • 1 Ice Cream Brick (I used 2 for a lot of visitors)
  • Christy’s Crunch “Ice Cream Topping” – $5 in-store
  • Chocolate Syrup

Ice Cream Cake - Picture 2 - Christy's Gourmet GiftsHow To:

  • Remove ice cream brick from paper wrapping and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Pour Christy’s Crunch crumbs all over cake covering top and sides. This can get quite messy (the cookie tray will catch your crumbs).
  • Use a spatula and your hands to carefully lift the ice cream block off of the cookie tray and place onto a nice serving tray.
  • Drizzle with chocolate syrup.
  • Serve and enjoy. :)

Ice Cream Cake - Picture 3 - Christy's Gourmet Gifts

Breakfasts in September – Quick & Easy Recipe

With the return of September, many Moms and Dads are beginning to think about quick and easy breakfasts to make for the kids. One of our favourite speedy and simple breakfasts is definitely oatmeal. As a special back-to-school treat, we decided to “spice up” our oatmeal with a special topper of Christy’s Crunch! We crumbled White Chocolate Cranberry Crunch overtop our maple and brown sugar oatmeal and boy was it ever good. The toffee and white chocolate melted slightly, which meant that even after we had eaten the Crunch up– the delicious flavour lingered on.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts - Quick and Easy Recipes for September - Back to School - Oatmeal TopperNow, we know this may not be a breakfast you’d want to serve your kids everyday… but it’s perfect for a special treat to beat the back-to-school blues. Try serving it with some yummy berries on the side for a more wholesome meal.

Some of our other favourite oatmeal toppings (perhaps more Mom-approved options) include:

  • Jams or Jellies
  • Yogurt
  • Sliced fresh fruit -  apples, bananas or berries
  • Dried fruit – apricots, mango, pineapple etc.

What are your favourite toppings for oatmeal OR your favourite easy breakfast recipes for the kids? How are you planning to beat the back-to-school blues?

A Classy (but Fun!) Vineyard Wedding

Since we had so much fun with our previous blog post ‘A Craft Beer Themed Wedding’, we were inspired to plan a Vineyard (Wine Inspired) Wedding!

Location:

You can’t have a vineyard wedding without what?… A vineyard, of course! In Burlington, Ontario we are so lucky to have a plethora of amazing vineyards right in our backyard. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Vineland, Beamsville, Prince Edward County… there are so many to choose from and many different styles of vineyards! Why not visit some of the wineries on a tasting tour and get a feel for them? That way to can best decide which vineyard fits your needs.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Location Prince Edward County Winery LavendarDecor:

Hay bales, white draping, twinkle lights -

With a vineyard wedding you still want a rustic, country feel but with a classy twist to it. Adding hay bale seating or decor to your wedding will give that rustic, country feel… and with the addition of white draping and twinkle lights your event will be classy and elegant.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Decor Prince Edward County WineryWe love the idea of the addition of chalkboard signs. To us, nothing has a more D.I.Y., country feel than a handwritten chalkboard sign. To “pretty up” your chalkboard sign you can even purchase a vintage frame at a second-hand shop or flea market. Cut a piece of wood to the size of the picture, and paint with chalkboard paint – then add it to the frame. Use regular chalk for a rustic look or liquid chalk for a neater presentation.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Decor Chalkboard Sign Prince Edward County WineryFood:

Together, wine and cheese are a match made in heaven! An amazing idea for your wedding would be to create a cheese bar, buffet style or have an artisanal cheese tray for each table. Choose a few different types of interesting cheese at your local cheese shop or deli. People love variety!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Food Cheese Tray Prince Edward County Winery

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Alternative cake toppers are a great feature at a vineyard wedding. This type of wedding should not be uptight, but relaxed, and this is the perfect venue to have a little fun! After all, a wedding should be the biggest party of your life and what’s a party if you don’t have a little fun?

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Alternative Cake Topper

Retrieved from http://lover.ly/image/66419

Favours:

Christy’s Gourmet Gifts has just unveiled a brand new product… a “Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee”. This product is a butter toffee base infused with a local chardonnay wine. The toffee is then drizzled in milk and dark Belgian chocolate. The product would be amazing presented in a vintage wine barrel (help yourself style) or wrapped up in small kraft packages and placed at each seat.

Contact us to help you with custom favours. We love customization!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee Product Kraft Packaging FavoursChristy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Wine Infused Chocolate Toffee Product  FavoursPhotography:

This couple featured the vineyard name stamped on a cork in their wedding photography. This would serve as a great reminder years down the road.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Wedding Photography Cork Label Ring Picture

Retrieved from http://www.perfectweddingguide.com/wedding-blog/index.php/2012/07/05/real-virginia-wedding-reception-chelsea-nick/

Make sure to get some photos that really capture the essence of your vineyard wedding i.e. The bride and groom in a landscape shot with the vineyard behind them, with their handmade signs in the photo, or in front of some wine barrels sitting on hay bales. Be creative, but make sure you have every bit of your wedding recorded so you can enjoy it time and again!

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Wedding | Wedding Photography Handmade Signs

Retrieved from http://www.vineimages.ca/

Extras:

A wild flower bouquet is simple and elegant. Wrap burlap and lace around the stems and fasten with hot glue (clean and hidden) or a vintage brooch for a little sparkle. Maybe your grandmother has a brooch that would work! Something borrow after all is a good luck charm. Local wildflowers can be purchased from many floral shops as well as online.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | A Vineyard Themed Wedding | Wildflower bouquet with burlap, lace and a brooch

Retrieved from http://styleunveiled.com/

As we said with ‘A Craft Beer Themed Wedding’ the most important detail at your wedding is to do what you think is right for you! Every wedding is a personal affair and you should plan elements that show off both of your personalities.

Happy planning!