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! 

First Day of School Traditions

The first day of school is a time of excitement, stress and tons of new experiences. It’s a time full of high emotions, but also a time for making memories! In our opinion, the best memories usually revolve around family traditions.

We collected 5 of our favourite ‘First Day of School’ traditions from around the web, to give you some ideas for this year!

1. Photo on the first day of a new school year

Perhaps one of the most popular First Day of School Traditions – taking a photo of your child on the first day! We love the idea of putting all the photos into a scrapbook as a keepsake for when they are older. These cute year-by-year printables from DesignsByNicolina are not only adorable, they help you keep each year photo organized and in order.

First Day of School Traditions 1

http://designsbynicolina.blogspot.ca/2013/08/free-first-day-of-school-download.html

Find the year-by-year printables at DesignsByNicolina.

2. Shop for ‘Study Buddies’

We love this idea for the little ones! What makes homework more fun? Having a partner to work with, of course! One fun idea is to bring each child on a shopping trip to buy a new stuffed animal ‘Study Buddy’. Not only is homework more fun with your study buddy, it adds a feeling of comfort to children during times of transition and change.

First Day of School Traditions 22

3. First day of School Interview Page

School is all about growth and change, but sometimes we blink and the change and growth happens far too fast! A great way to document changes is to start with this Free School Interview Page printable. Get your child to fill it out every year, and then put them all together or in a time capsule. Keep those memories forever!

First Day of School Traditions 3

Find the Free School Interview Page printable at Giggles Galore.

4. A Sweet Treat

A long hard day of school deserves a sweet treat after school! Surprise them with some Christy’s Crunch, and a pun-ny tag – “Let the Number CRUNCHing Begin”!

First Day of School Traditions 4

5. Fashion Show

Everyone knows that one of the best parts about Back to School is getting a couple new outfits for the year! On ‘School Year’s Eve’, why not have a kids fashion show? Roll out the red carpet and let them show off their new outfits. What a confidence booster for the first day!

Do you have any First Day of School Traditions? Please share them with us in the comments below!

 

Salted Caramel Chocolate Vanilla Bean Milkshake

For the past few weeks, we noticed everyone posting online about a Canberra, Australia, cafe’s milk shakes. We have seen the photos (we’re sure you have too) and we can understand why everyone is so captivated. These milkshakes look decadent and over-the-top amazing!

Patissez Canberra Milkshake

Patissez / Facebook / Via Facebook: patissez.pty.ltd

We wish we could try them….if only they weren’t so far.

Unfortunately, we can’t make it out to Australia anytime soon – so we settled for the next best thing…making a delicious, sweet & messy milkshake at home!

See below for the recipe:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Milkshake Recipe

Salted Caramel Chocolate Vanilla Bean Milkshake 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Container Christy’s Salted Caramel Sauce
  • 2 cups Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • 1 cup 1% Milk
  • Whipped Cream for topping
  • 1 Package of Christy’s Salted Caramel Chocolates
  • 1 Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie – broken into pieces

How To:

  1. In a blender, blend together the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and the Milk until it’s frothy and totally mixed together.
  2. In the meantime, take the top off the Salted Caramel Sauce and microwave it until it’s liquid-y (about 30-40 seconds), stirring half way through.
  3. Take a large mason jar, fill the bottom and the sides with the warm Salted Caramel Sauce.
  4. Pour the ice cream/milk mixture from the blender into the mason jar, covering the salted caramel sauce.
  5. Top the milk shake with a big spiral of whipped cream.
  6. Place pieces of Salted Caramel Chocolate into the whipped cream.
  7. Crumble the Vanilla Bean Sugar cookie pieces overtop of the whipped cream.
  8. Top with any leftover Salted Caramel Sauce or Chocolate Syrup.
  9. Enjoy!

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

 

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

A Spooky Halloween Party

BOO!

Are you excited for Halloween? We know we are! We get super excited this time of year because we know immediately following Halloween our “Chocolate Season” begins!!

This year we decided to play around with the idea of planning our own Halloween party.

We chose to do a Halloween party that was family-friendly… something the kids would have fun at, but the parents would appreciate and enjoy.

Here are some of our Spooky Halloween Party ideas:

Decor:

It’s entirely up to you how you would like to theme your decor. If you want to do a brighter, livelier decor for the kids, stick with colours like orange, greens, purples etc. For a more adult-theme, a rustic-spooky and woodsy decor style is what you could aim for.

- Balloons with Jack o Lantern Faces

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 1 Jack o Lanterns

Retrieved from http://www.marthastewart.com/273329/pumpkin-balloons?czone=holiday%2Fhalloween-center%2Fhalloween-center-decor&gallery=275513&slide=273329&center=276965

- Spooky Lush Halloween Decor

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 2 Spooky Lush Decor

Retrieved from http://www.cocokelley.com/

- For a Backyard Halloween Party try Paper Lanterns in your colour theme.

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 3 Paper Lanterns

Retrieved from http://www.ontobaby.com/

Food:

For the kids: have fun with the food! That’s what Halloween is all about. Make regular food a bit creepy or funny, such as the apple mouths below. For the adults, stick with something that embodies the harvest season, such as our *Limited Time* Pumpkin Spice Craft Beer Brittle

- Christy’s Gourmet Gifts’ Pumpkin Spice Craft Beer Brittle

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 4 Pumpkin Spice Beer Brittle- Scary Apple Mouths (Apples, Marshmallows and Peanut Butter)

Cover one side of an apple slice with a light coating of peanut butter, line up mini marshmallows on top of the peanut butter, top with another apple slice covered in peanut butter (face down).

Christy’s Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 12 Apple Marshmallow Mouths

Retrieved from Family.go.com

Favours

Christy’s has you covered on the party favours! Why not try our Chocolated-dipped Oreos or Fudgeos? We also offer a “Mummy Marshmallow” which is spooky (and tasty!) in the best sort of way.

- Christy’s Gourmet Gifts’ Chocolate Dipped Oreos and Fudgeos

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 7 Oreo Cookie Dipped- Christy’s Gourmet Gifts’ Mummy Marshmallows

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 8 Marshmallow MummyExtras

What makes a party a great one? A great party is created when you plan all of those little details before-hand. That’s the stuff that people remember! Try these “extras” to make your party a hit with your guests.

- Ghostly frozen hand in the punch

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 9 Frozen Hand

Retrieved from http://www.vitamin-ha.com/halloween-party-food-16-pics/halloween-party-food-14/

- Skeletal inspired milk bottle with sign “Good for the Bones”:

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 10 Good For the Bones

Retrieved from http://www.loraleelewis.com/blog/?p=17443

- Pumpkin bowl for an ice bucket

Christy's Gourmet Gifts | Halloween Party Theme Blog | Pic 11 Pumpkin Bowl Ice Bucket

Retrieved from http://www.vitamin-ha.com/halloween-party-food-16-pics/halloween-party-food-04/

And that’s it! The Halloween party planning is complete and the guests are in for a great time.

Happy Halloween!  Do you have plans for Halloween? What will you dress up as?