Did you know that today is World Chocolate Day? It is also sometimes referred to as International Chocolate Day. This observance is one that occurs globally every year on July 7th. Get this; the celebration of this day includes the consumption of chocolate! That is my kind of celebration! It has been stated that this day, July 7th, 2016 marks 466 years since chocolate was introduced to Europe. That is a lot of years of making chocolate and also consuming it in its many forms.
In the U.S. we typically celebrate International Chocolate Day on September 13th and Chocolate Ice-cream Day is observed on July 7th. There are various other, more specific chocolate-themed days that are celebrated throughout the world and on various dates, including Milk Chocolate Day on July 28th. That is a lot of celebrating just for chocolate! and why not? I think chocolate deserves all the celebration it can get.
My family loves chocolate in all its forms. We have made chocolate cake like my Molten Lava cakes that we made for my husbands birthday earlier this year. We have also made cookies and cream popcorn. This popcorn is so decadent you will definitely want more than just one bite. Not only does it have chocolate cookies mixed in, but it also has chocolate drizzled over top of it. It is such a fun recipe to make with the kids. My kids really enjoyed making this popcorn; I think they enjoyed snacking on it even more. I have also made a chocolate sauce that be used as a topping for ice cream. When you pour it over the cold ice cream it hardens up to create a chocolate shell over the ice cream. With its incredibly deliciousness and richness, this sauce is a treat.
Let’s not forget the pancakes and waffles with the mini chocolate chips added to them. Sometimes, we get a little crazy and add the bigger chocolate chips! There are also so many different types of cookies that call for chocolate as an ingredient, such as chocolate chip cookies and double chocolate cookies or even brownie cookies. I am getting happy just thinking about all this chocolate. Hey, does anyone have a piece of chocolate they can bring to me?! I am getting hungry and starting to crave a nice piece of chocolate from sitting here and writing about all this goodness. I have been known to add chocolate to muffins, like my banana chocolate chip muffins. You can make mini muffins which are fun for snacking. If mini muffins isn’t your style then you can simply make them bigger. They go great with a cup of coffee.
Let’s face it, chocolate seems to make everything better. I am no expert, but one of the most alluring effects that chocolate consumption has is that it can improve your mood. I think we can all agree that your mood matters even more when you’re stressed. There are many things can stress a girl out these days. Why not take a little help from your friend, chocolate?! There are so many options too when looking for chocolate. There is my son’s favorite, white chocolate. My favorite tends to be dark chocolate. If you don’t care for either of those, no worries because you can also find milk chocolate. Nowadays, you can also find chocolates to satisfy all tastebuds and cravings. Chocolatiers are using a variety of ingredients to boost the flavor, from nutty to spicy to fragrant. I have eaten spicy chocolates that have hot peppers or chili added to them for a big kick of flavor. You can find chocolate with pumpkin seeds or even cinnamon added.
During a trip to Ireland with my husband, we stumbled upon a cute little Chocolatier in the middle of nowhere. It was called Hazel Mountain Chocolate. We just had to stop in and check it out. Hazel Mountain Chocolate is a boutique bean to bar chocolate factory and shop in the Burren Mountains. They are known to be one of the smallest and most remote chocolate factories in the world. They make their chocolate in very small batches using rare Trinitario cacao beans and raw cane sugar for their dark chocolate and Irish milk from grass-fed cows in their milk chocolate delivering you the finest, purest and multi-award* winning chocolate. Not only did we get to watch them making the chocolates, but we also got to sample several of their chocolates. Of course, we bought quite of few chocolate bars to bring back home with us. They had Madagascar Bean w/Lemon and Venezuelan Chocolate w/Spiced Cacao to name a few. They also have amazing truffles. I almost forgot, they also make some of the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted. I was one happy girl that we just happened to find this place! I would choose to be lost any day if I knew it would end up at a Chocolatier!! If ever in Ireland, you must add this to your list of places to go. It is so worthwhile if you are a chocolate lover.
Back at one of our hotels in Dublin, they had chocolate displayed as artwork. It was truly amazing. The entire display was made from chocolate. Every time I passed by the display I had to get a closer look; it was hard to believe that every item in the display was made using chocolate. It was so creative and artistic. I wanted to reach in and grab a piece! Take a bite out of the shoe or put the sunglasses on!
I could go on for days talking about chocolate. After all, what is not to love with all its sweetness and mood lifting powers? I
think know I would enjoy it in every form (cake, chocolate bar, muffin)…. Do you have a favorite story or recipe that incorporates this yummy ingredient? Feel free to share. Would love to hear from you. I think I am going to go look for a piece of chocolate now after writing this!
See below for links to the recipes mentioned, plus a few extra: