Parenting is full of surprises and really about being open to them. That’s what I have been told and in my nascent experience it has held true - both on the positive as well as the other. I knew that sleep would become a scarce resource; I was not unprepared for it. But, I was certainly underprepared for how much Time would become preciously scarce.
One of the things that I did not realize will become a luxury was baking! I still manage to cook, albeit simple stuff and none of the stylized outtakes I leisured in before. But, the simple joy of a freshly baked cake or the therapy of proofing bread eludes me still. For someone, who loves a bite of sweet to round the edges of meals, it was really difficult. Fortunately, I have always been a chocolate lover and in the absence of piece of pastry, I have sought my sweet indulgence in a cherished squares of dark chocolate. And, bonus points for being single hand, finger delight!
Often, when the day has been a tad stressful or just full (of cries, of surprise laughs), I steal a moment of peace and self love with a square of chocolate. Nibbling on it and just staring out has been a cherished meditative escape. Add christmas lights to that, and my harmony is achieved, over and over. Have you noticed, it is really really hard to be annoyed or sad or frustrated when you stare at a cheerily lit Christmas Tree??!
Now the key to chocolate on its own being a satisfying finish, is good quality and deep flavor. I love dark and very dark chocolates! Yes, it is an acquired taste but once you get there, the bitter in the higher cocoa bars actually triggers a heightened sensitivity to flavors. One tends to pick up subtle notes that otherwise get diluted by added sugar.
So, when Cemoi chocolates asked me to write an ode to their chocolates, I was spirited! I love their idea of single origin cacao as much like anything that grows anywhere, the undiluted flavors are much preferred over a homogenized, normalized product. After tasting a few of their chocolates, I fantasized about basically a day of chocolate tasting! Wouldn’t that be lovely? And, oh so indulgent! The chocolates are also beautifully packaged and I think would make a lovely gift , ahem, since it is gifting season.
Anyway, here I was tasting the chocolates and dreaming of how I would spend my day eating them. So, this is my vision of how I could so easily have chocolate from breakfast through goodnight kiss. Fortunately, I still get to do this atleast once a day and I highly recommend that practice, if you are at all, looking to find a way to steal a moment for yourself :)
I used to be a coffee drinker for the flavor, less the caffeine. These days though, I will take the strongest cuppa you can make and make that a double! So, to pair with that deep flavor, I recommend a strong, very dark chocolate. With Cemoi, I chose the 90% from Ivory Coast; deliciously dark and seductively smooth. Now a day that begins that way, must….
This is a crucial juncture for me. I typically have an espresso or cortado at this point and the craving to have something, of just the right touch, is a particularly strong one. When I lived in Italy, my room-mate and I shared a common ritual of dark chocolate indulgence. That was our code for celebrating a mood, drowning our downs, rejoicing in each others company. She is Turkish and while we no longer live the space of 2 steps apart, every time I cook myself a cup of Turkish coffee and nibble on a piece of dark chocolate, I feel closer to her… So this one is for you, Shirley! Cemoi 66% from Sao Tome pairs beautifully with the richness and caramel notes of true, unsweetened Turkish coffee (check out my previous post for how it is ritually made). If you take your coffee with a little sugar, I would recommend the 80% as a pairing.
What about Tea?
I grew up a tea drinker and even today, tea holds a soft spot in my heart. I have a hidden desire to be a tea aficionado, like a true Asian. Yet, the most tea I really drink is Rooibos, which, is of course not even Asian (being anAfrican bush tea). But, I simply love Rooibos! It for me carries the same luxury of relaxation and time, perhaps a little colored by literature ( read Alexander McCall Smith books for reference). And, so, to celebrate my tea, I can only choose a darker note - 80% cacao from Equador!
The End Game
I have two words - Hot Chocolate. I have recently discovered a meat and dairy farm ten minutes away from me and it has become my Friday routine to stop by and pick up fresh milk, eggs and such. They also make a lightly (just rightly) sweetened chocolate milk that I also stock up on. It has become a nightly ritual, since the weather turned cooler to make a cup of hot chocolate and take some mind space. And, you know what goes great with hot chocolate? You’d think marshmallow. But no, it’s whipped cream and a side of chocolate! Ha!
And, oh surprise, for this one I do recommend, a milk chocolate. Because when you start the day strong, you end it sweet! :)