Tuesday, April 11, 2006

No solar brownies, but chocolate . . . yesssss

Hey solarDwellers:

In case you missed the comment by Kevin from Unplugged Living, just when I thought it couldn't get any better than solar-powered beer to go with solar-powered pizza, Kevin has served me up a nice choice for dessert: solar chocolate! Ok, my life is complete now. I retire.

And yes, read this reprinted article from Homepower Magazine about the people who built a small, solar-powered chocolate factory on the Caribbean island of Grenada, when the author's interests of chocolate and renewable energy mixed so nicely together. "Hey, you got your solar panel in my chocolate!" "No, you got your chocolate on my solar panels!" (Wasn't that how the old Reese's Peanut Butter Cup commercials went?)

Oh, I'm making a comeback, coming out of my retirement. Because when looking for chocolate images to post with this article, which I found at(you know it had to exist): chocolate.com, those chocolate marketers found a way to get beer into their promotion. Just totally validates and elevates to the level of "acceptable" the pizza, beer, chocolate for dessert combination.

To wit, the chocolate/beer recommendation from the connoisseurs craze marketers at chocolate.com:

Ah, winter.

A perfect time to hibernate and enjoy some of life's finer things. What better to do on cold February nights than snuggle up to your sweetie? And what better way to seduce the object of your affection than with a dynamic duo... such as chocolate and beer.

Crazy as it sounds at first, beer may serve as a better culinary compliment to chocolate than you think. Ray Daniels, Director of Craft Beer Marketing for the Brewers Association, certainly thinks so.

"Simply stated, wine generally gets overwhelmed by chocolate. You can't taste the wine due to the richness of the chocolate," Daniels said. "Beer has the chops to stand up to the rich flavors involved. It is also about complementary flavors: earthy, roasted, even chocolaty and bitter flavors in beer that are echoed in the chocolate."

Beer and chocolate have huge fan bases in America. That's nothing new. But, if people like Daniels and "Cocoa Pete" Slosberg -- the creator of Pete's Wicked Ale -- have their way, the two can be merged to ignite a kind of synergy that is rarely equaled.

"It's not just one plus one equals two. It's one plus one equals three," said Slosberg, who has been sweet on European chocolate ever since traveling there to promote his beer.

After selling the brewery that made him famous, Slosberg is now pairing his two passions by creating his own specialty chocolates.

Daniels' recommended pairings identify three general categories of beers that play well with a range of chocolates:

Dark beers, such as porters and stouts, are made from malted barley that has been roasted to a dark, deep color. The darkened barley boosts the flavors that go well with most chocolates. Some beer aficionados even enjoy a dark, rich stout or porter as an after-dinner, desert-type treat.

Weizens (German-style wheat beers), and Belgian-style white ales (Höegaarden, Blue Moon). These are beers of lighter flavor and paler color than most all-barley ales, and often include fruity and spicy flavors such as clove, apple, nutmeg, cinnamon and apricot, among others. With these classic dessert flavors supplementing sumptuous chocolate, you and your sweetie will not be let down.

Malty golden beers and golden ales (such as Kölsch) are sweeter and lighter colored options that are clear and crisp with lower bitterness and aroma levels. These beers tend to go well with deserts in which chocolate is prevalent, but not quite as highly concentrated, such as cookies.

Have I just gotten way too eccentric and off on the solar food tangent or what? No, hey, this is for fun. Invite me to your next beer/chocolate pairing. Then I'll retire again.

--the solarDweller
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