Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought: More melt-in-your-mouth delights from Mackenzie's
February 12, 2006
Santa Cruz Sentinel
Ladies and gentlemen, I am in love and I’m letting the world know. Mackenzies Chocolates has just created some new products, and they are winners. Let’s start with the jellies and go from there.
When Ian Mackenzie’s parents would return to the U.K. for visits, he would ask them to bring home some Turkish delight—the jelly cubes dusted with icing sugar. Fast forward, and now Ian is making the cubes himself and dipping them in chocolate. My favorites are the berry and the lemon, but he also created a traditional rose flavor. I’d never tasted rose before, so it was at once familiar and strange. If you’ve enjoyed Middle Eastern dishes flavored with rosewater, this will become a favorite. It makes me wonder what lavender would do.
Ian’s also perfected his own caramel recipe—a softer version of what you normally think of as caramel. This one floats on your tongue rather than sticking in your teeth. The hand-cut pieces are then dipped in chocolate and, for one flavor version, sprinkled with just a few grains of Sicilian sea salt. The sensation is an eye-opener—something that wakes up your mouth to the sweetness of the caramel.
On to the next sensation. I’ve always added a bit of cayenne to my chocolate baking because it enhances the flavor. Well, Ian has gone one better. If you like heat, you’ll certainly want to try the cayenne chocolates. These are made with 72 percent cocoa, plus two tablespoons of cayenne per pound of chocolate. When you bite, it takes a few seconds for the full sensation to hit. But then, it’s a POW! all the way to the back of your palate. I adore them!
And finally, the one that makes me most proud. Ian was asking me for some flavoring ideas, and I mentioned these Italian chocolate cookies that my grandmother always made for Christmas. They were shaped into a ball, and the dough contained black pepper, allspice, cloves and cinnamon, plus walnuts and raisins. We kids would trample each other for them.
So he created All Spices—a floral-shaped chocolate that’s a takeoff on my grandmother’s recipe. The top note is allspice, which hits your tongue first and then lingers for some time afterward. “It’s like eating Christmas,” Ian says. I couldn’t agree more. My first bite brought back memories of home. When I told my daughter Donna-Renee about them, she said, “Oh great. Now I’m going to be spending even more time than usual at Mackenzies.”
Silicone has become a popular kitchen material. I’m not fond of the silicone pans because they don’t give baked goods a crispy exterior, which I like. But I do appreciate the silicone spatulas, which can be used to stir hot foods right in the pan. Unlike rubber spatulas, they don’t split or degrade, and they stand up to very high temperatures.
Cook’s Illustrated did a comparison and came up with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Topping the list were the Rubbermaid Professional at $18.99 and the Tovolo at $8.99. Both are comfortable to hold, and they perform really well with folding, stirring, sauteing and scraping. In fact, the testers tried to push these spatulas to the limit, and they still came out in perfect condition.
Second-place went to Le Creuset Super Spatula, Trudeau, and Mario Batali Risotto Spatula. Next, Oxo did reasonably well, and so did Kuhn Rikon, but they had serious flaws. Last, and not recommended, were Siliconezone Large Folia, Zyliss Does-It-All, and Chef ’N’ Switchit Dual Ended. It looks like the Tovolo gives the best combination of perfect performance and affordable price.
Kitty has a name
Thanks for all the ideas for my calico kitty’s name. They ran the gamut—Nougat, Mushroom, S’Mores because of her color—dark chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow, Catastrophe, Patches, Theodorable, Chunky Monkey, Mocha, CM Sundae for caramel mocha sundae, Little Bits, Spices, Coco, Souka, and many more.
When I ran them by my friends, the general consensus was that Truffle is the winner because she looks like dark, light and white chocolate. It was suggested by Ed VanAuken of Mobile, Ala. Thanks to everyone who sent a name!
Cooking for singles
If you haven’t sent some ideas for how you cook as a single person, I’m still collecting them. Send to Donna Maurillo. Let’s share how we handle cooking decent meals for one!