World Chocolate Day 2018: The Best Chocolate is More Than Just Food

Did you really think I would forget about World Chocolate Day?

It’s the most wonderful day of the year! A day to enjoy, explore, and excite your taste buds with a gift from the gods themselves: chocolate.

However, you cannot truly celebrate World Chocolate Day with ordinary chocolate purchased at the supermarket. No, no, no! Now is the time to break bad habits and educate yourself on the pleasure of chocolate. The good, the bad, and the deserving of your money.

Make yourself a hot chocolate and grab a choc-chip biscuit. It’s time for some chocolate worshipping.

Brief History of Chocolate

Most true chocolate-aficionados know chocolate originates from South America. The word “chocolate” is believed to come from the Aztec word “xocoatl”. However, chocolate back then was nothing like chocolate now. It was a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans and yet still considered the food of the gods.

IMG_6063-0.JPG

All Hail your Aztec Goddess, Evil Genius Mum / Thanks to the Aztec Exhibit at the National Museum, Sydney 2014

Both the Mayans and the Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical or divine properties. It was used in almost every sacred ritual from birth through to death and beyond. It was the extra special secret ingredient to … well, everything.

Sweetened chocolate, as we know it today, wasn’t really a thing until the Europeans discovered the Americas, and its local cuisine. Apparently, they didn’t really like the taste of it until they figured out how to mix it with honey or cane sugar. And then it really hit off.

Over time, chocolate has moved from being a luxury of the privileged upper class in Europe to the modern chocolate bar we lust after today. Joseph Fry, Cadbury, and Nestle have all had their impact on the development of chocolate and its availability in the mass market–for better or worse. Not all chocolate is created equal, being dependent on the quality of ingredients and the local influence. Trust me when I say, the chocolate used in ration packs for Australian soldiers over the last 30-years leaves MUCH to be desired.

The Art of the Chocolate

However, recently there has been a revolution amongst the chocolate lovers. No longer do we want it to be a common everyday grocery item. No longer do we want it to be a mass production of simple satisfaction for the general folk. We expect more from the ingredients, the production, and the end product we hold in our pretty little hands.

If you are going to celebrate World Chocolate Day, you have to do it right. Start with a local artisan who knows what they are talking about. I went straight to one of my favourites: Coco Chocolate in Kirribilli, Sydney.

coco-chocolate-blocks-world-chocolate-day

When you walk into their Kirribilli store, you are instantly greeted with a cozy French-provincial feel of ‘welcome’. Everything in the store looks and feels and smells artisan. It is a pure delight just being in the store. I love it. I can’t rave enough about it. And it is EXACTLY the place I wanted to be for World Chocolate Day.

Rhianna knew what I meant. She was the staff of the shop today and happy to chat. When I pointed out how difficult it would be for me to work in a place like this, she exclaimed “Oh, I totally understand!! It is way too easy to simply enjoy everything but when it’s good chocolate… like, really good chocolate… you only need a little bit to enjoy it. I have to show restraint but I love the good stuff so much more than the everyday stuff.”

coco-chocolate-celebration-world-chocolate-day

And that’s why they are perfect for World Chocolate Day.

World Chocolate Day

World Chocolate Day is not only about the chocolate (though, chocolate does deserve a day of worship). It is also a day to appreciate the cost of providing the world with chocolate. As soon as something is considered popular and valuable, you can guarantee greed will come in and ruin it. Chocolate is no exception. So many companies are too willing to source cheap cacao from vulnerable communities without any care for the impact it has. Companies who are purchasing water reservoirs and then selling it back to the locals at hyped prices because their CEO’s don’t consider water to be an essential right. Companies who are poisoning cacao trees, forcing farmers to sell up for ridiculously low prices and face destitution. Companies who don’t care how young their bean pickers are, so long as they are picking beans. Yeah, I’m looking at you Nestle.

EG Inc does not purchase or accept any Nestle products, due to its unethical behaviour in relation to water and cacao in South America, and palm oil in Borneo.

We are far happier spending our money with more reputable businesses, like Coco Chocolate. In fact, they say it best on their site:

All cacao couverture sourced for tempering at Coco Chocolate is ethical and producers are members of SEDEX, ensuring ethical and responsible practices in labour standards (including employment conditions, profitable income for farmers, supporting community development projects and no child labour), health and safety, the environment and business ethics. As a result all can enjoy Coco Chocolate – creating value for all through the supply chain with transparency, traceability, productivity and quality. – Coco Chocolate website

Why is it so important for me to share this with you? Because you need to know how easy it is to find businesses who are doing the right thing and reward them! THAT is what World Chocolate Day is about. Raising awareness of the conflict with chocolate and bring good businesses into the light. If you are doing the right thing, you deserve a bit of love.

coco-chocolate-love-hearts-world-chocolate-day

So today, on World Chocolate Day, I am telling you to share some love with a local business. Find a store doing the right thing; be it work conditions, ethical sources, or employing the vulnerable. Be like the chocolate and give them some of your love. Share your divine purchasing power and show them your support. Let them know you see them.

If you have a local fave, share their details in the comments below. We all want to know the best places to spend our money. And by the way, if you want to try out Coco Chocolate yourself, they have an online store:

http://cocochocolate.com.au/shop/

My favourites are the Organic White Chocolate with Rose & Bergamot and the Organic Dark Chocolate with Rose & Black Pepper. *sigh*

Go! Chocolate! Be merry!

coco-chocolate-test-pattern-world-chocolate-day

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored or paid article. And while the staff at Coco Chocolate do provide delicious tasters, all opinions are my own. 

Tasty Experiments: Lava Candy

It doesn’t matter what the Universe throws at us, I know at least one of our spawnlings loves me–the one who made me Lava Candy!!

(Note: This preference changes on a weekly no, daily no hourly basis. Hell, whichever spawnling lets me sleep in can score the Brownie Points at any given moment.)

Today’s tasty experiment is brought to you by Nefarious, our budding chemist/astrophysicist/mechanic. He wanted a Chemistry kit for his birthday. When the spawnlings’ godfather turned up, Nefarious was absolutely thrilled to have a real life chemist in the Lair and asked to bring out the kit. EG Tenacious willingly agreed; which is yet another reason why he (and his amazing partner EG Sinful) are the perfect guardians for our spawnlings, if something were to befall us.

Nefarious Lava Candy.jpg

Lava Candy

** Adult assistance is required. Ingredients will get very hot and potentially burn exposed skin. Not nice.img_1256

Materials Required:

  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate)
  • Heavy based saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Baking dish lined with waxed paper

Method

  1. Place sugar and golden syrup into the saucepan
  2. Over a VERY LOW heat, stir continuously until all the sugar has dissolved
  3. Continue to heat (there will be heavy bubbling of the mixture) and stir for 7 mins. DO NOT OVERHEAT. The syrup should be pale golden brown.img_1260
  4. Remove saucepan from the heat and immediately add the baking soda. Stir quickly but gently, making sure all the baking soda is completely mixed in.
  5. Pour onto a prepared paper lined dish/tray. Allow to cool for at least an hour. IT WILL REMAIN VERY HOT FOR QUITE AWHILE. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO TASTE UNTIL COMPLETELY COOL. 
  6. Break into pieces and enjoy and then coat in milk chocolate. Either dip in chocolate or pour melted chocolate over broken pieces. The ‘Lava Candy’ is a bit like Violet Crumble. Aussie minions will know what I mean. Trust me – it’s good.

img_1271The science in all of this is in the reaction between the ingredients, particularly the addition of baking soda. It provides an excellent preliminary example of quick reactions between various chemicals.

It also provides EG Mum with her own supply of chocolate-coated Lava Candy. So I see this as a win-win all around.

Well, except for EG Tenacious, who had to return to work before tasting the chocolate-covered Lava Candy. Next time, EG Tenacious. Next time…

One Twitch At A Time

I can’t even blame this one on the spawnlings.

About a month ago, I developed a twitch in my left eye-lid. 

Just a small little spasm. A little involuntary movement, too small for anyone to see but enough to BUG THE ABSOLUTE S#!T OUT OF ME!!


*sigh*
At the time, I had started drinking coffee again – after giving it up for the last 7 years. Breastfeeding and babies and caffeine and whatnot. Taking up the habit again, I started with just a latte in the morning.

Slowly it built up – one more at lunchtime. One more in the afternoon. Less latte, more flat white.

And then the twitch started.

And it bugged me. 

Oh my chocolate deities, did it bug me. 

I would sit there, resting my open palm over my twitching my eye. Putting the slightest pressure on the spasm. Trying various temperatures and ideas, hoping for relief.

Nothing.

ARGH!!

Okay, okay. Breathe. 

The obvious culprit: Coffee.

Or was it just the easiest target?

Forgive me, fellow coffee drinkers. It has been one month since my last coffee. And I was wrong.

THE DAMN TWITCH IS BACK!!


So I’m thinking of drowning my sorrows in a flat white tomorrow morning.

Of course, EG Dad thinks I haven’t cut out enough caffeine. He suggested cutting out chocolate too.

The Funeral is on Thursday. Please give chocolate and coffee in lieu of flowers. It’s what he would have wanted.

What’s your sure-fire tip for an eye twitch? Share it in the comments below, and the one that works will win my favour for a week.


Sacrifice to Chocolate Gods

Ugh. I feel so crappy lately.

It’s hard taking over the world when you are struggling to conquer your own parental guilt. I’ve been so focused on getting the spawnlings through the school term (with chest infections and teething nights and stuff) – I forgot to keep the fun in world domination.

So, let’s get back in to it!! And what better way than a visit to the Aztec exhibition at the Australian Museum. Chocolate, blood, and sunshine – all the important elements.
IMG_6057.JPG
When you think Aztec, you may think of blood sacrifices; or maybe just a good family taco dinner. Maybe they’re one and the same. But the Aztecs were so much more.

IMG_6053.JPG

Let’s take a moment to say thank you to the Aztecs: for tomatoes, avocados, burritos, Taco Tuesday, bouncy balls for handball (actually no – I won’t thank that one! I’m sick of how quickly 8yo spawnlings lose the damn things).

And yes, chocolate. Blood in my veins as offering to the gods – sweet chocolate. Hell, the Aztecs even used cocoa beans as currency. One for a tomato; 30 for a small rabbit; 300 for a nice cloak. Cocoa beans. Genius.

Money actually grew on trees.

IMG_6047.JPG
Well, grew on trees and floated on water. Oh yeah, baby. Chocolate currency was as holy as Jebus H. Christ.

With all this chocolate hanging around, the Aztecs had a great way to burn off the calories. Nefarious particularly was impressed with the set-up for a game of football. That was until I mentioned the blood sacrifice at the end. Ultimate calorie counting. See, if you lost the game, your ineptitude was considered an insult to the gods. So you had to sacrifice yourself in order to appease them and allow your team to win next time.

Now Nefarious is all about bulking up with some muscle mass. That one is going to take over the world with brute force, and enough smarts to know how to get away with it.

IMG_6035.JPG
It wasn’t all chocolate and screaming locals. Sinister was rather impressed with the public education system. That’s right – the Aztecs had a free, compulsory education system for teens.

IMG_6039.JPG
And just to add to the vibe, the museum set up an Aztec playground. After the exhibit, spawnlings could also do extra activities like make Aztec paper gliders, build temples with oversized foam blocks, or even weave a gods eye. Zaltu definitely showed her management skills: minions build temples; Zaltu does her best Godzilla impression; minions think she is cute and rebuild her entertainment. Suckers.

IMG_6059.JPG
The exhibit is in Sydney until February and worth every dollar. We’re heading back for some more note taking.

BTW: you know I don’t take bribes unless they are significant. And even though there IS chocolate involved, *sigh* I DID NOT receive any from the Australian Museum for this blog post.

But if you want more info, go here.

IMG_6063.JPG
But clean up your own bloody mess afterwards.

Evil Genius Tool #6 – Easter Egg Baskets

It just wouldn’t be a Festival of Chocolate without some evil – in the name of chocolate, of course.

This year, I was inspired by a very sweet and thoughtful picture shared around the interwebs:

20140418-144706.jpg

Awwww. Now everyone gets the same amount of chocolate. Pathetic really.

That’s just not … Well, evil.

Here’s the proper way to do your East Egg Baskets.

20140418-171606.jpg
Now, let’s play along with the suggestion and tell the spawnlings to find the eggs that match their basket.

And then go and hide these eggs:

20140418-171706.jpg

EG Dad complained, so I threw in a pity red for him.

Happy Easter, minions.

Evil Genius Parent Award #39

Our spawnlings, Sinister (7) and Nefarious (4) are still a little young for Alien.

Pity.

Because we’re in the final month of #3’s tenancy and I’m feeling more and more like this:

Now, being an Evil Genius is hard work. Some may consider it easier when you look like you have already swallowed a small planet and thus appear capable of swallowing more.

However, it is harder to take over the world when it takes 7 minutes just to roll out of bed, let alone the additional time to chase the existing spawnlings to retrieve my glasses.

Then there are the hormonal swings, the weird cravings, and the constant nagging from minions about whether they should buy blue or pink sheets.

star sheetsStormaggedon is NOT sleeping in blue or pink sheets – he or she will be sleeping in black sheets, with star charts showing all the planets they will be expected to conquer by the time they are 12.

With all this going on, it’s no wonder that EG Dad (and the spawnlings) could do with some tips on how to manage their leader.

Natania Barron over at Wired had previously come up with a few ideas (5 to be exact) on what you can do for the pregnant geek. Not quite world conquering stuff, but it will help any EG Mum-to-be feel like they are getting back on track. Good work, Natania!

My favourite is #1 with the suggestion of the book Do Chocolate Lovers have Sweeter Babies? OF COURSE THEY DO! Personally I think it is the Dark Chocolate (with a touch of mint) that adds the EG to the spawnling, but at least this book provides the geeky reasons for doing so. I’ve already uploaded it to the iPad for reading.

The best tip I have for dealing with your EG Mum-to-be? Give her whatever she wants.

Have any other tips for managing the expectant EG Mum?

Last month of the pregnancy and I may or may not write less here. There are a lot of preps I have to do to ensure the spawnlings continuing their training in world domination while I manage the upcoming birth. DVDs to set up, food to freeze, science experiments to prepare. You can all relax – EG Inc might have to settle for just a country or two in the meantime, rather than the whole world.