Update: The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Amy of U Try.It on winning! And thank you everyone for sharing your perfect Valentine’s Day dreams… so fun to read.
If you live in Somerville, MA, you’ve almost definitely heard of Taza Chocolate. If you live elsewhere in Greater Boston and have ever gone to any event remotely food-related, you’ve probably heard of Taza Chocolate. But if you’re further afield, you may never have had the delicious experience of eating their stone-ground Mexican chocolate, and so I’m here to share the love, because I really do love Taza’s chocolate. It’s different – gritty, not super sweet, and infused with flavors like chipotle and cinnamon and orange – but it’s addicting. Trevor introduced me to it a few years ago and I’ve gotten more and more excited about it ever since. Visiting the Taza factory in Somerville has been high on my “to-do in Boston” list since I moved back, and when I finally got around to it (which, admittedly was kind of a while ago at this point…), it was well worth the trip.
I’ve been on a decent amount of food tours – to breweries, cheesemakers, cider houses, farms, and restaurant kitchens – and they can definitely be hit or miss. The Magic Hat Brewery Tour was a disappointment and I learned very little. Visiting Prodigal Farm in North Carolina was truly fascinating (you can read more about it here). The Taza tour was way up on my quality scale – honestly, it was one of the most interesting and informative tours I’ve ever been on, and I’m not just saying that because there was a constant supply of chocolate samples during the tour. It probably helped that I knew very little about the chocolate making process to start. Did you know how huge cocoa pods are? Or that they grow straight from the trunk of the tree? Or that they turn beautiful colors in the fall? Just the images of the cocoa trees themselves fascinated me. Then we moved onto the harvesting, shipping, roasting, winnowing, and grinding processes, and every piece of information was new and exciting. I don’t want to give away their whole tour, in case some of you would like to actually hear it from the Taza people themselves rather than in an overly-excited and garbled form from me, but I will share some of the highlights. Like that one of the co-founders of Taza spent a year in Oaxaca learning to properly dress the traditional millstones used to grind the chocolate. Or that their winnowing machine is an old Italian giant they found on a cocoa sourcing trip. Or that they travel to the countries from which their cocoa beans come every year to pick the best quality beans and make sure the farms they come from are fair. Or that the difference between European and Mexican chocolate is the addition of milk and a thorough mixing process to smooth it out.
I highly recommend a trip to the factory if you live in the area or are ever visiting. And if you’re really looking for the full chocolate experience, Taza offers a week-long trip to Belize every March in which you go through the entire process of making chocolate, from picking cocoa beans to making your own bars (sometimes I really wish I was richer). If a quick jaunt to make chocolate in the jungle isn’t in the cards for you this year, either, I have two other things you might enjoy – one, a delicious chocolate mousse recipe, and two, a Taza chocolate giveaway.
Typically I just eat Taza chocolate straight – my favorite flavors are the salt & pepper and the cinnamon – but since we’re getting close to Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d step my game up and make a Mayan Chocolate Mousse, inspired in equal parts by Food & Wine’s Mayan Chocolate Pudding, and Bon Appetit’s recent article on the perfect chocolate mousse. I went all out with the cinnamon, using two packs of Taza cinnamon chocolate discs, replacing the espresso with my favorite cinnamon tea, and topping it off with a sweetened cinnamon whipped cream. It came out amazing, if I do say so myself. I really loved that the mousse still held the essence of Taza chocolate, it didn’t just taste generically chocolatey. I don’t know if I’ll even be able to wait until the 14th before making it again…
Giveaway Details: Interested in trying Taza chocolate? Enter to win the Chocolate Mexicano Classic Collection, and you can try six of their flavors (a cinnamon disc is included, leaving you just enough to make a portion of this mousse for two…). To enter, leave a comment below telling me how you would spend your ideal Valentine’s Day if money wasn’t an option. For a second entry, follow both me (@Kitchen_Door) and Taza (@TazaChocolate) on Twitter, and tweet to both of us about the giveaway, then come back and leave me a second comment letting me know you tweeted. The giveaway will close at midnight on Tuesday the 5th, at which point I’ll randomly choose a winner. Open to U.S. readers only. If the winner doesn’t respond to me within 48 hours of me notifying them they’ve won, I’ll have to pick an alternate winner
P.S. I LOVED reading all your comments about your most memorable Valentine’s Day on my last giveaway. It was so fun to hear all the stories!
Disclaimer: Taza is hosting this giveaway, but I discovered the product myself and truly love it, and have not been compensated in any way for writing this post.
Mayan Chocolate Mousse
Adapted from Bon Appetit and inspired by Food & Wine. Serves 4.
Note: Chocolate Mousse can be a little bit finicky – I accidentally scrambled my first batch of egg yolks! – so carefully follow the instructions provided and make sure your ingredients are at the correct temperatures. If you mess up, don’t fret – the end result will be worth trying again!
- 3/4 c. chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- pinch cream of tartar
- 2 egg whites, room temperature
- 4 TBS sugar, divided
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 c. strong cinnamon tea, at room temperature
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 packages of cinnamon Taza chocolate, or 5.4 oz. dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/8 tsp cayenne chili powder
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon if using regular chocolate + 1/4 tsp cinnamon for whipped cream
- Measure out 1/2 c. of the heavy cream into a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until foamy, sprinkle with the cream of tartar, then whisk until stiff peaks firm. Cover and chill.
- Beat egg whites vigorously until soft peaks form. Sprinkle 1 TBS of the sugar over the top, and continue beating until stiff, shiny peaks form. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a gentle simmer. In a medium metal bowl, or a smaller metal-bottomed pot, whisk together the egg yolks, 2 TBS of the remaining sugar, room temperature tea, and salt. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk vigorously until mixture is pale yellow in color and doubled in volume. This will only take about a minute – remove immediately when it’s ready (or a second before you think it’s ready, as this is where it’s easy to accidentally scramble your eggs). Add the finely chopped chocolate and stir until it’s melted. If chocolate is not melting, it’s OK to set back over the simmering water for intervals of 5-10 seconds while whisking the mixture, but finely chopping the chocolate should remove the need for this. Once chocolate is melted, add the cayenne, allspice and 1/4 tsp cinnamon (if not using cinnamon chocolate) and whisk to incorporate. Let cool to room temperature.
- Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture in two additions, only folding until just incorporated. Fold in the whipped cream until just incorporated. Divide between four dishes and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Just before serving, beat remaining 1/4 c. of heavy cream and 1/4 tsp cinnamon until soft peaks form. Sprinkle with remaining 1 TBS of sugar and whisk to incorporate. Dollop a bit of whipped cream on top of each portion, and serve.
That looks delicious! I’ve never seen Taza chocolate before, even in the upper scale supermarkets, but the salt & pepper flavour seems interesting. Speaking of interesting flavors, have you ever tried Vosges’ bacon chocolate?
Deb A. Healing says
If money was no option my ultimate Valentine’s day would consist of flying over to Europe to go food and wine tasting topping the day off with the some of the world’s best chocolates
Deb A. Healing says
I tweeted about the giveaway on both the Kitchen Door and the Taza Chocolates Twitter pages
Marissa Kubinski says
If money was no option, I would hire a chef to come to our home to teach us how to cook a fancy dinner.
I’m sorry, did you say WEEK LONG CHOCOLATE TRIP TO BELIZE? That would be amazing.
If money weren’t an option, I think I’d go to Spain and hop around all of the yummy tapas restaurants, then go dancing to burn off all those (worth it) calories! Seriously though, who could pass up a week in Belize surrounded by chocolate?! If you had the money, of course! :D
Cherry Lim (@cherrytreelim) says
It would be a week long vacation to Hawaii – good food and good weather!
I am following @TazaChocolate and @Kitchen_Door and tweeted about both. ::Fingers crossed!:: I’ve never won a contest!
I would love to spend it with my husband and sons in a Safari trip. Romantic? I don’t know, but fun and I will have peace of mind quality time while looking at the elephants. :)
This is probably at least partially generic but I would love to spend valentine’s day in one of those huts over the ocean like they have in Fiji. I just think that looks like the most romantic place on earth. Of course I would also like to spend it hiking with my husband in Alaska – probably equally as beautiful! Maybe someday.
Ellie Delancey says
My most exciting V-day would include a trip to Paris and dinner in the Eiffel Tower. One can dream! :)
If money weren’t an obstacle, I’d love to fly somewhere warm and beautiful, go for a balloon ride, and have a picnic as the sun sets.
So, V-day and money is no object? I would spend it with my fella, sipping espresso in Italy and walking along the cobblestone streets of Florence.
Ideal Valentine’s Day would be spent scuba diving in Palau.
I love Taza, but then I do live in the Boston area. If money were no object, I would spend a weekend in Paris with my husband, no kids, eating and drinking ourselves silly.
Marcella Rousseau says
Looks very good! Did you use cassia cinnamon or true Ceylon cinnamon? I’ve written a post about the differences that you might be interested in reading.
That’s easy – I’d spend it in Paris.
I’d take a trip to Italy.
Alicia K says
On a beach, where it’s warm, with chocolate, wine, and a sunset.
I’d spend it skiing, with a huge cup of piping hot chocolate at the end of the day!
Susan Christy says
I would be laying on the beach in Puerto Vallarta.
I would like to wake up, have great coffee on a long walk through a park, bike to brunch, spend the day exploring somewhere and then do something adventurous like skydive or hot air balloon, then finish with a sunset picnic. ideal if it was sunny and 70s!
My ideal valentines i would be taken to paris to Valentino for a new dress before a lovely sunset walk near the eiffel tower to an exquisite meal with lots of champagne and a few chocolates in bed at the ritz
If money wasn’t an issue, the ideal Valentine’s Day would be spent sitting on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic ocean…sipping on some drinks and eating dark chocolate with the one I love. Plain and simple.
ellia hill says
if money wasn’t an issues, I’d like to go to Japan… Or Hawaii… Somewhere different, somewhere beautiful… in a pretty hotel where I know it’s a top notch place where people really clean the sheets and showers… and there is a beautiful view… and we can either shop or check out the beauty of that place!
ellia hill says
and I tweeted about it as well as followed :) https://twitter.com/greenbeanbaby/status/297789953419665409
Cindy Aiton says
If money were no object, I would be spending Valentine’s Day somewhere warm and tropical. Thank you so much for offering such a yummy and generous giveaway. *fingers crossed*
Cindy Aiton says
I follow you both on Twitter as @normawatson. I also tweeted the giveaway: https://twitter.com/normawatson/status/297817116852236289
If money wasn’t an option, I’d love to go stay at a Disney resort on Valentine’s Day
If I had any available funds to do what I would like it would be to go to a spa in the Wine Country and then out to one of the wonderful eateries in the area with my husband. To have a day of pampering and my husband beside me.
Krispy Kreme has released Valentine’s donuts, but there are no Krispy Kremes in Rhode Island… so I guess I’d fly somewhere with those and eat the donuts.
Amy Tong says
What an awesome giveaway. If money is not an issue, I’ll take my hubby to the Maldives and get a much needed vacation with sunshine, beautiful beaches and cocktails. :)
amy [at] utry [dot] it
Amy Tong says
Following you both and tweeted: https://twitter.com/uTry_it/status/298216700464222209
amy [at] utry [dot] it
Oh mine .. what a yummy dessert!
I’d just like to see my fiance. We live in different states because I’m finishing law school.
If start like Audrey Hepburn with a croissant at Tiffany’s in New York – grab a flight to Paris with my sweetie and drink real hot chocolate in Jardin Luxembourg .. Spend the night in a brasserie with steak frites and a cute boutique hotel. X
Meg S says
How about a night in Prague? That would be amazing!
Easy peasy. We’d do that canoe trip we’ve always wanted, in western Canada.
We would love to go climb Macchu PIcchu (and maybe get massages and a gourmet dinner afterwards).
Barbara Hocker (@bahocker) says
Wow, that sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to try it with all the interesting Taza Mexicano flavors especially orange and ginger in addition to your cinnamon! We’re gonna be eating mousse for a long time…
I’d go to Singapore – the foodie capital of the world. I love Taza – for me not only is the flavor amazing, Taza has a very nice texture. It is not your typical chocolate. I originally found it a museum gift shop while their special exhibit was on chocolate. Now I must feed my addiction by buying online!
I’d just like for my husband to be home instead of at sea! I don’t care what we did or ate or drank.
I would get Lakers tickets for Scott and take you out on a date
I was that money was the problem, but in this case I would actually just prefer more time and not having to worry about work and school! My boyfriend is a chef and I would love to bring him to my home town on the shores of Lake Michigan and cook delicious food together (and then hopefully drink some of this hot chocolate- mexican hot chocolate is my favorite!).
I would take my boyfriend to get massages!
Very beautiful photo and a delicious chocolate
I have a few ideas, but let’s hit the highlights: pampering spa treatment(s), wine tour in napa valley, dinner at the French Laundry.
I love taza and had no idea about the factory tour. Sounds like a pretty good option in my world where money is not boundless.
I would take my valentine on a bicycle tour through Tuscany, with an evening walking the streets of Florence.
Dinner and a movie with the family
Italy for dinner, dessert and the sights.