Blog Post

Chocolate and Farmers Market Veggies!

Indeed. They go quite well together, according to a special tasting panel last night at Kakao Maplewood.

We’ve got a few of most of these available for purchase at the Maplewood shop, while they last. Best to let the confectioners who made them describe them:

Cocoa Nibs and CornBrian

The ancient Mayans first discovered chocolate, and would grind the nutty nibs into a smooth paste and add it to water. Since they didn’t have sugar as we know it – that was an Old World ingredient that originally came from southeast Asia – they would often drink it plain, a bitter drink they still thought was good enough to be a gift from God. Sometimes, though, they added other ingredients to the mix, and one of those ingredients was corn, which happens to have a fair amount of sugar.

For my confection, I went really old school and pureed cocoa nibs – unprocessed chocolate – with cooked sweet corn. To take the bitter edge off a bit, I added some honey, a sweetener that was available to the Mayans.

Brown Butter Divinity with Edamame and
Cocoa Nibs –

I found some edamame at the Maplewood Farmer’s Market that I really wanted to attempt to incorporate into a confection.

At first I tried a brown butter edamame marshmallow.  Typically adding fat to marshmallows completely deflates them, and the brown butter did just that.  I ended up with a very soft greasy marshmallow that tasted really good, but I had difficulty imagining a final product.

I kept looking for recipes for marshmallow or confections that are similar and I came up with Divinity.  It’s a very popular sweet confection that lots of people make at home.  It should have a similar consistency to fudge, and usually has nuts or something else crunchy mixed in.  I blanched and removed the soy beans from the pods, browned the butter, and toasted the cocoa nibs.  Once the Divinity was finished mixing, I just hand mixed the rest in, and spooned it out.  The brown butter and cocoa nibs add depth to this traditional very sweet candy.  The edamame is truthfully, more for the weird factor, but also add a nice squishy texture.  Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Cremosa Brian

Butternut squash is a wonderful vegetable that tastes just like its name – buttered squash with a nutty flavor.
I love the sweetness, and knew it would work well with just about any type of chocolate.

For this creation, I added pureed butternut squash to my cremosa, a rich dessert that’s not quite a pudding and not quite a custard. Made with egg yolks, cream, and milk chocolate, cremosa is the feminine word for   in Italian.

Chocolate-Dipped Sundried Tomatoes  Margaret

For this peculiar pairing I wanted to be able to identify the vegetable element in the confection, and alter the veggies as little as possible. I immediately thought of chocolate-covered sundried tomatoes.

I experimented with different types of tomatoes and chocolate and decided on oil-packed tomatoes dipped in semi-sweet chocolate. I topped them with a little smoked sea salt to give the flavor an extra dimension. On the second batch I couldn’t resist topping some with bacon bits instead because, hey, bacon is smoky and salty, right?

Honeydew and Mint MarshmallowsKate

I made these from a local honeydew melon with fresh local mint. I really wanted to do something that was on the sweet side, and I knew I wanted to use local produce that is at the peak of its season. Melon and mint are a great combination, so I pureed a very ripe honeydew melon, and steeped the fresh mint in the puree to give it the mint flavor. The marshmallows themselves are softer and fluffier than a regular marshmallow because I also experimented with cooling my base sugar mixture before mixing in the gelatin.


One of the traditional specialties of the Aix-en-Provence region in southern France, calissons can easily be spotted by their pretty almond shape, pristine royal icing top, and orange marzipan-like center made of candied fruit and almonds. While there are a variety of flavors that are sold—lavender, chocolate, prune, and violet to name a few—these variations are not labeled Calisson d’Aix , which are made only from cavaillon melon, almonds grown in Provence, and orange peel.

I love the soft, slightly chewy texture and subtle sweetness of the confection, not to mention that it actually replaces the host in holy communion on September 1st in Provence, and has been attributed to protecting previous residents from the plague. With the confection hard to come by in the States, and primarily machine manufactured in France, I was eager to try my hand at making it from scratch using the freshest local produce. It can be made by hand, right?

I had great difficulty finding a workable recipe, not to mention scoring a local cavaillon melon, which seem to be more akin to cantaloupe. With the knowledge that calissons are made of 40% almonds and 60% fruit and syrup, I had a good starting point and did not stray from the basics by using jams or cream as binders. I began by candying local honeydew and honeykiss melons, and making candied lemon peel in a simple syrup over a two-day period. Since wafer paper is not sold locally—the closest thing that I could find were hosts from the Catholic Supply—I decided to incorporate a paperthin layer of bittersweet chocolate as a base for the thick fruit and almond paste.  I created one batch in the more traditional fashion with candied honeykiss melon topped in royal icing, and the other made with honey dew topped in bittersweet. And voila, You have the calisson!

Parisian Macaron with Sweet Corn Marshmallow
and ChileShannon

I grew up in a small town in Nebraska which was pretty much surrounded by corn fields. Here in the “big city” we have a Starbucks on practically every corner, but in Nebraska, at least in late summer, we have corn stands on practically every corner. Everyone has their favorite spot. (Hint: If you’re headed to eastern Nebraska this summer, my mom swears by the guy who sells loads of corn out of the back of his pickup parked out on Cornhusker Highway and yes, that’s really the name of the road.) If you grow up in Nebraska, you learn to love corn. Corn, steak and Cornhusker football. The holy trinity of life in Nebraska.

When this month’s peculiar pairing was announced, I knew right away that I wanted to use corn. I love these little French cookies called macaron, so I turned the corn into marshmallows and used them as the filling for the cookie. Chile and corn are a natural pairing, so I finished it with a little Anaheim chile powder. The corn came from a farm about 100 miles east of here, over in Illinois. It’s not as good as Nebraska corn, but it’ll do.