Learning About Chocolate & Other Food Matters at a Spa Getaway
Culinary Highlights from Ste. Anne’s Spa
Enter the bakery at Ste. Anne’s spa and you’ll be greeted by the seductive smell of chocolate and baked goods. It’s hard not to swoon at the sight of pretty packages of chocolate, cookies, scones and sticky cinnamon buns.
Did I mention a chocolate making session with pastry chef Khushroo? Not a shabby way to spend a rainy fall afternoon in the rolling hills of Northumberland County.
As part of the masalamommas getaway sponsored by Chevrolet Canada, a handful of writers and readers were whisked away to Ste. Anne’s spa for some relaxation and to learn ways to achieve the elusive goal of work-life balance.
The chocolate session was the highlight of the trip for me (the mocha fusion treatment comes in a close second).
So why is a nutritionist in love with chocolate? Studies have cropped up over the past few years highlighting the potential health benefits of chocolate. But the key is the real deal — dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content.
Sad news for white chocolate lovers, it’s not real chocolate but cocoa butter mixed with sugar and does not contain cocoa solids.
Dark chocolate contains special compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Some research shows that dark chocolate may lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels. Before you run out and buy the biggest slab of dark chocolate, exercise some restraint. Less is more when it comes to reaping the health benefits of chocolate. A small square a day (1 oz or 30 grams) should do the trick.
If you want to unleash your inner Martha Stewart make your own chocolate bonbons. Chocolate molds can be bought online at Chocolat Chocolat in Montreal. While the price may be steep, they will last a lifetime. In order for the chocolate to set properly, it needs to be “tempered”, which spreads out the cocoa butter crystals evenly in the chocolate.
- Melt bars of high quality chocolate over indirect heat such as a water bath. Chef Khushroo recommends using low to medium heat.
- Spread it over a cool surface, like a marble or granite countertop. Cool it to 27C (get a special thermometer). Properly tempered chocolate should set within 1.5 minutes.
- Fill the chocolate mold. Turn the mold upside down and tap out the extra. Wait for the chocolate to set.
- Add your favourite filling and cover the mold with the remaining tempered chocolate.
Chef Khushroo made it look so easy. I got a good workout trying my hand at filling a few molds. Although it was fun pretending to be a chocolatier, the mandatory hair net made it less glam.
Another offering at the bakery were gluten-free goodies. Before embarking on a gluten-free diet, I would recommend getting diagnosed properly. Only those with celiac disease or have a gluten sensitivity need to be careful about gluten, a protein found commonly in wheat, barley and rye. The main dining room at the inn also makes accommodations for those with gluten issues.
School lunch tips
The culinary session with Chef Christopher Ennew served up ideas on packing school lunches, including an Asian Noodle recipe. The chef also recommended cutting up vegetables into interesting shapes, using mini pitas or wraps to send lunches the kids will gobble up. Check out our September article for more lunch ideas.
¼ cup carrots, cut into thin sticks
¼ cup peppers cut into thin sticks
¼ cup cucumber, cut into thin sticks
¼ tsp fresh garlic, minced
2 drops sesame oil
1/8 tsp sesame seeds
1 lime – juice and zest
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp olive oil
To taste salt & pepper
4 oz. rice noodles (soak in cold water for an hour)
- Mix all the ingredients together without the noodles.
- Taste & adjust the seasoning.
- Drain the noodles. Mix in with the sauce then place into lunch containers.
Yield: Two portions
Chef’ Tip: Add a few chili flakes to give it a little heat.
Zannat’s note: I would add some leftover cooked chicken, chickpeas or tofu to add protein to this lunch.
Although Chevrolet Canada sponsored the getaway, they did not review the article before publication.
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