Kate Steffens is a pastry chef, writer, DJ, artist, designer and all-around Renaissance woman. She is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy and the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the rock-and-roll chocolate company, Straight Outta Chocolate. When she's not elbow deep in chocolate, you can find her reading, gardening, working on art projects and listening to old records.

Chocolate Meets Technology

Photo by newcoventry

Major innovations have taken place in the chocolate industry in the past few years. From edible, playable records to chocolate that doesn’t melt, there’s a whole world of high-tech chocolate waiting to be discovered. (more…)

Posted by on December 6th, 2011

Chocolate Pairing with Goat Cheese

Photo by kimberlykv

Chocolate pairings are having a moment. Once limited to a select few wine bars and fancy chocolate shops, chocolate pairings are popping up everywhere, and they’re becoming more ubiquitous in casual establishments, like your local cheese shop. Even better: some of the best combinations are easy to recreate at home. If you’re not into DIY, not to worry—these five chocolate pairings are just as good when you find them on a menu. (more…)

Posted by on November 10th, 2011

Dagoba fair trade chocolate. Photo by jetalone.

Many chocolate lovers consume and enjoy chocolate without ever thinking about where it comes from or how it was produced. However, there are many issues surrounding the production of chocolate that are important for consumers to be aware of, from the labor used to harvest the cacao to the pesticides used on the trees. Here’s a look at some of the issues surrounding chocolate production and what you can do to ensure you’re buying chocolate with a trouble-free history. (more…)

Posted by on October 5th, 2011

Photo by EverJean

Ever wondered what the “other half” spends on everyday indulgences like chocolate? If money weren’t an issue, would you shell out thousands of dollars for a bite of chocolate? History is full of gastronomic excesses, but the 21st century may be the wildest food era yet. From life-sized chocolate sports car replicas to edible gold, the world is your (chocolate) oyster—if you can afford it. Here’s a look at some of the most extravagant chocolate indulgences around the globe. (more…)

Posted by on September 7th, 2011

Photo by sanchom.

Food has the incredible power of sense memory. One bite of a particular food can send us straight back to childhood. As adults, we’re lucky enough to be able to enjoy more grown-up versions of our favorite childhood treats. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and see how far our favorites have come.  (more…)

Posted by on August 5th, 2011

Truffles from Chocolatier Blue. Photo by arnold | inuyaki.

The US is full of amazingly creative and innovative chocolatiers, and this list features only a small sampling of them. With a focus on chocolates made by small companies with an eye for taste and craft, here are five chocolatiers who are leading the charge.

1. Lake Champlain Chocolates

I first heard about this Vermont-based chocolatier via a rave review from Steve Almond in his book Candy Freak. Imagine grown-up versions of your candy-aisle favorites, made kosher and without preservatives. Lake Champlain’s hazelnut and peanut Five Star Bars are the best Snickers replacement I’ve ever found. (more…)

Posted by on July 7th, 2011

Photo by Sam Gordon Photography

Have you ever wondered whether it’s possible to become addicted to chocolate? What’s really behind those chocolate cravings? From chemical reactions to sense memory, here’s a look at five factors which play a part.

1. Eating & Emotions

While it would great to be able to use a medical excuse for a sudden urge to eat chocolate, the truth is, chocolate cravings are more often related to emotions than physical health. Many people eat to soothe themselves, and chocolate can be an excellent aid for a case of the blues. The act of eating chocolate causes the brain to release serotonin and endorphins, which are opiates that cause feelings of well-being and happiness. (more…)

Posted by on May 31st, 2011

Photo by thepinkpeppercorn

Chocolate has long been relegated to the candy aisle, despite the fact that it contains many healthful properties. Want to know what types of chocolate are the healthiest? Or how to self-prescribe a dose of chocolate for many different ailments? Here’s a look at some fun facts about chocolate and how it can help give a boost to your body, mind and mood.

The past ten years have seen a huge increase in studies done on the health benefits of chocolate, but for most of us, it can be hard to separate the truth from the hype. The good news is: small amounts of some types of chocolate can be good for you. Dark chocolate is the best option for health because it contains the highest percentage of health-promoting antioxidants known as flavonoids. (more…)

Posted by on May 13th, 2011

Photo by ?pictress

Most supermarkets sell both cocoa powder and baking chocolate, while specialty stores offer items like couverture chocolate and coating chocolate that can be puzzling to the newbie. With all the different types of chocolate available, how do you pick the right one? I’d like to help clear up some of the confusion that can arise when surrounded by a myriad of choices. This simple chocolate primer will help guide you as you get started.

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Posted by on April 18th, 2011

Photo by jelene

We’ve all had that moment, putting on a jacket and finding a long-lost Hershey’s Kiss in the pocket, or finding a forgotten bar of baking chocolate in the back of the pantry. Such is the power of chocolate that many of us would throw caution to the wind and gobble it right up when there is a good chance of stomachache—or worse. So how do you know whether your newly unearthed chocolate is still good? Do yourself a favor and watch out for the following signs to determine whether your chocolate’s gone bad or if it’s safe to eat. (more…)

Posted by on March 7th, 2011

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