And of course, many of us who are gluten-free also have other food intolerances or allergies. I can’t imagine how hard it must feel to be allergic to soy and want some chocolate. So many chocolates contain soy lecithin. And frankly, almost all the “allergy-free” chocolates I have tasted have been lifeless versions of their intended ideal.
This is why we love PASCHA chocolate. We’d like to introduce you to our latest sponsor.
PASCHA makes truly good chocolate, dark and sensuous, full of cacao bean flavor, ranging from 55% to 80% dark chocolate. This chocolate is organic, fair-trade, and contains no GMO products. Best yet, it is free from gluten, nuts, dairy, soy, and even potential allergens such as fish and eggs. It’s produced in an entirely allergen-free facility. And you have to love a chocolate company that has a clearly expressed chocolate philosophy.
We’d like to let you hear more from PASCHA Founder, Simon Lester.
I started my working life in the chocolate business in the UK. Chocolate has always been a passion of mine. I wanted to created PASCHA to offer ultra-pure delicious chocolate that is safe for anyone to eat. I was also intrigued by the health aspects which dark chocolate offers (very high antioxidants) with many reported benefits (blood pressure, positive moods, etc) which people are looking for. I felt chocolate should be made without unnecessary ingredients like soy lecithin. I wanted people with allergies or without to enjoy a pure, terrific piece of ORGANIC, NON-GMO chocolate.
Why have you taken the care to make these chocolates allergy free?
I realized how life threatening and altering food allergies can be when one of my daughters had an anaphylactic reaction to food. Then the penny dropped that someone really needed to come out with a completely allergen-free, great-tasting organic chocolate. While most people don’t think of chocolate and allergies, the reality is that almost every chocolate plant in the western world uses milk, various tree nuts, peanuts, soy and often wheat, gluten and egg. Because of the difficulties of cleaning a chocolate manufacturing plant once these ingredients are inside the plant, a residual amount is left behind — which is the danger point for people with food allergies.
Did you have to sacrifice anything to make the chocolates allergy free?
Absolutely not! The more impurity you take out of chocolate the purer it becomes and the more you just taste the cocoa bean. That’s what makes fantastic chocolate.
Can you tell us a story of a customer who was excited to find your chocolates?
Talking with our passionate customers is amazing. At a gluten-free show in Chicago, a woman came up to me and said that she had not eaten chocolate for 3 years because of food allergies. There was literally nothing on the market that she could eat. She just thanked me for creating PASCHA. Everyday, people email us their list of food allergies, fearful that they will not be able to eat our bars. It is a great feeling to email them back — PASCHA is safe and please enjoy it!
Do you have a recipe you love using these chocolates?
Chocolate Chunk Rhubarb Cookies
These soft cookies serve up a delicious pairing of sweet and tart can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature. You can adjust the level of tartness by adding/removing some of the rhubarb. The cookies are most delicious when eaten within 2 days; but don’t worry they will be gone long before that!
Yields: 36 teaspoon size cookies
1/2 cup organic palm oil shortening 1/4 cup granulated organic sugar 1 teaspoon organic vanilla 1 teaspoon maple syrup 1/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce 1 cup all-purpose gluten free flour (must include xanthan gum) 1 bar of Pascha’s 55% cacao, roughly chopped 1 cup of chopped organic rhubarb
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Using an electric mixer, whip the shortening, sugar, vanilla, maple syrup and applesauce. 3. Next, mix in your gluten free flour. Blend on low until mixed throughly. 4. In a small saucepan over very low heat, slowly melt 1⁄2 of the Pascha chocolate. When fully melted add chocolate to the mixer. Blend. 5. Gently, by hand, fold in remaining chocolate chunks and rhubarb. 6. Using a teaspoon, scoop dough balls onto a lightly oiled baking sheet or baking mat. 7. Bake for 12 minutes or until toothpick can be inserted into the center of a cookie and it comes out clean. 8. Let cookies rest 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before moving. 9. Enjoy!
This recipe has a lot of flexibility. You can chop the rhubarb finely so that its not as chewy or to make it more discrete looking when your kids grab a cookie. You can also do the same for the chocolate, if you prefer a less chunky cookie. You can shape the cookies round or flat.
PASCHA chocolate is offering chocolate to three lucky readers of our site. Please leave a comment about why you would like to try PASCHA chocolate.
We came home from California bedraggled and happy. We carried our bags to our car in the rain, somehow strange after 12 days of blue skies and warm air, but also welcome after seeing the effects of the California drought. It has taken us days to unpack and gather memories to us coherently. We’re still lingering in the beauty of this trip.
We came from California with a few mementos. A jar of elderberry jelly, made by our friend Elise last summer, so kindly handed to us after an extraordinary visit with her in Sacramento. A copy of The Harvey House Cookbook: Memories of Dining Along the Santa Fe Railroad, a book we found at the California State Railroad Museum. Danny and I marveled over the recipes for cheese straws, guacamole monterey, albondigas soup, and New England scallop salad, while Lu just wanted to run from the real-life sleeping car to the dining car, over and over. Five bags of Cup4Cup flour mixes — pizza! brownies! pancakes! — given to us by the good folks in Napa, the team who created these flours for gluten-free folks to feel good about their baked goods again. And after a stop at Rancho Gordo to hug our friend Steve Sando, we added banana vinegar, midnight black beans, and dark chocolate tablets to our bags. Only a few days into our trip, our rented minivan was starting to fill.
From a private potluck lunch with friends at Contigo in San Francisco, there were dried persimmons and a case of SFQ, our very favorite barbecue sauce in the world. (Michele and Danny made a bet when the Seahawks played the 49ers. Lucky for us, the Seahawks won.) Lucy skipped to the car draped in wildly colored pop beads after playing with Tilden all afternoon. She also clutched the tiny AAA tow truck flashlight Anita had given her earlier. By the end of the evening, there was a small jar of tomato confit, made by our friends Tracy and Kim, who asked us to stay in their new home in San Jose.
The next day in Madera, we had walked through the rows of olive trees with the man who ran the Rosenthal Olive Ranch, then stood in his kitchen, sipping orange-flavored olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Both bottles made it home safely, thankfully. We ate a salad of endive and romaine, goat cheese, and walnuts this evening with that olive oil and balsamic.
After a stop at the Santa Barbara farmers’ market, Lucy owned a copy of The Royal Treasure Measure (Math Is Fun!), a lovely book that the even lovelier Amanda brought her. We met Amanda and a handful of other people in front of the Harry’s Berries stand, laughing in the Saturday sunlight. Lucy insisted we buy a jar of pickled dilly beans and another of strawberry preserves. She walked back to the car with them all in her hands, set them down on the floor of the car, and put on the Groucho glasses our friend Leela had given her the night before. (This photo of her wearing them might be my favorite one of the hundreds and hundreds left on my phone after driving down California.)
After the potluck we held in Los Angeles, in a park by a playground, I took home a pair of earrings made by a reader, earrings the color of the Pacific Ocean we had swum in the day before. And after the next to last day in California, Lu came home with a pair of Minnie Mouse ears. Danny and I both wore our Mickey Mouse t-shirts on the plane back home.
It was, without a doubt, the best trip we have ever taken together, the three of us.
Of course, there were far more memories than tangible mementos. Those memories — of the good people with whom we shared food, of driving past dusty fields still being planted by farmers, of friends feeding us and taking us in for the night, of Disneyland and Oakland and hotel pools in Los Angeles, of meals with friends in restaurants — will stay with us for a long time.
We’ll be sharing the stories of our time in California with you, here, over the next couple of weeks. There will be recipes too, inspired by our time in San Luis Obisbo and Sacramento and Santa Barbara. There will also be recipes in our next cookbook, which will have a good number of comfort food dishes and another good number of meals inspired by the fresh produce and healthy celebration of California. We will share photos and stories of the places we have gone, which might inspire you to visit them too.
Mostly, though, I’m left with a wave of gratitude for the state that was my childhood home. California, I underestimated you as a kid. I choked through smog and wondered why we lived in a place with skies so perpetually brown. The vapidity of Hollywood and the desperate need to appear beautiful all the time drove me away. (I was a bespectacled bookworm brunette in southern California in the late 1970s and 1980s. I never stood a chance.) But now, as an adult, firmly rooted with Danny and Lu on this island we call home, I fell in love with California in a way I never could as a child. The entire trip, I hummed Joni Mitchell in my mind:
“California I’m coming home I’m going to see the folks I dig I’ll even kiss a Sunset pig California I’m coming home.”
It was a good trip home.
We can’t wait to share it with you here.
We’d like to send out a huge acknowledgment and thank you to Erewhon Organic for sponsoring this California tour. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to meet you and gather material for our next cookbook. Erewhon Organic makes some of our favorite foods in the world, including their new quinoa-chia cereal and their buckwheat-hemp cereal, which was our favorite breakfast on this tour. They do things right.
We’re off on another adventure. And we’d love to meet you along the way. As many of you might remember, we spent much of September in a minivan, driving around New England, holding potlucks and meeting…