1

Chocolate & Why we just can’t get enough!

Close up image of chocolate chunks

Today we celebrate a sacred day in our Sweet Street community. That day is National Chocolate Day. Our friend, sweet, glorious and rich chocolate. Here’s a little history of this craveable ingredient, found in many of our desserts, and why we just can’t get enough of it.

Brief History

Woman picking cacoa from tree

Chocolate, as you may well know, comes from the cocoa bean, which have been growing on trees in South and Central America for over 100 million years. Cocoa trees started growing in the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains. They live in hot and rainy areas close to the Equator. The cocoa beans come from a large fruit such as this:  They are full of vitamins like magnesium and Vitamin C, but they are quite bitter. They also contain a fair amount of caffeine. People started farming cocoa as early as 15,000 BC in South America. Cocoa farming spread quickly to North and Central America and by 2000 BC, people of Mexico were grinding cocoa beans and making them into a hot or cold spicy chocolate drink. Making various concoctions, they sometimes used honey to sweeten the chocolate. 

 

Sandy's Hands with Cocoa Beans

 

By 200s BC, during Aztec Empire, cocoa beans became an important trade item as the people in the north could not grow their own due to climate restrictions. Thus, the migration into Arizona and Colorado. The government soon made people use cocoa beans as money and the farmers could not afford to actually eat them anymore. Only the rich were privileged enough to drink chocolate drinks. In the late 1400s Ad, when Spanish invaders came to Mexico and America’s Southwest, they tried chocolate delicacies made for the rich and they brought it back to Europe with them. 

 

What We Crave

Today, chocolate is distributed everywhere and is meant for everyone. Variations of chocolate have been developed and endless dessert items have been created from this ancient ingredient. But why do we love it so much?

Dr. Stavnezer says “We crave chocolate because it is good!” It tastes, feels and smells good. Those feelings are the result of our brain releasing chemicals, dopamine, in response to the experience. Dopamine is that feel-good neurotransmitter that is released whenever we enjoy something and is part of our reward circuit. However, this circuit is part of our uniquely designed genetics. Thus, some people claim they don’t like chocolate… Crazy! 

Illustration of how cocoa increases dopamine

Chocolate also contains theobromine that can increase heart rate and arouse the senses, caffeine that makes us feel awake and increases focus, fat and sugar, preferred food sources due to calorie density.

Our brain creates a memory of this positive experience through the hippocampus. Therefore, every time we eat chocolate we are strengthening and reinforcing that reward system (dopamine response)  and the memory of feel-good sensations associated with it.

The Numbers

The numbers speak for themselves. According to Data Essential, chocolate is on 71.1% of US menus with a high versatility score. Chocolate can be found in cakes, brownies, cookies, candy, pies, ice cream, milk shakes, cheesecake, pudding, dessert bars, custards, mousses, fudge, pastries and much more. It’s popularity continues to grow, with no end in sight. 

Historic Chocolate on Menu Chart with Growth

Soucres:

https://quatr.us/south-america/chocolate-come-south-america.htm

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/comfort-cravings/201402/why-do-we-crave-chocolate-so-much

https://apps.datassential.com/snap/food?q=CHOCOLATE




2018 FABI Award Recipients Announced

[Editors note: For the second year in a row, our Manifesto® desserts have received the Food and Beverage award. Last year we won for both our Individually Wrapped Manifesto® Cookies & Bars and  our Manifesto® Bake-off cookies. This year, we are again honored to receive this award for our newest individually wrapped dessert. Our Honduran Chocolate Manifesto® Brownie is Certified Gluten-Free and is baked with only cage-free eggs, our own blend of gluten-free flour, sustainable chocolates and ingredients free of gmo’s and artificial additives–yet the star of these irresistible brownies is the purely dark Honduran chocolate. Sourced from a small cocoa collective of women farmers, this chocolate supports the advancement of these women providing them with the skills, education and income necessary to bring success to their families and village.]

March 28, 2018 CHICAGO — The National Restaurant Association (NRA) has revealed the recipients of the this year’s Food and Beverage (FABI) Awards, which will be presented during the NRA Show 2018, being held at McCormick Place from May 19 to 22.

The awards recognizes food and beverage products that stand out for taste, creativity and profit potential, and will make a substantial impact in the restaurant industry.

The 36 FABI-Award recipients were selected by an independent panel of experts and represent a variety of both commercial and non-commercial industry segments.

“The FABI Awards showcase the visionary companies helping chefs and foodservice operators innovate and drive guest satisfaction,” says Dickie Brennan, convention chairman for NRA Show 2018 and owner/managing partner of Dickie Brennan & Company. “The FABI-Award recipients provide opportunities for operators to meet consumer demand with cost-effective solutions. This list of award recipients serves as a guide of the must-see food and beverage exhibitors at NRA Show 2018.”

This year’s recipients and their recognized products are:

• Atalanta Corporation — Caffè Vergnano Compostable Espresso Capsules; Menu Dorati; Menu Shakshuka
• BCGA Concept Corporation — Brooklyn Crafted Mini
• Belvoir Fruit Farms — Organic Elderflower and Rose Lemonade
• Beyond Meat — Beyond Sausage
• Bridor — Simply Baguette
• Brooklyn Delhi — Roasted Garlic Achaar; Tomato Achaar
• Earnest Eats — PRO: Protein + Probiotic Oatmeal
• Gator Pears — Guacamole Mild 100/1.27 oz. portion packs
• Grecian Delight Foods — Falafel Fritters; Garlic Sauce
• Impossible Foods — Impossible Burger
• Kronos Foods Corp. — KronoBroil Gyros Slices
• La Colombe — Draft Latte
• Love Beets — Beet Salsa
• Mama La’s Kitchen — Beef & Chicken Pho Concentrates
• Natalie’s Juice — Matcha Lemonade
• Nona Lim — Shiitake Beef Bone Broth
• PepsiCo Foodservice — Naked Bars
• Pete’s Living Greens — Salicornia or “Sea Beans”
• Sabatino Tartufi — Truffle Soy Sauce
• Seascape Foods — French Fried Butter Beans; Fresh Vegetable Falafel
• Smart Flour Foods — Gluten Free Hoagie Roll
• SomPriya Fine Spirits, LLC — SomruS Original
• Sud’n’Sol — Pepper Spread; Tomato Spread
Sweet Street — Manifesto Gluten-Free Brownie, individually wrapped
• The Eli’s Cheesecake Company — Florentine Honey Almond Bar
• Venice Bakery — Gluten-Free Low Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust; Plant Based Gluten-Free Crusts (Broccoli Cheddar and Seasoned Cauliflower)
• Wagshal’s Imports — Minioliva
• Weston Foods Foodservice — ACE Bakery Mini Schiacciatas
• Wild Flour Bakery — Gourmet Gluten-Free Cookie Dough

More information about the award winners and their products can be found here.




Manifesto Desserts- Treat Yo Self!

Time to Think of You

The past couple months you’ve only been thinking of others and now it’s finally time to think of yourself and what you would enjoy this holiday season. It’s a wonderful time of the year to indulge in sweet delights, but guiltless treats are the best way to enjoy yourself now. Take time to experience Sweet Street’s individually wrapped Manifesto all-natural Cookies and Bars.

You Won’t Know What’s Missing

Every batch of freshly baked Manifesto desserts is made from simple ingredients befitting of your pantry. Mixed with only pure cane sugar, cage-free eggs and sustainably grown chocolates, these gourmet desserts are deserving of their two Food and Beverage Innovation Awards for breakthrough, cleaner desserts. These treats are so delectable you won’t know what’s missing, but we’ll tell you — there are no artificial colors, flavorings, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fat or alcohol.

It’s the most wonderful time to try Peruvian Chocolate Manifesto Brownies.

It’s the most wonderful time to try Peruvian Chocolate Manifesto Brownies.

Satisfy Your Chocolate Craving

If you’re a chocolate lover, then take a moment to enjoy the individually wrapped Peruvian Chocolate ManifestoBrownie, with an intense, full-bodied chocolate delivery, dense and fudgy with a chewy crust…all of the comfort we know and love grown up, a brownie like no other. And with these individually wrapped delights you’ll be sure to satisfy your taste buds.

Now Get Your Sweet Treat

After shopping, cooking and thinking of others, it’s time you think of yourself. Experience the power of good food, shared. To enjoy these wholesome and delicious indulgences, visit the Manifesto products page on our website.




Sustainable Chocolate, a Labor of Love. – Sandy’s Journey to Peru.

35Chocolates_1C&WEditors note: As the consumer demand for chocolate grows, so do the pressures of production for the many small producers; working in harsh, tropical conditions and many times struggling to make a living wage. Supporting the sustainable farming of these crops is vital to the global industry and to the livelihood of the farmers and their communities. Many of us may never have the opportunity to personally meet the farmer that cultivated the fields from which that yummy, sustainable chocolate brownie – we enjoyed this afternoon – came from however, we can come closer to appreciating its real-life impact through education and the experiences of others.

In the summer of 2016, our leader, Sandy Solmon, trekked to the family owned coffee and chocolate plantations in the high jungles of Peru; an educational expedition fit for a foodie. Driven by her insatiable appetite for knowledge, Sandy wanted to experience first-hand how her support of sustainable chocolate production impacts local economies and the lives of these farmers and their families.

Enjoy as Sandy reflects on this experience and shares her personal photos.

“Running an organic farm in the jungle is a labor of love. I can’t imagine a harder life. The farmer who owned the cacao plantation  we visited was Jose, a 62 year old, with soft eyes but  strong arms gained  from wielding his machete to cut the cacao from his trees. He can still climb a 20 foot high tree that I would have hesitated climbing when I was 25. His father owned the 15 acre farm originally and lived to be 101. It is a hard life powered by passion for his land.

A moment captured: Jose and Sandy and her husband Doug.

A moment captured: Jose and Sandy and her husband Doug.

On Jose’s farm he had mangos, avocados, giant misshapen but very sweet tangerines, papaya and pomelo, guayanaba, pineapple, coffee, 6 kinds of bananas, plantains, oranges that tasted flowery and aromatic, Coca trees, sugar cane, and chocolate –all of these crops grow in a hodge podge across his fifteen acres in an effort to keep the soil more fertile and free of pests.

In our travels, our local guide Able shared his dream of returning, to live and farm  these fields someday. He described it as “a paradise, it’s peaceful, and you have all the food you want, I can’t imagine a better life”. He was a sweet guy. He had started working the fields when he was 7 for the equivalent of $1 a day; went on to sell  Peruvian art to tourists in the street, graduated college with a 5 year degree in tourism, and  was now a guide. Over the last 9 years in trekking 400 times to Machu Picchu, and innumerable trips to the jungle he had saved the equivalent of $2,000  for the down payment on a house for he and his wife.  Earlier this year he developed a cerebral aneurysm and needed surgery. His nest egg went for that instead. Able  got out of the hospital 2 months ago and though he looked none the worse for wear, he was started his savings account from scratch. It is a hard life but full of  spirit and commitment and pride in how far he had risen in life.” – Sandy Solmon

In true entrepreneurial spirit, Sandy immersed herself into all aspects of the process including hand-grinding the cocoa beans. Sandy hand-grinding cocoa beans.

Sandy Solmon with the Fruits of her labor

Sandy with the fresh chocolate paste that was the fruit of her labor

 

“Some of the chocolate paste we slathered on the miniature bananas that grew on the farm, and some was mixed with boiling water to make an incredibly rich hot chocolate.”




Shareable Desserts…Enough Lusciousness To Go Around

A restaurant table is an open invitation for people to gather together and share. Good times. Spirited conversation. And of course, great food.

The dessert occasion is particularly ideal for sharing, as the rich and enticing flavors are even sweeter when enjoyed in the company of friends and loved ones. Not surprisingly, this creates a great opportunity to offer larger dessert formats that are easily shared among multiple guests.

Sweet Street offers many dessert options that are worthy of the “extra-large” moniker, by virtue of both their actual size and their mega lusciousness. So explore some of the decadent possibilities—and make sure you grab enough forks and plates for everyone.

 Skillet Cookies

Skillet Cookies from Sweet Street bring cookie lovers together for a shareable, craveable and simply irresistible new kind of cookie experience. Every skillet cookie is uniquely crafted to caramelize when freshly baked, serving up a warm moment of goodness to be savored by all who are lucky enough to get a bite of it.

Three irresistible varieties are available: Sandy’s Amazing Chocolate Chunk Skillet Cookie and the Salted Caramel Crunch Skillet Cookie.Cookie-Pie Rave Brochure Cover

Cookie-Pie Rave™

Another uniquely shareable experience, the Cookie-Pie Rave™ from Sweet Street packs enough blissfulness for the entire table to enjoy. These colossal 8-inch caramelized offerings come prebaked and ready to serve, perfect either as is or topped with ice cream and your favorite sauces.

Sweet Street offers two intensely flavorful options: the Salted Caramel Crunch Cookie-Pie Rave™ and Sandy’s Amazing Chocolate Chunk Cookie-Pie Rave™.

Sweetness is best shared. And Sweet Street is second to none when it comes bringing people together over dessert.




The Magic of Chocolate Discovered

Over the past few years on this blog, we’ve often delved into the many wonderful attributes of chocolate (taking a fork, a spoon and even a straw with us along the way). It’s easy to justify all the attention. Chocolate remains the top dessert flavor1—and just the mere mention of the word takes most people to a luscious place full of fond memories.

So why not delve even deeper and explore what makes chocolate so irresistible in the first place? It all starts with the cacao bean. After fermenting, drying and roasting, cacao beans are liquefied to create cocoa powder and cocoa butter. These are the building blocks of all things chocolate. Dark chocolate is made with a high percentage of cocoa butter, while milk chocolate gets its sweeter flavor from the addition of sugar and, of course, milk.

On a more molecular level, scientists will tell you that chocolate triggers certain feel-good reactions in the brain. Not to overwhelm you with the chemistry, but apparently we have substances such as tryptophan, serotonin and phenylethamine to thank for our intense love of a rich chocolate cake.

Peruvian Chocolate Manifesto Brownie

Peruvian Chocolate Manifesto Brownie

As you can imagine, there are many wonderful Sweet Street desserts that begin with the magical goodness of the cacao bean. Our Molten Chocolate Cake is meant to be served warm, unleashing an exhilarating rush of “molten” chocolate as you dig in with a fork.

Most recently we’ve introduced our Manifesto™ line, which features offerings made with clean, wholesome ingredients and no GMOs. The Peruvian Chocolate Manifesto™ Brownie, Just Chocolate Manifesto™ Cookie and Sandy’s Amazing Chocolate Chunk Manifesto™ Cookie are all sure to put a smile on any chocolate lover’s face.

Chocolate by any measure is magical. And with a few special touches from Sweet Street, the magic takes on a whole new level of lusciousness.

1Mintel Menu Category Report: Desserts, July 2015




Cakes are made to be celebrated.

What is it about cake that seems to make it synonymous with celebration? The modern tradition of enjoying cake on birthdays is believed to have originated in Germany during the 1,400’s. And brides and grooms have celebrated with cake on their wedding day for at least as long.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it. The sweet, baked goodie is a festive treat that can put a smile on anyone’s face. And its common “sheet” preparation method is ideal for sharing among large gatherings of people.

Of course, the appreciation of cake goes far beyond these traditional celebrations. According to Technomic, cake is the most frequently menued type of baked dessert at the Top 500 full-service restaurants. As you might expect, chocolate leads the charge. Technomic research shows that 62% of consumers would happily order chocolate cake for dessert. But that’s only the beginning of the sweet possibilities.

Traditional 9-in. round cakes are also available to delight dessert lovers. Our Salted Caramel Vanilla Crunch features layers of caramel and creamy custard, while our Four High Carrot Cake is layer upon layer of dark, moist carrot cake. And did we mention that chocolate is a popular cake choice as well? The Choc’late Lovin’ Spoon Cake® is our homage to this king of all dessert flavors, with a giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist, chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.

A giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist, chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.

A giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist, chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.




A Few More Irresistible Reasons to Adore Chocolate

Chocolate is the leading baked-good flavor in the top 500 limited- and full-service restaurants. It’s also the leading pudding flavor and top solo ice cream flavor, according to Technomic MenuMonitor. In MenuTrends DIRECT, Datassential reports that 64.7% of all restaurants feature chocolate—a percentage way beyond other flavors. But you already knew that. Just had to look at your own menu.

How did chocolate get to be homecoming flavor queen? It tastes marvelous. It carries reward associations from childhood. And because it is now accepted as good for you—decreasing stroke risks (HealthDay), improving blood flow (Harvard), even helps with math (Daily Telegraph, UK)—chocolate straddles the boundaries between rich indulgence and healthful antioxidant, polling at the peak of popularity, where it seems to have set up summit camp.

The challenge for restaurateurs is to not disappoint. Customers are now veterans of many chocolate excursions. The burgeoning millennials are explorers and have tried chocolate many ways. They know the difference between chocolate artfully incorporated into desserts and those that skate by. It is not good to skate by because a craved dessert can pull in dinner business.

Chocolate in the hands of Sweet Street Desserts is always perfection, learned from 35 years of creating luscious recipes. One popular classic is Molten Chocolate Cake, deeply chocolate, enrobed in chocolate and filled with a dark chocolate truffle, which melts when heated to a fabulous sauce. Another favorite is the Choc’late Lovin’ Spoon Cake®, a giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.

The Individual Flourless Chocolate Cake is not only the little black dress of desserts, but also gluten-free, helping celiacs and those who opt out of gluten by choice enjoy a rich, chocolate experience.

Sweet Street incorporates chocolate in a wide variety of creative presentations. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Stack features a sweet and salty peanut butter crunch layer and buttery caramel amid a brownie-cake hybrid. Speaking of brownies, Sweet Street offers Brownie Bites with satisfying chocolate flavor in magnificent one-inch bites, great for bar treats and other pursuits.

Choc'late Lovin' Spoon Cake is a giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist, chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.

Choc’late Lovin’ Spoon Cake is a giant mouthful of chocolate pudding between two layers of dark, moist, chocolate-drenched chocolate cake.