Learn to Eat Chocolate with the Real Willie Wonka


Theobroma–“Food of the Gods”

Two weeks ago, I decided I wanted to be the real Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

Two reasons: 1) because it seemed like fun, like when I decided to play with monkeys not long ago, and 2) because I wanted to learn the little-known art of eating and choosing chocolate, which I could then share with you. It’s a simple way to seriously upgrade your Valentine’s experience.

Since I use Scharffen Berger gourmet chocolate for most of my truffle making (70% cacao), I tracked down their most famous chocolate maker, Brad Kintzer, and convinced him to take me behind the scenes for a tasting.

Below are four video clips that explore everything from pairing with scotch and the taste trail of dark chocolate to the importance of blending cocoa beans for the perfect chocolate…

Here are a few cool facts about chocolate to pique your curiosity:

1. Anandamide (from “ananda” in Sanskrit, which means “bliss”), a messenger molecule sometimes called the “chocolate amphetamine,” is unique in its resemblance to THC, the active psychotropic in marijuana.

2. The chief stimulant in chocolate, an alkaloid called theobromine, comes from the latin genus theobroma, which means “food of the gods.”

3. In the US Department of Agriculture’s ORAC ((Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart, raw cocoa powder is at the top of the antioxidant list with almost four times the amount of antioxidants as Goji Berries.

How do you take a a bean that not intended to be eaten and reveal more than 1,000 flavor compounds, which is rivaled only by coffee?

Let the real Willie Wonka explain how to satisfy — and make the most of — your sweet tooth this Valentine’s Day.

Thanks to Gennaro Strangis for helping me with camera work and eating a few kilos of chocolate :)

PART 1 – Introduction to Brad and the spectrum of chocolates

PART 2 – Tastings and flavors, “semi-sweet” vs. “bittersweet”, and percentages of cocoa content

PART 3 – Pairing with Scotch, choosing, and tasting nibs

PART 4 – Experiencing the candy store

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For next week:
How to Lose 20 lbs. of Fat in 30 Days… Without Doing Any Exercise


Odds and Ends: Get Goodies from Me for Valentine’s Day, Cosmo Thinks 4HWW is Sexy…

V-Day Goodness from Me:

Would you like a big and beautiful Joseph Schmidt Valentine package from yours truly, replete with all the best chocolates they have? Or, if chocolate’s not your thing, some delish Ginger Snapdragon cookies from LizLovely? Just give me three bullet point reasons in the comments no later than 5pm PST Tuesday, and I’ll choose one of you to join me in sweet indulgences. If you really want to win, put up a video on YouTube with “4hourvalentine” in the tags and link to it in the comments. Have some fun :)

Cosmo and Sexy Time for 4HWW:

You may have noticed in this month’s Cosmo that, between “Arouse Him Like Crazy” and “Great Butt and Thighs,” The 4-Hour Workweek is voted on pg. 38 as “sexy” in the monthly “Sexy vs. Skanky” list. Yeeeeah, baby! Thanks to Vanessa for the tip off. Larger size here.

Posted on: February 11, 2008.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

98 comments on “Learn to Eat Chocolate with the Real Willie Wonka

  1. chocolate also has the same exact chemical reaction in a woman’s brain as does being in love… in a “loving”/ romantic way sort of way… not the dirty way :-) … I would grab some chocolate right now if I was not doing my own custom detox cleanse.. :-)


  2. For the Joseph Schmidt Valentine package:

    * My girlfriend will melt. She is a chocolate addict.
    * This is much better than the pathetic Belgian chocolate I was planning to give her.
    * The chances of me getting laid are higher than the percentage of cacao in these truffles.

    Make a brother happy.


  3. Wow, those Liz Lovely cookies look unbelievable! I just forwarded this to my boyfriend to make sure he posts his three reasons. And did anyone look at the chocolate stuff they have? Organic dark chocolate covered Lovely Oh’s (they look like Oreos?)??? WOW! My bf better write something if he knows what’s good for him…


  4. Free chocolate is worth more than a minute of my time.

    For the Joseph Schmidt Valentine Package:
    1.My girlfriend is in Ecuador teaching English and becoming fluent in Spanish. She has been there since September.

    2.My mother and my best friend are 1000 miles away.

    3.My good friends who often throw a “single on valentines day” party are all out of town.

    If I can’t have the ones I love, I’d like to have the one thing we all love: chocolate.



  5. Damn, lured from the lurking world with sweet nibblings!

    – In Japan, on Valentine’s Day only the women give chocolate to the men. Men only give chocolate to women on a separate holiday, called White Day, which takes place in March. Call me impatient, but I like chocolate on V-Day, and I don’t think my coworkers are going to give Obligation Coworker Chocolate to the foreign girl anytime soon. :p
    (BUT, if I end up giving the chocolate to the workplace, it’s bonus points for me!)

    – That being said, I’m willing to make an exchange for random Japanese goods of your choosing.

    – A professional pickup artist once told me that he could get women to be wildly multiorgasmic over the course of hours provided they get enough water and chocolate. Okay, so that’s not a legitimate reason, but I thought it was funny and slightly creepy.

    I’m secretly hoping Evan will win though, because his plea is adorable.


  6. Tim,
    This was an interesting article. My ears perked up when I heard the Dominican Republic. Mi gente! I spent half my life out of the United States and grew up in the Dominican Republic. I did not know that cocoa beans were grown down there. I knew that there was sugar cane, cigar shops, and coffee plantations but never cocoa. I guess one learns something new everyday. Also you have inspired me to start a blog. I want to inspire people with my life story. These past few months have been awesome and I want to share it with college students my age to encourage them. Anyways sorry this post wasn’t related to chocolate. Keep up the good work! Adios!


  7. Hey Tim,

    I am just getting to read your chocolate posting now and probably missed the deadline, but here are my reasons why:

    – I had a dream about you this weekend (really) and since you skipped the flowers I guess a basket of chocolate will do
    – I’m going to the Dominican Republic this weekend to visit my grandma. Since she, well, can’t really chew – truffles would be a great thing to share with her
    – I work at Sesame Street and I promise to send you a picture with Grover and the basket of chocolate :)


  8. 1. Because I was drooling through the whole movie – and if you send me the chocolate, by the process of elimination I’ll know if it was at you or the cacao.

    2. Because I’ll make really good use of it – whether straight up, paired with Lagavulin or Dolce, combined with a chili pepper infusion for Mayan Cocoa, or added for a little flavor to a homemade cocoa butter massage bar that will melt on skin contact.

    3. Because I’ll send you a custom avatar in return since your Twitter icon needs pimped!


  9. Hi Tim!

    I’ve only been out of college for one month and have not yet conquered life, so I’m unable to post a YouTube video. Damn you six year old camera! I won’t let that stop me, so here it goes:

    · I’ve been falling for a co-worker for six months. She may be the funniest girl I’ve ever met, and she has been reciprocating affection as of late. I would have asked her out by now if it weren’t for one reason — she’s my boss. It may sound silly, but getting her a great Valentine is actually on my February dreamline.

    · Chocolate is perfect gift for the above scenario. It can mean “I’m just being a nice guy,” or “I’ve been thinking of you lately.” Either way, it’s both effective and efficient.

    · I work with her for 4 hours on Valentine’s Day, so it is a great opportunity to add “The 4-Hour Matchmaker” to your résumé ;)

    Thanks a million!



  10. Hmm Tim, here`s a quick 1, 2, 3:

    1. I did a research project in the ninth grade about chocolate. It was one of those “learn to do a research project” courses, so I picked chocolate as my topic. I love chocolate that much!

    2. The best chocolate I’ve ever had was stuff I picked up in Geneva @ a chocolaterie. Everything else since has just been “plain old chocolate”. My location-independent plan is still about a year from completion so I’d love a taste of the good life (and chocolate from the DR definitely counts).

    3. My wife doesn’t like expensive chocolates! And I’m not kidding you here. She has the most sensitive palette of anyone I’ve known, but she still prefers “plain-jane” chocolate. I’ve fed her much of the standard imported Belgian and Swiss fare, but the only success I’ve had are the Red Lindt truffles (seriously, just the red). I’ve never heard of Joseph Schmidt until today. Hooking me up won’t just make my wife happy, it’s a definite new customer opportunity for Joseph Schmidt.


  11. Hi Tim,

    If you ever go to Brussels make sure to check out Pierre Marcolini’s shops > http://www.marcolini.be/EN/accueil.html
    Quite easy to find. From the airport jump in a cab and ask for “Place du Sablon” and you will find yourself in the epicentre of chocolate and antiques (different shops however ;-)
    I am Belgian but now living and working in the UK. Luckily Green & Blacks is producing excellent chocolate over here… so I can always get my chocolate fix.

    Really enjoy reading your posts,



  12. [Semi OT]

    Some day I’d like to see a video where you show how to prepare mate in the gourd and drink it through the bombilla. I had a friend bring back a bag of Cruz de Malta from Argentina (and accoutrements) as per your recommendation but it doesn’t quite work out. La yerba clogs the bombilla and it’s generally messy.

    I still enjoy it though, brewing with water and yerba in a thermos and straining through a filter when serving, but I’d like to learn how it’s properly done.



  13. For the Valentine package:
    1. I want whiter teeth (high cocoa to sugar ratio may discourage tooth decay).
    2. I want to live longer (Research shows that chocolate eaters live almost a year longer then those who abstain).
    3. I will be sharing most of it with my g/f and her two sisters.


  14. Guess this was the post “for the ladies” that you promised! I just can’t really decide if that was bittersweet, semi-sweet or simply very sweet of you…

    These are my

    – For Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided not to start the oh-no-i’m-single-and-it’s-valentine’s-day-melody and instead go to the dojo for some sweaty ju-jutusu
    – I could use the chocolate to cheer up my newly dumped neighbour and friend
    – With both the exercise and the chocolate, I will have enough endorphines to make a smaller town glow in the dark nights. Isn’t that environemental-friendly energy or what?:P


  15. Tim, no bullet points to offer, but would like to share my favorite truffle recipe. Dead easy to make- and deadly delicious. A way to a man’s heart- or coveted Valentine’s prize – may just be via his stomach!

    120 grams good-quality 70% dark chocolate
    1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
    3/4 cup icing (powdered) sugar
    6 tbsp almond powder (I grind whole with skins, about 3/4 cup whole yields 6 tbsp ground)
    3 tbsp Grand Marnier liqueur
    2 tbsp cocoa powder

    Melt chocolate with butter in microwave. Stir until well melted and blended. Add icing sugar, ground almonds and Grand Marnier. Mix well to combine. Leave to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes, then refrigerate covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes. (any longer chocolate gets too hard)

    With fingers, form into small balls and roll them into cocoa powder. Keeps well refrigerated, but serve at room temp.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all fellow romantics :-)


  16. Questions:
    *For Brian
    ” … I would grab some chocolate right now if I was not doing my own custom detox cleanse.. :-)”

    How do you detox?

    *For Tim (or Someone else)
    What is the simplest way to post a YouTube video?

    My 3 Chocolate responses

    (1)I have always preferred the bitter taste of dark chocolate. I get slight quivers when I eat it and it is very satisfying nutition-wise.

    (2)Along with promoting deep restful sleep, consuming Himalayan Goji juice filled in my tooth cavity! (Drink it diluted in water for best results). If raw cocoa powder is at the top of the antioxidant list with almost four times the amount of antioxidants as Goji Berries, I would like to discover (and post to 4HWW, of course) the health benefits!

    (3)Tim, I also seek health enhancement in the natural realm. Thank you for being willing to reveal your unconventional findings.