Texas®

I looked up the definition of the world sublime: So awe inspiringly beautiful as to seem almost heavenly. Yup, nuff said.

sublime-07This is the most difficult kind of place for me to review. I am profoundly allergic to chocolate, which I first discovered in my teens. Once I managed to remove Chip’s Ahoy from my diet, my reaction to chocolate became even more intense. In fact while taking the pictures accompanying this article, I had to leave the room, twice.

So in order to give you an idea of the artistic quality of Sublime Chocolates I had to take a designated nibbler with me. My friend Megan followed me across Main Street in Allen out past Greenville to an old strip center where Sublime Chocolates sits nestled between a martial arts studio and an insurance agency. The location is as unimpressive as it is unassuming, but the old rule “if you have a quality product people will find you” is in full effect here.

I first heard of Sublime from some friends of mine, we were sitting in Dodie’s after an Allen Americans hockey game talking about food and my buddy’s wife told me about Sublime. She described bacon infused chocolate truffles in such a way it actually made me uncomfortable to be sitting next to her husband.

Sublime is the creation of Master Chocolatier Troy Easton. Troy is an artist with form and presentation but his palate not only includes dark French chocolate, butter and crème, but also includes the blending of flavors that take your breath away.

“A lot of people come in and say they are not a fan of dark chocolate,” owner Troy Easton says, “Most of those folks are usually not used to a quality chocolate. We use French and other chocolates combined with local organic butter and cream.” The result is a blend that combines the natural bite of the coco in a way that induces a pause of indulgence in my designated nibbler.

sublime-11With the glowing red translucence of a “Caliente Heart” – a combination of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and chili powder infused inside a chocolate casing – Troy shows off his deft use of contrasting tastes to blend on the tongue. As Megan bites into the edge, her eyes widen and she pauses as the warmth of the peppers blends with the sweet subtle chocolate, “It is really interesting. It reminds me a little of the hot heart candies we used to get.” The cool sweet of the chocolate then permeates her taste buds and she says with a smile, “wow that finishes entirely different in your mouth than it started. That is really cool.”

After working with a variety of high-end restaurants, Troy began looking at Chocolate as a career. He explains he had a bit of encouragement too, “Actually my wife decided I should do this. I did a lot of catering and weddings and things that I always ended up doing a sweet or a chocolate for and I was getting a lot of feedback about it. Thankfully, she has the ‘good job’ that allows me to do this.”

With his wife Bliss’ encouragement and support Troy began apprenticing and taking classes in far flung areas like Connecticut with Fritz Knipschildt and in Vancouver, Canada at CoCoWest. After working with others, Troy and Bliss found a low cost storefront to begin with on the eastern edge of Allen.

sublime-08“I never really thought I would move to the Dallas area but I met my wife and her job was here so there really was no other option,” explains Troy. The small storefront houses the entire production side of Sublime’s operations, all of which are visible from the front door. A display case with glowing plates full of truffles, wedges of pure milk chocolate and squares of Saint Dominique single origin chocolate from the Caribbean shows off the range and quality of Sublime’s products.

The air is heavy with the aroma of chocolate and I know many women who would tell you that scent could well be the most compelling aroma in the world. Display boxes of prepackaged gift sets line shelves on both sides of the room and directly behind the retail area is rack upon rack of cooling candy molds.

On the shelf, waiting to be put in the display case, is a tray of delicate white chocolate roses infused with Syrian rose petal jam. These roses were originally created for a party Troy catered for perfume and design house legend Chanel. The floral aspect of the Middle Eastern delicacy is toned down with a hint of jasmine tea.

sublime-05One of the chocolate squares caught Megan’s eye and Troy lifted a sample to her: a Thai ginger spice square. Ginger is one of those things that can easily overwhelm anything it is paired with but again Troy shows his mastery of the palette by gently nudging your taste buds with the ginger and again cooling it of with the sweet chocolate.

“Now this is the most interesting thing I think I have ever tasted,” Said Megan, almost confused by the taste of a golden curry square, “The first bite hits you with a strong sense of curry then is quickly replaced with the flavor of white and milk chocolate followed by hints and textures of coconut.”

The flavors of all of Sublime’s lines are also accented by brilliant visual presentation. Luminous “Luster Dust” catches the sunlight on a dark truffle and gives it a glow of purple. On others golden flecks and iridescent accents identify each by content. Even the signature Sublime “S” is hand brushed with glistening gold color.

Some of the blends and textures have been in Troy’s head for years. For example, the Bacon Truffle was something he remembered from going to I-Hop as a kid, “They used to serve the bacon and everything on the same plate and I remember putting chocolate chip pancakes with syrup and a piece of bacon on the same fork. It kind of came from that memory.” Troy says some of the other signature tastes like the pecan pie came pretty easily. “It is Texas, so I knew I needed to have something with pecan, this one took a half hour to perfect. The Thai Ginger took almost three months.”

sublime-03In the new year Troy and Bliss will be opening a small café in the Waters Creek development on Central Expressway and Bethany. Though the production will remain over at the Main Street location, the intent is to have a dedicated, decadent indulgence location closer to his customers.

He will continue experimenting and says his wife continues to inspire ideas, “I have been thinking of stuffing a Serrano pepper and dipping it, I don’t know when I will get the time to try and perfect it but it is an idea she tossed at me one night and I like it.”

At the end of the day Megan had a very satisfied look on her face that was the polar opposite of mine. Due to that pesky allergy I looked like I had been beaten with a bushel of ragweed. Remembering how much I once enjoyed the end product of the cocoa plant and knowing how I can never eat it again made me a little sad. But also knowing that I had found a fantastic life saver for the next time I screw up, and I know I will, made me smile.

Sublime Chocolate
1201 E. Main Street
Ste. 230
Allen, TX
(972) 747-0848

It is far from a secret that I am obsessed with all things bacon and cooking and considering that our CEO here at BoTx, suggested I start putting some of my recipes up here on the blog, I thought I’d start off with a bacon-y treat. I’d take pictures of the process to show you, but I can’t seem to find my battery charger at the moment, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Amanda’s Texas Pecan, Maple & Bacon Monkey Bread

Wake up at the crack of dawn, wash face, turn on some music, start coffee maker, yawn. Then gather together:

6 tbsp of unsalted butter
1 3/4 c. whole milk
¼ c. cream
¼ c. sugar
¼ ounce of dry yeast
2 large egg yolks
5 ½ c. of all-purpose flour
1 tbsp of salt
16 slices of bacon, chopped roughly
1 c. of pecan halves, chopped (if you don’t like pecans, try chopped apple, instead)
1 c. of maple sugar – (if you can’t find maple sugar, use 1 c. of brown sugar, plus ½ c. of REAL maple syrup)

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter on medium low heat. Add milk, cream, and the white sugar stirring until warm. Turn off heat and sprinkle the yeast on top of the mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes. It will get a little foamy looking, that’s okay. Then whisk your egg yolks into the yeast mixture.

Oil a large mixing bowl lightly and in another bowl, whisk together your flour and salt. Next add your yeast mixture and stir together until it turns into a soft dough. Flour a work surface, and turn the dough on to the surface. Knead dough until soft and elastic, about 10 minutes or so. Shape your dough into a ball, and place into the oiled bow and cover with a towel. Let rise at room temp for about two hours, until the ball expands to double in size.

Waste an hour or so by surfing the interwebs, watching the news, taking a shower, annoying your spouse, playing with your choice of companion animal, reading a book or playing Risk online.

While your dough is still doing its thing, cook the bacon until barely crisp. Drain on paper towels. Then toss the bacon in the maple sugar or your maple/brown sugar mixture. Add pecan pieces to the mixture. Butter a Bundt pan and sprinkle about half the bacon/sugar/ pecan mixture in the bottom.

Turn your dough onto and UNFLOURED work surface and mash it into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 36 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Arrange 18 of the balls in two layers in the Bundt pan and then cover the remaining bacon/sugar/pecan mixture over them. Arrange the remaining half of the balls on top, set as many of them as you can in the little hollows of the first dough ball layer.

Cover with a towel and set aside for about two hours, allowing the dough to rise a second time. If you’re impatient, you can cover the pan in plastic wrap, set in the fridge, pull it out the next morning. If you do this, you’ll need to let it come to room temp before baking the following day.

If you’ve opted to be patient, by now, unless you’ve started at say, 4 a.m., it should be reasonable for you enjoy a late morning/early afternoon approved adult beverage, such as a Bloody Mary or screwdriver…or beer. 

Pre-heat your oven to 400. Melt 2 tbsp of butter and pour this over the bread. Bake for 15 minutes on a center rack, then tent with foil. Continue baking for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool the pan for about 10 minutes, unmold and let cool for about 30 minutes before serving.

Early one Christmas morning I was craving this bread and tried to do a lazy person’s version by using canned biscuit dough. It sucked, so I don’t recommend that at all. You can also adjust this recipe to a hearty cheddar and bacon monkey bread, but I’m not going to tell you all my secrets.

If you guys like this recipe thing, let me know, and I’ll do it again.

That’s what Josh in sales calls bacon. The Unstoppable Meat.

I’m always in the market for sticking a clothespin on my aorta, the fattier the better. So it was to my great delight to discover this Beautiful Bacon Masterpiece. I’m making it for Super Bowl Sunday, here’s the lowdown and recipe.

Bacon is much revered in Texas. We chicken fry it, wrap it around healthy veggies, and I use a whole pound of it in my modified meatloaf recipe, courtesy of Helen Corbitt, the one time director of Neiman-Marcus Restaurants, and her 1957 cookbook.

So tell me, Texas. How do you like your bacon? Where do you get it? Any restaurants I should know about that have amazing unstoppable meat offerings? I NEED TO KNOW.

It’s BACON! Read more