Wild Blueberry and Gouda Cupcakes (Taste of Pure Imagination)

My mother, like so many other moms, always told me, “Never take candy from strangers.” I know it was for my own safety, so I didn’t get kidnapped or anything, but I hate to break it to you Mom—I didn’t listen. And not to throw salt in an open wound, but not only did I take candy from a stranger, I did it in a tattoo shop, of all places. In my own defense, I was merely there for moral support, not for myself (I’m terrified of needles, a big baby when it comes to pain, and too indecisive to have something done to me at 20 that I’ll have to still look at when I’m 90). And the man who gave it to me looked nice enough, plus—it was chocolate. I can’t turn down chocolate, no matter who it’s from! Especially when it’s the best chocolate I’ve ever had. According to the stranger, the chocolate covered apricot I was enjoying came from the “adorable little woman” from the chocolate place in the North Market. It’s been about 7 years now since I went against my mom’s advice, and for the past 7 years I’ve been going to that adorable little woman, whom we now affectionately call YiaYia, the Greek word for Grandmother, at Pure Imagination Chocolatier, for all my chocolate indulgences.

While YiaYia may be the face most see regularly when they visit Pure Imagination, her grandson, Daniel, is the mastermind behind the scenes. As the founder of Pure Imagination, Daniel started teaching himself the art of chocolate about 20 years ago, creating truffles in his basement. Since then, he’s opened up shop in the North Market, has an impressive display at local and regional Whole Foods stores, had his truffles featured on the hit show, Ugly Betty, and even made golden chocolate statuettes for the Academy Awards! This guy obviously knows his chocolate. Drop by while he’s at the North Market and he’ll tell you all about it.

He's also a guy who is passionate about what he does. Our first trips to Pure Imagination resulted in some lengthy conversations about what makes Daniel’s chocolate so special. He won’t even think twice about launching into a 25 minute discussion about his truffles, his high quality, Fair Trade ingredients, and his love for all things chocolate. With unique flavors like Blood Orange Mimosa, Rose Raspberry, Jack Daniel’s Caramel, Prince of Darkness (which has 90% Cocoa), and my personal favorite, Wild Blueberry and Gouda, Pure Imagination truly is something special. While Daniel claims his secret technique is heating the chocolate at different temperatures at different times, I think the passion he shows for what he’s creating is the real secret. I’ve never met anyone who loves doing what he’s doing more.

When it was announced that the second round of Cupcake Camp would take place at the North Market, and one of the categories would be Best North Market Inspiration, I knew immediately I would make something from Pure Imagination. Not only is it incredible chocolate with amazing flavors, but Daniel himself is an inspiration to me as a baker to have intense passion about what I'm doing, immerse myself in learning all I can about it, and take immense pride in what I create. The one truffle that stuck in my mind was Wild Blueberry and Gouda. Such an odd combination, but so incredibly good. And for Cupcake Camp? I had to go with something not so mainstream. Last time it was bacon in a cupcake. This time? Let’s give cheese a shot.

This cupcake truly terrified me. How was I going to put cheese in a cupcake without it tasting so… cheesy? I settled on the idea of a chocolate cupcake, filled with the delicious blueberry sauce I found at Trader Joe’s, and topped with a Gouda frosting. And I’d make them minis to simulate the size of the truffle. (Plus, maybe the cheese frosting wouldn’t be so off-putting if there were a smaller amount of it.) Unlike most of my past crazy cupcake ideas, I did almost no testing with this one. Which scared me even more. There was only one test of frosting, to figure out which method of melting the cheese to use, and merely resulted in deciding what NOT to do. The finished cupcake came together for the first time the morning of Cupcake Camp, and running completely late, I only had time to shove one in my mouth at the last second to see if it tasted okay.

Other than registering that I didn’t immediately want to spit it back out (which I took as a good sign), I don’t remember much about the flavor at all. I was in such a hurry to get everything together and get out the door that I didn’t even process what I was tasting, so I honestly couldn’t tell you if they were good or not. (I do remember that it wasn't all that cheesy tasting! So that's a good thing!) And sadly, that was the only one I had a chance to taste. All 48 of the mini cupcakes I took to Camp were gone by the time I got back over to the table they were set up on, so I never had another chance to actually taste them. Did anyone that went to Cupcake Camp try them? Were they any good? If so, let me know. And sorry if they weren’t. I’m going to have to try making them again, with a bit more testing, and without the pressure of a time limit keeping me from accomplishing the goal I set out to meet—making something I’m truly proud of. I didn’t even take the time to write down what I was doing along the way, so I don’t even have a recipe for you yet! But I will. I’m determined now to make something worthy of Pure Imagination. And from now on, I’m going to try to savor the process of creating, rather than throwing everything together and hoping for the best. Well, maybe I’ll still do a bit of that, but I’ll at least try to pay a bit more attention along the way.
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Ingrid said...

Well, dang.....no one said anything? They certainly sound interesting.

Daniel Cooper said...

What a wonderful write up. Thank you very much for the warm words. I thank you for using us as your inspiration. Anytime you want to put our brains together I would help you in any way with future creations. You are welcome to come to my secret location and we will whip up some crazy things. You know how to find me.

Warmest Regards,
Daniel Cooper
Master Chocolatier
Pure Imagination Chocolatier

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