Chocolat Uzma Sharif & a Lovely Chocolate Giveaway

Some time ago I sat down for coffee with the very talented local pastry chef, Uzma Sharif. I had just approached her after noticing she was donating her ‘East meets West’ chocolates to a charity event we were mutually involved in, though we had never met.

She was energetic and enthusiastic about our meeting and was thrilled to share her story with me so that it could be told right here with all of you, as well.  During our coffee, she offered a couple of sample bags and boxes of her exotic and unique brand, Chocolat Uzma Sharif.  I felt they were too pretty to open, so my first instinct was to photograph the packaging- what a gorgeous gift these will make. In fact, I waited a couple of days before trying anything because I simply enjoyed how the eco-friendly packages were decorated.

Uzma Sharif was born and raised in Albany Park (a Chicago neighborhood) of Pakistani parents. Her maternal grandfather was a renowned baker who set up shops all over Pakistan to sell European and traditional pastries. She says baking is in her blood since all her aunts and uncles also bake and cook and it’s been done so well for so long in her family.

After high school, Uzma decided to head to culinary school to attend the Colorado Mountain Culinary Institute’s Culinary Arts program. During the last six months of her program she elected to work at Keystone Resorts where she became the lead pastry cook, tweaking recipes at 11,500 feet and developing a keen skill for recipe testing, innovation and implementation, something she would take with her further to develop a thriving culinary career.

After graduation from culinary school, Uzma spent time traveling through Spain and other parts of Europe where she developed a fondness for the art and life abroad, influencing the style she would later implement into her beautiful craft of chocolate creation later with the Chocolat Uzma Sharif products.

After traveling for some time, Uzma returned to the U.S and began work as a catering chef for an existing company where she was responsible for cooking everything from food to pastries, a great segue into the Chicago food scene she is now a part of.

Uzma says she returned to Chicago to live and work because she loves it, and because it’s home.  Though she’s no longer working as a catering chef, she is doing what she enjoys- teaching Chocolate Basics classes at Triton College and developing Chocolat Uzma Sharif, an online chocolate boutique which she began in her spare time while teaching chocolate courses.

Though she dreams of one day having a brick and mortar chocolate shop where she can sell her lovely halal chocolates, she says her focus is on ensuring her customers  always have a quality product that they are 100% happy with.

Because of all her experience as a pastry chef, world traveler and business woman, I asked if she had any advice for aspiring pastry chefs, particularly chocolatiers. Her answer was quite simple: “Anything is possible in the U.S.” and “Do what you like, not what you love.”

Chocolat Uzma Sharif is a chocolate product line that illustrates this chef’s love of chocolate and of the artistic patterns reflected in the creation of each one. The biodegradable packaging, (some) organic ingredients in the chocolates and the fact that none contain alcohol, is the sum result of one savvy entrepreneur whose products speak to the demand of high quality, uniquely flavored,  halal (though not yet halal-certified) products right here in the heartland of America.

I tried the coriander hazelnut praline and jasmine tea (where else are you going to get those?) and just couldn’t believe all of the flavors going on at once. As if the very high quality chocolate isn’t enough, with Uzma’s chocolates you’re blessed with more and more flavor combinations that are incredibly rare in commercially sold sweets.

Simply amazing chocolate. One pretty artistic chef.  Masha’allah.

WIN some of Uzma’s delectable chocolates for yourself!

Just follow these simple steps and you’ll be entered to win a TRES PETITE HATBOX , Uzma’s signature chartreuse eco-friendly hatbox full of chocolate (a $45 value) which is a 6-piece exotic chocolate collection that includes 1 hazelnut crunch bar -milk
1 hazelnut crunch bar- dark
1 Istanbul bar
4 oz. chocolat croquant

Deadline for entries is May 30, 2011. Winner will be selected randomly from the lot of commentors who answer correctly.

  1. Like our Facebook pages: My Halal Kitchen (www.facebook.com/myhalalkitchen) and Chocolat Uzma Sharif (www.facebook.com/chocolatuzmasharif)
  2. Follow us on Twitter: My Halal Kitchen (www.twitter.com/myhalalkitchen) and Chocolat Uzma Sharif (www.twitter.com/chocolat_uzma)
  3. Answer this question correctly in the comments section below:

“Why is white chocolate not considered chocolate?”

Uzma Sharif currently teaches pastry arts classes (Chocolate Basics) at Triton College and sells her products online  at www.chocolatuzma.com. Insha’allah some of her products will also soon be availble here at myhalalkitchen.com. If you’re in the Chicago area, you can purchase Chocolat Uzma Sharif products at the Marion St. Cheese Market.

32 comments

  1. I liked both of you on facebook but I don’t have a twitter account…
    Chocolate is not considered “chocolate” because true chocolate is 100% cacao with no sugar or additives. It pretty much tastes like dirt. The chocolate most people eat and love has sugar and other ingredients so it is actually candy :) and super delish!

  2. Ohhh sorry didn’t see the “white” part…white chocolate doesn’t have cocoa in it so it’s considered candy not chocolate which has cocoa in it.

  3. I liked you both on FB, but don’t have a Twitter account. White chocolate is officially not considered chocolate as it does not have chocolate liquor.

  4. Beautiful chocolates! My guess is that white chocolate does not contain cocoa..

  5. “Why is white chocolate not considered chocolate?”
    because it’s white, not chocolate in colour.
    but, it still have the cocoa butter, in white colour, from the cocoa beans too. Thus, making it still a ‘chocolate’ becuase of the word ‘cocoa’ butter and the ‘cocoa beans'; the same important ingredient of chocolate ‘chocolate’.
    -thanks-

  6. Assalamo-alaikum!
    I’ve liked you both on facebook and are following you on Twitter too.
    In response to your question, i think white chocolate (although equally delicious!) is not considered chocolate because it does not contain any chocolate liquor. This is what gives the bitter intense chocolate flavor (and color )to dark and milk chocolates.
    Thanks in advance for your consideration!
    Mariam

  7. white chocolate is not chocolate because it does not contain cocoa solids which are in chocolate liquor.

    Asra

  8. Hello. Liked you and followed you. I believe that the reason white chocolate is not consudered chocolate has to do with the fact that is does not contain cocoa solids but instead uses milk solids mainly as its composition. White chocolate is a derivative of chocolate but not exactly chocolate.

    P.S.: this chocolate pictured above makes my mouth water! yummy!

    Shukran for this giveaway.

  9. White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it has no cocoa in it.

  10. White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it is made from cocoa butter and not cacao.

  11. As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatu,

    White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it does not contain cocoa solids and/or chocolate liquor.

  12. Salaam alaikum, White chocolate is butter or oil from the cocoa beans. It is not chocolate because it contains on coco solids or chocolate. White chocolate is made when milk and sugar are add to coco butter. I love both white and milk chocolate. Thanks.

  13. Thank u for this question….because of this question only i came to know that white chocolate is not a chocolate…..here is what i read from wiki and other sources on web doing google search…..that improves my knowledge…….i wanted to paste this here bcoz it will be beneficial to others too……

    Despite its moniker, white chocolate is, by definition, not chocolate as it does not contain cocoa solids, the primary nutritional constituent of chocolate liquor. During the manufacturing process, the dark-colored solids of the cacao bean are separated from its fatty content such as milk, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate, but unlike conventional chocolates the cocoa solids are not later recombined. As a result, white chocolate does not contain the antioxidative properties or many characterizing ingredients of chocolate, such as thiamine, riboflavin, theobromine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin.

    Although white chocolate is made the same way as milk chocolate and dark chocolate, it lacks cocoa paste, liquor or powder. Some preparations that may be confused with white chocolate (known as confectioner’s coating, summer coating, or Almond bark) are made from inexpensive solid or hydrogenated vegetable and animal fats, and as such, are not at all derived from cocoa. These preparations may actually be white (in contrast to white chocolate’s ivory shade[2]) and will lack cocoa butter’s flavor.

    White chocolate contains only trace amounts of caffeine that is present in cocoa solids. More on WIKI

  14. Sacari Thomas-Mohamed

    there is no actual chocolate in white chocolate

  15. I enjoyed reading this post and I’m definitely craving chocolate now :)
    And I’m curious about the Istanbul bar because I’m from Istanbul :]

    Anyway, I think the answer is: white chocolate isn’t considered chocolate because it doesn’t contain cocoa.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it does not have the cocoa solids in it and does not have the antioxidents that is contained in the chocolate liquor.

  17. White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it does not contain cocoa solids, the primary nutritional constituent of chocolate liquor.

    I am a fan of MHK and now Chocolat as well! Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway!

  18. White Chocolate is a confectionery, however it is a derivative of chocolate and it does not contain cocoa solids. It is made from the cocoa butter a product of the cocoa bean which does have a faint chocolate flavor. It is combined with milk, sugar, vanilla and sometimes other ingredients to create white chocolate. Cocoa comes from a fermentation process of the cocoa bean thus producing cocoa liquor, (which contains no alcohol) a thick liquid used with added ingredients making dark and milk chocolate.

  19. Linda Nadirah Sawicki

    White chocolate is made with cocoa butter not cocoa powder, I want to know, do you sell cookbooks? Your dishes make my mouth water!! Sorry I don’t have a Twitter account, Just Facebook!

  20. Habiba (Cynthia) Harley

    White chocolate is, by definition, not chocolate as it does not contain cocoa solids its a confectionery derivative of chocolate. It most commonly consists of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids and salt. I just love your site and Uzma’s!

  21. white chocolate does not have cocoa solids so not considered as chocolate.
    the giveaway is a great idea always but this one is particularly amazing!

  22. mary v. ouldsidi

    white chocalate not only got the name because of the color, it does not have cocoa , it has the texture and is made with sugar and butter .inshaa’ALLAH

  23. Stephanie Eren

    Assalamu alaikum,

    I like both of you on facebook, however I don’t have a twitter account because I don’t have a smart phone with the net. White chocolate is not chocolate because it contains no cocoa solids from the cocoa liquor. Cocoa liquor is a non-alcoholic liquid produced from ground-up cocoa beans. It can separate into solids and cocoa butter. But white chocolate only contains the cocoa butter and not the solids. Jazak Allah khair! InshAllah I win those delectable-looking chocolates!

  24. White chocolate is not considered chocolate because it doesn’t have any cocoa solids.

  25. I love chocolate and white chocolate.

  26. Im not 100% sure, but, I think it is not considered chocolate because it does not contain cocoa solids or chocolate liquor.

  27. White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk and sugar where as real chocolate contains cocoa solids which provides antioxidants that make the darker chocolates so much better for you while not tasting quite so wonderful to most people, lol the higher the cocoa content the more bitter the taste.

  28. white chocolate is not considered chocolate because it is not mad eup of cocoa solids (which is an essential part of chocolate liquor). White chocolate consissts of cocoa butter, milk fats and sugar. the cocoa butter is further changed, and sometimes even replaced with vegetable fats etc due to high costs.

  29. Thank you, everyone for submitting all of your feedback here- it’s been great to hear from you and about you. I’m so glad to see how many are responding from food blogs, masha’allah!

  30. Well, I don’t know anybody either both of you nor anybody on this page. All I want to know is how can I get the chocolate? :) This is true, I am pretty straight forward so I said it up in front. Please guide me, as I am little clueless.

    Love you all
    Ahmed Butt

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