“Putinology”: Decoding the Russian President’s Mind

As we wrap up our month of featuring “All Things Russia,”* we note with due attention, and perhaps a bit foreboding, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled: “Putin the Improviser” (Feb. 20, 2015).

Boldly declaring that “the Ukraine crisis is even scarier than you think”, WSJ reporter Andrew Weiss reports that Western leaders are struggling to “get inside the head of” Mr. Putin in an attempt to understand a man who seems set on “dragging much of the West into a new Cold War.”

“Putinologists”, as Mr. Weiss explains, are trying to:

“decode Moscow’s intentions through painstaking analyses of the Russian leader’s every public utterance or symbol-laden photo op; they comb through minute aspects of Mr. Putin’s career and private life; they sift for clues in the output of Russia’s sprawling state propaganda apparatus.”


This isn’t the first time that the West has been befuddled by the behavior, thinking and motivations of a leader of the Russian Federation or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In fact, we can’t help but note an eerie similarity between Mr. Putin and late president of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev, whose visit to the United States in 1959 provoked the U.S. government to hire a team of 20 psychologists and psychiatrists to better understand his erratic behavior.

But, even with a team of human behavior experts, Khrushchev – much like Putin– remains largely a mystery. Indeed, historians today are still debating Khrushchev’s underlying intentions and foreign policy, specifically in relation to his decision to issue the Berlin Ultimatum of 1958 (in which he demanded that the U.S., Great Britain and France pull their forces out of West Berlin; this ultimatum was ultimately responsible for the creation of the Berlin Wall in 1961).

Historian and author William Taubman, in his book Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (which we highlight here), ultimately suggests that Khrushchev’s highly impulsive, unpredictable and spontaneous personality enabled him to take foreign policy risks – such as the ultimatum and Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 – without developing a well-constructed, thoughtful plan.

Similarly, while Putinologists are, in part, explaining Mr. Putin’s aggression in Ukraine as a broader attempt to reinstate control over the independent countries that once made up the Soviet Union, Mr. Weiss suggests a scarier alternative: that Putin is “winging it”, “…making it up as he goes along,” and exhibiting a “pattern of damn-the-consequences, trial-and-error improvisation.”

Providing an in-depth analysis of Putin’s behavior and actions, beginning with the collapse of the regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yankukovych last year, Mr. Weiss makes a profoundly compelling point, concluding that:

“Mr. Putin’s efforts look more like a short-term tactical play than a carefully considered embrace of an ethnocentric approach to defending Russia’s declared interests in its neighborhood.”

And, ultimately, that:

“Mr. Putin’s highly personalized, profoundly erratic approach to governing and waging a deadly war in the heart of Europe suggests that the Ukraine crisis may be even more dangerous than most Western governments are comfortable admitting.”

But, regardless of what Putin’s true motives are – whether he is fueled by a grand scheme or governed solely by an impulsive, erratic personality – it seems that Mr. Weiss is on to something.

As we’ve explored in our postings*, Russia is very mysterious – its complexity and mystery just as vast and profound as the Russian landscape, permeating throughout its culture, people and even food.

That Khrushchev and Putin have both been described as “impulsive”, “unpredictable”, “spontaneous” and “erratic” seems less of a coincidence than it does of an inherent characteristic of Russian leaders – characteristics that only add to the mystery.

As Mr. Weiss writes:

“Western policy makers must grasp the harsh reality that Mr. Putin’s pattern of impulsive, reckless behavior places him in unwelcome company—namely, alongside his reviled predecessors Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorbachev. Both men were undone by a series of blunders that destroyed their careers and reputations—and, in Mr. Gorbachev’s case, his country. The consequences of the crisis that Mr. Putin has unleashed may be no less grave.”

What makes Putin – and his predecessors – act impulsively and recklessly? I’m not sure we’ll ever know. After all, it has been nearly 80 years since Winston Churchill’s famous address and it seems we still haven’t solved the riddle, unwrapped the mystery or cracked the enigma.

*Seen our other Russian posts? Check them out below:

Tea Time With Podstakanniks on the Russian Railway

podstakannik Russian tea glass holderOnce upon a time in Mari Vanna restaurant, on a cold winter day in the heart of New York City, we were served a hot cup of tea in a beautiful crystal glass encased in a silver-plated holder with a handle.

After not-so-subtly admiring it, we learned from the friendly Russian bartender that it was a real Russian tea glass holder – a “podstakannik” (literally “under the glass”) – which had previously been used for serving tea on a Russian railway.

As it so happens, podstakanniks have a very interesting history. Believed to have entered the tea community in Russia toward the end of the 18th century (when tea drinking became common in this area of the world), they became increasingly more widespread, particularly on Russian trains and in the Soviet Union era when markets were flooded with podstakanniks made of copper-nickel, nickel, silver and gold.

Intended as they were for practicality – to keep your hands from being burned by the hot surface of the tea glass – they became valued works of art due to their intricate designs, many of which depicted Soviet era revolutionary symbols such as rockets, images of heroes, and the sickle and hammer.

While podstakanniks are not as widely used in Russian homes as they once were, they are still used in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and other post-Soviet states, mainly for serving tea while traveling on a train. Today, many of the designs portrayed on the podstakanniks include historical dates, people, USSR cities, architectural landscapes, and more.

How lucky we are to now have in our possession a beautiful, authentic podstakannik!

Of interest: Kolchugino in Vladimir Oblast, which is the biggest tea glass producer, remains the main Podstakanniks maker.

Please note that all information above was gathered from: http://ifood.tv/equipment/podstakannik/about

Check out our other Russian-related posts:

Borscht, Borsch or Borshch?

Mystery seems to roll across the vast Russian landscape like a Siberian blanket of snow, spreading a dusting of enigma on nearly every aspect of life – including food. Or so is the case with Borshch, one of the great soups of the world that serves up its own culinary mystery in its seemingly endless varieties and different spellings.

Recipe for BorschtBorscht. Borsch. Bortsch. Borstch. Borshtch. Borsh. Borshch.

But, what exactly is Borsch?

While “cultured” Americans are likely to spell it with a ‘t’ (Borscht) and describe it as “a beet soup served chilled”, with a little detective work we learned that during the long Russian winters, Borshch is served piping hot and is spelled without the ‘t’ (Borshch).

According to Darra Goldstein in her book, A Taste of Russia, there are well over a hundred varieties of the soup with as many as twenty different ingredients – the common ingredient, nevertheless, being beets.

“As a general rule,” she writes, “the farther west one goes, the more beets are added to the soup.”

Here at ATG, “around our culinary table”, our favorite version of Borshch is a Muscovite-style, which is tomato based with a little bit of beef. Below is the recipe from Goldstein’s A Taste of Russia. We hope you enjoy!*

You might also want to try THIS borsch from Mari Vanna!

Moscow-Style Beet Soup (Borshch)

1-2 lbs. (depending how much is desired) beef (sirloin or chuck roast)
9 cups water
3 medium beets, peeled and cut in half
Kosher salt to taste
2 medium potatoes (optional)
1 small carrot, grated
½ med. head of cabbage, shredded
1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped (can use canned chopped tomato)
6 tbsp. tomato paste
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 bay leaf
Sour cream

Simmer the meat in water for 30 minutes. Then add the beets and salt. Boil for 10 more minutes. Remove the beets from the broth and grate coarsely. Then return to the pot and add the remaining ingredients except bay leaf and sour cream. Simmer soup for about 1 & ½ hours, remove from heat and add the bay leaf. Let soup cool and chill overnight. The next day, skim off the fat and reheat. Serve with slices of meat and a dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

*Note: ATG made this recipe their own by searing the meat in small pieces in olive oil and butter and then adding to the already combined ingredients. We also adjusted seasonings, adding a little more sugar and adding a little lemon juice. We also added sautéed onions – about 1/2 medium sized onion – and did not include potatoes or cabbage in this batch.

Check out our other Russian-related posts:

Once Upon a Time in Mari Vanna: A Russian Restaurant

Russians may not necessarily be known for their fairy tales, but they certainly know how to create a fairy tale setting – or so is the case with the Russians running a cozy restaurant tucked away in New York City’s Flatiron District: Mari Vanna.

Walking into Mari Vanna’s is truly like stepping into a fairy tale setting: adorned with old photographs, worn flowered wall paper of another era, Matrioshka dolls, porcelain figurines, crystal chandeliers, a library full of Russian literature and comfortable linen tables decorated with fresh flowers, it is as if you are entering your “babushka’s” house – the Russian equivalent of “grandmother.”

Mari Vanna Restaurant ReviewIntended to represent an “archetypal Russian home”, it is named for a mythical woman who “once upon a time lived in St. Petersburg” and who was “known for her warm hospitality.” As recorded on Mari Vanna’s website, “Everyone was welcomed as a dear guest at her home. Her visitants were treated [with] divine traditional Russian dishes, served on her finest china and linens.”

Mari Vanna Restaurant Review“Not a single person left Mari Vanna’s home disappointed and many returned again and again back to this cozy retreat.” If the restaurant is any indication of the legend’s warmth, hospitality and splendor, then we can certainly understand why.

Indeed, after stumbling upon it in our pursuit of a good meal, it was the perfect escape from the Siberian-like cold, transporting us into another realm, as if we were dining in a restaurant in the heart of the Russian homeland itself.

Mari Vanna Restaurant ReviewAdding to its authenticity is a wait staff (who, as far as we can tell, are all Russian), donning traditional Russian peasant dresses and greeting you with a warm welcome and heavy accent.

The food is equally authentic, with classic Russian dishes from Borsch and Stroganoff to “Herring Under a Fur Coat” and a caviar menu, not to mention the cherry-infused vodka – one of the many different types of fruit-infused vodka to choose from that sits in giant glass jars behind the bar.

Mari Vanna Restaurant ReviewAs for the tea glass set in an ornate silver-plated casing, which were used on Russian trains, that they gave to us as a gift after admiring it? Well, that was classic Russian hospitality: the love of bestowing gifts upon their guests.

Needless to say, Mari Vanna certainly didn’t disappoint us and we plan on returning again and again to this cozy, warm and pleasant retreat. What a happy ending indeed to our pursuit of “All Things Russia” (see below).

Here are a few dishes worth checking out (you can view their full menu here):

Herring Under a Fur Coat
Layers of Chopped Herring, Roasted Carrots, Beets, Potatoes and Onions, Touch of Mayonnaise topped with Shaved Hard Boiled Egg”

The Masterpiece of Russian Cuisine: Flavorful Beet Soup with Beef, Served with Sides of Garlic, Fresh Herbs, Rye Bread

Mari Vanna Restaurant ReviewChicken Stroganoff
Served with Buckwheat Kasha, Mashed or Fingerling Potatoes

Mors (fresh juice)
Cranberry or Raspberry

Homemade Blinis
Served with Red Caviar and Traditional Condiments

Traditional Russian Honey Layered cake with Seaberry sauce

Check out our other Russian-related posts:

The Colorful, Contradictory, Crazy Comrade Khrushchev

Khrushchev The Man and His Era ReviewWith President Obama turning toward the mirror in the White House and Russian President Vladimir Putin turning toward Ukraine, in an apparent attempt to reinstate Russia’s “sphere of influence”, we at ATG turn to the book, Khrushchev: The Man and His Era (2003), an entertaining historical account of one of Putin’s earlier, yet equally unpredictable and erratic predecessors: Nikita Khrushchev.

Written by William Taubman, it won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2004 and has been referred to as “one of the best books ever written on the Soviet Union” (Ian Thomson, Irish Times). It is a book that has retained a prominent position on our bookshelf, not only for the light it sheds on the fascinatingly complex character of Nikita Khrushchev, but for its easily accessible insight into the Bolshevik ideology and depiction of a communist society.

Written and “exhaustively researched” with interviews from Khrushchev’s children, grandchildren and other relatives over the course of 10 years, it is a “truly masterful biography” that presents a “lively narrative” likely to remain “the standard study of the man who in February 1956 started the de-Stalinization with the ‘Secret Speech’ that he delivered to the 20th Communist Congress that 35 years later ended in the collapse of the Soviet Union” (Richard Pipes, New York Times).

Indeed, Taubman’s book is an unexpectedly, yet highly entertaining read that “pulls back the curtain” on the period in Russia’s history that is referred to as the “Soviet Era” (i.e. 1917 after the Bolshevik’s overthrow of Nicholas II at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to 1991, when the USSR disintegrated into 15 separate countries).

Taubman shows how Khrushchev’s colorful, contradictory, insecure and impulsive personality “led the Soviet Union with foreign policies driven not by some well formulated plan, but by an inner psychological warfare.”

It is Khrushchev’s psychological warfare that Taubman unveils so beautifully. Finding his “personality more fascinating than his foreign policy,” he takes the reader from Khrushchev’s humble peasant beginnings in the early 1900s, to his joining of the Bolshevik party in 1918, to Stalin’s inner circle, where he became complicit in Stalin’s crimes, to his appointment as Prime Minister in 1958, and, finally, through his retirement, tormenting guilt, and death in 1964.

The most entertaining and enlightening part of Taubman’s book, however, comes in his chapter on Khrushchev’s trip to the United States in 1959, where the complexity of both Khrushchev’s character and the Soviet Union is so astutely captured and revealed.

Indeed, Khrushchev’s trip to America – deemed by Soviet chroniclers “the thirteen days that stirred the world” and a “triumphant journey” that had “no precedent in history” – was truly an eye opening experience not only for the Soviet himself, but for the United States government who, in an attempt to understand his repeated volatile behavior, ended up hiring twenty psychiatrists and psychologists.

Perhaps most telling of Khrushchev’s personality is the deliberation he gave to choosing which plane he should take to America, weighing the pros and cons of various types to determine which one would make the most lasting impression. “The Ilyushin 18 jet would require embarrassing stops for re-fueling” and “Tupolev 114 could reach Washington nonstop but was found to have microscopic cracks in the engine.”

So, as Taubman explains, Khrushchev landed on the “Tu-104”, considered to be the tallest plane in the world, “because of the triumphal appearance he imagined it would make when landing in Washington.”

But, then comes the irony. “Little did [Khrushchev] know because no one dared tell him,” Taubman writes, “that one reason the plane was so high off the ground was to keep its engines from ingesting stones, dirt, or other debris on unkempt Soviet runways.”

Nikita Khrushchev Soviet Union LeaderYet, this was just one example of Khrushchev’s inferiority complex. As Taubman writes, during his trip, Khrushchev was resolved “not to be amazed by the grandeur of America… ”

At the formal state dinner, he declared:  “It is true that you are richer than we are at present. But tomorrow we will be as rich as you are.”

And “[w]hen his train passed in plain view of the Vandenberg Air Force Base, [Khrushchev] refused to look, telling journalists that ‘we have more of these bases than you have and, besides, they’re much better equipped.’”

Yet, as bold, insecure and complex as Khrushchev was, he also struggled a great deal with guilt throughout his life, particularly in retirement. “After I die,” Khrushchev said toward the end of his life, “they will place my actions on a scale – on one side evil, on the other side good. I hope the good will outweigh the bad.”

That Khrushchev felt guilty for some of his actions and the wrongs he had committed was not necessarily surprising, for, as Richard Pipes so eloquently states in a New York Times book review: “There is something very Russian about this story of crime and self-inflicted punishment.”

Vodka: The Russian Spirit

Russian vodka stolichnayaSocial commentator Will Rogers once said, “Nobody in the world knows what vodka is made out of, and the reason I tell you this is that the story of vodka is the story of Russia. Nobody knows what Russia is made of, or what it is liable to cause its inhabitants to do next.”

How fitting that the national drink of Russia – a country famously deemed “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma” – is also a mystery, defying any concrete understanding.

Indeed, the origin of vodka – which comes from the Russian word “voda”, meaning “water” – is highly disputed. While some believe that it was first mass-produced by the Muscovite monks in the 14th or 15th centuries, others claim it originated in Poland around the 8th century. Still others say it comes from Sweden.

But, this much we know to be true: as a “colorless spirit made up of water and ethanol,” vodka is primarily made from grain – corn, rye, or wheat – or potatoes (and occasionally grapes), and is distilled at least three times, usually through charcoal. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was used as a form of currency until the end of the Soviet Era.*

The flavoring of vodka began in the Middle Ages when they learned to disguise the unpleasant aromas and flavors produced by their primitive equipment and techniques with honey, oils and spices (Peter the Great was particularly fond of anise and pepper flavored vodkas).

Russian vodka stolichnayaSome of the most classic types of flavored Russian vodka include:

  • Limonnaya, its taste deriving from lemon zest, is one of the most traditional;
  • Pertsovka, flavored with red chili peppers;
  • Okhtnichya (‘hunters vodka’) has a wider range of flavorings including juniper, finer and cloves; and
  • Starka (‘old vodka’) is a mixture of vodka, brandy, port and an infusion of apple and pear leaves aged in oak barrels.”**

It’s the perfect drink for winter, as many of us who are buried in Siberia-like snow can attest to! As Michele Bernstein said in All the King’s Horses: “Vodka goes well with a wintery perspective.  Nothing else provokes such presentiments of falling snow except, for some, the Communist seizure of the state.”

How to Taste Vodka

Vodka should be frozen for at least an hour before drinking. When ready to drink use a 2-3 ounce clear glass and pour straight up – no ice, no water, no vermouth, no tonic. Hold the glass in warm hands to take some of the freeze off. ” If vodka is too cold, it will freeze your taste buds and you will not get an adequate tasting. If it is too warm, the flavor mix becomes too complex and the dominant flavor less discernible.”**

Hangar One Raspberry Cosmo RecipeHangar One Raspberry Cosmo
2 ounces Hangar One Raspberry Vodka
1 Ounce Triple Sec
1/2 Ounce Rose’s Lime Juice
Fresh Raspberries, to garnish

Hangar One is a handcrafted vodka made in an abandoned Navy aircraft “hangar” in Alameda, California. It is made of Viognier grapes and American wheat and is distilled in small Holstein pots. Hangar One flavored vodkas are “naturally infused with the handpicked flowers or fruit…whereas most flavored vodkas on the market use artificial flavoring.”*

*Information was taken from the book Cotton Cocktails

**Information taken from Grand Circle Travel Learning and Discovery Series

Not Cool, Mr. President. Not Cool.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that President Obama’s “Buzzfeed” video has become a highly politicized issue, used by Republicans and Democrats alike to tout his “charismatic personality” or lambast his seemingly “indifferent attitude” to the world’s problems, depending on which side of the isle you sit on.

President Obama's Buzzfeed VideoThat President Obama’s every move is subject to intense scrutiny and debate is not unique to the office of the presidency. Indeed, there is a reason that John Adams once wrote: “No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.”

The unrelenting stress, heightened pressure and merciless criticism a President faces is nearly unimaginable – and certainly takes a toll on the mental and physical state of such men (a quick look at “before” and “after” shots of previous Presidents is a perfect case in point).

Perhaps this is why the office of the presidency is held in such high regard. Having sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, it is a position of immense responsibility that warrants a great amount of respect, admiration and reverence from the public.

But, it is also a position that demands someone worthy of respect, dignity and integrity to fill it – someone who upholds the cultural, moral and societal values and principles of our nation, leading us with resolution, encouraging us in times of difficulty and inspiring us in times of strength.

After all, the President is the leader of our nation – the person we look to for guidance, motivation and direction. And leaders, as American entrepreneur Jim Rohn said, ought to “be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”

It is the last point that President Obama so shamelessly ignored with his participation in Buzzfeed’s video, “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About.” Intended as it was to appeal to the millennial, selfie-fixated and “cool”-obsessed generation, it signaled not only a poor taste in judgment, but a poor understanding and gross oversight of the role that President of the United States – or, any leader for that matter – is expected to play.

It is not the job of the President to be “cool”, to conform to the likes and attitudes of the people, to show us that he is “just one of us.” And while there is certainly room for being relatable and charismatic – that is, after all, likely a major factor in why he was elected into office – a President that repeatedly plays off of his “likability” or ability to relate to us invites scrutiny of his underlying intentions as a world leader and skepticism of his leadership capabilities. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”

Esteemed leadership author John C. Maxwell once said, “Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.” President Obama’s “selfie” video was not only beneath the dignity of the office of the presidency, but was a giant step back in terms of motivating, inspiring and encouraging us to grow, challenge and advance ourselves.

By “conforming” to the actions and behavior of the millennial generation – however silly or innocent they may be – he lowered himself, his office and ultimately, his authority in a way that suggests that personal growth, improvement and transformation are insignificant. In other words, “you do you” – regardless of its impact on other people.

If only President Obama recalled the words of the sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, he may have thought twice about donning aviators, striking poses in a mirror, filming himself with a selfie stick and shooting a fake basketball:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Your video didn’t inspire me, Mr. President. It didn’t inspire me to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. It embarrassed and disappointed me. And it wasn’t cool, Mr. President. It just wasn’t cool.

For a similar piece on congressional ethics, please see our post, “I’ll Vote For That“, which also appeared on The Huffington Post.

“I Need Chocolate”

The irresistible power of chocolate was clearly evident after our two-and-a half-year-old granddaughter toddled into the kitchen and in no time at all spotted the milk chocolate Lindt balls on the kitchen counter. Reaching up high on her tiptoes she matter of factly said, “I need chocolate.”

History of Chocolate

Though it has been written that more women (and obviously little girls) than men “need” chocolate, one learns in The True History of Chocolate that it was a luxury, “an elite beverage”, reserved only for kings and noblemen and their military who “needed” it the most. The Aztecs believed that chocolate had “energy-boosting properties”…and was given to their warriors to “fortify them on military campaigns.”

How interesting to learn that these ancient people, the Mayan in AD 300 followed by the Aztecs in AD 900, were not much different from us with their “stashes” of chocolate: the “sheer amount of cacao” they stashed in royal storehouses was “astounding.”

The True History of Chocolate Review“These depositories shared some of the characteristics of Fort Knox, on the one hand, and Louis XIV’s wine cellars, on the other” (The True History of Chocolate).

Indeed, chocolate has quite a long and evolved history as is evidenced in both Sophie and Michael Coe’s book, The True History of Chocolate and The Chocolate and Coffee Bible. While Sophie* and Michael Coe’s book offers an extensive, fascinating and scholarly history of the ancient civilizations in which the history of chocolate resides, The Chocolate and Coffee Bible is closer to an encyclopedia filled with recipes and easily accessible information on both chocolate and coffee.

As the authors of the chocolate bible book write in the introduction: “Hardly a day goes by in most of our lives without sipping a mood-lifting cup of coffee, or nibbling on an indulgent, comforting chocolate treat.”  In this “indispensable” book, it is interesting to learn that “although chocolate has its origins in South America and the birthplace of coffee was…in Africa…many aspects of their history run parallel…and are interwoven touching every aspect of society, establishing vital roles in religion, medicine, politics, economics and culture.”

These two “legendary foods” have “known conflict, fueled armies, made fortunes, nourished many nations, caused political unrest and encouraged much social interaction.”

Below are some of the fortunes that were made in America when chocolate arrived on its shores around 1765:

The Chocolate and Coffee Bible ReviewBaker’s Chocolate

The first American chocolate factory set up in 1765 along the banks of the Neponset River in Massachusetts by Dr. James Baker and John Hannon, becoming The Walter Baker Co. in 1780 by Baker’s grandson, still producing quality chocolate today.

The Hershey Chocolate Factory

Established by Mennonite Milton Hershey (1857-1945) in 1884 in what became Hershey, PA.  Considered a “paternalistic capitalist” he was dubbed the “Henry Ford” of the American chocolate industry for bringing mass production to the chocolate industry.

Domingo Ghirardelli

An Italian confectioner who had South American connections. He established the “Ghirardelli’s California Chocolate Manufactory” in 1856 in San Francisco hoping to capitalize on the needs of the goldrush pioneers.

Formula for Quality Chocolate
56-70% cacao solids, to include 31% cacao butter
29-43% finely ground sugar
1% lecithin and pure vanilla extract

Formula for Mass-Produced Milk Chocolate
11% cacao solids
3% vegetable fat
20% milk solids
65% sugar
1% lecithin and synthetic vanillin

*Of interest: 
Sophie Coe, the daughter of the noted Russian-American geneticist Theodosius Dobshansky, had a doctorate in anthropology and brought a “scientific rigor to her scholarship and insisted that nothing be presented as fact that could not be backed up by solid data.”  She was a great cook of Russian cuisine and her “remarkable cookbook library” resides at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts.