Marou Provisions Cacao Powder Review and Thoughts on Baking with Craft Cacao Powder

Marou, a bean-to-bar maker in Vietnam, recently launched their Provisions Marou line which includes cacao powder, nibs and cacao spread.  This post focuses on the cacao powder, that is 100% cacao as well as flavor and thoughts on how single-origin cacao powders might effect baking/recipes.

Provisions Marou Cacao Powder

First, let us start by considering the taste of this particular cacao powder in dry form, mixed with water and then mixed with 2% milk.  Continue reading “Marou Provisions Cacao Powder Review and Thoughts on Baking with Craft Cacao Powder”

Interview with Nicholas Silverman Distributor for Diego’s Artisan Chocolate

Diego’s Artisan Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Guatemala. The chocolate is very fudge-like in texture and comes rolled in colorful tissue paper.  (My favorite is the one with whole coffee beans).  At Diego’s Chocolate everything is done by hand from roasting the beans in very tiny batches, hand peeling the beans and even coloring the labels by hand.

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Nicolas Silverman, who represents and distributes Diego’s Chocolate in the USA, at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle this past November, 2018.  

Victoria Cooksey: How long has the Diego family been making chocolate?

Nicolas Silverman: Diego and his family have been making chocolate for almost 30 years. While the recipe and packaging went through some changes in the early years, it has been more or less the same for decades. In the past year, we opened our own retail store in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala, where customers can come learn about chocolate making, buy our products, and even try making chocolate themselves. We are very excited about being able to welcome visitors – please come and see us!

Continue reading “Interview with Nicholas Silverman Distributor for Diego’s Artisan Chocolate”

Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews Craft Chocolate Awards 2018

Another year full of even more chocolate has come and gone bringing us to the 3rd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate awards for 2018.

The same rule from the past applies to these awards: Only bars I have purchased are eligible for awards.  As usual, some of these bars might still exist in a makers collection and some may have been limited edition only.  (Keep in mind that each year/harvest is different and as chocolate makers tweak recipes, bar tasting notes are subject to change).  Full tasting notes for each bar may be found on this blog, or on my Instagram account

And now the winners are…

Best Coffee Chocolate Bar:

I tried several bars with coffee in them this year.  What made the top 3 stand out the most, besides the overall great flavors, was that while often coffee can end up a bit stale-tasting in bars, these 3 managed to convey the feeling of having a fresh cup of coffee. 

3rd place goes to Hogarth’s Espresso Bar with Dominican Oko Caribe cacao & Pomeroy’s Coffee. This bar has tastes that included lemon, grape, lavender, mocha and bright coffee. 

Hogarth’s Espresso Bar (The packaging has changed since I took this photo)

Continue reading “Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews Craft Chocolate Awards 2018”

Chocolate Naive Nano Lot Drinking Chocolate Review Cacao Review Collection 2

Cacao Review has outdone themselves this year with Collection No. 2, a very limited (only 200 made of each item, ever) chocolate set featuring Chocolate Naive, Marou, Omnom,  Ritual and even a bar by Cacao Review. While a few of the chocolate bars are available for individual purchases (50 individual and 150 box sets) the only way to try Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot drinking chocolate is by going for the whole collection (ahem…holiday gift perfection, just saying). 

Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot Drinking Chocolate Limited Edition Cacao Review Collection No. 2

Continue reading “Chocolate Naive Nano Lot Drinking Chocolate Review Cacao Review Collection 2”

Interview with Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates

Just a glance at Bella Sophia Chocolates Instagram page is enough to give a sense of what an amazing artist Steph Shafer is! Steph manages to offer great flavor, visual appeal and creativity to all her creations and embodies the qualities of an empowered woman as well! (Read on to find out Steph’s definition of an empowered woman). 

Bella Sophia Chocolates was founded by both Steph and JD Shafer and was named after their daughter Bella Sophia.  From making their own vanilla extract to using cacao from small family farms from the Dominican Republic, Peru and Ecuador when available, Bella Sophia focuses on quality ingredients to create their small-batch award winning luxury chocolates.  

Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates 

Victoria Cooksey: How did you get started making chocolates/bonbons?

Steph Shafer: Making chocolates actually was by accident, it was not planned. I’m an artist and one evening I wanted to paint, however, my large canvas was too heavy for me to carry into the house, I had a piece of chocolate on the counter, so I decided to paint it for fun. I took a picture of the painted chocolate and posted it on Instagram and the next morning I had several people asking me where they could buy that chocolate. It was from there that I learned all about chocolate, where it comes from and how it’s made. I have always been in love with fine chocolate! I love everything about it, the texture, the taste, the smell, I love how it melts in your mouth, it’s so smooth and luxurious. I wanted this type of chocolate for my business, so I researched and created what I think is the best chocolate. 

Continue reading “Interview with Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates”

Posh Chocolat Review

In 2005 Ana and Jason Willenbrock opened Posh Chocolat in Missoula, Montana. Per their website their chocolates are made from “single-origin chocolate from the South American region”. Ana is originally from Brazil and Jason is from St. Louis , Missouri.  They met while attending The Culinary Institute of American in New York. Both have culinary experience working in Europe and in the USA prior to opening Posh Chocolat. 

Ana recently sent me some of their chocolates, caramels and chocolate bars to sample. 

Posh Chocolat made in Missoula, Montana & pictured here on Marrowstone Island, WA Continue reading “Posh Chocolat Review”

NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Chocolate Trends 2018

This past weekend marked the 10th year of the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA and my fourth time to attend.  Some years the chocolate trends jump out at you, however, this year I found them to be a bit more subtle.  Keep in mind, these trends are related to the show specifically.

Trend #1:  The show itself has become more international than ever with more makers joining every year such as Mirzam and Fu Wan, both of which were selling out fast!

Mirzam Chocolate NW Chocolate Festival 2018

Fu Wan Chocolate at the NW Chocolate Festival 2018 Continue reading “NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Chocolate Trends 2018”

Interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate

Hans Westerink is a craft chocolate maker located in South Bend, Indiana.  I have been lucky enough to have been able purchase his bean-to-bar chocolate in November at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA.  In my opinion, Violet Sky Chocolate features one of the loveliest chocolate bar packaging which is so colorful and often shiny which really makes it stand out, and Hans often uses unique inclusions in his bars as well.  Read on to find out more about Hans!

Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate with his wife Alison Continue reading “Interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate”

Michel Cluizel ChocoVoice Winterland Chocolate Display Review

Introducing Michel Cluizel’s ChocoVoice(R) Winterland Chocolate Box with a jingle and personal messaging. This item will be available to purchase on Michel Cluizel’s website starting November 1, 2018. 

Michel Cluizel’s ChocoVoice(R) Chocolate Box

This post features pictures of the Winterland version with a holiday jingle, however, there is also a 24 piece bonbon version with jingle options such as birthdays, Valentine’s day, and more. 

Continue reading “Michel Cluizel ChocoVoice Winterland Chocolate Display Review”

Askinosie’s New Avocado Rosemary & Peppermint Chocolate Bars Reviews

Askinosie, one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers, has recently released two new chocolate bars to their already impressive lineup.  While I have purchased several of their items on multiple occasions, I was lucky enough to have received these two new bars to try thanks to Lawren Askinosie. 

First up is Askinosie’s 61% Tanzania Dark Chocolate + Avocado & Rosemary Bar, for which  Askinosie has partnered with Heath Ceramics to create.  Rosemary is one of those ingredients that can easily overpower other flavors, however, Askinosie did a great job balancing the flavors in this bar!

Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Avocado & Rosemary Pic by Victoria Cooksey Continue reading “Askinosie’s New Avocado Rosemary & Peppermint Chocolate Bars Reviews”