Victoria Cooksey has a Certificate of Achievement in Chocolate Technique, and Cert. in Mastering Chocolate Flavor from Ecole Chocolat, and posts craft chocolate bar reviews, and cooking videos on YouTube.
The once London-based bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Beau Cacao, has recently made a big move! Known for using cacao from Malaysia, having super shiny chocolate bars, gorgeous packaging and the “Chocolate is Changing” motto, where and why did they move and how does this effect their chocolate making? What does “Chocolate is Changing” mean? Thanks to Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour of Beau Cacao you will find out all this and more below!
Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot collection made in Lithuania features a new chocolate bar every two months. Each bar is limited so if you see one be sure to get it!
What does it take to become a Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot bar? To quote Domantas Užpalis when I recently interviewed him: “Scarcity, flavour and background. I wanted to create the product that constantly evolves and tells a story or two”.
Most likely, if you have spent time in the craft/specialty chocolate world you have heard of, or often times had assistance, knowledge and overall mentoring from the one-and-only John Nanci of Chocolate Alchemy. John’s very first blog post on the Chocolate Alchemy website was posted on October 1, 2003. Now that’s a lot of chocolate making, experimenting and experience! Back when it was thought that there was no way chocolate could be made at home John Nanci thankfully didn’t listen and instead paved the way for people to make both chocolate at home as well as start up their own craft/specialty chocolate business. John continues to share his knowledge through his Ask The Alchemist posts. It just so happens that John is also a FCIA 2017 Lifetime Achievement award winner.
Around Valentine’s Day I often see the recommendation to have port with chocolate, but the question is: which specific chocolate with which specific port? These two delights can dance together in lovely harmony, or quite frankly, the wrong two together can taste like crap. Not the way to spend a romantic evening (or any evening)!
From an economical stand point a bottle of port goes a long way and as long as you keep the bottle closed, port will last a very long time (approx. six months) unlike a bottle of regular wine. Although with port there is a wide range of cost depending on what you are buying and if it is a vintage bottle. Where I live, the Victoria Tawny Port is around $15 and the other ports I keep on hand go up from there.
Chocolate Naive is a specialty bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Vilnius, Lithuania. Chocolate Naive has won several awards and Domantas was recently named 2017’s Chocolate Maker of the Year by Chocolate Uplift. After being a fan of Chocolate Naive’s bars, and communicating through direct messaging, I was pleased to met Domantas Užpalis in person at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. Domantas is great at giving complete, one- on-one, attention which is sometimes rare these days. Even more recently I had the chance to interview him.
Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey at the Northwest Chocolate Festival November 2017
Victoria Cooksey: How has your work with craft chocolate changed you? What changes have you seen in the craft chocolate industry since you started Chocolate Naive?
Domantas Užpalis:My former background is with IT and urban city development – nothing to do with food. So jumping into chocolate was quite a change and it did change everything. I have no official culinary education although I was always interested in what we consume and where our food comes from. I was and still am a proponent of the slow food movement and this is where it all started. My first encounter with slow food concept was through the making and selling of fresh farm-made dairy products and then I slowly shifted towards more sophisticated produce – chocolate. It has been almost 8 years since I became fully engaged with this multilayered product. Continue reading “Interview with Domantas Užpalis of Chocolate Naive with Victoria Cooksey”
In celebration of Zotter’s 30th anniversary they introduced this Vintage 2016 dry-aged dark chocolate bar which is described on their web site as “a superior cuvée made of dry-aged fine flavour cocoa, which we have aged for a year in order to mature its aroma. It is a blend of 5 fine cocoa varieties from 4 different countries, and of course the legendary Criollo is part of the mix”.
Sirene Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Victoria, B.C., that makes bean-to-bar bars with direct trade chocolate.
Their Pure Cacao Pur set features two 100% bars so you can compare Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania and Costa Esmeraldas, Ecuador in one sitting. The bars are labeled in an easy to tell one bar from the other, in both written word and by the color of each bar’s foil wrapper (gold and silver).
I can’t believe another amazing craft chocolate tasting year has past! That means it’s time for the 2nd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards.
I have only included bars I have purchased myself. I’m also only including bars that I tried in 2017, so some of these bars might be new creations and some may be part of a maker’s permanent collection.
Full reviews of the winning bars are available on this blog or on my IG account.