Welcome to Part 2 of my interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate. This time we find out Shawn’s thoughts on how chocolate flavors change over time, Chocolate University, what chocolate means to him and more!
Victoria Cooksey: How does pressing your own cocoa butter from the same beans used to make your chocolate affect the flavor versus buying/using other cocoa butter?
Shawn Askinosie: The way this works in FDA packaging land, labeling land, is that, let’s say we have a 70% chocolate. Well, it’s 70% cocoa mass, and in our case it’s 30% sugar. The FDA doesn’t require the separation of the numbers between cocoa butter, or they don’t require a statement of the percent of cocoa butter as it relates to cocoa mass, they just say if there’s cocoa butter, then to list that in the ingredients; and so we often don’t know how much cocoa butter is in addition. Now let’s say we have, not just my chocolate bar, but anybody’s; and if there is cocoa butter added then it will absolutely impact the flavor if you’ve got cocoa beans and sugar which is added to enhance the mouth-feel of the chocolate and give it a smoother profile. Well it would be like saying the salad dressing that I’m putting on my wonderful salad of fresh produce that I bought at the farmer’s market down the street wouldn’t impact the flavor of the salad; well of course it would. It’s an ingredient in the salad. I mean, think about it. If we’re taking liquor from those same beans we just roasted that we are going to make that same chocolate with, now we’re making cocoa butter with that liquor; it’s going to have flavor components of that crop of beans, so it can’t not impact the flavor, so it’s important to us. We’ve always done it. Continue reading “Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 2 with Victoria Cooksey”
Shawn Askinosie has been making craft chocolate for over a decade now, but he was originally a criminal defense lawyer and back in 2005 Shawn switched to bean-to-bar chocolate making. Askinosie Chocolate is located in Springfield, Missouri. This bean-to-bar chocolate factory sources 100% of their beans directly from the farmers with Shawn Askinoise making frequent trips right to the source of the beans in Ecuador, Tanzania, and the Philippines.
I recently got to have an amazing conversation with Shawn Askinoise for the purpose of this interview. Despite being a bit under the weather, Shawn was extremely generous with his time. I could have asked him a 1,000 questions, but did my best to limit them down to a two-part blog interview. Shawn Askinosie has such a positive approach to life, is involved in several projects to truly make a difference in children lives (more on that in part 2), has a huge depth of knowledge of craft chocolate and all that is involved with it and still somehow manages to remain extremely humble at the same time.
Last year I purchased the 1st Dick Taylor Solomon Islands Exclusive Release bar at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. This year it’s back and I was able to order it on Dick Taylor’s website. I got bar #01024 of this 72% dark chocolate bar made with cacao from the island of Paspaskato. The cacao is grown there by Kenny Patovaki. This particular bar is made from his winning cacao from the Solomon Island Chocolate Week.
Welcome to What is Craft Chocolate Part 2. The Question asked in Part 1 last week was: The definition of craft chocolate varies so much person-to-person. How do you define craft chocolate and/or how do you think it should be defined?
And now let’s find out how more tasters and makers answer:
Hazel Lee, Bean-to-bar Maker, The Chocolate Tasting Flavour Map
Hazel Lee:I find this question a difficult one because there are no legal standards that differentiate craft/bean-to-bar chocolate from standard, poor quality bulk chocolate and one could argue any chocolate to be “craft” or “bean-to-bar” because of the lack of legal definitions. However, when I am asked “what is craft chocolate?”, I say that it has been processed with a focus to produce a high quality chocolate, working with the fine flavours naturally present in the quality cocoa beans that have been ethically sourced (rather than buying poor quality cacao, roasting at a high temperature and adding a high level of sugar and /or milk powder and/or vanilla flavour or other flavours). I usually compare craft/bean-to-bar chocolate with wine, in that different origins will hold different flavours with many other factors influencing the final flavour of the bar (maker style, terroir variety, etc.). I also like to highlight that all of the hundreds of wonderful flavours that are found in wine/chocolate come from the grape/bean alone (unless flavoured or with inclusions including milk, of course). So it’s something to be savoured and explored than eaten for a sugar fix.Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: What is Craft Chocolate? Part 2”
Welcome to the Dark Matters Tasters & Makers Series. This series will occur periodically over the next twelve months with each post looking at various craft chocolate topic questions and then featuring the thoughts and opinions of several craft chocolate reviewers, makers and writers on that question. I love interviewing people in the chocolate industry and thought this would be a fun format to see variations in answers brought together in one place. Will there be similarities? Will the answers all be different? Let’s find out!
Question 1: The definition of craft chocolate varies so much person-to-person. How do you define craft chocolate and/or how do you think it should be defined?
Sophia Rea of Projet Chocolat
Sophia Rea: This is a very good question. Definitions have their cerebral aspects but there is also a felt-sense aspect to a definition. Others will help with the first more than I, but I will share with you my experience of craft chocolate. What comes to mind is the heart. I can taste the intention, the memories and the stories of the craft-chocolate maker in their chocolate. Starting with the outside wrapper, to the foil, to the bar itself. I always notice how the maker chose a particular cacao bean, the percentage, whether to add inclusions or not and of course the ingredients. The size and thickness of the bar, the color of the bar, the mold, the color of the foil, the texture of the chocolate, the many prominent and subtle flavors the bar imparts and the design of the wrapper all come together for a mindful experience. Craft chocolate is the art of making all the senses come alive!Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters & Makers: What is Craft Chocolate Part 1”
Michel Cluizel is a French chocolate making business that was started in 1948. I’ve been enjoying Michel Cluizel chocolate for several years so I am extra excited to bring you this interview with Jacques Dahan the President of Michel Cluizel USA.
A special thank you to Estelle Tracy, 37 Chocolates, for the introduction that made this interview possible.
Dormouse Chocolates is a craft chocolate maker located in Manchester, England. They also happen to be one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers. A big congrats to Dormouse for their recent UK Rising Star Award from the Academy of Chocolate Awards! Well done ladies!!!
1st up today is their Limited Edition 75% Dark Honduras bar. This bar was in one of Dormouse’s monthly chocolate bar subscription boxes. The origin of the beans is Copan Highlands, Honduras, and the bean type is Mayan Red. Conch time 48 hours.
Limited Edition 75% Dark Honduras Dormouse Chocolates Pic taken in Port Townsend, WA
Color: This bar is a medium/dark brown that also has a reddish/purple color in certain lights.
Nose: Black currant, jammy, new world red wine, coffee.
Texture: Good snap and very smooth.
Dormouse Chocolates 75% Dark Honduras Limited Edition Bar
Taste: Buttery to start, some tannins, dried cherries, Cabernet Franc grape taste and acidity, red fruit. and dark honey.
Finish: A very long finish around 25 – 30 minutes.
Dormouse Chocolates happens to be making a fantastic white chocolate bar called Toasted Madagascar White 38%. This bar keeps selling out so be sure to check their website often, or send them an email to see when it will be back in stock. The cocoa butter in this bar comes from criollo and trinitario beans from Madagascar Sambirano Valley and has a 28 hour conch time. The milk powder in this bar is toasted which makes this an extra tasty white chocolate bar.
Color: Toffee, golden color like caramel.
Nose: Caramel, condensed milk, nutty.
Dormouse Chocolates 38% Toasted Madagascar White (full size bar)
Texture: Very smooth.
Toasted Madagascar White (mini bar size)
Taste: Buttery, caramel, roasted macadamia nut, cream and light brown sugar.
Finish: A medium/long finish with some fruity notes.