Dark Matters Tasters & Makers: What is Craft Chocolate Part 1

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”

Interview with Jacques Dahan President of Michel Cluizel USA/Noble Ingredients, Ltd.

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.
Jacques Dahan President of Michel Cluizel USA

Continue reading “Interview with Jacques Dahan President of Michel Cluizel USA/Noble Ingredients, Ltd.”

Dormouse Chocolates Dark Honduras Dark Chocolate & Toasted Madagascar White Chocolate Reviews

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.

Dormouse Chocolates: 



Victoria Cooksey:


Watch all my craft chocolate review videos here:


Note: Dormouse added a mini bar of the Toasted Madagascar White bar to one of my orders I had placed with them and I loved it so much I immediately ordered a full size one.

Interview with Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Co.

Mackenzie Rivers’ skills are as varied as her Map Chocolate is creative.  She has been a Grand Canyon river raft guide, a writer,  a bean-to-bar consultant, has had an apprenticeship at Chocolate Alchemy,  and is winner of two Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017 and so much more.

I personally have always enjoyed the lovely wrappers she chooses for each bar, the quality of the bars, her creative ingredients for Map Chocolate bars and hearing about the inspirations behind each bar. In my mind I think of Mackenzie as a bean whisperer because she seems to be able to take an idea for how she wants a bar to be and then gets the beans to bring forth the flavors from out of those beans and/or imagine the perfect inclusions to match the beans, all to create the chocolate taste experience that she desires.

And now, the lovely inside and out of Mackenzie Rivers:

Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Co.”

Interview with Cecilia Tessieri, Founder of Amedei

In 1998 the first officially labeled Amedei bars became available and since then just looking at Amedei’s packaging evokes feelings of luxury. Those who know anything about bean-to-bar chocolate list multiple Amedei bars such as Porcelana, Chuao, and Amedei 9, and more in their tasting repertoire. Today’s interview is with Amedei’s founder Cecilia Tessieri, maitre chocolatier.  So sit back, imagine yourself in Italy, taste a piece of Amedei chocolate, and enjoy the read:

Cecilia Tessieri Founder of Amedei Continue reading “Interview with Cecilia Tessieri, Founder of Amedei”

Damson Chocolate Vietnam Dark Chocolate Bar Reviews of 70%, 74%, & 80%

Today’s chocolate bar reviews feature three of Damson Chocolate’s Vietnamese dark chocolate bars.  Damson Chocolate is a bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker located in London, England. Today’s chocolate review post  includes Damson’s 70% Lam Dong, 74% Tien Giang, and 80% Dak Lak dark chocolate bars.   Side-by-side tasting from bars made from cacao from a single country with different percentages, is a great way to learn about chocolate and figure out what your favorite tasting notes are.   Learning never tasted so good!

Damson Chocolate Vietnam Bars pic taken in Port Townsend, WA Continue reading “Damson Chocolate Vietnam Dark Chocolate Bar Reviews of 70%, 74%, & 80%”

Interview with Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates

This week I’m jumping across the pond once more so to speak, to interview Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates; the first bean-to-bar maker in Manchester, England.  Dormouse makes micro-batches of craft chocolate that skip the machines for a rarely done hand-tempering of the chocolate on marble.

Dormouse was the very first monthly chocolate subscription I ever signed up for, and did I mention they just picked up three more Academy of Chocolate Awards in 2017-including a gold for their Guatemala 51.5% milk chocolate bar? Congrats!

Pic of Karen and Isobel of Dormouse chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Isobel Carse of Dormouse Chocolates”

Cacao Prieto 72% Organic Criollo Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate Bar Review

Cacao Prieto craft chocolate was founded by Daniel Prieto Preston. The Prieto family owns Coralina Farms in the Dominican Republic, where all the organic cacao comes from to make Cacao Prieto bars.  Even the organic sugar they use comes from the Dominican Republic.  Their bean-to-bar chocolate is made in Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, where they also make cacao-based liqueurs and rums.

The bar I tried is their original 72% Criollo Dominican organic dark chocolate bar made from single-origin Dominican Republic Criollo cacao and organic raw cane sugar.

Cacao Prieto 72% Domincan bar pic taken at Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA Continue reading “Cacao Prieto 72% Organic Criollo Dominican Republic Dark Chocolate Bar Review”

Interview with Dom Ramsey Founder & Chocolate Maker of Damson Chocolate

Dom Ramsey is both the founder and bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker at Damson Chocolate in London, England.  Dom is an Academy of Chocolate Awards  judge of the filled chocolates category and author of the book Chocolate: Indulge Your Inner Chocoholic.  Dom was also a co-founder of Cocoa Runners and World Chocolate Guide. He is also a founder and editor of Chocablog (http://www.chocablog.com/).

I’ve had a chance to try several Damson Chocolate bars and I highly recommend them!  Lately requests for recommendations on bars made from beans from the Philippines have been popping up on Instagram, so I suggest trying Damson’s 70% Philippines Kablon Farms bar if you can find it.

Dom Ramsey Founder & Chocolate Maker of Damson Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Dom Ramsey Founder & Chocolate Maker of Damson Chocolate”