The 9th Annual Northwest Chocolate Festival took place this year on Nov. 11 -12th, 2017 in Seattle, WA. This was my third year to attend ( I live in Port Townsend, WA so I drive to the Bainbridge Ferry to get over to Seattle. So grateful to live this close to an event like this!).
The NW Chocolate Festival is a fantastic place to try 100+ craft chocolate makers from both the U.S. and international locations. Plus, there are several educational talks, presentations, and workshops throughout both days. There is something for everyone!
For example, Hazel Lee presented a workshop that involved tasting chocolate while utilizing her lovely Taste with Colour Flavour Map and then the participants painted what colors or pictures they envisioned while savoring the craft chocolate. It was enjoyable to listen to what attendees tasted and the colors the envisioned. Especially people who weren’t overly familiar with craft chocolate flavors. (Want a Taste with Colour for your own? Check it out here: Taste with Colour). I’ve had her flavour map for a few months now and didn’t even know I associated colors with flavors until then. (Find out more about Hazel in my interview with her: Hazel Lee ).
Hazel Lee Taste with Colour Workshop at The NW Chocolate Festival 2017 Continue reading “NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Craft Chocolate Trends 2017”
I’ve been a fan a Chocolate Naive for quite some time now and have enjoyed watching, and tasting, the progression of taking what started as good bars and overtime experiencing Chocolate Naive elevating their craft chocolate to even higher levels of great taste.
Chocolate Naive is a craft chocolate maker in Lithuania. I’ve tried several of their bars before these particular ones in the Nano_Lot collection, and have even more bars I’ve purchased that are now in my collection to post reviews on soon, so I was especially excited when Chocolate Naive’s founder Domantas Uzpalis sent me these two bars from his new collection.
Nano_Lot Chocolate bars are made in very limited amounts from unique, high quality cocoa with emphasis on education and continued exploration into the world of rare, high quality chocolate. I hope my reviews on these bars also help inspire you to continually seek out more bean-to-bar chocolate and add to your tasting palate.
Nano_Lot Elizabeth Agudelo:
Per the inner card of information the cocoa beans used in this bar are listed as “FTA, a clone selected by Colombian Cacao Federation”. This bar is made of the first yield from four year old cacao trees from a section of Villa Gabi that was renewed by Elizabeth Agudelo with “experimental clones selected from the old hybrids”.
Chocolate Naive Nano-Lot Elizabeth Agudelo Pic Taken at Fort Worden, Port Townsend, WA Continue reading “Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot Collection: Elizabeth Agudelo & Nicalizo Special Reviews”
Welcome to Part 2 where chocolate tasters each give their own unique take on the current Dark Matters craft chocolate related question.
If you missed Part 1 catch up here: http://darkmatterschocolatereviews.com/2017/09/29/dark-matters-tasters-makers-series-chocolate-exploration-ruby-chocolate-white-chocolate-etc-part-1/
The current question is: How do you feel about living in a time where new horizons in chocolate are being explored so widely (i.e. ruby chocolate, white chocolate, etc). What are the downfalls in this exploration by chocolate makers? What are the benefits?
Estelle Tracy of 37 Chocolates
Estelle Tracy: It’s an exciting time to be involved in chocolate. There is a dizzying array of bars and flavors, so much that it’s hard to keep up with the latest innovations, the latest origin, or new “it” bar. That said, I do see that the media’s attention usually goes to the flashiest thing (think bacon chocolate), not the most delicious. I get it, of course, but it can also be frustrating. Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: Chocolate Exploration, Ruby Chocolate, White Chocolate, Etc. Part 2”
I’ve tried several craft chocolate bars made by Original Beans and they have all been great, but their Piura Malingas 75% bar is extra tasty. As soon as I opened this bar I knew it would be special just from the aromas. It is definitely one of the top single-origin bars I’ve had this year. This organic and vegan bar is made with Peruvian Nacional beans from Piura Valley, Peru.
I hope you can get your bean-to-bar loving hands on one of these! I purchased mine at The Chocolate Project in Victoria, B.C.
Color; Medium brown.
Nose: Green apple, green grape, cocoa.
Original Beans Piura Malingas 75% Dark Chocolate Bar
Continue reading “Original Beans Piura Malingas 75% Piura Valley, Peru Dark Chocolate Bar Review”
Welcome to Part 1 of the next installment of the Dark Matters Tasters and Makers Series. I was originally planning to make this round all about white chocolate, and then ruby chocolate was announced, so I decided to go the route of current chocolate exploration in which the Tasters and Makers could comment on ruby chocolate, white chocolate, or other any topics along those lines.
This series continues to be a space to provide the Tasters and Makers a spot to let their own thought processes and styles shine through, and give the pleasure to the readers (and the other Tasters and Makers out there) of having multiple answers to the same topics presented side-by-side. This particular round includes a surprise chocolate expert guest contributor: Clay Gordon!
Now on to the current question!
Question: How do you feel about living in a time where new horizons in chocolate are being explored so widely (i.e. ruby chocolate, white chocolate, etc). What are the downfalls in this exploration by chocolate makers? What are the benefits?
(When I say, “white chocolate” my thinking was along the lines of how white chocolate has changed with single-origin cocoa butter occasionally being used, or no vanilla added, or less sugar, and so forth).
Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate Continue reading “Dark Matters Tasters and Makers: Chocolate Exploration, Ruby Chocolate, White Chocolate, Etc. Part 1”
The good news is that Solstice Chocolate The S’mores Bar is exactly what I want in a s’mores chocolate bar! The only tough part is that they only made 200 of them as part of a micro-batch project for Cacao Review’s new Underground Chocolate Club bag. This bar is part of the 1st collection, so once all 200 bags have sold out then this bar is gone!
Solstice Chocolate The S’mores Bar & Marshmallow Drinking Chocolate Cacao Review Underground Chocolate Club Continue reading “Solstice Chocolate The S’mores Bar & Marshmallow Drinking Chocolate Reviews”
If you are visiting Seattle, WA and want to know the best spots for chocolate and desserts then check out Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek. Between Jessica’s website, YouTube channel and Instagram account you will find a ton of useful information and dessert recommendations.
And now for the interview:
Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek
Victoria Cooksey: What inspired you to focus on desserts?
Jessica Tupper: Allergies! Well, kind of.
I started blogging way back in 2011, and back then I was covering more general stuff. (The first major food event I covered was Tales of the Cocktail). I took a break to graduate from grad school and when I got out I knew I wanted a niche. Thing was, when I was covering, all food my sensitivities had been making things tough. As in, I can’t eat raw tomatoes, cilantro, or be around any kind of cooked eggs. Makes it slightly hard to cover brunches out here. Continue reading “Interview with Jessica Tupper, the Seattle Dessert Geek with Victoria Cooksey”
Craft chocolate maker Potomac Chocolate is located in Woodbridge, VA. Potomac currently has a Kickstarter campaign running now through the end of Sept 2017 (Potomac Chocolate Kickstarter campaign).
I recently picked up Potomac’s San Martin Peru 65% Dark Milk chocolate bar at The Chocolate Project in Victoria, B.C.
Color: Medium/dark brown.
Nose: Sweet, floral, orange blossom, apricot and oak.
Potomac Chocolate San Martin Peru Bar Pic Taken in Victoria, B.C. Continue reading “Potomac Chocolate San Martin Peru 65% Dark Milk Bar Review”
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!
Need to catch up? Read Part 1 here:
And now for Part 2!
Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate
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.
And now for the interview Part 1:
Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Continue reading “Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 1 by Victoria Cooksey”