Baking with Craft Chocolate Part 2

In Baking with Craft Chocolate Part 1 we looked at what is craft chocolate/specialty chocolate, cocoa powder/cocoa butter, using single-origin craft chocolate in recipes and how different origins affect recipe creation and and enjoyed a lovely Maison Marou brownie recipe. 

In Part 2 discover thoughts and inspiration behind baking product line development, how consumers and makers thoughts have changed on chocolate since using craft/specialty chocolate in baked items, where makers would like to see craft chocolate baking grow in the future and so much more!

Be sure to check out Lauren Heineck’s Strawberry Lemon Nib Muffins Recipe and Caroline Schiff’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe included in this post. 

Lawren Askinosie, Jael Rattigan, Lauren Heineck, Mackenzie Rivers, Caroline Schiff, Joanna Brennan, Sam Maruta, Steph Shafer and Victoria Cooksey

A huge thank you to Jael Rattigan of French Broad Chocolate, Sam Maruta of Marou Chocolate, Lawren Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate, Joanna Brennan of Pump Street Bakery and Pump Street Chocolate, chocolatier Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates, Mackenzie Rivers of Map Chocolate, Lauren Heineck of WKND Chocolate and Well Tempered Podcast and chef Caroline Schiff of ParadigmSchiff for sharing their time, expertise and experience in regards to the topics involved with craft chocolate products and baking.

Victoria Cooksey: What are your thoughts on the varied flavors of single-origin chocolate? How have you had to react to flavor differences in the chocolate, in the individual harvests or even different batches of craft chocolate which may taste different from the time before? 

Caroline Schiff/ParadigmSchiff: That’s part of the fun! Like I said, it’s kind of like wine (Baking with Craft Chocolate Part 1). One region, with one grape can have so many variations over several harvests due to climate, precipitation and other factors beyond the farmers control. Craft chocolate has similar sensitivities. It just means you have to taste each batch and see what you’re working with. High acidity or something smoother? Sweet or super bitter? What fruits are coming through? Nuts, coffee? finding those nuances and then working with them is really fun!

How do chocolate makers, chocolatiers and chefs utilize craft/specialty chocolate in their daily lives?

VC: How have you been incorporating your own chocolate into your creations? 

Steph Shafer/Bella Sophia Chocolates: I use the nibs for bars, cakes, breads, cookies and meringues. The husks I use for making tea. I hand grind to make cocoa powder for cakes and frostings. I simply can’t use store bought anymore, there’s no need when I can make my own, plus, you can smell and taste the difference.

VC: How would you like to see people incorporate both the Provisions Marou line and your chocolate bars into their daily lives and baking at home?

Sam Maruta/Marou Chocolate: Chocolate bars, there’s no specific time to enjoy them…When it comes to hot chocolate I make mine in the morning with full cream milk a good dose of Provision Marou powder and a bit of Marou chocolate, whisk it in the saucepan full of hot milk until it gets frothy. The spread is best enjoyed at a balmy room temperature on nice bread, in less tropical places it might harden and you might want it on hot toast. I enjoy nibs on yogurt or even better fresh cheese (especially fresh goat cheese when I can put my hands on it!), the texture contrast is great and the taste very complimentary. 

Sam Maruta and Vincent Mourou of Marou Chocolate Photo by Thomas Raffoux 

VC: What are some ways you like to incorporate cocoa nibs into snacks, baking or savory food? 

Lauren Heineck/WKND Chocolate/Well Tempered Podcast: I love pushing the boundaries of savory food. One of my favorite trials last year was a toasted seaweed sheet, covered in my Tanzanian 75% with sea salt, sesame seeds, almonds and paprika. In fact, on the subject, I was recently having this very chat with a #womeninchocolate colleague – the potential for high quality nibs, as a nutrient rich raw material on the market, is ripe for the picking. I believe more Michelin level chefs will see the potential soon as well, they already are taking notice of its versatility. Textually, I like to play with cocoa nibs as if they were a coarse flour for crackers or shortbreads. Layer ice cream sundaes with nibs., e.g, frozen-yogurt-shop-buffet-style. As you like it!

Lauren Heineck’s Strawberry Lemon Nib Muffins Recipe:

Makes 6 x 75g muffins, or 9 x 45-50g muffins pending tin size.

Storage: Keeps for 4-5 days in the fridge, or in a sealed container up to 3 days.

For the lemon syrup:

35ml fresh lemon juice (strained; for lemon lovers go ahead and use 50ml)

1 tablespoon local honey

Muffin batter:

100g unsalted butter, room temperature

100g rapadura sugar (substitute with muscavado or white)

zest of two lemons

2 eggs, beaten lightly

45g almond flour

75g brown rice flour, sifted (substitute with 85g regular flour if preferred)

1 tsp baking soda

75g sliced strawberries (about the size of a half dime)

25ml lemon juice

10g cocoa nibs*

30g chocolate (berry notes are my preferred variety, but you could also play with citrus forward chocolate in this recipe, or one with both such as Omnom Madagascar 66%).

*I prefer to sprinkle the nibs on top, rather than incorporate into the batter, to keep them at their crunchiest.

Directions:

Cream butter, zest and sugar with a hand mixer or by hand for a fluffy texture. Stir or lightly whip in beaten eggs. Add almond flour, brown rice flour and baking soda, and stir to combine without over mixing. Fold in the strawberries, and mix the lemon juice in last to obtain a thick batter-like consistency. Spoon into the muffin liners/tin or greased silicone cups. Place one “square”, about 5 grams, of a chocolate bar in the center of each muffin. Sprinkle with nibs. Depending on the strength of your oven, bake at 180C/355F for 24-28 minutes. 

While the muffins cook:

Bring the lemon juice and honey to a boil, stirring frequently, and set aside. Pour syrup over them when pulled for the oven, dividing evenly.

Cool and enjoy any time of the day, week or weekend!

Lauren Heineck’s Strawberry Lemon Nib Muffin

How tough is it to open a brick and mortar location? 

VC: What inspired Marou to open the Maison Marou locations? What is more difficult: running the chocolate making side of your business, or starting up and running the Maison Marou locations and why? Any advice for other chocolate makers who are considering expanding their business into a cafe that incorporates their chocolate in the items sold there?

Sam Maruta/Marou Chocolate:When we started Marou back in 2011 we had the intention to create and sell our chocolate from the same place in downtown Saigon. That ambition was thwarted by red tape back then and we started manufacturing, but not retailing from our Thu Duc factory.

In 2016 when we launched Maison Marou Saigon we bet the farm on it, it was a very big endeavor but it’s paid off because our retail operations in Saigon and Hanoi (opened in 2017) are now very successful.

Chocolate advice.

VC: If a chocolate maker wanted to start making their own cocoa powder, what should they take into consideration before doing so?

Lawren Askinosie/Askinosie Chocolate: Well, first it would make the most sense if they’re already pressing their own cocoa butter. We don’t chemically treat our cocoa powder, so it’s non-alkalized/non dutch-processed. This is a personal choice, but it also means that our cocoa powder won’t work for all applications. Also, while there’s certainly demand there’s also price sensitivity. 

VC: Any advice for chocolate makers who are considering coming out with their own line of chocolate baking products? Anything you wished you had known before creating the line? 

Joanna Brennan/Pump Street Bakery/Pump Street Chocolate: I think people are still more interested in buying specialty chocolate for eating than for baking, and it will take some more time before there is a bigger group of customers wanting to spend extra on the chocolate they put in their brownies, for instance. But I think the time will come, as it has for other ingredients.

VC: Any advice for a chocolatier who is considering making their own bean-to-bar chocolate for some of their creations? Anything you wished you had known about making chocolate from the beginning to have made it easier? 

Steph Shafer/Bella Sophia Chocolates: My advice to any chocolatier, is not to over think it, you waste time thinking it out, just do it, it’s an amazing feeling once you’ve made your own chocolate, don’t worry if it’s not perfect, that comes with time. Whether you are using yours or someone else’s recipe, the taste is simply better. At the beginning, it was a money thing, but I wish I had machines to help with grinding (and) tempering. Nothing good is easy, so after hard work, I purchased my first machines this year. 

VC: Based on your experience. what are things a craft/specialty chocolate maker who is wanting to start their own line of baking items should take into consideration?

Jael Rattigan/French Broad Chocolate: It took us a year to translate our extensive menu of desserts, drinking chocolates, bonbons and confections from “other people’s chocolate” to our own craft chocolate. I would say the main thing to take into consideration is to be ready for a lot of trial and error. You can hypothesize what chocolates will work in what application, but until you try it, you won’t know! If something fails, it’s an opportunity to make an adjustment. Have fun, play and enjoy the process!

What are the obstacles (and cost issues) to getting home bakers/chefs to purchase craft/specialty chocolate for baking?

VC: How does working with craft chocolate affect the cost of a final product? How does it affect the time needed to create a recipe? 

Caroline Schiff/ParadigmSchiff: The cost when using craft chocolate will always be much higher, and that’s just the reality. It makes sense. Craft chocolate is often produced by hand or with minimal machine involvement, from sustainable farms. It’s made in a much smaller quantity, and anything added to it tends to be much higher quality as well. All the extra labor and quality ingredients are reflected in the price and that’s fine by me. It just means I won’t be able to use it in every recipe. There are great commercial chocolates out there that make awesome baked goods, and if you want to be able to  be able to produce a chocolate chip cookie that sells for two or three dollars for example, that’s the way to go. Craft chocolate is great for special projects where cost control is less important. 

VC: What are the challenges you have faced as a maker when it comes to attracting wholesale customers for your baking items? 

Mackenzie Rivers/Map Chocolate: Pricing and awareness are likely the biggest obstacles. Even I am shocked at some of the prices I see on craft chocolate for baking, but I at least have the understanding of the process and care that went into producing the product. My emphasis is on the fact that, in the way that a red delicious apple tastes nothing like an heirloom Cox’s Orange Pippin or a Fuji (nor does it resemble an “apple” Jolly Rancher), a single origin chocolate crafted for baking will offer a flavor experience that bag of chips won’t…and like choosing an estate bottle of olive oil or a locally-milled grain, if flavor and food diversity is important, that’s what I’m offering. The issue is that, while those bottles of olive oil are readily available (thus, recognizable), craft baking chocolate supplies are less so.

Inspirations and work involved with starting baking product lines and work involved:

VC: What inspired Marou to develop the Provisons Marou line? What inspired the packaging look?

Sam Maruta/Marou Chocolate: First we found ourselves with a lot of customers asking for things besides chocolate, and also being among the first bean-to-bar makers to press our own cacao butter we had all this cacao powder that we certainly weren’t going to throw away, but we had to do something with it.

The packaging came from our spirit of adventure: the sort of thing you would pack on a little expedition like the one when Vincent and I first met in 2011.

VC: From start to finish, how long did it take to bring Marou Provisions line to market? What were the pleasures and the difficulties with creating the Provisions line? 

Provisions Marou Cacao Powder Pic by Victoria Cooksey 

Sam Maruta/Marou Chocolate: We’re pretty slow when it comes to product development…I think we first started playing with cacao spread back in 2013 so it took almost 5 years for that product to come out…

VC: What inspired Pump Street Chocolate to design the baking product line? What were the challenges with creating the line? How would you like to see consumers utilize your baking product line in their own baking? 

Joanna Brennan/Pump Street Bakery/Pump Street Chocolate: Our range of baking ingredients came about when we started making couverture pastilles for chefs and they were really well received, we wanted to make them available for home bakers in smaller quantities. The challenges were really in packaging them in a sustainable recyclable way while also communicating about the unique features of each chocolate. I’m really pleased with the way we solved both of those problems. 

VC: What inspired the decision for Askinoise to offer items in bulk for baking?

Lawren Askinosie/Askinosie Chocolate: Initially, it was simply because we had all of this cocoa powder and didn’t know what to do with it! We had been pressing out own cocoa butter since the beginning, and of course a by-product of this is cocoa powder. We didn’t advertise that we had cocoa powder available, but we started hearing from some food and beverage manufacturers who needed large quantities of high-quality, non-alkalized cocoa powder. Dogfish Head Brewery was one of our first and biggest customers of our cocoa powder. Then, it was a monastery that made fudge. Then came Jeni’s and other ice cream makers. Eventually, we began offering it Retail in small tins in our storefront and website and selling wholesale to our retailers. We also developed a demand from professional and home chefs for our chocolate bars for cooking and baking. We started out making kilo-sized bars of chocolate, but we found most chefs preferred to work with much smaller pieces. We now offer our cocoa powder, “broken” bars, and cocoa nibs in smaller and larger formats at the Retail level. and we offer all three products in large volumes to bakers, chefs, coffee shops, through our Bulk program for food service. 

How has craft/specialty chocolate changed the way consumers view chocolate? 

VC: How have you seen consumer thoughts change in regard to chocolate when they have tried your baked good using your own bean-to-bar chocolate at Pump Street Bakery? 

Joanna Brennan/Pump Street Bakery/Pump Street Chocolate: Certainly our customers are paying a lot more attention to which origin of chocolate we are using in different products, and it often inspires them to try that origin as a bar. I would like to develop more recipes where people can taste the differences within the chocolate through different baked goods or hot chocolate – such as a flight of either. 

VC: When customers try your baked goods made with single-origin craft chocolate, especially it it’s the first time they have ever had something made with craft chocolate, what are their reactions? 

Jael Rattigan/French Broad Chocolate: Honestly, some people don’t notice this detail, as they’re just looking for the experience of a chocolate chip cookie, or chocolate layer cake, or chocolate ice cream. But those who do, appreciate not only the richness of flavor craft chocolate adds, but also the story behind the product. We source all our ingredients as carefully as we do our cacao, so in that chocolate chip cookie, you’re going to be experiencing North Carolina flour, local & free range eggs, and organic sugar and vanilla, in addition to the single origin 68% Nicaraguan chocolate chips and cacao nibs. It all comes together to tell a story of the farmers and producers that help make it all happen. 

How chocolate makers and chefs view how chocolate had changed and where they would like to see it grow in the future:

VC: When you look back at your chocolate eating experiences prior to making your own chocolate, how has your views on chocolate changed? Where would you like to see the expansion of craft chocolate be 10 years from now?

Sam Maruta/Marou Chocolate: I have some bad memories…Now of course I get to eat the best chocolates, the one we and other like-minded craft chocolate makers make.

I think you will see some major new brands emerging, on the back of retail operations, there might be a mini-Starbucks of craft chocolate in ten years time! But also a lot of local craft makers, starting from scratch in the US, a lot of traditional chocolatiers turning their attention to making their own chocolate in France…

VC: What direction would you like to see baking, pastry, etc., go in regards to chocolate use? Is there room for both what has come before as well as the newer wave of craft/specialty chocolate makers coming out with their own line of cocoa powders and baking chocolates for both wholesale and home use? 

Caroline Schiff/ParadigmSchiff: I think having more craft chocolate readily available is a great thing because it can teach both professional and home bakers about all the nuances of chocolate and flavor profiles. There’s an incredible opportunity for education. I do think there’s room for both craft chocolate in the market and the existing commercial brands; they both serve a purpose and price point. As a professional pastry I use both in my kitchen, and will continue to do so. 

VC: How had your approach to baking with chocolate changed once you became a chocolate maker? What direction would you like to see baking with single-origin chocolate take in the future? 

Jael Rattigan/French Broad Chocolate: Now that we are making our own chocolate, we are working to let the flavors of our chocolates speak. We create recipes that allow the particular chocolate to shine, not just act as a flavoring agent in a rich desert. 

I think we’ll see a lot more passionate chocolate lovers using craft chocolate at home, and we’ll see craft chocolate being called out on dessert menus at ingredient-driven restaurants. I am excited to be able to offer the experience of baking with craft chocolate to home cooks and pastry chefs, now that we are making and selling chocolate chips and drops! We love experiencing the desserts and confections that others create with our craft chocolate.

VC: How would you like to see craft chocolate grown in the future? How would you like to see consumers use your craft chocolate in their baking and daily lives? 

Lauren Heineck/WKND Chocolate/Well Tempered Podcast: I hope that home baking with craft chocolate goes the way of preparing specialty coffee at home, and beyond; there is trust amongst your local roaster, or when traveling you find new roasters, bring home fresh beans to grind for at-home beverage enjoyment. Consummate and casual bakers and chocolate lovers may feast on the variety of the cocoa bean at the hands of a skilled craftsperson, and encompass nibs, cocoa powder, cocoa butter,  and finished specialty craft chocolate in their recipes for generations to come. Looking for the most professional outcome shouldn’t deter you though; you’ll begin to work through intuition, recognizing a heavily earthy smelling chocolate might work best with X and a lightly nutty for Y–best suited for your palate and tastes. Since often you’re not going to get a singular chocolate note, keep in mind that blends can be an excellent recipe addition. Whether you’re combining your “expired*” batches for blends, or buying chefs’ blocks from a chocolate maker. Just as you would request of your barista, ‘what coffee bean will have better results in my espresso machine or AeroPress?’, ask your chocolate maker (psst makers, we should add this information to our websites!) which of their product line they recommended for brownies, raspberry chocolate tart, or bergamot chocolate pudding, etc.

*Dark chocolate kept in favorable conditions is more than capable of exceeding best by dates (They are suggestions, unless the inclusions might contain something that will become rancid such as milk powder. Always taste first). 

VC: What changes have you seen in both retail customers and wholesale customers in regards to their view of baking with craft chocolate since you started your baking product line? What direction would you like to see baking with craft chocolate take in the future?

Lawren Askinosie/Askinosie Chocolate: It’s been fun and rewarding for us to see how our customers–both bulk and retail–are using our baking products in their professional of at-home creations. It’s one of our favorite ways to engage with customers and fans on social media. We’re starting to see a shift in people’s confidence using a premium craft chocolate bar or powder in their recipes, whereas 10 years ago when people read that a recipe called for “semi-sweet” or “bittersweet” “chocolate chips” we just assumed they must use a bag of whatever said those words on the main label at the grocery store. Our baking offerings haven’t yet been a main marketing focus for use; growth is primarily organic. But there’s definitely an opportunity for more education for consumers around how to use natural cocoa powder (vs dutch processed), how you can substitute any premium bar you’d like for your recipes (keeping in mind to simply adjust to taste), and the exciting ways craft chocolate baking products can elevate your favorite recipes.

Conclusion:

I hope you have enjoyed this in depth look of baking with craft/specialty chocolate and that is has inspired you to seek out some to try in your own craft baking and recipe creations. To close, I felt Mackenzie Rivers of Map  Chocolate answer to the following question  really sums up this article topic and then following her answer is a lovely chocolate chip cookie recipe by Caroline Schiff of Paradigm Schiff to get you baking right away. 

VC: What was the inspiration behind creating your monthly craft chocolate baking subscription box? What would you like it to inspire in those who purchase it? (Note: Map Chocolate did a 3 month run only of this baking subscription. It is no longer available, however, plenty of tasty craft baking pantry supplies are available on Map’s website). 

Fiji Brownies Made with Map Chocolate/Spoon and Pod Monthly Craft Chocolate Baking Subscription Chocolate Pic by Victoria Cooksey

Mackenzie Rivers/Map Chocolate: I really hoped it would start a conversation about baking with craft chocolate. I’ve been making and selling craft chocolate pantry goods since I first started making bars five years ago. I did it because I loved baking, and also, because the notion of “chocolate” as possibly something more than just a bag of grocery store chocolate chips or factory-produced “chocolate” made from blends of beans good and bad with added flavorings etc, was why the light bulb moment I had in the Chocolate Alchemy warehouse blew me away: there is no such thing as one flavor of “chocolate”, unless we’re talking about the stuff must of us have been taught to believe is what chocolate tastes like. I thought back to, how as a pastry chef working for some renowned chefs, nobody had ever looked at the stuff that arrived in big boxes as anything special, diverse, or unique. No one spoke of origin, or harvest, or tasting notes. I just had never known “chocolate” was not just one flavor. The idea blew me away and also, as a farmer, dismayed me: I didn’t just plant “potatoes,” I had planted Ozettes, and German Butterballs, yet I never knew there was not just one type of cocoa bean, yet I loved chocolate. It was akin to hearing a beautiful birdsong every morning, but not asking Who is making that amazing sound? So, the idea of baking with different origins was, and still is, incredibly exciting and gratifying, and mind blowing. I hope Spoon&Pod will help open other baker’s and pastry chef’s eyes, as well, and by opening our eyes I like to think it nudges us to each look at whatever food in in front of us and ask: is there really just one kind? and then, what other food is out there I have not tried, or heard about, or really given a second thought to?

Caroline Schiff’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Yields 24 1 oz scooped cookies.

*you can swap out dark or milk chocolate for white chocolate, or either amount for nuts. 

Ingredients:

75g butter, browned

152g butter, soft and unsalted

293g dark brown sugar

201g granulated sugar

2 whole eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

175g AP flour

175g bread flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt

250g dark chocolate, chopped

250g milk chocolate, chopped

Maldon salt to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients and both chocolates and set aside.
  2. Brown butter until the color of coffee (very dark!) and let cool to room temp.
  3. In a mixer with a paddle cream together butter, brown butter and both sugars.
  4. Add in the eggs and vanilla one at a time and cream together.
  5. Scrape down the bowl as needed.
  6. Add in dry ingredients and chocolate and mix until just combined. 
  7. Scoop and chill overnight, or freeze up to 3 weeks.
  8. Top each cookie with a sprinkle of Maldon salt before baking.
  9. Bake at 325 for about 15 minutes on parchment lined paper. 

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed answers to this blog and thank your to all of your who have taken the time to read it! A special thank you to Lauren Heineck and Caroline Schiff for sharing their recipes for this article!

Please feel free to comment on what you thought of Part 1 and Part 2, if you enjoy baking with craft chocolate, if you tried the included recipes or any questions/comments you have about this article.

Please consider sharing the link to this blog, hitting like to the IG, Twitter and FB postings and sharing/retweeting those posts.  Thank you!

Victoria Cooksey:

https://www.instagram.com/victoria.cooksey/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm-lp-lF_wB2oX_592jK9UQ

French Broad Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/frenchbroadchocolate/

Askinosie Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/askinosie/

ParadigmSchiff:

https://www.instagram.com/paradigmschiff/

Pump Street Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/pumpstreetchocolate/

WKND Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/laurenonthewknd/

Map Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/mapchocolate/

Bella Sophia Chocolates:

https://www.instagram.com/bellasophiachocolates/

Marou Chocolate:

https://www.instagram.com/marouchocolate

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