Another year full of even more chocolate has come and gone bringing us to the 3rd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate awards for 2018.
The same rule from the past applies to these awards: Only bars I have purchased are eligible for awards. As usual, some of these bars might still exist in a makers collection and some may have been limited edition only. (Keep in mind that each year/harvest is different and as chocolate makers tweak recipes, bar tasting notes are subject to change). Full tasting notes for each bar may be found on this blog, or on my Instagram account.
And now the winners are…
Best Coffee Chocolate Bar:
I tried several bars with coffee in them this year. What made the top 3 stand out the most, besides the overall great flavors, was that while often coffee can end up a bit stale-tasting in bars, these 3 managed to convey the feeling of having a fresh cup of coffee.
3rd place goes to Hogarth’s Espresso Bar with Dominican Oko Caribe cacao & Pomeroy’s Coffee. This bar has tastes that included lemon, grape, lavender, mocha and bright coffee.
Hogarth’s Espresso Bar (The packaging has changed since I took this photo)
Continue reading “Dark Matters Chocolate Reviews Craft Chocolate Awards 2018”
Cacao Review has outdone themselves this year with Collection No. 2, a very limited (only 200 made of each item, ever) chocolate set featuring Chocolate Naive, Marou, Omnom, Ritual and even a bar by Cacao Review. While a few of the chocolate bars are available for individual purchases (50 individual and 150 box sets) the only way to try Chocolate Naive’s Nano_Lot drinking chocolate is by going for the whole collection (ahem…holiday gift perfection, just saying).
Chocolate Naive Nano_Lot Drinking Chocolate Limited Edition Cacao Review Collection No. 2
Continue reading “Chocolate Naive Nano Lot Drinking Chocolate Review Cacao Review Collection 2”
Just a glance at Bella Sophia Chocolates Instagram page is enough to give a sense of what an amazing artist Steph Shafer is! Steph manages to offer great flavor, visual appeal and creativity to all her creations and embodies the qualities of an empowered woman as well! (Read on to find out Steph’s definition of an empowered woman).
Bella Sophia Chocolates was founded by both Steph and JD Shafer and was named after their daughter Bella Sophia. From making their own vanilla extract to using cacao from small family farms from the Dominican Republic, Peru and Ecuador when available, Bella Sophia focuses on quality ingredients to create their small-batch award winning luxury chocolates.
Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates
Victoria Cooksey: How did you get started making chocolates/bonbons?
Steph Shafer: Making chocolates actually was by accident, it was not planned. I’m an artist and one evening I wanted to paint, however, my large canvas was too heavy for me to carry into the house, I had a piece of chocolate on the counter, so I decided to paint it for fun. I took a picture of the painted chocolate and posted it on Instagram and the next morning I had several people asking me where they could buy that chocolate. It was from there that I learned all about chocolate, where it comes from and how it’s made. I have always been in love with fine chocolate! I love everything about it, the texture, the taste, the smell, I love how it melts in your mouth, it’s so smooth and luxurious. I wanted this type of chocolate for my business, so I researched and created what I think is the best chocolate.
Continue reading “Interview with Steph Shafer of Bella Sophia Chocolates”
In 2005 Ana and Jason Willenbrock opened Posh Chocolat in Missoula, Montana. Per their website their chocolates are made from “single-origin chocolate from the South American region”. Ana is originally from Brazil and Jason is from St. Louis , Missouri. They met while attending The Culinary Institute of American in New York. Both have culinary experience working in Europe and in the USA prior to opening Posh Chocolat.
Ana recently sent me some of their chocolates, caramels and chocolate bars to sample.
Posh Chocolat made in Missoula, Montana & pictured here on Marrowstone Island, WA Continue reading “Posh Chocolat Review”
This past weekend marked the 10th year of the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA and my fourth time to attend. Some years the chocolate trends jump out at you, however, this year I found them to be a bit more subtle. Keep in mind, these trends are related to the show specifically.
Trend #1: The show itself has become more international than ever with more makers joining every year such as Mirzam and Fu Wan, both of which were selling out fast!
Mirzam Chocolate NW Chocolate Festival 2018
Fu Wan Chocolate at the NW Chocolate Festival 2018 Continue reading “NW Chocolate Festival Seattle, WA Chocolate Trends 2018”
Hans Westerink is a craft chocolate maker located in South Bend, Indiana. I have been lucky enough to have been able purchase his bean-to-bar chocolate in November at the NW Chocolate Festival in Seattle, WA. In my opinion, Violet Sky Chocolate features one of the loveliest chocolate bar packaging which is so colorful and often shiny which really makes it stand out, and Hans often uses unique inclusions in his bars as well. Read on to find out more about Hans!
Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate with his wife Alison Continue reading “Interview with Hans Westerink of Violet Sky Chocolate”
Introducing Michel Cluizel’s ChocoVoice(R) Winterland Chocolate Box with a jingle and personal messaging. This item will be available to purchase on Michel Cluizel’s website starting November 1, 2018.
Michel Cluizel’s ChocoVoice(R) Chocolate Box
This post features pictures of the Winterland version with a holiday jingle, however, there is also a 24 piece bonbon version with jingle options such as birthdays, Valentine’s day, and more.
Continue reading “Michel Cluizel ChocoVoice Winterland Chocolate Display Review”
Askinosie, one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers, has recently released two new chocolate bars to their already impressive lineup. While I have purchased several of their items on multiple occasions, I was lucky enough to have received these two new bars to try thanks to Lawren Askinosie.
First up is Askinosie’s 61% Tanzania Dark Chocolate + Avocado & Rosemary Bar, for which Askinosie has partnered with Heath Ceramics to create. Rosemary is one of those ingredients that can easily overpower other flavors, however, Askinosie did a great job balancing the flavors in this bar!
Askinosie Dark Chocolate + Avocado & Rosemary Pic by Victoria Cooksey Continue reading “Askinosie’s New Avocado Rosemary & Peppermint Chocolate Bars Reviews”
When I heard Dick Taylor was making a milk chocolate bar I couldn’t wait to try it and it doesn’t disappoint! Often Madagascar’s fruit notes can get a bit lost in milk chocolate bars, but not in this one! Dick Taylor manages to capture so many scents and tastes in this bar using Madagascar cacao with milk from Humboldt Creamery.
Dick Taylor 58% Madagascar Sambirano Milk Chocolate Bar
Color: Light/medium brown.
Texture: Great snap with a smooth, full-bodied mouthfeel.
Nose: Red fruit, oak, red currant and orange.
Tastes: Red currant, blood orange, cream, subtle rosemary and caramel.
Finish: Malt, caramel and orange notes linger with a medium-length (around 10 minutes) finish.
An exceptional bar!
What does rap, chocolate tours, dancing, running a business, teaching chocolate classes, and the Portland Chocoholics Meetup all have in common? Kara Hayes founder of Chocolate Pursuit, which offers craft chocolate tastings in tours in and around Portland. Grab some craft chocolate, put your feet up and read on to, as Kara would say, “melt into the experience”.
Kara Hayes of Chocolate Pursuit Continue reading “Interview with Kara Hayes of Chocolate Pursuit”