Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 2 with Victoria Cooksey

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”

Interview with Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate Part 1 by 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”

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 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”

Interview of Cynthia Leung of Soma Chocolatemaker with Victoria Cooksey

David Castellan and Cynthia Leung of Soma Chocolatemaker at Slow Move Picnic 

Soma Chocolatemaker is a craft chocolate maker located in Toronto, Canada that was founded by David Castellan and Cynthia Leung.  This interview focuses on answers given by Cynthia Leung.

I’ve had the pleasure of devouring many of Soma Chocolatemaker bars.  I first discovered Soma when Ecole Chocolat posted a picture of Soma’s Dark Side of the Mug drinking chocolate on instagram ( and I knew I had to have it! So I placed my first Soma order, and the rest is history.

Throughout this interview you will find pictures of just a few of the Soma bars I’ve had concluding with their Milk Old School bar which (spoiler alert) tied for first place in the 2016 Dark Matters Chocolate Awards.

Chocolate makers are extremely busy people, so a huge thank you to Cynthia for taking the time from her busy schedule to answer my questions.  I am truly grateful, and look forward to seeking out  all of Soma’s future creations!

Soma Chocolatemaker Dark Side of the Mug Drinking Chocolate

Victoria Cooksey:   What was your first experience with fine chocolate, and what made you decided to turn your passion for chocolate into a full time career?

Cynthia Leung:   We were reading Maricel’s first edition of her book, “Taste of Chocolate” at home and eating a bar of Domori’s Madagascar. In combination this was our portal into the world of cacao. Continue reading “Interview of Cynthia Leung of Soma Chocolatemaker with Victoria Cooksey”