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
For years I have enjoyed both baking, creating recipes and watching cooking shows especially if the show included chocolate recipes. As the instructions for the recipes often go “use good quality 70% chocolate” and as a viewer I would be all “ohhh chocolate!”. Nowadays after reviewing hundreds of craft chocolate bars I am left thinking “Yes, but what chocolate and why only 70%?”. Sure, 70% helps standardize recipes with viewers and readers are easily able to locate 70% chocolate to bake with, but thanks to the continuing rise of craft chocolate/specialty chocolate now there is a larger variety of high-quality, single-origin and varied percentages chocolate out there to work with. Many makers now have both their own craft chocolate baking items for both home bakers and professionals to purchase which is elevating baking to another level.
Over the next couple of blog posts we will take a look at a wide variety of baking with craft chocolate topics including the ways single-origin craft chocolate affects recipe creation and existing recipes, inspiration for products, product lines, obstacles for getting bakers/chefs to use craft chocolate, the enjoyment of baking with craft/specialty chocolate, where makers would like to see craft chocolate baking evolve to in the future and more!
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)
Recently Map Chocolate made one hundred 6 bar sets of special Map bars to raise funds for getting new molds and they have now arrived! Map Chocolate fans will note these bars have a different wrapper than normal. Per Map’s IG account: “The temporary packaging was inspired by shops that cover their windows while they’re re-doing the interior”.
I can’t believe another amazing craft chocolate tasting year has past! That means it’s time for the 2nd annual Dark Matters Craft Chocolate Awards.
I have only included bars I have purchased myself. I’m also only including bars that I tried in 2017, so some of these bars might be new creations and some may be part of a maker’s permanent collection.
Full reviews of the winning bars are available on this blog or on my IG account.
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 ).
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).
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”
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: