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Fine Chocolate


aguynamedrobert
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If you would like to include Canada, there is a company called Soma Chocolatemaker that does some bean to bar items. I have also never tasted their chocolate. They wouldn't ship to the US.

Shame they wouldn't ship to the US. Soma is DIVINE! They do bean to bar and also make truffles with their own chocolate. I cannot even express the super thin shell they get on their moulded chocolates!

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  • 1 month later...

I spent most of my time in a recent Santa Fe trip checking out chocolate. Nothing new to this group, but I'll add my two cents. I went to Todos Santos and got a box of chocolate. He had Cluizel, Neuhaus and a few others mixed in with his own. His are Valrhona solid chocolates covered in gold or silver leaf. I found them okay, but solid chocolates in a bon bon box don't excite me. Beautiful packaging however:

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I also bought his bar which had a nice taste but was too thick for my liking.

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If you are ever in Santa Fe, don't miss his shop. Extremely nice and generous person, and a marvel of a shop (and I don't say cheesy things like that too freely!).

Over at Kakawa I bought an Askinosie bar (San Jose del Tambo with nibs). I really liked this bar - the taste, the texture, the packaging. Its a great set-up.

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I have some of the Askinosie nibs and I mould small 5 gram bars of 64% Cocoa Barry and put the nibs on top and I think they are absolutely delicious. Their nibs are very very nice. The have done an excellent job of getting the husk off. I have El-rey nibs and I worry that I might break a tooth because there are so poorly cleaned and dehusked!

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Hey Art,

I was just thinking...Do you have any new origins that are already in the making? Not trying to rush you along or anything, just wondering if we will see other origins from you in the next few months?  I am eager to see what you do with other beans as they come along...I think you are getting a lot of support because your chocolate is just plain good...and I'm right along with Chris, I'm a big fan of your chocolate(as you know) and I let others know my opinion! lol...can't wait to see what's next.

Robert

Chocolate Forum

Hey Robert! Good to hear from you!

Yes, I have four new origins that I am currently working on. I'm not ready to announce what they are (yet) but at least one is from Venezuela. In fact, I just came back from Venezuela where I spent time on the Cuyagua plantation and around Ocumare. It was an incredible trip as I'm sure you can imagine. It was jaw droppingly beautiful and as always, the people are wonderful. At the same time, the traveling was very difficult due to the remoteness of many of these areas.

One of my favorite things to do on trips such as this is to take chocolate back and share it with those who have helped to create it. For example, here I am sharing our Cuyagua chocolate with the growers who grew the beans I used to make it. One grower made the comment, "This chocolate is like a river." When I asked him what he meant by that, he said that "it is a journey in flavor that just keeps going and going taking you on a wonderful journey of flavor." It was incredibly touching and it is perhaps the most wonderful moment of the entire trip.

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While in Venezuela, I made some wonderful new friends and shook hands on some new beans.

Here is another picture where I was sourcing some new beans. (Sorry, I can't say what they are ... yet.)

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And some beautiful cocoa pods that have very high criollo content.

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One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Chuao. It is a very difficult town to get to. You have two options: 1) Hire a fishing boat or 2) Hike for six hours over a trail through the mountains. Before anybody starts getting excited, this little side trip was purely cocoa-sight-seeing. The beans are locked up by Amedei out of Pisa Italy. Even so, this town has lots of cocoa history and I felt it worth the stop simply to enjoy and take in the history. I was able to hire a fishing boat and was lucky enough to find that the captain had a friend in Chuao who could take me around.

It was a very brief excursion. I had a flight later that night to another region of Venezuela where I had a lead on some very good beans. After speeding all morning to get to Chuao, once there, I only had about forty-five minutes before I had to turn around and speed back to catch my flight. (Even so, I missed my flight by five minutes and was forced to buy a ticket on a later flight.) I was a little disappointed to miss seeing the beautiful circles of drying cocoa beans in front of the church. Apparently, they brought them in just an hour before I arrived. Was it worth it just for those 45 minutes? Yes! It was a lot of fun. Chuao is quaint and has changed very little because of its remoteness. From what I've been told, it still has grown quite a bit over the last five years due to the money coming in from their cocoa and their fishing industries. I felt very lucky to have this opportunity to see and learn about a cocoa region, however brief it was, that few in the industry ever do.

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Robert, what I am really looking forward to the new beans I found later in the trip. They are truly something special. The farmers are paying particular care to their growing practices as are the people who are helping the farmers with the fermentation. The trees have some very interesting genetics (again high criollo content) so all in all, it should make for some wonderful beans to make some really exceptional chocolate with. Even so, I'm not going to get too excited until they are in a container headed towards our factory. There are still too many things that can go wrong between now and then. I wish I could tell you more but for right now, I'm holding my tongue (as well as my breath) and am hopeful that I can use these newly discovered beans to create something very exciting. Once things are in place, I'll tell you a bit more about the beans, their story, and post pictures of the farms, farmers and area.

I have several other origins that are in the works -- one I'm particularly excited about. However, I don't want to get your, my, (or anyone else's) hopes up until I know that they truly on their way.

-Art

Edited by Art (log)

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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And some beautiful cocoa pods that have very high criollo content.

Okay - time to up my education on the topic. I thought criollo was a varietal. And so what do you mean by a high criollo content within a pod - I thought it either was or wasn't. Thanks.

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And some beautiful cocoa pods that have very high criollo content.

Okay - time to up my education on the topic. I thought criollo was a varietal. And so what do you mean by a high criollo content within a pod - I thought it either was or wasn't. Thanks.

Criollo is a general classification for a type of cocoa tree that is native to Venezuela. And in particular, native to the west side of Lake Maraciabo. (This is a very dangerous area right now since it is partly controlled by FARC who is coming across the border from Columbia.) There are many types of criollo just as there are many types of baking potatoes, etc. Criollo trees generally are considered to have the best flavor. However, this variety of tree also is the most susceptible to disease. Because of this, forestaro has often been introduced into the plantations. Forestaro trees are thought to originate from the upper Amazon basin and are much more disease resistant. Just like criollo trees, there are many types of forestaro trees. But, because of their disease resistance, it is attractive to farmers to plant forestaro even though there is less premium paid for beans of this type. (The forestaro then are either bred with the native criollo trees on the plantation on purpose or it occurs through natural processes.) A hybrid of criollo and forestaro was developed on the island of Trinidad and this hybrid has been given the designation Trinitario which is another over generalized "type" of tree.

There is very little "pure" criollo nowadays. Because of this, many botonists have begun using the term "new criollo" to describe criollo on the farm that has some trinitario / forestaro influence. These "new criollo" may be 95% criollo and 5% forestaro, for example. There is lots of work going on currently trying to identify pure strains as well as strains that are mostly pure.

So, perhaps an analogy is in order. On the islands of Hawai'i, there are very few "pure" Hawai'ians but there are lots of people who are "mostly" Hawai'ian or at least "partly" Hawai'ian. (Of course, I'd argue that anybody that has the Aloha Spirit is Hawai'ian but that is a side issue.)

Also, it should finally be pointed out that there are many plantations that have multiple varieties of trees. The beans often end up getting mixed up before they are turned over to the chocolate maker. So, you can have high-criollo content both in reference to the genetics of the trees but also you could have plantations that have 75% criollo trees and 25% something else.

It is much more complex than this both from a practical standpoint as well as a linguistic one but hopefully, this will help answer your question.

Hope this helps,

-Art

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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Oh, and as a final note, about your reference to "within a pod"... You can have beans that are pure criollo in a pod along with beans that are not.

Think of it this way.... Let's say you have a tree that is pure criollo and the flower that will eventually grow into a pod is fertilized both by trees that are pure crillo as well as trees that are half criollo. You will get some beans that are still 100% criollo (created by the "pure" pollen) as well as beans that are 25% criollo.

In addition, you have the usual variability of genetics where you can have beans that exhibit the traits of one parent or another even though they are a mixture of both.

-Art

Edited by Art (log)

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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Fantastic explanation - thank you so much for taking the time to share it. I guess the only thing that's not sinking in is - How do you know how much criollo is in a pod (purposely poorly stated)? For example, do you just crack open a pod and see little "c"s and little "f"s on each bean, or is it more like knowing the heredity of a human (3 parts German, 1 part Italian)? I assume the latter based on your explanation.

So how do you know this when you open your bag of beans:

These "new criollo" may be 95% criollo and 5% forestaro, for example.
You can have beans that are pure criollo in a pod along with beans that are not.
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Fantastic explanation - thank you so much for taking the time to share it.  I guess the only thing that's not sinking in is - How do you know how much criollo is in a pod (purposely poorly stated)?  For example, do you just crack open a pod and see little "c"s and little "f"s on each bean, or is it more like knowing the heredity of a human (3 parts German, 1 part Italian)?  I assume the latter based on your explanation.

So how do you know this when you open your bag of beans:

These "new criollo" may be 95% criollo and 5% forestaro, for example.
You can have beans that are pure criollo in a pod along with beans that are not.

There are a huge number of factors that come into play and can guide you and no one factor will guide you reliably. Some issues to look at are:

Bean size and shape.

Bean color. (Criollos tend to be white where Forestaro are purple). There are of course various shades in between.

Pod shape, color, skin thickness, texture, etc.

Flower style variations

Color and morphology of the leaves and branches of the trees.

Unfermented and fermented bean flavor both of the bean and the pulp.

etc.

Of course, there are also genetic and chemical based tests. Even so, there is no one factor that one looks at to tell if a bean has criollo content. It is a matter of understanding the whole and trying to best place a given specimen. Since we are dealing with nature, there are also exceptions to just about all the rules.

-Art

Edited by Art (log)

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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Great information Art. Always lots to learn. I do my chocolate tastings and i have one segment that I call Terroir tasting. I can honestly say that your Madagascar is my favourite. It is so full of character! Your other bars are also fabulous! I am very curious and anxious to know what you have up your sleeve for your next batches!

Deb.

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Great information Art. Always lots to learn. I do my chocolate tastings and i have one segment that I call Terroir tasting.  I can honestly say that your Madagascar is my favourite. It is  so full of character!  Your other bars are also fabulous! I am very curious and anxious to know what you have up your sleeve for your next batches!

Deb.

Thank you so much. One of the best parts of making chocolate (or cooking for that matter) is simply making people happy.

-Art

Amano Artisan Chocolate

http://www.amanochocolate.com/

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  • 3 weeks later...

I recently had a chance to try Patric Chocolates 70% Madagascar. Superb chocolate bar. It brilliantly showcased everything I've come to expect from good Madagascan chocolate (which is one of my favourite origins) in a bar with strong berry flavours (in my opinion) and some citrus. The entire tasted lingered beautifully on the palette. I would recommend the bar to all who get an opportunity to try it.

Edited by gap (log)
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Hey Everyone,

I'm new around here but own and operate my own chocolate website. Do we have any chocolate lovers on this forum?

It's great to see such a huge community of people on here! I look forward to talking with all of you.....

God Bless,

Robert

www.chocolateguild.com

Hi Robert,

I'm a chocolate fan, especially Amedei. My favourites are their Chuao and Porcelana. Actually, I specialize in cocktail recipe design.

Always wanted to learn pastry, and recently have been seriously considering it. I'm based in Singapore. My impression is that the French are known for it, but the Japanese have a most impressive sensibility towards pastry art too.

Is it necessary to go through training at a famous institution, or could an amateur like me (with ZERO pasty experience) start through apprenticeship? Any advice?

Warmest Regards,

Damian

Provocachic

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  • 3 weeks later...

I wanted to add a bit more about this bar. They are fair trade and from Modica. Their website is HERE. I've had a couple of these now and wouldn't necessarily classify them as "fine chocolate," but they are unique in a very good way. My greatest reservation is that they are 45%. What I like most about the cinnamon is the texture:

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gallery_41282_4652_20740.jpg

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Hey Everyone,

I just found something that many of you might like to see...It is a video of Gary Guittard on Youtube. The video is of him giving a tasting at the Death by Chocolate event hosted by COPIA in Napa, California.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzZW2MeAcdg

Check it out...

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Hello:

I´m a new member here and have a chocolate business in Quito, Ecuador. I´m mostly self-taught in chocolate though I have been to culinary school and have spent about 3 years now full-time at this. Please feel free to ask, share, whatever with me. My website is www.giandujachocolate.com. I make all my products by hand and have been in business just under a year now.

Hoping to eventually export to the US. If you ever come to Ecuador, please visit and I can tell you all about the local chocolate world here, it´s very interesting.

Jeff

Jeffrey Stern

www.jeffreygstern.com

http://bit.ly/cKwUL4

http://destination-ecuador.net

cocoapodman at gmail dot com

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Hello:

I´m a new member here and have a chocolate business in Quito, Ecuador. I´m mostly self-taught in chocolate though I have been to culinary school and have spent about 3 years now full-time at this. Please feel free to ask, share, whatever with me. My website is www.giandujachocolate.com. I make all my products by hand and have been in business just under a year now.

Hoping to eventually export to the US. If you ever come to Ecuador, please visit and I can tell you all about the local chocolate world here, it´s very interesting.

Jeff

Welcome Jeff, we'll be interested to hear about your products and hope you'll become involved in our many discussions about chocolate. Did you catch the earlier thread about 'Balancing your Ganache'? I'd be interested on your take on shelf life of your products.

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Hello:

I´m a new member here and have a chocolate business in Quito, Ecuador. I´m mostly self-taught in chocolate though I have been to culinary school and have spent about 3 years now full-time at this. Please feel free to ask, share, whatever with me. My website is www.giandujachocolate.com. I make all my products by hand and have been in business just under a year now.

Hoping to eventually export to the US. If you ever come to Ecuador, please visit and I can tell you all about the local chocolate world here, it´s very interesting.

Jeff

Welcome Jeff, we'll be interested to hear about your products and hope you'll become involved in our many discussions about chocolate. Did you catch the earlier thread about 'Balancing your Ganache'? I'd be interested on your take on shelf life of your products.

I did read the Balancing Your Ganache entry. I use many recipes from both Greweling´s CIA book and Wybauw´s Fine Chocolates. I like Wybauw´s because they all provide the Aw, and find the guidance provided for shelf life is just about spot on, except for the Gianduja. I´ve had them mold up after about 6 weeks, which is a bit too long anyway. But I think there is too much free water in the formula, and have tried reducing the dairy. Also, dairy hygiene is not quite as good here as in the US which may have affected the shelf life, despite boiling the cream. Also, butter here is not consistent like in the US; depending on the time of the year I believe the amount of fat and water varies because of the changes in season from rainy to dry and back again. Things are not nearly as high tech for quality control.

I do find that most of my products have easily an 8 week shelf life, without any preservatives. I had all my products lab tested here and they were given 90 days. I am still, however, tweaking recipes, especially for export, to extend shelf life as long as possible.

Jeffrey Stern

www.jeffreygstern.com

http://bit.ly/cKwUL4

http://destination-ecuador.net

cocoapodman at gmail dot com

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Hello:

I´m a new member here and have a chocolate business in Quito, Ecuador. I´m mostly self-taught in chocolate though I have been to culinary school and have spent about 3 years now full-time at this. Please feel free to ask, share, whatever with me. My website is www.giandujachocolate.com. I make all my products by hand and have been in business just under a year now.

Hoping to eventually export to the US. If you ever come to Ecuador, please visit and I can tell you all about the local chocolate world here, it´s very interesting.

Jeff

Welcome Jeff, we'll be interested to hear about your products and hope you'll become involved in our many discussions about chocolate. Did you catch the earlier thread about 'Balancing your Ganache'? I'd be interested on your take on shelf life of your products.

I did read the Balancing Your Ganache entry. I use many recipes from both Greweling´s CIA book and Wybauw´s Fine Chocolates. I like Wybauw´s because they all provide the Aw, and find the guidance provided for shelf life is just about spot on, except for the Gianduja. I´ve had them mold up after about 6 weeks, which is a bit too long anyway. But I think there is too much free water in the formula, and have tried reducing the dairy. Also, dairy hygiene is not quite as good here as in the US which may have affected the shelf life, despite boiling the cream. Also, butter here is not consistent like in the US; depending on the time of the year I believe the amount of fat and water varies because of the changes in season from rainy to dry and back again. Things are not nearly as high tech for quality control.

I do find that most of my products have easily an 8 week shelf life, without any preservatives. I had all my products lab tested here and they were given 90 days. I am still, however, tweaking recipes, especially for export, to extend shelf life as long as possible.

Marmalade, would you care to share a sample ganache recipe? I don't get anywhere near a 90 day shelf life and I think others would be interested in taking a look at what you're doing; for myself, especially, since you're not using any preservatives.

Thanks!

John DePaula
formerly of DePaula Confections
Hand-crafted artisanal chocolates & gourmet confections - …Because Pleasure Matters…
--------------------
When asked “What are the secrets of good cooking? Escoffier replied, “There are three: butter, butter and butter.”

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John, I have to tell you that with just simple recipe ( I mean nothing secret etc.) I can get my chocolates to stay molds free and still edable, they eventually get harder, for 3 months easy.Now of course I suggest to eat my chocolates whitin 2 weeks because flavor change , plus I dont know in what condition people keep them.But all my experiments that I leave in my basement, wich ofcourse is colder, stay good for months :laugh: , sounds scary I know but I dont use any preservatives and all fresh ingredients.I still have some banana cream and blueberry down stairs, that I cut up every week to see if they are still good, just to see their shelf life.The ones I keep up here i n my kitchen ( around 68 F and up sometimes ) still last pretty long.I believe that COlorado climate is the cause, I have never seen any mold here.

Vanessa

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John, I have to tell you that with just simple recipe ( I mean nothing secret etc.) I can get my chocolates to stay molds free and still edable, they eventually get harder, for 3 months easy.Now of course I suggest to eat my chocolates whitin 2 weeks because flavor change , plus I dont know in what condition people keep them.But all my experiments that I leave in my basement, wich ofcourse is colder, stay good for months  :laugh: , sounds scary I know but I dont use any preservatives and all fresh ingredients.I still have some banana cream and blueberry down stairs, that I cut up every week to see if they are still good, just to see their shelf life.The ones I keep up here i n my  kitchen ( around 68 F and up sometimes ) still last pretty long.I believe that COlorado climate is the cause, I have never seen any mold here.

I agree...my workshop is never cooler than about 57 F and never warmer than 68, so temperature is very cool and steady. I store all my products here. I use all fresh ingredients too. I will put up a recipe shortly. I do find that using tempered chocolate in the ganache, as recommended by Greweling and others, definitely improves texture and shelf life, and helps prevent separation. I do have some drying issues with some pieces after several weeks, but using invert sugar or fondant treated with invertase (no invert sugar here so I have to make my own) really helps to prevent drying out.

Jeffrey Stern

www.jeffreygstern.com

http://bit.ly/cKwUL4

http://destination-ecuador.net

cocoapodman at gmail dot com

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