Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bar of the Week: Santander 70% with Passion Fruit

Region: Inclusion using beans from Colombia
Bean Type: Trinitario-Criollo
Cocoa Content: 70%

Santander Chocolate has been a popular choice at Chocolopolis due to an inherent coffee flavor that Seattlites know and love. We use the Santander 70% in many of our tastings to contrast with the fruitiness of Valrhona's Manjari and the smokiness of the Pralus Indonesie bar. This week we're showcasing their 70% chocolate with a unique twist: the addition of passion fruit. Known in Colombia as maracuya, passion fruit is native to South America and is grown on small cold climate farms where it is manually harvested. The sourness of the fruit pairs well with the nuttiness of Santander's dark chocolate to produce a bar that is sure to become a favorite of those seeking something different. Stop by our store this Saturday for a taste.

Fun Fact: Santander Chocolate takes its name from the State of Santander in Eastern Colombia. Peasants there have been growing and harvesting cacao in the same traditions for over two centuries.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bar of the Week: Askinosie Soconusco Nibble Bar

Region: Inclusion using beans from Mexico
Bean Type: Trinitario
Cocoa Content: 75%

In a city recently named one of the ten worst places to raise a family in America, the same city that is trying to escape its lynching past, Springfield, Missouri now has something to be proud of - Askinosie Chocolate. The driving force behind the company is founder and chocolate maker, Shawn Askinosie, and he has a whopper of a tale to tell. If you've ever dreamed of a midlife career change this is the story for you. Shawn began his career with a degree in political science and a high paying job as a criminal defense lawyer. Along with that job came many awards, as well as a number of death threats, and the latter convinced him to consider pursuing his passion for chocolate. Making chocolates and truffles is one thing, but taking the time to learn how to create chocolate from the bean is a whole different challenge, especially when you tell your family that you want to leave your high paying position to focus on your new hobby full-time. A trip to the Amazon Rain Forest to study post harvest techniques and some time with a Master Chocolate Maker in Ecuador helped get Shawn up to speed, and a few (thousand) tests later the finished products began to emerge.

The 70% Soconusco Nibble Bar is one of the four Askinosie products that we currently carry. The Nibble portion of the name refers to the crushed cocoa beans that are sprinkled over the back of the bar to give the chocolate a nut-like crunch.

Fun Fact: Shawn puts two hidden references to his family on the packaging for his bars. The 1-2-3 is a secret message to his wife and the toot-toot is a nod to his daughter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bar of the Week: Domori Madagared

Region: Madagascar
Bean Type: Criollo-Trinitario
Cocoa Content: 70%

This information regarding the bar of the week comes from the manufacturer: Madagared is a criollo-type cacao from Madagascar. From the many trinitario-type plantations we selected these criollo cacao pods with completely white cacao beans and have processed them separately. The final result exalts the quality organoleptic traits: honey, almonds, berries, caramel and cream. It is slightly tangy and outstandingly smooth with a fine sweetness and particularly long finish.

A new take on our most popular region and a good comparison to last week's Amano Madagascar. One thing to note before you do your tasting: Amano adds cocoa butter and vanilla while Domori does not.

Fun Fact: Now is the time to buy this bar because it, along with Domori's milk chocolate bar blended with sea salt, is no longer being manufactured. We still have a few left in stock so hurry in before they are gone forever.

Monday, November 24, 2008

New - Coco-luxe Holiday Confections

The original Coco-luxe confections that we brought in were such a hit that we are now showcasing their holiday line in our confections case. Popular flavors include peppermint, gingerbread, and a holiday cake truffle that we can guarantee is better than that old fruitcake you still have tucked away in your pantry. Bring a box and you'll be the most popular person at your holiday party.

Available individually or in an assorted box of nine.

Bar of the Week: Amano Madagascar

Region: Madagascar
Cocoa Content: 70%

The Amano Madagascar bar has been with us since the day we opened. In celebration of some new additions to their line of bars, the Cuyagua using beans from Venezuela and the Indonesian Jembrana, we've decided to spotlight these bean to bar chocolates that are made in America. The guys behind Amano, Art Pollard and Clark Goble, stopped by during our grand opening week in July and held a tasting with their Madagascar bar and the Venezuelan Ocumare. While both were well received, the Madagascar was by far the more popular choice. Creating this bar was not easy though, and it took Art almost 10 years and a little persisting from his business partner to share his chocolate with the world. It's a good thing he did because the company is growing daily while still staying true to its name, which in Italian means "by hand" and "they love". Quality over quantity is always the best recipe for chocolate making success.

Fun Fact: The new Amano packaging features artwork commissioned by various artists. The picture on the new Madagascar bar was done by Bavarian-born artist Wulf Barsch, and the original painting hangs in Amano's Utah-based factory.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bar of the Week: Bonnat Trinite

Region: Caribbean
Bean Type: Trinitario
Cocoa Content: 75%

Before Valrhona, Michel Cluizel, and Pralus there was Bonnat. Started in 1884 by Felix Bonnat, the company's chocolate-making traditions have been passed down through the family and is now headed by fourth generation chocolate makers, Cecile and Stephane Bonnat. In 1984 they introduced their single origin line, and this week's selection is a good example of their dark roasting style (great for the espresso crowd). Another signature of Bonnat's bars is minimal ingredients - check out the list on the back of a bar and you'll see that it lacks the addition of soy lecithin and/or vanilla.

We'll have samples out in the store this Saturday of the Bonnat Trinite bar, and for the milk chocolate lovers out there ask us about Bonnat's Dark Milk line.

Fun Fact: Bonnat bars are certified kosher by Beth Din of the Federation of Synagogues London.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New: Patric Chocolate and Rogue Chocolatier

We've scoured the U.S. for artisan bean to bar chocolate makers that you won't find anywhere else in Seattle. First up is Patric Chocolate, which hails from the state that is becoming quite popular for fine chocolates, Missouri. Home of both the Christopher Elbow collection and the Askinosie bars, Patric Chocolate entered the chocolate scene in January of 2007 and is quickly becoming a popular seller at Chocolopolis. Alan McClure is the founder and passionate chocolate-maker behind the two Patric products that we carry - 67% and 70% dark chocolate bars from the Sambirano Valley of Madagascar. At first glance the two bars appear identical, but look closely and you'll notice the subtle difference in the ingredient list of the bars. The 70% is purely cocoa beans and cane sugar, while the 67% has added cocoa butter which has been pressed from the same origin of bean so as not to muddle the flavor. All of his chocolate is produced in small 50-60 lb. batches to ensure that the quality and flavor of each bar remains consistent throughout the entire chocolate making process (compare that with the reported 1,000,000 lbs of chocolate Hershey's produces in a day).

Next up is Rogue Chocolatier which takes first place in two categories: smallest chocolate factory and youngest chocolate maker. At the age of 23, Colin Gasko is producing bars of exceptional quality out of his bedroom-sized warehouse in Minneapolis, MN. We've brought in two of his bars, the Sambirano from Madagascar and the Hispaniola from the Dominican Reopublic, and while both bars are 70% dark chocolate there is an incredible difference in everything from the color of the chocolate to the flavor profiles found in each.

We are very excited to have the opportunity to highlight artisan chocolate companies that are just starting out, and as previously mentioned you won't find these bars in any other stores in the city. We also have leads on a few other U.S.-based bean to bar makers that we are interested in bringing in so check back for updates on new products and store events.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Bar of the Week: Amedei Toscano Black 66%

Region: Blend
Cocoa Content: 66%

We get a lot of requests in our store from people wanting a good bar of dark chocolate without the associated bitterness. One option is anything from Amedei's Toscano Black line, and that may be why we've been featuring a lot from them lately. Their 66% is technically a dark chocolate but tastes like a milk, and its persistant flavor ensures that it will last longer than that leftover Snickers bar from Halloween. Stop by this Saturday and taste how good dark chocolate can be.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bar of the Week: Amedei Toscano Red

Region: Inclusion
Cocoa Content: 70%

This week we focus on Amedei's companion to the Toscano Blond bar, the Toscano Red. The chocolate is a bit darker and the added fruits this time are cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, but the flavor still packs a punch. If you're game for a challenge try both bars and decide which one you like better. I'll warn you though, it's hard to choose.

Fun Fact: Amedei's Toscano Black 70% was the first chocolate that Cecilia Tessieri made.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bar of the Week: Domori Puertomar

Region: Venezuela
Bean Type: Criollo
Cocoa Content: 75%

While similar to last week's Puertofino, the Domori Puertomar is a great example of how different chocolate from the same region can be. While both are made from Venezuelan criollo cacao and have no added cocoa butter, the flavors are quite varied due to the different subclones used to make each bar (the Puertomar is from the Ocumare 61 while the Puertofino is made with Ocumare 67).

Come by the store this Saturday for a taste of the Puertomar, and for anyone interested in trying the two together we may be able to rustle up a sample of the Puertofino for you.

Fun Fact: The name Domori means two Moors in Venetian. It refers to the two bronze statues on the clock tower in St. Mark's Square, Venice, and to the two main crops of Venezuela, coffee and cacao.

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Flavors by Coco-Luxe

Our truffles case is at its maximum capacity with the newest addition being Coco-Luxe confections, a chocolatier out of Sausalito, CA. Head chocolatier, Stephanie Marcon, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and previously worked under Michael Recchuitti before creating her own line of chocolates. The whimsy designs that decorate each confection set her chocolates apart from the competition and make it easy to decode the flavors within.

We brought in a number of products from her line, including three flavors that are perfect for Halloween:

Devil's Food - dark chocolate ganache
Malted Milk - milk chocolate ganache with barley malt syrup
Dreamy Orange -
white chocolate ganache with a hint of orange

Stop in and try Coco-Luxe today!

Bar of the Week: Domori Puertofino

Region: Venezuela
Bean Type: Criollo
Cocoa Content: 70%

The Domori Puertofino is a great contrast to last week's Javablond. Together the two represent Domori's smooth style of chocolate making without added cocoa butter, but separately, the two types of criollo cacao are drastically different chocolates. While the strong, smokey flavor of the Javablond is present almost immediately, the Puertofino requires more careful consideration to identify the notes hidden within.

Fun Fact: Ocumare is a type of bean grown in the Ocumare de la Costa region of Venezuela. The Ocumare 67 strain of cacao used to make this bar was revived due to Domori's efforts to graft criollo subclones onto cacao trees. For those interested there is a lot of great information on grafting here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Bar of the Week: Domori Javablond

Region: Southeast Asia
Bean Type: Criollo
Cocoa Content: 70%

This information regarding the bar of the week comes from the chocolate maker: Javablond is a criollo-type cacao from East Java. Many centuries ago, a light-colored criollo cacao with a good acidity, and that was easily separated from its shell, was cultivated on the island of Java. Then a volcanic eruption devastated the plantations and forastero-type cacao was planted alongside what remained of the criollo cacao. From this mix a trinitario-type cacao was born.
One third of the island’s crop has 50% light-colored beans and therefore is classified as criollo. This cacao is unique because of its notes of tobacco, berries, smokiness and earthiness. It is spicy with an excellent smoothness, long finish and marked sweetness.

Fun Fact: Domori was the first to create a uniform tasting guide to evaluate chocolate based upon five characteristics - aroma, appearance, snap, taste, and texture.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bar of the Week: Amedei Toscano Blond

Region: Inlcusion
Cocoa Content: 63%

Last Saturday we held a comparison tasting in our store of the Amedei milk bar and a mystery milk chocolate. We promised to reveal the secret identity of the classic American bar on our blog, and for those of you who didn't guess it was Hershey's. With a final tally of 41 to 8 the winner of the milk chocolate taste test was Amedei, which is proof that Americans do care about the quality of the ingredients that go into a bar of chocolate (Hershey's has been in the news lately for replacing the cocoa butter in some of their products with vegetable oil; more about that here).We decided to continue with the Amedei line this week by bringing you one of their inclusion bars, a dark chocolate concoction laced with dried peaches and apricots. The black and gold coloring of the box and the chocolate's crisp, tart taste make this bar the perfect transition from summer to fall.Fun Fact: The process used to dehydrate the fruits and create the sparks of flavor in the bar was developed and patented by Amedei's Master Chocolatier, Cecilia Tessieri.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Lillie Belle flavors!

By popular demand we've brought back the Coconut Lemon Buttercream and added two new flavors: Marionberry Cordial and Spearmint Ganache. Both are delicious additions to our truffles counter and they're sure to be hit with our customers (so you better stop in soon!).

The best deal in town

We've turned Thursday evenings into something special with our 5 for $5 deal. We're kicking things off with five bars from Venezuela, a region known for its prized beans and diverse flavor profiles. The $5 fee gets you a generous sampling of five different chocolate makers:

Theo - 91%
Bonnat Puerto Cabello - 75%
Domori Carenero Superior - 70%
Michel Cluizel Concepion - 66%
El Rey Carenero Superior - 41%

Stop by any Thursday from 5 to 9pm and begin your tasting adventure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

They're back....

Amedei's confections are the newest addition to our truffle counter, and we've brought back all of your favorites plus a new flavor:

Chuao - Dark chocolate ganache made from the prized beans of the Chuao region of Venezuela
Tartufo - Dark chocolate ganache combined with hazelnuts and rolled in cocoa powder
Cremino - Milk chocolate ganache layered with chopped hazelnuts
Vin Santo - Italian sweet wine blessed by the pope, blended into ganache and rolled in confectioner's sugar
Zabaglione - Italian custard blended with marsala wine and enrobed in milk chocolate
Grappa - White chocolate ganache blended with grappa, an Italian pomace brandy

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bar of the Week: Amedei Milk

Region: Blend
Cocoa Content: 32%

For all of you milk chocolate lovers out there our bar of the week should certainly satisfy your sweet tooth. From the Italian chocolate makers, Amedei, comes a bar that is not just a step above Hershey's, it's a leap. Amedei began their bean to bar production in 1990 after a visit to the Valrhona factory in France created a rivalry between the two countries. Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri, the brother and sister team behind Amedei, had visited the famed French chocolate makers to see if they could use Valrhona chocolate for their Italian confections. The Tessieri's were instead dismissed and told that Italians could not appreciate such a fine product. In an effort to prove the French wrong, Cecilia began studying chocolate production while Alessio scoured the world in search of aromatic cacao beans. Everything that comes from their factory is beautifully crafted and elegantly packaged, and today Amedei is regarded as one of the finest chocolate makers in the world.

We invite everyone to stop back by this Saturday to taste how good milk chocolate can be.

Fun Fact: The Amedei factory sits a few miles east of Pontedera, Italy, home of the Vespa scooter.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bar of the week: E. Guittard Ambanja

Region: Madagascar
Bean Type: Criollo
Cocoa Content: 65%

Last week our customers described the Domori Arriba bar as having notes of hazelnut and banana. This week we move on to the world's fourth largest island, Madagascar. Cacao from this african island appeals to many palates because of its fruity, sometimes citrus flavor. Because of this we've devoted a whole section in our store to the beans of Madagascar, and the Guittard Ambanja bar is a great place to start. Guittard began in 1868 in San Francisco as a way for Etienne Guittard to profit from the sweet tooth of the area's wealthy gold miners. Four generations later, the company is still family-owned and operated and is popular with pastry chefs nationwide (Christopher Elbow uses Guittard to enrobe his confections).

Every Saturday between 10:30 am and 1 pm we are sampling out the bar of the week, so stop by and give us your opinion.

Fun Fact: Guittard's business was destroyed during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but Etienne's son, Horace, quickly rebuilt and kept the company going.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Flavors - Christopher Elbow

The Christopher Elbow confections from Kansas City, Missouri are still our most popular sellers, and we've restocked all of your favorite flavors and even added two new ones, Pineapple and Dark Milk Chocolate. Look for those changes and more inside our store this weekend.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Bar of the Week: Domori Arriba

Region: Ecuador
Bean Type: Nacional
Cocoa Content: 70%

Domori emerged onto the chocolate scene in 1996 as the project of Italian chocolate maker, Gianluca Franzoni (who writes under the pseudonym Mack Domori). His journey began in Venezuela where he was on a business trip researching cacao orchids. It was there that he discovered his passion for quality cacao and his desire to create a product from some of the finest beans in the world. The Arriba bar uses a different class of beans known as Nacional which are grown predominately in Ecuador. Cacao beans are typically divided into two categories, flavor beans (which are sought after by artisan chocolatiers) and bulk beans (which are used in approximately 80% of the world's chocolate production and which are bought with less regard to flavor). The Nacional is genetically a forastero bean which is usually considered to be of the bulk bean variety, but its strong, floral flavor is what lifts it into a league of its own. This bar is one of six in the Domori Cru line that has minimal ingredients and no extra cocoa butter added. The chocolate has a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel and the tasting guide on the box suggests notes of hazelnuts, bananas, and citrus.

Experience Domori's Arriba bar yourself this Saturday from 10:30 am to 1 pm. We will also have available a sampling of Domori's Arriba beans for comparison.

Fun Fact: The Cacao Cult slogan on the Domori packaging is short for Cacao Culture, Domori's mission to produce quality chocolate while fighting to avoid the extinction of prized criollo varieties and educating consumers about what to look for in artisan chocolate.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lillie Belle has arrived....

...and her beautiful designs and unique flavor combinations make her the belle of the ball. Lillie Belle chocolates are the creation of chef-turned-chocolatier Jeff Shepherd, and the company is named after his wife, Belle, and daughter, Lillie. The family resides on a certified organic farm in Central Point, Oregon where Jeff grows all of the berries used in his chocolates. Other ingredients are sourced locally as well, including cheese from nearby Rogue Creamery which is used in the Smokey Blue Cheese truffle. Chocolate and cheese might not sound like an ideal combination but the two pair perfectly with the toasted almonds that each truffle is rolled in. Other Lillie Belle flavors that can be found at Chocolopolis include Jamaican Spice Caramel, Chipotle Ganache, Black Pepper Ganache, Strawberry Cordial, and Lemon-Coconut Buttercream. We also have boxes of Cayenne Caramels, Berry Cordials, and Chocolate Covered Pears available for purchase.

Must try: Strawberry Cordial

For the adventurous: Black Pepper Ganache

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The votes are in!

It was a close race, but with a final tally of 30 to 26 we've crowned the 2005 bar King of the Gran Couvas. Thanks to everyone who stopped by this afternoon for the tasting, and if we peaked your interest in aged chocolate Chocolopolis carries three other bars from the Valrhona vintage line - the 2005 and 2007 Palmira bars from Venezuela and the 2007 Ampamakia bar from Madagascar.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bar of the Week: Valrhona Gran Couva 2007

What can we say about this bar that wasn't already said last week? Well for one thing it's a different harvest year, 2007. And tasting it brings up two questions: does chocolate get better with age and do the harvest seasons differ in taste? We know the answers to these questions and now you can, too. Stop by the store this Saturday between 10:30 am and 1 pm and ask for the Gran Couva taste test. Give us your opinions and we'll publish them on our blog.

If you're having trouble finding the right words to describe a bar of chocolate, here are some terms to get you started:

Chemical / medicinal
o acetone/ nail polish
o menthol
o metal
o mothballs
o plastic
o resin
o rubber

o butter
o cheese
o cream
o milk
o yogurt

o burlap
o cardboard
o forest
o grass
o hay
o leaves
o meadows
o moldy
o moss
o musty
o soil
o straw
o yeast

o mushroom

o ashes
o cedar
o oak
o pine

o jasmine
o lavender
o orange blossom
o orchid
o rose

o blackberry
o blueberry
o cranberry
o raspberry
o strawberry
o grapefruit
o lemon
o lime
o orange
o tangerine
o date
o fig
o prune
o raisin
tree fruit
o apple
o apricot
o cherry
o olive
o peach
o plum
tropical fruit
o banana
o coconut
o kiwi
o mango
o papaya
o pineapple
vine fruit
o cantaloupe
o grapes- red
o grapes- white
o watermelon

o basil
o mint

o almond
o cashew
o hazelnut
o macadamia
o peanut
o pistachio

o caramelized sugar
o coffee
o ham
o tea
o toast
o tobacco
o wood smoke

o anise/ licorice
o cinnamon
o cloves
o ginger
o nutmeg
o pepper
o vanilla

o brown sugar
o butterscotch
o cappuccino
o caramel
o honey
o malt
o molasses
o toffee

o beeswax
o bread
o leather
o red wine
o vodka
o puckery
o robust
o sour
o tart
o tangy (tart and sweet)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bar of the Week: Valrhona Gran Couva 2005

Region: Caribbean
Bean Type: Trinitario
Cocoa Content: 64%

It has been said that chocolate is the new wine, and this bar by French chocolate maker Valrhona takes that saying one step further. Using single estate beans from the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean, Gran Couva debuted as the first bar in Valrhona's vintage series. Our featured bar this week was created with beans exclusively from the 2005 harvest, and while it may not sound appetizing tasting a bar that was made three years ago, dark chocolate can last for a very long time when stored properly. It has also been reported that the flavors of some dark chocolates can improve with age, but this claim is still being studied, partially due the inability of researchers to leave a bar of chocolate lying around for more than a week. Stop by the store this week and ask for our tasting notes or pick up a bar yourself and let us know what you think.