Issue 37: US Craft Chocolate Scene
With Valentine's Day recommendations
It has been a few months now since I was at the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle, where chocolate makers (that is, those who make chocolate from scratch from cacao beans) from around the US, and the world, gathered to sell, taste and educate.
While there, I had the chance to film some mini interviews with several amazing craft chocolate makers. So this week I thought I’d introduce you to just a few of the many incredible chocolate makers in the US. Many of these people are full on celebrities in the world of craft chocolate! Each video (click on each to view) is only a minute or so long and in each case they share what is unique about their brand as well as their favourite bar!
Personally I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day (it is as silly as hot chocolate day…again, everyday is Valentine’s Day AND Hot Chocolate Day). Forget the little chocolate hearts…use this as your shopping list instead.
Fresco (Italian for fresh, the way chocolate should be according to their website), was started by Amy and Robert Anderson in 2003 after they were inspired by a tour of the Scharffen Berger factory in 2002. One of the many things that Fresco’s is famous for are their experiments with different roasts. They will take the same batch of beans and roast some of them lightly, others medium, and others darker and create three seperate bars. Buy all three to taste the impact that roasting has on the final bar flavour. @frescochocolate
Oh, Dandelion. I can’t hide my love for thee. The many Dandelion hot chocolates I have had both in San Francisco and Tokyo….the Mission Hot Chocolate that is oh so spicy. The beautiful packaging, the flavours, the flight of brownies all made using different chocolates that all taste different but equally delicious. Nothing says love more than Dandelion. @dandelionchocolate
I’ll admit I have two loves when it comes to US hot chocolates. If you are coming to visit me from the US, I won’t open the door unless you have a bag of Goodnow Farms hot chocolate. If you live in the US you really shouldn’t be hurting your body by drinking anything but this. Not only do they make amazing chocolate, but they press their own cocoa butter/powder using the same beans. The Asochivite hot chocolate is the makings of a perfect moment. While you may not think that a caramelised onion chocolate bar is very Valentine’s Dayish…I’d argue it is. @goodnowfarms
Located in Utah’s Wasatch Mountain range in the heart of the rockies, Amano sources beautiful beans from around the world and creates really good chocolate from them. I love this quote from Megan Giller’s book on America’s craft Chocolate Revolution. Art Pollard, founder of Amano chocolate said “I want people to swear when they eat my chocolate”, that you should be so delighted by the great taste that you scream out “Holy crap!” or whatever your four letter word of choice is! What says love more than that…Buy the Cardamon Black Pepper or Mango Chilli bars and put a red bow on them. @amanochocolate
Hawaii is the only place in the US where cocoa is grown and transformed into bars. Nat Bletter uses his expertise in Ethnobotany to research and make chocolate. Madre pairs many of their chocolates with native fruits and spices. They also make a bar using a different type of Theobroma, Jaguar Cacao! You’ll remember the flavour of their Triple Cacao made from cacao pulp, cacao nibs and dark chocolate, much longer than those dozen roses will last.
Buy your true love a membership to Fruition to receive a box of their chocolates every month to their door. Like that every 14th of the month will be Valentine’s Day. That also means you won’t need to choose one of their chocolates because frankly they are all equally good. @fruitionchocolate
Mention Scharffen Berger to any chocolate nerd and a long discussion will follow. The original bean to bar chocolate maker inspired many other makers before being bought by Hershey’s and then returned to private ownership in 2020. Their baking chocolate start up kit (paired with the chocolate recipes on their website) could make for a sweet date night.
THIS WEEK’S HOT CHOCOLATE NEWS
Fairtrade launches new map to identify human rights and environmental risks in cocoa
Forbes magazine’s list of best chocolates for Valentine’s Day
@hotchocolatefest is almost over in Vancouver. I feel for you all. Next year I have to go.
Over 55% of cocoa exports from Ivory Coast “untraceable”
You don’t need this 250k hot chocolate this Valentine’s Day (no matter what they say)
Ultimate Guide to Chocolate in Boston
Some new chocolate desserts to try in New York City
Tempted to try this Black Forest hot chocolate recipe this week.
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Thanks for reading and have a great week!
Chief Chocolate Sipper at www.ultimatehotchocolate.com. Follow on Instagram @ultimatehotchoc