Today we are thrilled to announce a new line of hand crafted chocolates. We've spent a lot of time in 2017 sourcing cacao from all over the world and creating small prototype batches of dark chocolates to hone our skills.
In October we finished a new kitchen facility dedicated to hand crafting chocolate from raw cacao. This new facility is both gluten and nut free and doesn't share any equipment with areas that process nuts and gluten. Our first series of craft chocolates will highlight flavors from six areas or origins around the world. While most of the world's chocolate is derived from a small number of cacao varieties produced in west Africa, the heirloom varieties of cacao have a much richer set of flavors. Like wine and coffee, cacao has a unique set of flavors that develop at the origin, part coming from plant genetics, the environment, and how the cocao is processed and fermented. This set of flavors is referred to as "terroir" or the taste of place. Because so much of the credit for the final chocolate's flavor should go to the farmer and regional processing cooperatives where the cacao is fermented, we identify each single origin bar with it's region and county.
In making chocolate from the raw cacao, we can push and pull the flavors intrinsic to the cacao by how we roast and process the cacao into chocolate. The process of crafting chocolate starts with hand grading and sorting each cacao seed (yes, we hand sort each one) to ensure that we only process the highest quality cacao. Any seeds with insect damage, mold, or other defects is rejected. After sorting, we roast the cacao in a drum roasting machine. A single chocolate may have seeds that were roasted in different batches using multiple profiles of heat and timing to develop the full flavor potential in the cacao. After roasting, the cacao is crushed in a hand mill (threshing) and the husks are separated from the seed or nibs (winnowing). The cacao nibs are then ground in a stone wheel grinder (melanger) for three days. Yes, three days. This grinding process reduces the particle size of the cacao to just a few microns. In addition the grinding action, the chocolate is continuously turned and aerated, allowing the most volatile (bitter and acidic tasting) elements in the cacao to be released. The result is a superbly smooth chocolate the highlights the unique qualities of each origin.
Today we have released chocolates from three origins:
1. Sur Del Lago - Venezuela
2. Marañon - Peru
3. Lam Dong - Vietnam
The next origin we are working on will be from Madagascar, more about this one is coming soon.
Because these are hand crafted from heirloom cacao, the qualities will be limited. So come by our shop and taste the rich set of flavors from around the world.
Christmas is in full swing at Hazel Hill Chocolate. This week we start shipping personal and corporate gifts so that they arrive timed right for Christmas giving. Those of you who visit our store may not realize that we can ship anywhere in the world (so far Vietnam is the farthest). To make sure that your gift will arrive in time for Christmas, we'll need your order by 12/19.
We also don't mind special requests or orders that are scheduled for specific dates. When you checkout, there will be a place to give us those special instructions. If there are issues or questions as we try to fill your order, we'll get intouch with you to clear things up.
We are also going have some Christmas hours so we and our staff can enjoy our families. Here's our holiday hours:
12/24 - Christmas Eve - Closing at 4:00pm
12/26 - Boxing Day - Closed
1/1/17 - New Year's Day - Closed
We are truly blessed in the season to see so many happy faces coming through our doors. We love the spirit that Christmas brings to both young and old. The message that Christ brought into the world; that all people are brothers and sisters, worthy of respect and dignity, that human failings are only a temporary part of our mortal journey and ,most of all, that death need not be an everlasting end, shined a light into an otherwise dark mortal existence.
Today that light continues to be reflected in the kindness and love we show each other. Hopefully you'll take some time this Christmas to let your light shine into another's life. There are hands that hang down all around us. And, even if you can only do a little, many small lights can illuminate the whole world.
We are thrilled to have been picked for the The Ultimate Guide to the Sweetest Candy Shops in the U.S. by Holiday Lettings. For those not familiar with Holiday Lettings, they are the UK’s leading vacation rentals website, with over 500,000 properties available around the world. They are a part of the TripAdvisor group.
We knew our chocolates traveled far and wide but, we never expected that folks in the U.K. would be giving us a shout out. Guess we need to keep our heads down and make some more for the U.K. visitors headed our way.
Thanks to our pal Vicky Lutrell who works with the Stop Trafficking and Reject Slavery, and Kansas Freedom Foundation. She asked if the cocoa products we use are harvested and made with slave labor. While it's hard to imagine for many of us living in the USA, in many places in the world, human trafficking and slavery is a reality of life. These practices can range from slavery on plantations to the global sex trade. All are despicable and evil practices that deny people the most basic of human rights. Unfortunately, much of the worlds cocoa crop is grown in places human rights are trampled on regularly.
One of the ways that we can combat this is by voting with our dollars and our feet, by not buying products that are derived from slave labor or other reprehensible practices. The chocolate and cocoa products we make at Hazel Hill Chocolate are from a US manufacturer named Guttiard. Guttiard was started over 150 years ago during the California gold rush by Frenchman, Etienne Guittard. Guittard is both Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. This means you can enjoy our fine chocolates, while knowing that busienss and labor practices involved in producing it have been independently certified.
We have been so blessed this holiday season, we've seen so many smiling faces and we've appreciated all the kind comments. As much as we like making great chocolates, our team is ready for so time with their families to enjoy the fruits of the season. We will be closing the store early on Christmas Eve and taking a couple days of holiday. Here's our store schedule:
12/24 Christmas Eve - Closing at 4:00pm
12/25 Christmas Day - Closed
12/26 Boxing Day - Closed
For all the grandeur that is the Christmas holiday, please remember that, "first and forever there was just a little family, without toys or trees or tinsel. With a baby—that’s how Christmas began.”—Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Maybe Christmas Doesn’t Come from a Store"
Please take a minute to check out the video below, it will get you in the spirit of the season. #ASaviorIsBorn
As we roll into the later December, we will start hearing from the "Procrastinating Santa's" looking to ship items in time for a good impression under the tree. We want to do everything we can to help you be a super Santa this year. Orders on the website, phone and in-store are all welcome. As you can imagine, the closer we get to the big day, we may run short on certain items, so shop early. We're always happy to take your call or chat with you on the website (look for "Chat with Chocolatier at the bottom of the page). We also respond to emails at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here's the key dates for ordering:
Here's some tips for last minute Santa:
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. #ASaviorIsBorn
The best spice shop in northeast Kansas is Moburts and, Moburts is now downtown at 820 S. Kansas Ave. We've known the great folks at Moburts for years and you'll find some of their spices in our Raju truffles. They have the best spices because they are fresh and full of flavor. Their new store is roomy and looks fantastic.
Now what we're neighbors downtown, look for Hazel Hill Chocolate an Moburts to be working on more joint flavors. Maybe some thing with...
In addition to what you see in our stores, we also do lots of custom work in chocolate. This year we made a special edition of our truffles for the Wheat State Wine Company in Winfield,KS. They supplied their award winning Ad Astra dessert wine and we turned into a very special truffle. Ad Astra has a bold cherry and oak flavor that jumps out of the ganache centers of these truffles. Unfortunately, you can't get these our stores, they're only being shipped in special gifts from Wheat State Wine Company.
Why not stop by and discuss how we can make a great gift for you.