Hand Crafted Chocolate
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.
Nick & Terry Xidis, Northeast Kansas' Chocolatiers